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What should i upgrade on my bass?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by yaboiimizz, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. yaboiimizz


    Apr 28, 2010
    So i got my squire jazz bass about 3 months ago, upgrading from a ashton. so now i really can afford a quality bass so i wanted to know what i could upgrade to get better sound, qaulitly whatever out of it.

    any ideas?
  2. Well, every bass needs Bartolini's, a BadassII bridge, straplocks, a new strap ($100+), Gotoh tuners and active electronics. What to upgrade besides those things, is for you to decide.
  3. Labi


    Jun 14, 2006
    Any upgrade is an improvement. best thing is to point out the week points of your bass and upgrade those for example if it doesn't stay in tune you should upgrade the machine heads. If you're not happy with the sound, then the pickups should be upgraded. If you are not happy with the action and feel, then the nut and the bridge. And so on. You can also upgrade the electronics to match you requirements for example if you have vol-vol-tone configuration, you can change it to vol-pan-tone or you can get active electronics to have vol-pan-bass-treble. The options are endless.
  4. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    By definition and upgrade is an improvement, not merely a change. So, you gotta figure out what's possibly WRONG with your bass, and what will fix that. Just dropping a Bad Ass bridge on there isn't an improvement. That bridge will only improve the bass if you like what a BA does (which I don't). Same with pickup recommedations- what's going on with the sound of your bass that you'd like to change?

    BTW, before you start spending money on changing things 'cause folks on TB tell you it's groovy to do, spend a lot of time with your bass unplugged. Learn what that particular chunk of wood and metal sounds like when YOU play it. Then you'll have some specific ideas of what may or may not need alteration. Until then it's not upgrading, it's just cosmetic BS.

  5. Gasocaster


    Mar 10, 2010
    I use a piezo bridge it ran about $50.00 (chopper music). single volume, and blend or volume for each pickup. (seldom a tone knob) maybe an "orange drop" or other resister. But there is seldom time to turn a knob if you are workin'. Big fine Schaller (big spindle) tuners, maybe a "hipshot"
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    ok, here's an actual answer.

    better pickups.

    your keys are likely ok, and the bridge would make a subtle difference at best.

    ditching the squier pickups for even regular duncans would make a night-and-day improvement in the sound.

    besides, you can swap them back out and keep them when you upgrade down the road to an american jazz bass or whatever.

    it's really the one place you can get a big return putting money into a cheaper instrument.
  7. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Not to start any contention, but my answer was certainly intended to be a "real" answer. Without determining exactly what the OP wants his bass to sound like, determining exactly what it already sounds like, and then discussing whether a specific change will improve it, there's no way to discuss what's a good change.

    Simply changing the PUP without knowing what it needs is just making the change for the sake of change. With the plethora of PUPs available for a P bass, what Precision set is right for him? We don't know, and I suspect he doesn't know what he's trying to change.

  8. El Bajo

    El Bajo

    Apr 12, 2006
    I agree with JTE. Squier basses have come along way apparently (I don't own one) If there is a problem with actual sound it might not even be the bass. It could be your amp, or the strings. You also have to think, if you start putting upgrades on then the total cost could have mean't you could buy a Fender Jazz straight of the shelf.

    Spend time with it, compare notes with other Squier players. Play with the bridge, does it go low enough to how you want it, does it hum (as in grounded). If theres tonal problems try raising the pickups and lowering the action, changing strings.

    Get some strap locks though.
  9. You should heed every word of this.

    FIRST, you say that you finally bought a higher quality bass.

    NEXT, you want to start modifying the bass.


    If there's nothing wrong with it, then it doesn't need upgrades. In that case, they're a waste of money.

    Play it for a while. Get used to it. If it sounds great and plays well, then you're done - no upgrades needed because nothing about it is lacking.

    If there are specific things you find lacking, then modify/upgrade those individual items.
  10. Here's my advice. Get a pro setup on your bass. Then play it for another week or so. After that, unless you find that you are coming across specific playability issues with your instrument that are preventing you from playing comfortably with decent sound, stop worrying about the bass.

    Save your money for a reliable, high-quality amp that is suitable for your needs. Once you do that you will be a much better position to evaluate what is lacking in the sound quality of your instrument, as well as a much better position to evaluate the upgrades you have made. Needless to say, you'll also be in a much better position to play out, if that's your goal.

    If you already have a good amp, follow some of the advice of others on here: don't change anything unless you have specific sonic/playability goals in mind and know how the modification you intend to make will or will not work toward those goals.

    Edit: +1 on strap locks.
  11. sikamikanico

    sikamikanico Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2004
    FIRST, get the right STRINGS and a QUALITY SETUP by a pro :) cheap, best results guaranteed!

    I changed the pickups and a bridge on my cheapo P-bass - less than 5% improvement and the pickup alone cost me more than the bass itself... however, it did make me (and my band) feel better about using that bass live, but honestly, it was all in my head...

    it's better to save the money and buy a better instrument (chaepo + too many upgrades can cost about the same (or even more) as a good used mid-level bass)

    or spend the money on a good teacher, that will also improve your sound better than any gear upgrade :)

    after the new strings, good setup and good technical ability, the first "real" upgrade I'd suggest are the pickups... just follow the flow of the music, and you will understand: it starts in your head, goes to your fingers, then it goes to the strings (here the setup becomes important as well), then comes the pickup (position and type of pickup is also more important than the brand), then the cables and electronics (including amp) and of course speakers... them comes the room and last but not least, the listener :)
  12. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    ok, i was being a little flippant :p

    let me re-group and agree with sika's order of improvements.
    as far as actual parts on the bass, better pickups will make the most difference on an entry-level instrument.

    if the OP's not sure what's what pickup-wise, he can't lose with a good vintage-style P pickup, like the one from duncan or the "original P-bass" fender replacement. that kind of classic P-bass sound works for just about every style of music.
  13. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    How would we know? What don't you like about it? That's where you start.
  14. +1!
  15. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    What do you want to change about its sound? Something as simple as dropping in other pups or a active eq preamp could be a good choice. Or pups plus preamp. And a hi-mass bridge like gotoh or schaller make.
  16. Have you even changed the strings on it yet, or have you even bothered trying different brands of strings on any of your basses to see what they sound like? If you haven't even gone that far, I wouldn't bother messing with anything else yet. New strings and a good setup will go a loooooong way in improving how your bass plays and sounds.

    How long have you had it so far? Once you get it set up well, just take some time to get to know it, and really think hard about what you don't like about it. Only then should you start to think about changing something.
  17. bobwhite


    Mar 11, 2010
    A Squier, huh?

    First, you should carefully remove that decal on the headstock with some decal remover and then buy and apply a new Fender decal, for a J or P bass, as applicable.

    Then, you should sell your new "Fender" on Ebay for twice what you paid for it, and

    Then, you should buy a Fender American Standard J or P in the color scheme of your choice.

    If you don't want to do all that, play and enjoy it. So long as it sounds good to you and is not falling apart, you're good. You may find that when it is time to "modify", you may want to just sell/trade and buy a different instrument.

    Save your money for now and enjoy your new bass.
  18. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    BTW, most "upgrades" don't result in any increased resale value either. So, you spend money to change things, then when you sell it, it's worth LESS. At this price point for an entry-level bass, that's a very real consideration.

    Again, the only thing I'd suggest is to have a GOOD professional set-up done (by someone who is good at BASS set up- may or may not be the "go to" person for guitar set up), perhaps invest in some different strings, and play the living crap out of it. If you really feel the burning desire to spend more money, invest in lessons with someone who'll teach you music on the bass, not just teach you how to play the bass.

    More Mel Bay, less E-Bay (to quote my friend Andy)...

  19. I agree. So many "upgrades" are done with shoddy workmanship or weird parts - or in a way that damages or permanently modifies the instrument - that in many cases they decrease the value of the instrument. I personally don't want to buy a car or an instrument that someone has been messing around with and customizing without any documentation.

    So consider "upgrades" to be done for your own benefit, and remember that they often cost you money both for the parts and in reduced resale value.
  20. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Get it set up, with new strings.

    I'm in complete agreement with playing unamplified; that's how I test any solid body instrument. If it doesn't do anything for me against my body, I pass it by.

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