Your _____ bass's journey, both body and soul.... (Beware- Lengthy Post, but pics!)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by WhtMtnGrv, May 10, 2016.

  1. WhtMtnGrv

    WhtMtnGrv Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2015
    Crestline, CA
    Fill in the blank in the thread title, and share if you so desire!

    In my case, a recent project completion has me smitten and looking back on the start of my "modding" or working on basses, specifically the first bass I ever owned: a 2001 Squier Affinity P bass that I received as a christmas present from my parents my freshman year of high school. I first started on an Aria Pro p bass copy that I borrowed from a friend, and after a few months I was hooked.

    December 2001
    It started out looking like this, as most of them did in December of 2001:


    I eventually ended up pulling off the frets, getting a white pickup cover, cutting/removing the pick guard (except the part that held the pots/jack,) and slapping a big Adio shoes sticker right in the middle of it. I also (inexplicably) decided to decorate the body with some heavy duty staples. :facepalm: The addition of various stickers over the years eventually had it looking like a complete piece, but it was my piece, and still all original except the pickup cover.

    I unfortunately don't have any pictures that I could locate of the bass in this shape. I need to get to my parents house and see if there are any on their computer, and if I find them I'll surely upload.

    Once I got more into playing/gigging, I purchased a few other basses along the way including a Bryce SG copy, Bryce 5 string fretless jazz, and an 81 Fender Bullet. During this time, I had disassembled my Squier with dreams of refinishing grandeur in my head, and a neck without its frets pulled out. However I came to a point where my first bass was lying in a pile of abused pieces in my closet for several years, which didn't sit right with me. It was time to.... restore? :cool:

    Mid 2007
    The first obvious step step was body "prep" and "refinishing." And by "prep" and "refinishing" I mean crudely removing the paint, primer, and some of the next clear/protective layer of the factory finish, exposing some bare wood. I took to the body like a madman with sand paper, manually removing the factory paint and primer. Now I'm still not sure to this day what it was but noticing that some of the staple holes penetrated into this mysterious and seemingly extraneous finish layer, I decide it was a great idea to proceed and remove it where necessary to remove the holes.......:rollno:........ Upon researching and realizing I was in way over my head, I left the body as it was.

    As for the rest of the bass, I purchased a no name (I think it was a Mighty Mite maybe) neck... with frets, replacement tuners from stew mac, a new PG, a Dimarzio split P, new pots and knobs, and a Badass II bridge. After roughing my way through assembly/wiring, the finished product was not terrible:


    Better picture:

    There was a pretty awful buzz that I had unless the tone knob was rolled all the way back, due to a sloppy wiring job and a non-existent shielding job... much more so due the shoddy wiring job. However since I was playing loud death metal with no professional aspirations, it never really made a difference.

    After reliably performing (albeit like the substandard low quality instrument it was) over many sweaty shows and assorted abuse in its life, the replacement neck had finally had enough and cracked on me after a pretty intense show and being thrashed around like a rag doll for years. Since I was going to be upgrading the neck and would have the bass semi apart, I decided I'd do another "refinish."

    The remaining original parts at this point were the body, neck plate/screws, and strap buttons- but the soul of my first bass was still firmly entrenched therein.

    Late 2009
    This time, the "refinish" entailed painting the body with standard bright white glossy wall paint with a brush. I did several coats and what I was left with was a pretty sweet looking job actually, complete with the texture of the brush hairs. It was incorrectly done with no primer or actual correct prepwork, but it still looked cool. Along with another fresh PG, I went for a 2008 MIM Fender P bass neck (serial number confirmed with Fender) which yielded me the below result:


    I loved the look of the black on white, and rode with the bass like this with no real hiccups for a while, save for the same annoying buzz from my crappy wiring/shielding job years before.

    At this point, the original parts remaining were still the body, neck plate/screws, and strap buttons- soul still intact.

    Mid 2014 (could have been 2013, forget at this point)
    The next paint job was another crude one, however not as haphazard as the previous two because I was playing guitar in a pop rock band at the time and could take my time with my inadequate tools/knowledge and space, instead of rushing with my inadequate tools/knowledge and space. This time it was blue/purple color changing paint with a black primer layer. I did an even worse job clear coating the body but it still looked sharp to me, especially with the black bridge, hardware, etc. I only have one picture of the bass in this form since I had no reason to take any, and have GAS'd my way to three other basses in the meantime.

    The chrome bridge here is the one I bought recently and used on the latest rendition of the bass below:

    April/May 2016
    And now to the final restore/repair/fixing... This time around, being older/more financially stable/somewhat wiser than I was each previous time I went down this road, I wanted to do this right. I figured that with my living situation being a one bedroom apartment with Ms. Grv, I didn't have the space or tools for a proper refinish... as if I ever did! As such, I went with a Mighty Mite sunburst Ash precision body.

    It was a fresh template with no holes (except neck), no shielding, and more important, a finish that was professionally done. I got it for a great deal from here on TB, along with a 58 vintage style pickup made by a company out in Minneapolis called Revel; hand wound/RWRP/Alnico 5's, measuring at 11.6k. Along with this body and pickup, I decided to go all in on everything BUT the neck, since it is still in great shape with acceptable fret wear, working truss rod, etc.

    After shielding:

    So the parts list for this build included the following once the GAS dust settled:

    Already had:
    2008 Fender MIM P neck (nut beat to hell... :angel:)

    Purchased for this rebuild:
    MM ash body
    Stewmac 22:1 bass tuners
    Tusq synth ivory nut, filed to fit
    Fender genuine neck plate/screws
    Fender genuine tug bar/thumb rest
    Allparts strap buttons
    Stewmac prewired p bass harness with 250k CTS pots/knobs
    Stewmac PG/hardware
    Body cavity/PG shielding kit
    Aforementioned chrome Badass II bridge

    Upon getting all the parts in over a month or two long period, I set out to put this bad boy together the right way, buzz free, for the first time since it was brand new. Well.... there was a bit of noise when it was brand new, but it was much worse once I got my amateur hands into the electronics in 2007.

    After four bouts of tweaking the wiring, shielding, and bridge angle over the past week, it finally looks, sounds, and plays like it's been wanting to since it was born as a Squier Affinity. The biggest hurdle I ran into was having two screw heads break off the shaft of the screws while installing the bridge. These broken screw shafts then caused the new screws to go in uneven, (was unable to extract them and didn't feel like ripping into the body quite yet to remove them) which pushed the bridge uneven by a few degrees; it had no effect on tuning or intonation, but it bothered me immensely seeing it off by ~2mm.

    I finally got the bridge squared away, along with eliminating the p bass buzz that has been following me for over 10 years. Upon first installation of the pickup, I still had a slight buzz while not touching the strings/bridge, and then a louder one when I'd touch the pickup screws- but this louder buzz would go away when I simultaneously touched the pickup screw and a string or other metal part.

    As it turns out, making a larger overlap of the body cavity shielding so that it contacted the shielding on the back of the PG appears to have brought the noise to dead quiet. Now with the shielding(?) fixed, sheer p bass tone bliss has been bestowed upon my ears. It also doesn't look too shabby if I do say so myself.

    Current final form- properly finished/wired/assembled and after this afternoon, set up with zero fret buzz, low action, ringing sustain, and healthy sounding harmonics :hyper::hyper::hyper:

    By itself

    With the family

    To the abstract...
    With the hours and money that I put into reworking and reworking this thing over 15 years, it has evolved to such a point where there is now not a single original part left. Not one screw, wire, or piece is original (see parts list above.) But I feel the original soul remains in a way, as I've dedicated and infused my own energy into it for a decade and a half and it's been through so much over a decent chunk of years.

    Perhaps the soul of the bass has split, like our own cells do while our bodies develop in utero... leaving half of itself in the newest incarnation of my first p bass to grow as I use it for the next 15+ years while the other half still lurks in the remaining original Squier body and neck plate, waiting to be incubated and nurtured with new energy until it develops into a fully functional instrument again. :cigar:

    *sips on a peaty islay and gazes into a roaring fireplace, reflecting on the meaning of bass*

    Does anyone else have a similar journey that they have traveled with their first/most expensive/cheapest/favorite/whatever bass? Let's hear them!
    Last edited: May 10, 2016
  2. graphics1988

    graphics1988 Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2014
    Ontario Canada
    Cool story......ummm where is your head in pic number two?!! Lol
  3. WhtMtnGrv

    WhtMtnGrv Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2015
    Crestline, CA
    That's my guitarists head haha. I went back and removed the faces of past members just in case they didn't want their faces floating around here (even though there are tons more pictures of us online; just trying to be considerate)
  4. graphics1988

    graphics1988 Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2014
    Ontario Canada it is. I just noticed that (after I went and grabbed my glasses) lol.
    Cool story though... Sounds like that bass is a lifer.... Turned out awesome in the end too. It's a keeper for sure. Cheers :)
  5. Cool story..posts like this are enjoyable to read.:)
  6. ManOnEarth


    Mar 21, 2016
    Your story is awesome. It really made me admit to laziness and an almost complete detachment of any sentimental value.

    I had a couple bad breakups, and a couple big cross country moves though so the nomad is still strong... We travel a lot and I always want to live where we visit, which means I gotta keep things minimal incase I do pull that trigger.

    Thanks for your story, and the darn insight
  7. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    I've nearly been down that road with a few hot rods and trucks I've built....... to the point that the license plates and radiator cap are the only original parts left from what I started with many years prior.
  8. I had a Peavey T40 that I could have written a bit of a story about, but I sold it 30 years ago, and no pics.

    Cool story on yours though.
  9. WhtMtnGrv

    WhtMtnGrv Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2015
    Crestline, CA
    Yeah I'd definitely like to hang onto this one as long as life allows. I can't imagine I'd ever sell it, considering that the history I have with it far outweighs the pittance I'd get for it if I ever sold it.

    Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

    I see what you mean. And there's noting wrong with any of that! Some things take priority in life at different times and end up occupying our energy and focus at the expense of other things. It sounds like your travel and exploring different places (which sounds awesome btw, bad break ups notwithstanding) is high on the list for now.

    The catalyst for your moves was perhaps negative, but I hope you were able to find some good or positive in it! (Not trying to be preachy/condescending here or anything like that; just expressing genuine hope that you came out of the situation(s) better at the end) As long as you learn from an experience, it's not a waste!

    I've been through a couple rough relationship situations so I can certainly sympathize with you on that. Best of luck with everything and happy jamming!

    I WISH I had that experience with cars. I've always been a big fan of cars but never had the money or space to get into it. I have a good friend who was always into cars with his father starting from when he was young. He was in/around the garage for complete restorations of a 57 Belair and a 63 Corvair, among a few others before we started to hang out regularly.

    I recently had a 2014 Subaru WRX hatchback (and an 08 before that) with pretty significant but incremental plans for building it and making it my first real hands on trip into full on aftermarket modding. I did a couple years of research on it and developed a relationship with a shop but life happened, priorities shifted, and I sold the car to get rid of the car payment. I loved the car, but it was just smarter to get rid of it.

    The positive in it though (that I considered beforehand and looked forward to) is that selling the car freed up a good amount of coin for other things... like my 18 month bout of GAS that has recently been coaxed into relative remission with the completion of the p bass haha.

    Go on.....!
    Last edited: May 11, 2016
    ManOnEarth likes this.
  10. ManOnEarth


    Mar 21, 2016
    You are an honorary Canadian, now, I dub thee Sir White Mountain Government. (thats my guess at the acronym, get over it).
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    a great story! i just think it's beautiful that you held onto the instrument through all of it's 'spiritual' tests. and i'm super impressed with your work getting it to it's final/current resolve. just a great job all the way around!

    too cool!
  12. image.jpeg

    The EBMM Sterling I bought new in 1995 when I was in high school. I put a sticker on it. The Rickenbacker there I bought last August. I asked the guy at the store if they could take the pickup cover off which they did. I later had them put it back on again.
  13. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    I still have a bicycle (used to race 'em) that went through this same sort of "replace one part at a time process" until it was unrecognizable - and not the same brand - as the original. The only original parts left are the old-school friction shifters, which I love.
  14. I have a story!
    Started out with these 2-a Squier VM TB and an Epi T-bird-
    Went to Rockin Robin in Houston and traded them both for this 90's sunburst MIM Fender J (sorry for the flip phone photo)-
    Got a black PG, some chrome knobs, and some ashtrays-
    Wanted a different colored body, so I ordered this junk off ebay, along with some model J Dimarzio pups-
    Still the same 90's MIM Jazz neck, but I was NOT happy with the knockoff body or the Jazz sound anymore, so I saved and got a body from warmoth-
    After a bunch of coats of Tru-oil-
    Put that same MIM 90's Jazz neck on-
    And she's been my #1 ever since-
    bass4.jpg bass1.jpg
    lovechick, pjbassist, Bob T and 5 others like this.
  15. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015
    Corvair......appeared first in 1960, Sorry, I'm a car guy.
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  16. WhtMtnGrv

    WhtMtnGrv Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2015
    Crestline, CA
    Thank you for the correction!!! No need to apologize- I clearly have the year mixed up.

    I've incorrectly had 54 in my head on that Corvair for years. Maybe it was a 64?

    Either way now I'll have to ask my buddy what year it is!

    EDIT: The Corvair is a '63. OP fixed.
  17. sigmafloyd


    May 1, 2011
    Malak the Mad and CGremlin like this.
  18. sigmafloyd


    May 1, 2011
    I would just keep one of the original screws in it, or at least one from the last incarnation
  19. CGremlin


    Nov 1, 2014
    Palm Bay, FL
    And/or do like one horse-drawn wagon manufacturer in Tennessee does - they set a penny into the frame of every wagon they make. That way it will always be worth *something*, no matter how old and beat-up it gets.
  20. WhtMtnGrv

    WhtMtnGrv Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2015
    Crestline, CA
    Very interesting read! Aside from the actual content of the page, I found reading the differing views and trying to reconcile them with one another very enjoyable.

    Perhaps I ought to get out of the insurance data industry and get into philosophy!

    That's a great idea. I know I have some bridge screws and the original bridge along with other random hardware the first time I took the bass apart.

    That way I at least will have a something original.

    I never heard of that but I like it! Maybe if I ever get into actually building basses from raw slabs I'll set a pick in the body or neck on each one:thumbsup: