Basses for Newbies - Bass #6

Let's get #6 started. . . back to SX's . I've been doing a lot of jazz basses lately, so I figured I'd try something different with a P/J.

This bass was the one that's started this whole basses for newbies ordeal. It's been sitting in the studio making its way onto various projects that come through. I leveled the frets already, but think I need to take another look at the level job and probably cut more fall-off. Hopefully this one will be straight forward and fast. Mainly, this bass makes noise so I will try to shield and re-wire. . . and throw in neck inserts. I was debating the series/parallel switch on a P/J, but I think I'll put that in as well just for kicks and giggles. . . see what "super phat" mode sounds like.

Thinking about trying out a GFS p-bass pickup on the neck position and see if the shielding alleviates the hum issues on the stock bridge position SX pickup because the "SX effect" only seems to happen on the neck pickup. If it still hums, I'll have to look into a split coil bridge pup.

I was watching my puppy because she's recovering from surgery today so I've moved the operation downstairs (have to keep her quiet for a few more days).

Because I had originally meant to keep this bass as my only SX, I exchanged it a couple of times due to neck pocket issues. . . this copy has one of the cleanest neck pockets I've seen on an SX. No shim needed either for low action setup.

This is still the scariest part of the builds. . . everything inside me is saying, "This is no place for a hand drill." But I keep pushing my luck. . . a lot can go horribly wrong very quickly.

Success!!! Humans win.

Some Slide Glide on the screw threads to help them torque down smoothly and preserve the threads on the threaded inserts. I'm sure any type of grease would work.

And, the neck is set. Strings confirm that pickup, neck, and bridge alignment are ok.

Setting up to cut a bit more fall-off and to touch up the fret work I had previously done.

What happens to puppies when they're hopped up on pain meds.

Confirming the fret level before crowning and polishing them up. . . I learned from #5 that a few minutes here can save you a lot of headache later when you string it up, and there are problems.

Some creative clamping on the coffee table to drill the control plate holes out for the larger pots.

And, about 3 out of 4 SX jazz bass bodies need to be clearanced if you want to use the standard large pots. . . what a drag. Out comes the router.

And, I'm trying the GFS p-bass pickup in this bass. I'm hoping it holds up. It seems to be made from all the "right stuff". Since the SX effect occurs primarily on the neck pickup, I'm leaving the bridge pickup stock on this build for now.

And, electronics are hooked up. I'm trying the push-pull thing on the P/J just to see what happens.

And, the nut slots were a bit high, so I cut them down a little. . . well, I actually may have cut them a little close, but there is still some clearance, so I think I'm ok. If not, I have tools and materials now to cut a new TUSQ nut. It was really getting late. I should have eased up a bit on the filing. We'll see if it buzzes.

After I had it all set up and running smoothly, I plugged in, and the bass sounded really really thin with no bass at all in the tone. It was all upper midrange and really shrill treble. I thought my amp was broken or something at first. . . then, after some fiddling, I discovered this only happened when both pickups were on. . .individually, the pickups sounded fine. So I figured the pickups were out of phase. I opened it back up and reversed = - on the bridge pickup and the problem went away.

So, for now, besides knobs, #6 is DONE

After sitting with #6 for a few weeks, it became clear that I was not happy with the action yet on this instrument.  One of the problems with a bit of buzzing on open strings, so I decided to make a new nut for it.

The nut blank needed to be slimmed down and trimmed for length to fit this neck. I used a dremel cutoff wheel to make the length cut and some 220 and 320 sandpaper on a flat surface to thin down the blank until it fit snugly in the slot.

I cut the slots on this nut with Stewmac nut files. Here's the finished nut.

As I was tweaking with the setup. . . using a little more relief, my tuner went on the fritz and I overtuned the G string and it broke. . . DOH! It's just like flushing $30 down the toilet. I wasn't terribly fond of the black DR extra life strings to be honest (the cool blue ones sound a lot more open). But it's always a bummer breaking things and this bass did really look sexy with the black strings. I had actually thought about putting a 500K pot in the P pickup to brighten it up a bit, but it was clear after changing strings to the new SS Dunlops that the pot change would not be necessary.  the black colored DR's were very dull sounding, and the new strings brought back the treble extension.

As the bass sits, it has a GFS P-bass pickup and the stock SX single coil bridge pickup. I debated putting in a Nordstrand NJ4SE in the bridge position tonight, but in the end, both parties interested in #6 have expressed budget concerns, so the stock SX pickup in the bridge position is the no-cost solution. With the shielding, in my experience, the single coil hum and noise is brought down to an acceptable level and we had isolated the "SX effect" to the neck position pickup, so all problems in this bass have been resolved, so for now, I'm leaving it like this. It plays really well now, and I think it's now ready to roll. I will wait another day or 2 for the strings to settle and see if the neck makes any shifts, but again, I set this one at .085" action at the 12th fret. . . +- .005" on the G and E string. . . the limiting factor again being the D string buzz. That seems to be the routine with these Dunlops.

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