What to select for my first "project" bass?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by stealth94rt, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. stealth94rt


    Jul 8, 2012
    Hi folks:

    I've been playing bass for a very long time (almost 40 years). I have a collection of basses that I've purchased over the years -- Ibanez Musician Series 924 (4-string), Kramer 8-string, Schecter Stiletto Studio 6, Lakland 55-02 and a few others.

    Suddenly, I have the itch to get into bass building (maybe I need a hobby). I would like to start with more of an assembly - i.e., buy a body, pickups, neck, etc., and put it together, just so I can learn the basics of how things fit, finish and so on. Since I don't have a "Fender" bass, I was thinking about creating one. I was originally going to buy parts off ebay, but after looking at prices, I think it would be better/cheaper grabbing a very used Squier Jazz bass of some sort, tearing it apart, and then refinishing, upgrading pickups and electronics, etc. My starting budget for getting a bass/parts is around $200-250. If I love doing this, then I'll spend more on the next one. Does that sound like a good plan or do you have other recommendations for getting my feet wet?

    Thanks in advance for the help!
  2. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Don't just get your feet wet, jump right in.
  3. Cellwelder


    Dec 25, 2012
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Gee, I wish I had a commercial affiliation. I could use a little more spending money...
    If you have the means to, I'd recommend building a custom body and buying a neck to bolt on. In this case, you could use Fender bass measurements as a reference. You could even use a template, really. There are plenty of resources you can use as a guide as well.

    You could also restore a bass like you said, as there's less risk involved, but I feel like you'll be limited by what can be done. Either way, best of luck!
    Beej and kris pung like this.
  4. stealth94rt


    Jul 8, 2012
    Well, I ended up buying a used MIM 2002 Fender Standard Jazz Bass V (passive). Since I don't have a wood shop or any power tools beyond a handheld circular saw, building a bass was out of the question for now.

    I decided to start with the Fender because I knew that parts are plentiful and not too expensive if I totally messed something up. It wasn't in horrible shape, but the action wasn't very good and there was lots of pickup hum and some buzzing frets. I completely tore it apart, leveled the frets that were high, shielded all the cavities, got some hand-wound Alnico pickups to replace the ceramic stock ones, and installed a battery box and preamp. For a first attempt, I am very satisfied and learned much during the process. While it's not quite up to my Lakeland, it is still stage-worthy -- I'm using it in two bands and both have said it sounds great.
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