Upgrading Fender MIM Jazz Bass

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by Will Workforgear, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. Will Workforgear

    Will Workforgear Member

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    I have a 2000 MIM Jazz Bass that I want to upgrade. (not that it really needs it, but I just can't help myself) I'm going to do the series/parallel push/pull pot, and shielding. I want to change the bridge and make it thru-body. Are there any other choices beside a $40 Fender Deluxe or a $200 top end bridge? Is mass all that important for thru-body string mounting? What about replacing the pups? I don't play out, just messing around with friends on weekends. Thanx.
     
  2. Jarrett

    Jarrett Member

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    I had a friend in the biz that did guitar work and I had a Fender Strat I used to take to him to get random sorts of upgrades in the hopes it would make big improvements.

    After a couple of trips to his store, he wisely told me, "there is only so much that you can polish a turd." He suggested instead of spending money over and over trying to improve the instrument, why not sell it and take the proceeds, apply that to the money that I was going to spend on parts and him servicing it and buy an instrument that was of better quality. I did and was much happier.
     
  3. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Supporting Member

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    "...he wisely told me, "there is only so much that you can polish a turd." "

    Wise indeed.
     
  4. Will Workforgear

    Will Workforgear Member

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    I understand what you're saying, but there is at least as much enjoyment in the process of modding the instrument as there is in playing the finished product. I guess its the journey, not the destination.
     
  5. Endr_rpm

    Endr_rpm Member

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    1. Gotoh 201 bridge- $30 at Warmoth
    2. New pots and caps- $15? Warmoth, Guitar Fetish, Stew Mac

    Going string through has almost zero effect on anything but having holes through your bass. Just sayin :) The higher mass bridge really only makes a difference if you are already having tuning/stability issues with your current bridge, they sonic difference is negligible. After the above mods, the options for pickups are silly. What kinds of tones are you going for? Classic? Modern rock? Modern rnb/jazz?
     
  6. Will Workforgear

    Will Workforgear Member

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    Classic rock, Rn'B, Traditional folk
     
  7. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    you can't polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter ;)

    anyway, the phrase doesn't apply to mexi basses!

    they're good hunks of wood with so-so parts and pickups in them; judicious upgrades will net you a strong instrument when you're done.

    the number one thing to change is the pickups; that'll make a way bigger improvement than changing the bridge. the stock units are like the rest of the stock mexi pickups, cheap ceramic magnets glued to the bottom of coils with steel slugs. nothing like the real thing.

    the through-body bridge thing is not really worth messing with; the screw pattern isn't the same, and the fender through-bridges are smaller footprint than stock, so you'd have old marks showing in the finish.

    just get yourself some vintage-style threaded-rod saddles for the stock bridge for like $20, and you've got a solid, spacing-adjustable bridge. as a side benefit, the string spread that lines the strings up between the pickup magnets forces the outer saddles in against the inner ones, holding everything together for no rattling, no sliding around, and better tone/sustain.

    you get this (saddles slammed up against each other, and strings lined up between the magnets):

    [​IMG]

    instead of this (note the G saddle and how it's slid away from the rest, and how the strings slightly miss the magnet pairs):

    [​IMG]
     
    derekd and fretless like this.
  8. Will Workforgear

    Will Workforgear Member

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    I found the saddles at Allparts for $18 + shipping. Thats the way I'll go. Now about the pups....
     
  9. Kitsapbass

    Kitsapbass Member

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    Hipshot Bass X-Tender Key. Probably the most common mod that I've seen. I have them on 6 of my 8 basses - including 5 strings.

    I've gotten good results out of Basslines J pickups - used they go for around $75 for a set. Dimarzio Model Js are good too - little more upper mids to my ears.
     
  10. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    sky's the limit there!

    does this bass have the pickups with the raised-up center poles? do they hum-cancel when they're both all the way up?

    if so, they're standard sized, so all the replacements will fit just fine. if you're looking for the "classic" old school tone, then nice vintage reissues like the fender "original", "custom shop 60s", or duncan "vintage" would all be great and not break the bank.

    if this is the early mexi spec, with two pickups that are the same size (instead of a shorter neck and a longer bridge like they should be) and don't hum-cancel together, then you'd need to do a little dremeling to get replacements to fit. still way worth doing, though.

    i just did one of these for a customer today as a matter of fact, a '90s mexi jazz with the crappy wrong-sized pickups. i installed a set of dimarzio area Js (which are humbuckers that sound like single coils, he wanted it as a "studio bass" so hum-canceling in all settings was important) and those very same threaded-rod saddles.

    i had to skim the ends of the bridge pickup hole and the flanges of the neck pickup pickguard cutout with my dremel, but it was a very slight mod, not really visible.

    sounded great.
     
  11. Endr_rpm

    Endr_rpm Member

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    Yup, have these on 2/4 basses. The other 2 are a 5 string and a fretless :)

    re: Pickup size- I think they switched over ~2000, so make sure you measure before you order anything. I had a fretless of that vintage, was pretty easy to dremel out the rout to make a normal sized pup fit, but matching the finish after was a pain so there was no raw wood showing.
     
  12. Kitsapbass

    Kitsapbass Member

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    I have the Hipshots on two of my 5 strings - the low A is absolutely gut-rattling. All my 4s have them.
     
  13. Will Workforgear

    Will Workforgear Member

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    The pups are the same size, but I'm pretty handy with that sort of thing and the body is black and I find nail polish hides many sins. Ordered the Hipshot BT-7 from Ebay ($59) and the threaded saddles from Allparts ($25). I love this stuff! Thanx!
     
  14. Kitsapbass

    Kitsapbass Member

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    Just remember with the Hipshot, pencil lead is your friend. That will help keep the string from sticking in the nut. Also, setting up the string tension the first time takes a while, but you should be able to do it without too much of a pain.

    PM me if you have any questions with it.
     
  15. NashSG

    NashSG Member

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    I did a few changes on mine years back. I think a high mass bass bridge did really change the sound quite a bit on mine. I don't think you have to necessarily get a Badass II, as there are other big blocks of metal bridges out there now, but it completely changed the sustain and sound on mine. Others may find different results, but the difference in sound was audible even unplugged.
     
  16. AshlandBump

    AshlandBump Silver Supporting Member

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    Any other opinions on whether or not to do the string-thru mod? I've thought about doing this but if anyone who's actually done it can weigh in, that'd be appreciated.
     
  17. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    you'll find a whole bunch of testimonials over on talkbass of folks with newer american fenders (which have the bridge with both options) that they've strung it both ways and heard no difference.
     
  18. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    I had a MIM J bass I put a Badass II on, SD quarter pounder pups, and Gotoh tuners. The original tuners were sloppy, the bridge added sustain, and the pups gave it more life. I was able to buy all used and not spend much. Turned out better than expected. The body and neck were good bones to begin with.

    Sold it a few years ago to a student who is using it currently in his college jazz band.
     
  19. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    Pickups, saddles/bridge and a well done nut make a big difference. The series/parallel switch is really nice for some tonal variation (the series J sound is thick!). Not a fan of string thru. Most can't tell a difference when strung either way.
     

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