Tone Upgrades

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Fenderfan
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Tone Upgrades

Post by Fenderfan » Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:07 pm

Just wondering if anyone has done any of the following:
Bridge upgrades? Was looking at the Badass bridge or similar on my MIA P bass, and dunno if its worth it. It seems to come standard on some new MIA p's, but mine has the standard. I saw another post on this site about the badass, but anyone had experience with this or other bridge upgrades? Happy with the tonal change?
And secondly, capacitor upgrades? I saw on a uk bass forum that some people had put in an orange drop (?) cap and had good results. Anyone done anything similar?
And thirdly (sorry for goin on), pups. I know this is maybe more common, but also have thought of doing this on my squier jazz - i know value wise not going to give me any results - but i like the jazz as well and can't afford a MIM or MIA jazz so was thinking of upgrading the pups. Found some fender usa replacements(new) on tm, and looking at them. I know there may be some size issues, but am pretty confident in my router/chiseling skills, just wondering if anyone done something similar?
Thanks everyone, feedback/suggestions appreciated! :)
Fender MIA Precision, Squier Jazz, Genz Benz Shuttle 6.0, Ashdown ABM 1x15, 2 x DIY Jack 112 now complete!

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by foal30 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:57 pm

I think most bridges are 'better' than Fender's. I have bought a Badass for a fretless, but I am not sure that to improve a bass the first thing I change is the bridge.

instead of pick ups how about an external pre-amp.

don't know anything about capacitors
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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by Jazzbass » Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:44 am

I spent a lot of time, money and effort trying to make certain basses change their character to suit my idea of what a great bass should be like. The one thing I neglected to heed was the simplest: Strings. You can change those tones so easily with different strings. It beggars belief.

The major note I've taken on board after all this fecking around trying to get the tone I wanted was to just buy that tone in the first place. 'My' tone was already produced by Fender and try as I did, my 'other' basses couldn't be Fenders. It doesn't matter what 'your' tone is, chances are it already exists off the shelf...

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by Jazzbass » Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:49 am

One other thing I forgot. While it is fun to change components on a bass, it is almost never to any financial benefit. Stock normally sells best and the money we put into parts upgrades could be better spent on a whole instrument upgrade. Of course not everyone cares about the $$ and neither do I normally, but ... be warned.

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by Bill Fitzmaurice » Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:33 am

Jazzbass wrote:
The major note I've taken on board after all this fecking around trying to get the tone I wanted was to just buy that tone in the first place..
+1. Different hardware has little effect on tone, and changing pickups has unpredictable results. 90% of tone is in the wood and how it's put together, so that's what you've got to make your priority.
And secondly, capacitor upgrades? I saw on a uk bass forum that some people had put in an orange drop (?) cap and had good results
The cap doesn't do anything until you turn the tone control down, and all it does then is to remove highs, so there's no such thing as an 'upgrade'. Changing the value will alter at what frequency it starts to work, but you'd have to try a few values to see if you have a preference.

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by ryanmaiden » Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:02 am

Bill Fitzmaurice wrote: Different hardware has little effect on tone, and changing pickups has unpredictable results. 90% of tone is in the wood and how it's put together, so that's what you've got to make your priority.
You need to remember that all these hardware and pickup manufacturers want you to buy their product, so they're gonna make sure you think there's a good reason to do so. The aftermarket parts on my bass are more about function than tone. I've got a Badass 2 on my P bass, and it's nice and simple to set up. Tone wise, it makes me play a lot harder as it's much more solid and I trust it to do the job it's supposed to. So the tone benefit is that I can get more aggression in my sound if I want it. Most of my "tone" comes from whether I'm playing in front or behind the pickup (I've got a P bass), how hard I'm playing or whether I'm using a pick.

And Bill's right about capacitor upgrades etc. They only make a difference if you actually use them. With all the knobs on a passive bass turned up full, you might as well have the pickups wired directly to the output jack.
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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by pins » Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:03 pm

ryanmaiden wrote: Most of my "tone" comes from whether I'm playing in front or behind the pickup (I've got a P bass), how hard I'm playing or whether I'm using a pick.
Yeah I have to agree with that,thats where the initial tone chain begins with how you actually play the bass.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to play a few different basses( mex J,mia J,a squire P,the Gretsch,and the T45 Peavy) and using 2 different but similar rigs at gigs lately I conclude its all in the fingers or in my case the "mind" (or whats left of it that is)
As much as I try to seek an always elusive tone,the guys in the band say I still sound like me regardless of what gear I'm using,whether this is good or bad i don't know :?
Not really what I want to hear as I am never 100% happy with my sound and worse still unknowingly I might already have the tone and sound that defines my style.
And that's scary as I'm still looking for something more and I don't really know what that something more is :(
Dont know if i would go so far as to replace capacitors though :lol:

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by martyforrer » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:49 am

I've just done this.
First, the Orange Drop capacitor (available from Ian Riddle at Realtone or Weta guitars in Wellywood) makes a significant change in tone, but only when you turn the tone knob. If you habitually leave the tone knob on 10 it will make no difference.
Second, quality pots .... refer to the above.
Third, pickups. I've just replaced the $20 pups in my jazz clone with $250 Fralins. Result, the Bass is now quieter and more refined in tone, with a sweeter top. If I was a rock player I would put the $20 pups back in. :lol: However, the Fralins suit me just fine, but probably wouldn't suit most people.
Fourth, strings. As someone said, strings have the greatest effect on your tone (other than your fingers!) I found that my beloved TI JazzFlats that I've had for 10+ years do not suit the Fralin pups, so I've changed to Dunlop nickel roundwounds.
Bottom line: mucking around with basses is fun, but ultimately a fairly pointless exercise. The biggest change in tone of all comes from .... wait for it.... tadaa!!!! Practice, practice, practice, and experience, experience, and more practice. Then more experience. As Keith Richards famously said, "gimme any guitar, and any amp, and in ten minutes they'll sound like me!"
I recently did an A/B test between a $390 SX P bass and two Fender $2200 Roadworn P basses, all strung with the same strings, and using the same amp settings. The Fenders had that lovely old Fender vibe and were nice instruments, but the SX was louder, punchier, and played just as well. :shock:

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by john » Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:07 am

Does an orange cap really make much difference or is it just the value change you notice.
From what I understand, is the cap is passing the highs to ground. What you are hearing is what the cap is letting through, not the cap

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by timi » Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:17 pm

Standard MIA P Basses don't have Badass bridges, only the new Highway series and some signature models. People tend to say the Badass increases brightness and sustain, some like it, some don't, and some say you can't even hear any difference. I've had them but never compared another bridge on the same bass.

Personally I only change a standard bridge if it doesn't have grooves for the saddle screws, I find non-grooved bridges slip around a bit when playing hard. I have these on two of my basses, they are cheap and feel stable, didn't hear any sonic difference when upgrading. http://www.guitarparts.co.nz/cart/Detai ... &category=

If you are looking for some dark punchy Jazz pickups I'm selling some Rio Grandes....

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by martyforrer » Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:17 pm

john wrote:Does an orange cap really make much difference or is it just the value change you notice.
From what I understand, is the cap is passing the highs to ground. What you are hearing is what the cap is letting through, not the cap
John..... The orange Drop I use is the same value (0.047) as the chinese cap, but the difference is noticeable. However, I just realised that I changed my pots at the same time, so I'm not sure how much of a difference there is. However, a chinese cap is about 5cents and the OD is $5 so it must be better..... or maybe it's a case of my bass test in my last post. :lol: I dunno, it's just fun and a waste of money that I could otherwise be spending on wild women and hard liquor.... :roll:

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by john » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:12 pm

:lol: or hard women and wild...
A right value, taper and better quality pot, I can see making a difference . I doubt the cap would...But it's only $5 bucks and it will be less likely to be defective and you are happy, so all good.
A cap is a high pass filter and passes the highs to ground.

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by ash » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:28 pm

The capacitor can make a difference whether the knob is at full or anywhere on its range. A passive tone control is NEVER "off", especially not a Fender style one with a 0.047uF cap and 250k pot. A 250k pot at full is the same as a linear 500k pot at half, so anyone suggesting that there is no difference with the knob turned right up is also suggesting that the tone on a Gibson doesn't do anything above half. Either that or they're not really listening as well as they thought they were.

I'm not saying that the differences are huge, but they are real. I reckon 80% of players couldn't actually pick the difference if they weren't told what to listen for.

The cap does indeed simply bleed highs to ground, but which highs? How does it treat different fundamental frequencies? Does it treat even order and odd order harmonics similarly? Does it introduce it's own character by the way it passes signal to ground? There are loads of different types of capacitors used throughout the audio world with quite a range of prices. They don't make them all for fun, they make them because the different types behave differently.

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by ash » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:36 pm

Badass - Yes they can change the tone, but whether it's an improvement or not depends on what you're looking for and what you're coming from. I'm not a fan of them. They're pretty primitive and the saddles have pointy corners and the chrome tends to go pretty nasty over time. And they cost heaps.

I prefer Gotoh bass bridges, although the range is pretty wide whoch can make it hard to know which to choose. And some of them also cost heaps...

MV Pedulla specifically use vintage-style bridges on some models, because the bass just won't sound quite right with a giant zinc slab at one end.

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Re: Tone Upgrades

Post by ash » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:42 pm

Pickups - It's a pretty risky adventure to hack an American P-bass to make it sound like a J-bass. Adding one J-pickup is not uncommon, but a lot of afficionados say it still doesn't sound sufficiently J-ish, you need both pickups for that. If you're that fussy, just get a J-bass.

If you add two J-pickups, you'll need a new pickguard with the right shaped hole in it for the neck pickup, of course.

I wouldn't recommend the 2-pickup hack. Maybe add one, but have it done properly. Or sell it and buy what you really want or try and swap it for a MIA J-bass.

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