What would you upgrade on MIM P Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Pufedu, Mar 6, 2020.

  1. Pufedu


    Jul 9, 2019
    I have had a 2003 MIM P Bass Standard for quite a long while now, I got it for under 300 bucks used. It is "ok" as it is now, but I love to mess around with instruments and modify them. I am mainly a guitar player though (I started with bass 8 years ago, moved to guitar 6 years ago) so I'm not completely sure what people like to do with their basses.

    What I have been thinking of, is possibly replacing the stock bridge with a Fender Hi Mass one. Reason being that the stock bridge is quite poor in quality, and it's screwed in "off center", so the strings don't even line up with the pickup poles. If you have better recommendations, let me know!

    I've also thought about changing the pickups to possibly the EMG Geezer Butler signature model, since the stock pickup on it is really poor sounding. For all I know it may as well be defective in some way. All I know is that it does not sound quite what a P Bass should sound like :D Once again, better recommendations can be given!

    How ever the biggest issue the bass has, is that someone in the past has absolutely ruined the truss rod... It's basically round, and there is no way in hell to adjust it in any direction with any hex key. Fortunately the neck has just the amount of relief I like now, but if it ever starts to bow more, there is no way for me to tighten it. If you have a solution for this, PLEASE let me know. I absolutely love the neck shape, and for it's age the frets are in unbelievable condition. I would prefer not having to buy a completely new neck.

    So, what would you do in my situation? What else might you want to upgrade? The tuners probably? What would you recommend me there?

    Thanks guys!
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  2. Texican


    Aug 9, 2018
    I doubt your bridge needs replacing, but take it to a Luthier to have the bass evaluated.

    If the neck is bad, body/bridge are put together bad, and the pickup sounds bad to the point that you think it’s defective, maybe you need to dump the whole bass.

    Take it to a store and compare it to other P basses. Look at how the strings line up over the pole pieces. Compare the sound.

    What kind of strings are on your bass now, and how old are they?

    Geezers are great pickups. I think they will sound much better than the stock ceramic MIM standard series pickup. Good luck!
  3. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Lot people will upgrade Himass Bridge, SD SPB3 pickups, CTS Pot, OD .047uf cap.
    Later will try different type of bass string and upgrade tuning machines.

    But, you dont know what upgrade part able make the Pbass tone you looking for.....

    Instead waste on money ,energy and time.
    The economy invest on upgrade part is :
    String : Fender 7250 (45-100 or 45-105)
    Pickups : SPB1 / Tonrider TRP1 / Pribora P ,
    Bridge : Fender Vintage Threadsaddle Bridge.

    No joking. If you dont believe those cheap part make you Pbass sound like Pbass, plug in to Fender Bassman Tube Amp or Ampeg SVT Tube Amp. You will believe it.
    Cheap Bass able sound great on Great Bass Amp.
    Pbassmanca and Bass V like this.
  4. Pufedu


    Jul 9, 2019
    I originally bought it as a "project bass", so I'm not going to dump the whole thing. The neck is amazing like I said, the truss rod adjustment has just been stripped by I guess using wrong kind of tools and too much force.
  5. king_biscuit


    May 21, 2006
    It's just a nut over the truss rod and any competent luthier can remove and replace with a new one. All a high mass bridge does is add weight, have you considered the neck may be misaligned? There is a simple fix for that. I agree that the stock ceramic pickup is not great and any basic alnico Precision style pickup is going to sound more traditional/better. You asked what people like to do to their basses? Nothing, I hate modified basses.
    tindrum, James Collins and Spidey2112 like this.
  6. I was saying this myself. On old Fenders or low price new Fenders this is a rather common thing. Simpe to be fixed: just loosen the strings, the screws and move the neck, tight the screws.

    A massive bridge offers more contrast to the string vibration, the anchor point offering more stability, that translates into more sustain. This may be good to your ears or not, but a more massive bridge adds sustain for sure. Now, there will be thousands of fellow players that will say "naaaah, not true..." I verified myself on my basses. A massive bridge actually does add sustain. But it will definitely change the way the bass sounds. The effect will be more evident changing it from the flimsy, simple Fender standard bridge. While you might not notice on another bass that has already a beefy bridge, obviously.
    j.kernodle and swrbassboss like this.
  7. Pufedu


    Jul 9, 2019
    Yes, I did check the neck alignment as soon as I got the bass. No help. The neck has a tiny bit of movement in the pocket, but not enough to fix the issue. The only option i can think of is that the bridge is screwed off center.
  8. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    This reflects my experience with a bass I built from MIM Fender parts, which included a P-bass body, fretless J-bass neck, and all MIM Fender hardware. I don't remember why, but I decided to change the bridge to a higher-mass Gotoh 201, which increased sustain and added some focus/clarity to the tone. Honestly, I was surprised how much of a difference it made. I wasn't expecting much at all.

    For a pickup, the Geezer gets great reviews and is probably a good choice. I've tried several P-bass pickups in two Fender Precisions, and my favorite, by far, was Lindy Fralin stock wind. Totally vintage, but with serious punch and grind. Overall, for me it's tied with the monstrous G&L MFD split-coil in my SB-2, which is a different beast.
    pbass2 likes this.
  9. king_biscuit


    May 21, 2006
    Can you post some clear face on photos that show the bridge, pickup, and neck?
  10. ejaggers

    ejaggers Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Fort Worth, tx
    +1 on Lindy Fralin .
    I used a 5% over wound pup, and also a Gotoh 201.
    The 201 saddles are bigger than the ones on the stock bridge,
    which made the action higher, but I will probably go back to the stock eventually.

    I'm not convinced that bass players need monster sustain, at least I don't.
    Plus, the stock bridge should get more credit than it generally gets.
    Besides, I went with the 201 for aesthetics only, and I admit, it looks a hell of a lot better.

    I also did CTS Pots, OD .047uf cap, not because it improved the sound, but for reliability.
    I use LaBela 760FL Deep Talkin' flats strings, and I'm good to go.


    I could shim the neck to get the action lower,
    but can anyone recommend some smaller saddles for the 201?
    I admit, I haven't try the stock saddles, maybe those will work.
  11. ejaggers

    ejaggers Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Fort Worth, tx
    Welcome to TalkBass.
    One rule, No Pics, No Bass.

    Thegrandwazoo likes this.
  12. Picton


    Aug 16, 2017
    Reading, MA
    With modern CNC, this is extremely unlikely.

    I do mod my MIM products sometimes, but not because I think they "need" it; I just mod to my preference. To be honest, I'd be happy enough with a bone-stock MIM as it sits.

    Part of the reason I buy MIM is because I DO mod. Guitars, mostly; I like my Teles a certain way, but I'd mod them the same way if they were MIA.
    Thegrandwazoo likes this.
  13. Texican


    Aug 9, 2018
    Fair enough. You know, I have a bass with a stripped truss rod nut and I was still able to get a Luthier to carefully adjust it for me.
  14. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    Nothing. I would give it a good setup, and leave it at that if it sounds good. If not, off it goes.
    Spidey2112 and Hambone70 like this.
  15. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    The first thing I'd probably do is change to Hipshot Ultralites. Half a pound, and the thing will balance even better than it does now. Other than that, if it works, it works.

    And I'd deal with the truss rod before doing anything else. A bass without an adjustable truss rod is close to firewood. From your description, it might be you just need a new nut/bullet thing (not familiar with what's on that ed of a MIM truss rod).
  16. Rib 13

    Rib 13

    Jun 20, 2006
    If it was me, I would establish what I dont like about it first and find out what its not doing to get your needs met: I find that upgrades dont necessarily equal improvements (and they won't fix the truss rod issue)

    i guess i just dont understand the whole upgrading for the sake of upgrading philosophy
    Texican likes this.
  17. BillMason


    Mar 6, 2007
    Based on the neck and the bridge, I’d probably sell it, but that aside, I’d definitely put a set of SPB-1’s in and upgrade the pots and caps to CTS and Orange Drop.

    The bridge saddles not lining up with the pickup poles may or may not be an issue, depends on how it sounds. Any output issues on any strings? If I were replacing the bridge, I’d probably try to find one of the 60s spec bridges with threaded saddles so I can reposition the strings, but only if I could find an inexpensive one. Tuners and nuts I don’t do a thing with unless there’s a problem, same with bridges.
  18. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Suspended Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Pots. Dunlop super 500ks. That's about it. Maybe lightwieghttuners or pickguard change or something minor like that.
  19. j.kernodle


    Nov 23, 2008
    South Carolina
    I’ve upgraded several MIM p basses over the years. The high mass bridge change can make difference in sound but it’s not better just different. As long as the stock bridge is structurally sound it’s fine. Some after market bridges like hipshots allow for quicker string changes through the slots. (I do like that). I’m not a huge fan of the duncan quarter pounder but Fralins and fender CS pickups are nice. you might also want to ply around with copper shielding. P basses aren’t inherently noisy but the I had one that seemed to need help and the shielding made it dead quiet.

    Careful with replacement tuners, MIM machines are not the same as the american tuners. I never bothered replacing the stock tuners.
    DavidEdenAria and BillMason like this.
  20. pbass2

    pbass2 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    The pickups are the biggest factor in how a P sounds IMHO, next to the strings. The Geezers you mentioned are great pickups for a more "aggressive" sound (again, IMHO). Personally I prefer a very "classic" P sound, and for me the stock Lindy Fralins deliver that in spades.
    DavidEdenAria and JimK like this.
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