Would this be like "polishing a turd"?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by 43apples, May 24, 2005.

  1. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    Hey guys! I got a Ibanez RD500 Fretless bass this christmas, and i love it. But here's the question. I'm wondering if i should upgrade this bass and stick with it, or if i should keep it stock, and sell it to get a more "high end" bass when i start getting more serious on playing fretless.

    Then again, i got this bass from my mother as a cristmas present, which was very sweet of her :), and it means alot to me.

    Here's a pic: (this one is fretted though)

    It has a basswood body, fake-ish maple top, bolt on maple neck with rosewood fretboard. I love the bass, but then again it needs alot of upgrades to be excactly what i want. Therefore, i'm asking the question if it would be like "polishing a turd to make it a rose" :meh: :D

    Here's what i'm considering to upgrade it with:

    -Bartolini Pickups
    -CTS Pots and Switchcraft jack, Sprague cap
    -Epoxy coating of the fingerboard
    -Wood knobs

    So, well, what do you think?

    Thanks alot,
  2. Stu L.

    Stu L. Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    IMO, and I probbly stand alone, but I say go for it. Straplocks are a given, again IMO. Pups and pots, output jacks, all are easy and a great way to personalize a bass. If you can, or desire, do some/all the work yourself. There's nothing like the satisfaction of working on your own bass. My $.02 :)
  3. Sutton


    Mar 3, 2005
    Plainwell, MI
    Well if it has sentimental value, then I say go for it. They are overall very nice basses for the standard player.

    Strap locks and Wood knobs should cost you more than 40 buck all together.... epoxy isnt too expensive either.
  4. The Hammer

    The Hammer

    Jul 13, 2004
    If you like the way that it plays then I would say fix it up. The improvements that you are wanting to do aren't outlandish for that bass
  5. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    Yeah... by the way, i once saw a website with a guy who custom made wooden knobs..... but now i cant find the link :(.

    Anyone got it?

    Thanks again!

    EDIT: I found it. THG Knobs it was! :hyper:
  6. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I have to ask you, how good of a player are you? We often assume we need a new bass when we really need to work on ourselves. When I think of great players, I can think of players who use very expensive instruments like Anthony Jackson, Victor Wooten, and Matt Garrison, and I can also name people who use pretty standard
    or inexpensive instruments like Jeff Berlin, Dave Larue, Tony Levin, Darryl Jones (his Lakland model). In other words, a great player needs a solid instrument, not a "high-end" instrument to get his sound out.

    Please don't take what I said as an attack. We all have GAS to one degree or another and the upgrades you mentioned for your bass make good sense, I just think that it is important to think about the fact that all improvement ultimately comes from the player and not the instrument.
  7. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    Well, once you get your high-end fretless, you'll still need a backup, right?
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I feel I need to make myself more clear. Is your Ibanez comfortable to play and hold? Do you like the neck? Do es your basses electronics have obvious sorts of flaws like hums, crackles, shorts etc.? Do you feel that you are getting your sound out of this bass? If not, do you think that the changes on that bass or changing to another bass will help you get you sound out of your head?

    I just think that these are the sorts of questions well all need to ask ourselves before we modify an instrument or buy another one.
  9. Sutton


    Mar 3, 2005
    Plainwell, MI
    http://www.joshcurry.com/WoodKnobs.asp Makes some aswell
  10. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    A guy I took lessons from had an Ibanez soundgear with bartolini pickups and a re-done fret job. Sounded and felt just as good as other basses 3 times the cost. I'd say do it.
  11. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    Thanks for the Reply Dr.!

    Well, i feel that the neck is a bit "wierd" to play, but that would maybe be because i played a 5 string fender exclusively for 6-7 years before i got the Ibanez. Anyway, i think that i'll grow into the neck.

    About the sound, well, i find it pretty uninspiring. My uncle, which is a professional bassist have played it too, and it didn't sound particularily good. I can't get the sounds i want from it, and that's proably 80% me, but 20% the bass. Still, i guess it would be much more fun to play the bass, if i liked its sound!

    One thing that bothers me though, is the lack of the B string. I miss it :bawl: ... but then again, Jaco only needed four :rolleyes: :D

    Thanks alot!
  12. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    If it sounds weak, you should try to figure out if the electronics or the wood/construction is the primary culprit before spending the $$$ on pickups. I don't want to stir up the electronics vs. wood debate here, but I say this based on my experience with an Ibanez SRX 500.

    After playing it for a few months, I noticed that the D and G strings were practically inaudible in a band context. They sounded even worse recorded -- just a pathetic "twang." (The bass sounded great solo, but as we know that's never the whole story.) This was not improved with new strings and a professional setup, so I considered buying Bartolini electronics.

    Then I read somewhere that you could evaluate the acoustic properties of a bass by playing it while your ear is pressed directly onto the upper horn, so I tried this and learned that the D and G strings were weak acoustically. I heard exactly the same problems I heard with recordings. So pickups and a good pre may have helped, but I don't think they would have cured the problem entirely. I soon bought an Am. Ser. Jazz, and have been happily growlin' away ever since!
  13. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Your original question regarding turd polishing.....without trying to A$$ume to much, I think what Dr.Cheese was getting at is one man's turd is another's dream instrument, literally!! It sounds from your statements that this bass is pretty much a turd in in every way except the fact that it was a gift and has some sentimental value. Now what you need to figure out is, will polishing it make it not stink so badly, or more importantly, actually smell good??
    Without actually playing the bass it is next to impossible for any of us to actually tell. My advise is to play it unplugged, see if the notes all speak well, is the whole neck playable through the entire range, does the bass feel good to you?

    My honest opinion is even if the answers to all these questions are YES, the fact that you are asking this question suggests that the chances are this bass will always be a turd, to you. I believe you used the word "uninspiring" which I think is a great description of that bass. Chances are electronics will not change this, especially on a fretless bass where construction quality and materials play an even more important role in the overall result.
  14. Heres another wood knob producer -> Link
  15. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    I again find myself agreeing with lowphat, something I find happening with regularity .... :bag: ;) :D

    Yeah, it sounds like you think the bass is a dog, if so, don't waste your time trying to soup it up ..... lots of good used stuff out there :cool:
  16. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    Hey man! Funny thing you mentioned this, because i've noticed that the D and G strings, especially the G, sounds very thin, and not as loud as the A and E :( .... Maybe it has something to do with the huge cutaway (see the pic).

    I just came from practicing with it when i read your post, but the next time i play it i'll try to lay my ear onto it and listen. I suppose it's the "bass itself's" fault, since the D and G strings sounds very weak when i play it unplugged, too :bawl: . Maybe i could cure it by raising the pickup on the "treble" side and lower it on the bass side?

    I really like this bass, so i hope i'll get to fix these problems, you see.

    Thanks alot,
  17. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I was in your same situation with a cheaper bass. It is an Afiinity series Squier. Now, this thing stayed in tune, felt pretty good, but sounded like a mediocre piece o junk. It got me by well when I first started, but as I went on to better gear, I kept it because it was a gift from about 3 people. So what I ended up doing was upgrading the pickups and electronics, and doing a few other mods. I ended up with a bass that rivaled my American Deluxe Jazz. I have not played a p-bass yet that I like more. But even if I did, I would not get rid of it.

    I went through a few changes with it, though. I first tried bartolini electronics, but it didn't quite work for me. So I ended up with EMG's, and it's the agressive tone I was searching for.

    All in all, I would say that you should go for it with this thing. Getting used to a 4 string will not take long, and with better sounding electronics, you will want to play it a lot more. I say go for the electronics first, and a good set of flats, and see what you think of it then. I think after that, you will be very much more excited about it in general.

    Edit: One thing I forgot to mention is getting the nut replaced will help a LOT with the weak D and G strings. A lot on cheaper basses have a hollow plastic molded nut, and they tend not to give a good hard fulcrum for the string. This is also something I changed on my P-Bass.
  18. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    Sorry, my fault. I should have used different words in my orginal post here.

    First of all, i don't consider the bass a "turd", though i used the saying "polishing a turd". I just meant to ask whatever i should do; upgrade this bass or buy a different one.

    The bass to me, is a mid-range instrument that could be upgraded to "smell good". I were just looking for opinions, and since i'm just 15 years old and pretty unexperienced, i wanted to hear what you guys thougth of it. I now realized that this would be very hard for you guys to jugde, since apparently none of you have played the bass.

    I don't have a money tree, and gear is very expensive here in norway, so buying a high end bass rigth now is out of the question. I would have preferred to upgrade the bass i already own a bit at the time, therefore i asked if it would be a good idea.

    Sorry again for my unproper grammatics (or whatever) :)

  19. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    By the way, if anyone want to chat with me about this, or bass in general, feel free to contact me on my MSN or Yahoo! :)

    I'll be on for a while, so it's up to you ;)

  20. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    Don't polish. a turd is always a turd. My .02 as a former polisher. But hey, its fun to dick around if you don't mind throwing away cash maybe.