Topic: Bass Restoration

I got a bass from Bigdawgz (aka Hizzoner). He has a business buying and selling used things, mostly instruments. He bought out a store that was closing. This store had their own brand called Guitar Works. He had a bass left at the end of selling the other things. Good wood on it, but the components were shot.

I'm restoring it in two phases. I bought the materials for phase one the other night.

1. Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder pickups, plus foam and screws.
2. An on board unpowered pre amp to replace the pots and jack. It uses screws for pickup connections, so I'll be able to try different sounds without soldering.
3. A set of GHS Boomer strings with a lighter than usual gauge for me. .040 to .090. I usually use .045 to .105. Hoping to try more popping and modern sounding attacks with this bass. My usual style is more like walking bass and Chicago blues style riffs. Both my current basses has very traditional sound setups as a result.
4. A replacement pick guard. The current one is white and warped and flat out ugly. I don't like white pick guards and pickups. The new pickups are black. The new pickguard is a darker shade of baby blue decorated with black paisley designs.
5. I'll shield all the cavities and covers while it's open.

Phase 2, which will require a new cash infusion, will get a new high mass preferably bell brass bridge in black, black tuning machines, and maybe black strings. 

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

Re: Bass Restoration

I just tried those fancy black coated strings from DR and pulled them right back off after 3 weeks.  They go dead so fast.     

Re: Bass Restoration

Baldguitardude wrote:

I just tried those fancy black coated strings from DR and pulled them right back off after 3 weeks.  They go dead so fast.

Good to know.

All the reviews I've seen are that the coated strings have a mellow tone, but I'm looking for bright on this bass. I may have to stick with roundwounds. I've got flat wounds on my fretless, half rounds on my Ovation, so round wounds may be right. I'm looking to achieve some of the sound I wanted to get rid of on my Ovation when I switched away from round wounds on it.     

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

Re: Bass Restoration

They were nice and bright at first but they dulled really quickly. And it wasn't a warm mellow tone. It was a dead string tone. Poor sustain, etc.

I suppose they are fine if you want to change strings 4-6 times a month but I don't have time or $ for that.     

Re: Bass Restoration

All the parts but the pick guard have come in.

I'm going to try to assemble it on Sunday or Monday with the old, ugly pick guard, as changing that out will be quick when the new one comes in.     

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

Re: Bass Restoration

Good Luck Zurf !
Sounds like a project I would love ! ( Although I know nothing about strings and how they are wound.)

Jim     

Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but what your mind can imagine.
Make your life count, and the world will be a better place because you tried.

"Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except only the the best." - Henry Van Dyke

Re: Bass Restoration

New volume and tone pot, new jack (all really in a preconfigured pre-amp sort-of thingy), and new pickups installed.  The action is super high on the E and A strings in order to get tuned up. I can adjust that, but I'm going to wait until I get the new bridge installed and then I can see whether I need to do a neck reset.  Also, all cavities are now shielded and I put in a shielded ground wire for the ground-to-bridge.  This should be quiet on-stage.  I'll see on Thursday night at practice. I'll also see whether these pickups are really the "high output" passive pick-ups they're advertised to be. Or rather, the sound guy will.  I am not the sound guy in the band. We have two of them and they're really good. One actually has a degree in sound guy stuff, so I get a break this time, which is nice because I don't have the foggiest notion what I'm doing except from having done it wrong a bunch of times.     

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

8 (edited by Zurf 2020-01-22 12:15:13)

Re: Bass Restoration

Needs a new nut. I just learned the test where you press the string down half way between the second and third frets then check whether there's a sliver of space between the string and the first fret. There isn't. And I've already raised the string at the bridge. So...new nut. Wish me luck. It looks simple enough on YouTube.

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

Re: Bass Restoration

Zurf wrote:

So...new nut. Wish me luck. It looks simple enough on YouTube.

I changed one on a bass not too long ago - buying it pre-configured made it quite easy, the harder one was the bone one I had to made for the multi-scale acoustic guitar, as it had all sorts of wierd angles ...

Have fun!

Richard     

-[ Musician, writer, guitarist, poor singer ]-
My songs             http://neophytte.mine.nu/audio/
My Soundcloud   https://soundcloud.com/neophytte1
My YouTube         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHnDpTAPTUE&list=PLhpGn51pPqN6q8kmuORnuWcAXRF1_b1zV

Re: Bass Restoration

neophytte wrote:
Zurf wrote:

So...new nut. Wish me luck. It looks simple enough on YouTube.

I changed one on a bass not too long ago - buying it pre-configured made it quite easy, the harder one was the bone one I had to made for the multi-scale acoustic guitar, as it had all sorts of wierd angles ...

Have fun!

Richard

I got off to a poor start by buying a wrong model nut. I'll return it. A different one that is too high and I'll need to sand down to fit has been ordered.     

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

Re: Bass Restoration

Zurf wrote:
neophytte wrote:
Zurf wrote:

So...new nut. Wish me luck. It looks simple enough on YouTube.

I changed one on a bass not too long ago - buying it pre-configured made it quite easy, the harder one was the bone one I had to made for the multi-scale acoustic guitar, as it had all sorts of wierd angles ...

Have fun!

Richard

I got off to a poor start by buying a wrong model nut. I'll return it. A different one that is too high and I'll need to sand down to fit has been ordered.

I used a file to get mine down to size, mark where it sits first with a pencil across the fretboard, then put the file down flat and start at the bottom of the nut keeping it as flat as you can; I've heard it's easier if you have a table vice to hold it, and a fancy file with a holding knob on one end, but we make the best of what we have ... measure frequently as you don't want to go too low ... also buy a spare if you think you can't do it ...

Cheers

Richard     

-[ Musician, writer, guitarist, poor singer ]-
My songs             http://neophytte.mine.nu/audio/
My Soundcloud   https://soundcloud.com/neophytte1
My YouTube         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHnDpTAPTUE&list=PLhpGn51pPqN6q8kmuORnuWcAXRF1_b1zV

12 (edited by Zurf 2020-02-07 17:06:22)

Re: Bass Restoration

I haven't been able to get the back bow out of the neck. The action is going to have to be ridiculously high until I get a replacement neck. Very disappointing.

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

Re: Bass Restoration

Zurf wrote:

Very disappointing.

Like my sight reading.     

14 (edited by Zurf 2020-02-08 14:32:31)

Re: Bass Restoration

Baldguitardude wrote:
Zurf wrote:

Very disappointing.

Like my sight reading.

I still might use it on stage tomorrow. The action is half as high as it was. I just can't use the first frets on E or A, which only matters in Bb. One song is in Bb, but I'll slide up to grab the Bb and Eb as the sixth fret rather than the first. Intonation at the 12th feet is ok even with the slightly high action.

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

15 (edited by neophytte 2020-02-09 06:20:17)

Re: Bass Restoration

Zurf wrote:
Baldguitardude wrote:
Zurf wrote:

Very disappointing.

Like my sight reading.

I still might use it on stage tomorrow. The action is half as high as it was. I just can't use the first frets on E or A, which only matters in Bb. One song is in Bb, but I'll slide up to grab the Bb and Eb as the sixth fret rather than the first. Intonation at the 12th feet is ok even with the slightly high action.

If the action is still high, try lowering the tuning from EADG to DGCF and play everything two frets higher, or use a capo ...

Cheers

Richard

-[ Musician, writer, guitarist, poor singer ]-
My songs             http://neophytte.mine.nu/audio/
My Soundcloud   https://soundcloud.com/neophytte1
My YouTube         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHnDpTAPTUE&list=PLhpGn51pPqN6q8kmuORnuWcAXRF1_b1zV

Re: Bass Restoration

Zurf wrote:
Baldguitardude wrote:
Zurf wrote:

Very disappointing.

Like my sight reading.

I still might use it on stage tomorrow. The action is half as high as it was. I just can't use the first frets on E or A, which only matters in Bb. One song is in Bb, but I'll slide up to grab the Bb and Eb as the sixth fret rather than the first. Intonation at the 12th feet is ok even with the slightly high action.

Because unlike my sight reading your bass can make it through a gig.     

Re: Bass Restoration

BGD 

you're cracking me up !  smile     

Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but what your mind can imagine.
Make your life count, and the world will be a better place because you tried.

"Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except only the the best." - Henry Van Dyke

Re: Bass Restoration

Zurf wrote:
Baldguitardude wrote:
Zurf wrote:

Very disappointing.

Like my sight reading.

I still might use it on stage tomorrow. The action is half as high as it was. I just can't use the first frets on E or A, which only matters in Bb. One song is in Bb, but I'll slide up to grab the Bb and Eb as the sixth fret rather than the first. Intonation at the 12th feet is ok even with the slightly high action.

After spending two weeks getting the back bow out of the neck and getting it ready to play on stage, a week and a half later the back bow is back. That's not a sustainable ratio of repair to usefulness.  I've ordered a replacement neck. It's a cheap Chinese neck that will hopefully be straight. It has a double action truss rod that is activated at the headstock, is made of maple, and has a rosewood fretboard. It comes pre-fretted, which will save me a HUGE amount of work but I'll probably have to do some fret leveling before it goes on the bass.

I still want to replace the tuning machines and the bridge, but that will have to wait more...     

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

Re: Bass Restoration

So. Finished. More or less.

Replaced the pickups with Seymour Duncan 1/4 pounders. They're a high output passive pickup.

I shielded all the compartments with copper foil.

I ran a new ground to bridge with a slightly larger shielded line.

I put in a pre-fab dohicky that has the volume, tone, and jack rigged through a little block that lets me wire in the pickups without soldering.

The neck had a back bow that I got rid of once, but came back within two weeks. So I put on a new neck. It's a lot thicker than the original, but I kind of like it.

I replaced the tuning machines both for color (the new ones are black) but also because the original ones had some quirks I didn't like.

I replaced the bridge with a HIpshot Kickass 4, also black.

I replaced the pick cover because the original was ugly and thin.

And I put on black knobs.

I restrung it with some Dean Markley Cryogenic strings. I don't like them much, but they were $25, so I'll let them wear out a bit before I put on replacements. I have some GHS Boomers waiting. I do think this bass might sound better with half-rounds. But I have half-rounds on my Ovation, and I have flat-wounds on my Yamaha. So Frankenstein will have round wounds for the brighter tone when needed.

I've got the set up to the specs I could find. The nut is right. Using a test with a capo on the first fret and fretting where the body meets the neck, the 7th fret has .015" relief. Then with the capo off, the action at that fret is .125". That seems high to me, but it's the spec. So I'll play it like that for a while. With the nut, the bridge, and the relief all set where they're supposed to be, I then used a curve gauge thingy to set the bottoms of the A and D strings on the same curve as the fretboard. Then I did intonation using harmonics at the twelfth fret and that was a piece of cake with this bridge.

So all of it is set up where it belongs, but the action FEELS a little high. I'll play it a while with this action and the big baseball bat neck and I expect I'll get to like it. Though I may set the action a little lower so long as it doesn't mess up anything else.

I did have to put a very thin shim in the neck to make it all work. It came that way. I took it out when I cleaned up the finish on the body and had to clean out the neck pocket. I ordered some bell brass shims, but they didn't come in. So I used stainless steel washers. I forgot to use the micrometer to measure their thickness, but they're just perfect. When the right shims come in, I'll measure the washers when I take them out and replace with the same thickness proper shim.

I had to buy some new tools. I learned a GREAT DEAL.

Some things I learned:
Not soldering is MUCH nicer than soldering.
Shielding is important.
High output pickups are nice and cut way down on buzz because less "juice" has to be pushed in at the sound board.
Pick guards are a pain in the neck.
Don't drink whiskey when using an X-acto knife to cut copper foil.
Don't drink whiskey when soldering.
Buy extra little tiny screws.
For the most part, the less expensive gauges and tools on Amazon are the same as you can get from a high end outlet like StewMac.  But StewMac cannot be beat for files.
Use correctly measured files from StewMac if you decide to replace a nut.
Back bow is a death knell.
High mass bridges do not add sustain. They all claim to.
A high quality bridge is a delight for adjusting action and intonation and stringing. 
Wear reading glasses when trying to read a 1/64" scale.
The tool with a bunch of very finely measured and labeled thicknesses (gap tool?) eliminates a LOT of guesswork.
The little metal booger with a slot in it to slide around a fret and protect the fret board while you sand the fret is a gift from God.
While it's possible to find the occasional good quality off brand part, time is better spent trying to find good deals on parts from well known manufacturers.
Don't use a high torque power drill to install neck screws. The screw heads will strip long before they are tight.     

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

Re: Bass Restoration

Wow Zurf. Sounds like you have about 100 hours in that thing. Hope you get at least that many hours of playing from it. smile     

__________________________________
[b]Today Is Only Yesterdays Tomorrow[/b]

Re: Bass Restoration

Zurf " don't drink whiskey while soldering!" 

OMG there has to be a story there that you are holding back on !   

C'mon Zurf - what happened ?  smile

Great stuff man - real tenacious and demanding of perfection !
I like it.

Jim     

Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but what your mind can imagine.
Make your life count, and the world will be a better place because you tried.

"Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except only the the best." - Henry Van Dyke

Re: Bass Restoration

TIGLJK wrote:

Zurf " don't drink whiskey while soldering!" 

OMG there has to be a story there that you are holding back on !   

C'mon Zurf - what happened ?  smile

Great stuff man - real tenacious and demanding of perfection !
I like it.

Jim

I went through a lot of solder sucker. I don't like extra solder anywhere and I was a bit slow to react once the solder went liquid.     

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

Re: Bass Restoration

unclejoesband wrote:

Wow Zurf. Sounds like you have about 100 hours in that thing. Hope you get at least that many hours of playing from it. smile

It'll be my main stage bass now because I can adjust tone effectively and also the lack of 60 cycle hum.     

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude