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barefootskater
barefootskater SuperDork
3/23/20 12:17 p.m.

Some years ago when I was rooming with my band I decided to see if I could build a functional guitar entirely from spare parts. 
 


 

Who just has a warmoth Birdseye neck laying around?

anyway, I was successful, it played and I even gigged it a couple times. It ended up with my old bassist who technically owned the body and I totally forgot about it for the last 7 or 8 years. 
 

Then he calls me up the other day and says he still has it and asked if I could help fix some stuff. The artwork is something that happened in the intervening years. It's not technically mine (only the bridge, pickup, and one tuner) but I'm excited to have it back for now. 
 


wawazat
wawazat HalfDork
3/23/20 4:22 p.m.

No response back from Yamaha owner.  

How about a virtually Schecter Stiletto 4 Session bass.  Looks to be their 2850 series.  $699 new and he's asking $400.   Made in South Korea.  I've heard of them but don't know about them.  Your thoughts?

barefootskater
barefootskater SuperDork
3/23/20 4:40 p.m.

In reply to wawazat :

Lots of folks like schecter stuff. It's not my thing personally but that's not because of any flaws in the instruments. I'd go to a local shop that carries them and try a few on for size. 

Antihero
Antihero SuperDork
3/23/20 4:43 p.m.

I tried to buy a cool guitar that's been up for months on reverb, but the guy won't budge on the price.

 

I doubt anyone but me would think it's cool. It's not.... spendy but I offered him what I consider to be a good price because I bought a similar one for the same.

 

I think I annoyed him......

wawazat
wawazat HalfDork
3/23/20 4:48 p.m.

Thanks barefootskater. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/23/20 5:15 p.m.
wawazat said:

Need some input here.   I want to start playing bass.  Thru high school I played saxophone though haven't touched them in years other than to pack and move them.  Always preferred my baritone and bass/lower registers of music has always drawn me in.   Can you give me some recommendations for a solid mid level bass I can buy to get started.  Budget about $300 to $500.  Want something that is solid enough to not limit me.  Country of origin isn't an issue for me.  I like music from jazz to rock to funk.  

Barefootskater recommended a VM Squier. I have a VM '77 Jazz Bass, and I love the thing.

It's lighter than your usual Fender, but it plays excellent, sounds great, and looks amazing. They retail for around $300 new, so you should be able to score one used for cheap. Mine was a B-stock because it left the factory with a white pickguard instead of a black one. Only thing I've done to it was install the pearloid pickguard you see in the pic to match my Squier SE Strat project (and to pretend I'm a certain Canadian Prog Rock legend). I plan on changing to a high mass bridge on the next string change.

The VM 70's bass (the natural blonde one with the black pickguard and maple neck with black block inlays) is really close to a Fender in terms of heft. These can be had used for around $200 or less. And of course, if you can get a Mexican Fender for under $250, snag it!

Some other common and great basses to keep an eye out for:
-Active Yamaha stuff in the mid-level range (looks like you already know this)
-USA-built Peavey basses, especially the Foundation, Patriot, and Fury, are unbelievable values. I'd put them up against USA Fender stuff any day.
-Non-GIO, Korean/Japanese Ibanez stuff; I have a 90's SR400 with active P/J's that plays and sounds amazing, and I see them all the time for dirt cheap. ATK basses and the newer SRX line can be had cheap as well

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/23/20 6:05 p.m.

Lately this has been my go-to even though, I admit, I generally prefer my P-basses. 

This was hanging in my guitar teacher's classroom one day. What's up with it? I asked.

It's a mishmash of parts and came in as part of a smaller collection. Best we can tell, it's a Fender body, '70s Aims neck (feels more like a P-bass), American Fender electronics, flatwounds and what looks like an old bridge. I traded a pedal and maybe $200 for it. He set it up, and it plays nicely.

More of the story, I guess, is it to become friends with the local shop. 

Antihero
Antihero SuperDork
3/23/20 6:12 p.m.

I only really own weird short scale basses, this is the one I play the most. Ginormous neck on it

 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/23/20 6:18 p.m.

In reply to Antihero :

Dude... I had that same bass! I stupidly traded a sweet minibike I used to have for it. The one I had was beat to hell; the electronics were shot, the bridge was unusable, the tuning machines were loose, and the binding on the neck was falling off. I left it at my favorite music store as a "donation" a few years ago. When it did work, it had a really cool sound; very early Geezer Butler tones came out of it with ease. 

Antihero
Antihero SuperDork
3/23/20 7:35 p.m.
Tony Sestito said:

In reply to Antihero :

Dude... I had that same bass! I stupidly traded a sweet minibike I used to have for it. The one I had was beat to hell; the electronics were shot, the bridge was unusable, the tuning machines were loose, and the binding on the neck was falling off. I left it at my favorite music store as a "donation" a few years ago. When it did work, it had a really cool sound; very early Geezer Butler tones came out of it with ease. 

That's cool, this one has a very fundamental tone that I love, I could totally see it doing geezer tones too.

 

That one and I somehow have the same weird bass Kurt Cobain used early in his career. I saw a pic in a museum and had no idea. I just bought it because short scale maple neck jazz basses are pretty rare and it played nice

akamcfly
akamcfly Dork
3/24/20 7:01 a.m.

I made this! 

It still needs the string retainer installed and a couple holes filled/drilled for the pickguard but I plugged it in and strummed at it yesterday for the first time. It's not adjusted at all yet either but that will come after a few days of tuning and strumming to let it "settle". That may not be necessary, but I'm going to let it settle before playing around with action and intonation and all that jazz (sorry).

It's a Solo kit that I got the analysis paralysis on and upgraded almost everything on while making it.

Biggest lesson? It seems Jazz Bass parts don't fit all Jazz Basses - or any for that matter. They appear to be a real, poorly documented, mish-mash of subtle changes. The only upgraded part that didn't need hacking and slashing and scorched earth was the bridge.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/24/20 7:45 a.m.

In reply to akamcfly :

That's BEAUTIFUL!

Depending on the year and where they were made, Jazz Bass stuff can differ slightly. Even the pickguard I put on mine needed a little massaging to fit.

akamcfly
akamcfly Dork
3/24/20 8:14 a.m.
Tony Sestito said:

In reply to akamcfly :

That's BEAUTIFUL!

Thanks! yes

The finish was, as Bob Ross says, "a happy accident". I stained it dark walnut and applied teak oil over that. The oil felt rough after it dried so I sanded it to take the oil off and it knocked the stain off the top of the grain. I was unhappy because the walnut looked pretty. However, after accepting that the rough needed to go, I continued sanding. Happy accident! I liked it better sanded out, so I waxed it and left it. The fun part was trying to duplicate the hap-hazard finish on the headstock (face only). The chrome pickguard is for a Japanese model apparently and I need to fill/drill 3 holes as they're half a hole out. 2 holes matched the kit body's pattern and the balance were far enough out to easily re-drill. 

Upgrades from the kit are MUCH nicer tuners, high mass bridge, better pots and tone resistor with a push-pull pot set up for series/parallel wiring and a graphtech nut. The pickups are also an upgrade which involved re-drilling the hole pattern and routing the bridge pickup ear slots a bit larger. It was the new pickups which started most of the upgrades because I had to make them fit. So why not just dive in and try stuff out?

I also drilled the body from the backside and installed 8 M3x0.5mm threaded inserts for the pickup screws. I can micro-adjust the pickups to exactly where I want them to be in relation to the strings and not have to concern myself with stripped screw holes.

Antihero
Antihero SuperDork
3/24/20 3:19 p.m.

Maple necks always look better imo

 

And usually play better too

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
3/24/20 3:43 p.m.

In reply to akamcfly :

I've noticed that with Fender guitar parts as well.  I have an itch to build a Dave Murray replica Strat from the Live After Death era when he had a Kahler bridge.  I happen to have one of those bridges and it was designed to index on the outer screw holes of a 6-hole Strat bridge.  Then I try to line it up on a couple of guitars I have. Are they all the same?  No - of course not. 

indecision

akamcfly
akamcfly Dork
3/24/20 4:29 p.m.
Ian F said:

In reply to akamcfly :

I've noticed that with Fender guitar parts as well.  I have an itch to build a Dave Murray replica Strat from the Live After Death era when he had a Kahler bridge.  I happen to have one of those bridges and it was designed to index on the outer screw holes of a 6-hole Strat bridge.  Then I try to line it up on a couple of guitars I have. Are they all the same?  No - of course not. 

indecision

My Gotoh high(ish) mass bridge holes lined up perfectly along the string/saddle mounting flange, but it's missing 2 holes near the pickup entirely. I'm not going to bother drilling it out. The tuners are also Gotoh and rather nice. The head wasn't pre-drilled so that wasn't an issue. Nothing else fit correctly. heart

 

I started setting it up this afternoon and the truss rod was not tight enough. It's closer, but I'm going to leave it overnight to see where it settles. It seems to be a specific order of operations to get it right without chasing your tail, but there's a lot of good help online.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/30/20 8:39 a.m.

Got bored yesterday and decided to tweak my Squier SE Strat a bit. On the agenda were a string change, lower the bridge height, round and deburr the fretboard edges, and oil the fretboard.



So yeah, the bridge was just a wee bit high! I installed this Wilkinson vintage-style "big block" bridge when I brought this thing home a couple years ago, but never messed with it since.


After sanding the edges of the board lightly with a foam sanding block to round/deburr the fret edges, I hit it with some Dunlop lemon oil. As you can see, the board was extremely dry. I can bet that it's never been oiled since it left the factory. When I bought it, it was basically new; hell, it still has the cellophane on the pickguard!


So much better!


And done. I LOVE how this thing looks!

So, how's it play? Better, I think? Still not 100% happy with it. The neck feels better and doesn't want to cut my fingers while playing, but the tone still isn't what I am looking for. When I bought it, I replaced the weak stock pickups with some Wilkinson "hot" ceramic pickups that I scored super cheap. While they are much better than the originals, they still don't sound the way I want them to. I'm used to humbuckers, so it could just be my ears. I also strung it with some cheap Musician's Gear 9's instead of the usual D'Addario 10's I always use, so that might be part of the problem.

Not sure what to do next, maybe another pickup change? We'll see.

 

wawazat
wawazat HalfDork
3/31/20 5:03 p.m.

I found a rough looking Peavey Patriot with amp local for $250.   I'd like to take a look at it but Detroit is kind of a Covid hot spot right now so Imma sit tight.   

Antihero
Antihero SuperDork
3/31/20 10:08 p.m.
wawazat said:

I found a rough looking Peavey Patriot with amp local for $250.   I'd like to take a look at it but Detroit is kind of a Covid hot spot right now so Imma sit tight.   

Peavey's are always good

barefootskater
barefootskater SuperDork
4/1/20 8:38 a.m.
Antihero said:
wawazat said:

I found a rough looking Peavey Patriot with amp local for $250.   I'd like to take a look at it but Detroit is kind of a Covid hot spot right now so Imma sit tight.   

Peavey's are always good

Not sure I'd use the word "good," but that's just personal taste. Solid,for sure. Beefy. Reliable. Peavey basically makes small block chevys. Not the most sophisticated, heavy. But when you need a workhorse, by golly it will work for you. Goes for their  amps and pro audio stuff as well. I like peavey. 

carczar_84
carczar_84 Reader
4/1/20 9:57 a.m.

With the current "shelter in place orders" here in CA, I'm trying to make the best of it and work on those things you never make time for.  Spent last night re-stringing, cleaning and polishing the frets, and just giving the two a good detailing.  

 

The Agile I've had for years, and is built like a tank, and with the SD Slash pu's has a great heavy, crunch to it.  The Harley Benton is a relatively new purchase, and so for I'm super impressed w/ it.  Build quality is great, arrived perfectly tuned, fretwork was good.  The fret board was crazy dry, but other than that so big, obvious flaws.  It also has push/pull knobs for splitting the pickups, which I've never played with before, and it's kinda fun to mess around with.

 

(The Uke is the wife's, and it has been getting some heavy use during the WFH time)

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/1/20 10:29 a.m.
barefootskater said:
Antihero said:
wawazat said:

I found a rough looking Peavey Patriot with amp local for $250.   I'd like to take a look at it but Detroit is kind of a Covid hot spot right now so Imma sit tight.   

Peavey's are always good

Not sure I'd use the word "good," but that's just personal taste. Solid,for sure. Beefy. Reliable. Peavey basically makes small block chevys. Not the most sophisticated, heavy. But when you need a workhorse, by golly it will work for you. Goes for their  amps and pro audio stuff as well. I like peavey. 

I'll die on this sword: The USA-built Peavey bass stuff is bulletproof, all the way from the early T40's to the later 90's Foundation and Fury basses. I've played more than a few of them over the years, and every one of them played and sounded awesome. And they can take a real beating; the Foundation S I have was beaten within an inch of its life and somehow was able to be brought back to life with some cleaning, new strings, and minor tweaks. It's probably the best playing bass in my lineup!

Their guitars are pretty good as well, but I've found that the later USA ones pale in comparison to the earlier ones, with the exception of the EVH ones.

wawazat
wawazat HalfDork
4/2/20 2:33 p.m.

So I found another Peavey local to me, a TL-5 fretless.   I don't know enough to know if this is something I should look at or avoid.  Beautiful condition, made in the US, local, new strings, original pickups, hard case.  First is fretless a concern for new player?  It is lined.   How much out of tune are notes if you hit off center between the lines?   I'm a big guy but have average sized hands.  Concerns for reaching across the neck to the B?

 

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
4/2/20 2:41 p.m.

In reply to wawazat :

If the price is right(for you, you should definitely get it). As a new player, don't approach it like you would playing your other bass(es). Instead turn off the lights & allow your ear to guide your fingers - listen & try to tell if each note is in tune, close, or way out. The easiest way is to start with your open strings vs. the next lowest string at the 5th "fret", and the 7th "fret" vs the next highest string. 
 

It certainly takes time, but you'll eventually get it if you approach the instrument in that manner(or similar). If you pick it up expecting to play it like a fretted bass you'll probably be disappointed though. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/2/20 2:50 p.m.

I have a '80s fretless Peavey Foundation bass. It was a killer deal on an all-original model in the original case. I couldn't have even bought a Squire for that money, so I grabbed it. I admit, I haven't played it much....

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