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5a_quilt_top
Advanced Member
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 296
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Friday, May 16, 2014 - 8:50 am:   Edit Post

Apologizing in advance for non-Alembic topic, but there's no way I'd alter any of my fretted Alembics.

However, my Mexican Fender '63 Reissue "Road Worn" Jazz Bass is fair game for experimentation:



It's very nice overall, but is lacking in the pickup / electronics area and not getting played because I have several other better fretted 4-strings, but no fretless.

So - I'd like to remove the frets, make the fretboard smooth with no lines and replace the pickups and electronics with something better. Was also thinking about changing strings to TI Jazz Flats, unless someone has a better idea.

Unfortunately, my budget will not allow installation of Alembic pickups and electronics, so I'm looking for suggestions for direct Fender-style passive equivalent replacements.

Any ideas / advice?
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3376
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Friday, May 16, 2014 - 9:52 am:   Edit Post

NO lines? ___ Where the frets were there will be some kind of reminder unless you remove the fingerboard .I wound not recommend trying to sand away all the way down__ , NO , NO ___ LOL ! Even if you fill in the fret areas you will see remnant reminders otherwise. I have done several "Fender Like " fretless projects all of which I still own. I have one with NO lines and two with lines that are "Fender Like ". Personally I like the lines even though I had decent intonation on my Bass Violin. The lines are great when doing double and triple stops in the upper register " Jaco Style " All of my lined fretless bass's have Epoxy type finger board finish coating on them so that the round wound strings do not chew up the fingerboard. My unlined bass has flat wounds .

My suggestion : Do yourself a favor and just purchase an unlined neck if that is what you want. It will be really simple and you will be very happy . Check Ebay and Craigslist . I have found really inexpensive necks that way including high quality examples. I found an awesome one at a recent Guitar Show__.
gtrguy
Senior Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 747
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Friday, May 16, 2014 - 10:30 am:   Edit Post

I have done it and it is a pain. Pulling frets often pulls up the wood around them. You can use a soldering iron to heat then and pull them but I would also advise getting a fretless bass or a fretless neck. I epoxied one (a la Jaco) and it took a lot of leveling with sanding, etc.

I just sold a nice mexican Fender jazz fretless for $300 and that is about the going rate.
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2149
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, May 16, 2014 - 9:51 pm:   Edit Post

If you 'pull' the frets on this neck, I'd too suggest going back with some sort of lines: You'd really have to sand down past the fret routs which to me would be playing with fire taking that much wood out.

As for the lines, DON'T use any kind of plastic. Ideally, a similar wood to the rosewood would shrink and contract with the rosewood. Lots of guys use maple, stained to an 'in the neighborhood' color where you can see them.

Sonicus has a great idea: Just get a replacement fretless neck. Then you can save this one for resale (or if you change your mind down the road).

Everybody makes Jazz replacement pickups. If I were going active without going Alembic, I'd use EMG's. Very familiar tone, quiet as a tomb, and if you sing, they're great as they don't ground to the bridge so you cut way down on your chances of shocking yourself instead of the crowd.

I hate single coil buzz. If I'm going to listen to the radio, I use a radio instead of my axe. So I'd use stacked passive Jazz pickups, and several people make humbucking Jazz replacements where they are in two pieces under the traditional Jazz shell side by side. I know it's not quite that single coil tone completely, but I'll gladly trade out for the quiet. Lindy Fralin and more make that style.

It's my three-question test for any axe, regardless of price: if it 1) isn't quiet electronically, 2) won't stay in tune, and 3) can't paly in tune up and down the fingerboard, what's the point?

J o e y
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2149
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, May 16, 2014 - 9:51 pm:   Edit Post

If you 'pull' the frets on this neck, I'd too suggest going back with some sort of lines: You'd really have to sand down past the fret routs which to me would be playing with fire taking that much wood out.

As for the lines, DON'T use any kind of plastic. Ideally, a similar wood to the rosewood would shrink and contract with the rosewood. Lots of guys use maple, stained to an 'in the neighborhood' color where you can see them.

Sonicus has a great idea: Just get a replacement fretless neck. Then you can save this one for resale (or if you change your mind down the road).

Everybody makes Jazz replacement pickups. If I were going active without going Alembic, I'd use EMG's. Very familiar tone, quiet as a tomb, and if you sing, they're great as they don't ground to the bridge so you cut way down on your chances of shocking yourself instead of the crowd.

I hate single coil buzz. If I'm going to listen to the radio, I use a radio instead of my axe. So I'd use stacked passive Jazz pickups, and several people make humbucking Jazz replacements where they are in two pieces under the traditional Jazz shell side by side. I know it's not quite that single coil tone completely, but I'll gladly trade out for the quiet. Lindy Fralin and more make that style.

It's my three-question test for any axe, regardless of price: if it 1) isn't quiet electronically, 2) won't stay in tune, and 3) can't paly in tune up and down the fingerboard, what's the point?

J o e y
pace
Senior Member
Username: pace

Post Number: 1006
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Saturday, May 17, 2014 - 6:12 am:   Edit Post



I'm in the process of doing this MIM one over... Essentially all that will be left is the body. Im planning on a Moses neck, and a more substantial bridge... As much as I like the look of an unlined neck, I think I'll do lines on the Moses. Sidelines are another option to consider.... dots placed where the frets should be REALLY throws me off!
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3378
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Saturday, May 17, 2014 - 7:19 am:   Edit Post

Very Kool with the Alembic JJ pickups ! ____ That is what I am missing on anyone of my fretless bass's !
5a_quilt_top
Advanced Member
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 297
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Monday, May 19, 2014 - 2:40 pm:   Edit Post

Hey all - many thanks for the advice.

As always, it pays dividends to solicit experienced opinions prior to embarking on what may be a disastrous journey.

It looks like the de-fretting idea is not confidently recommended and certainly not sanding or filling in the remaining fret routs.

Since the stock neck is too nice to destroy, it would probably be best to obtain a fretless replacement.

Re: electronics - you are correct, many options here. Maybe I'll just save my pennies and go the Alembic route as that would be ideal.

Since this will take some time, I'll have time to find a good neck.

pace:

Fender makes an amazing direct replacement milled brass bridge with chrome finish that allows the option to route the strings through the body (some drilling required for this). I've replaced all my stock Fender stamped metal bridges with this model and I've been very pleased with the results. If you look closely at the photo of my Jazz Bass in the first post, you can see this bridge.
cozmik_cowboy
Senior Member
Username: cozmik_cowboy

Post Number: 1694
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Monday, May 19, 2014 - 8:15 pm:   Edit Post

If I were replacing bass electronics without going Alembic, I'd go Bartolini, no question. But first, maybe try replacing the pots with CTS & the cap with an Orange Drop. Cheaper by far, and may wake up your p/ups enough to do the job.

Peter
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3382
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Monday, May 19, 2014 - 9:23 pm:   Edit Post

Peter , That is my choice . Alembic #1 Bartolini #2 ___( my last Guild Starfire has the first line of HI-A pickups circa 1975 ( later to become Bartolini)
terryc
Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 2207
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 5:56 am:   Edit Post

Okay I may be thread robbing here but I have been asked to join a 60's/70's style band and I think using the MK just doesn't give the retro look!
So having said that I have bought a brand new Squier 70's style Jazz bass, maple neck, block inlays. I have set it up and plays really sweet and I haven't played a passive bass for over 20 years. The sound is totally different(as it would be) but I would like to keep it passive so any experience on fitting a fender TBX tone control to a Jazz bass or (and I guess Sonicus could help me out here), what about different capacitors on the tone control. I might even stretch to the new Fender Noiseless pickups. Opinions & advice are most welcome!
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3383
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 8:41 am:   Edit Post

Hello Terry, My number 1 choice would currently be Alembic pickups and electronics however if you desire a passive mod perhaps this will help ___

This source seems to specialize in such a passive variation ; Series parallel selector switch with various capacitance values . etc ... I have not personnaly tried this product . One could spend a large period of time exploring and experimenting ones self , this seems to be ready for use when you recieve it , made to your specs . Bartolini J pickups I HAVE tried and own a few . Mine are model #9W4, these are currently out of production however they have another " drop in " model available . I run my Bartolini pickups PASSIVE in two of my Jazz Bass's.

http://www.guitar-mod.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=J100&Category_Code=PJA

(Message edited by sonicus on May 20, 2014)
terryc
Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 2208
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 11:27 am:   Edit Post

Sonicus...yeah a set of JJ activators would uplift it no end but without being an anorak and the tunes I am playing deserve that straight passive tone if you see what I mean. I am thinking a bit more tonal spectrum without active electronics and batteries would be an option. Sort of keeping with the general sound of the 60's/70's(do I hear 'crap' in the background LOL) Thanks for info as well
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3384
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 11:40 am:   Edit Post

Terry , there was a vendor on ebay for a while that also had passive Jazz bass control plates with a variety of capacitors , inductors and switches similar to what the link in my previous post has. I think both of these vendors sent a bit of time with R&D to feel that that had a salable product for the passive market.
terryc
Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 2209
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 3:53 am:   Edit Post

Cheers sonicus..well first rehearsal and single coil hum with individual PU's..it's not bad but when you have played an Alembic which is quiet as a mouse even under a bank of lights you forget!.
I guess a PU swap for some humcancellers is in order.As said before those Fender Noiseless look a good option. I gave the truss rod and bridge another minor adjustment and it plays reall nice. Okay it was made in Indonesia but it looks really nice and sounds okay.
terryc
Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 2210
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 5:08 am:   Edit Post

Double post removed!

(Message edited by TerryC on May 22, 2014)
cozmik_cowboy
Senior Member
Username: cozmik_cowboy

Post Number: 1697
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 6:06 am:   Edit Post

It would take some hunting and some routing, but my 2nd choice would be to make a Berry Oakley "Tractor"; move the neck p/up to between the bridge p/up & bridge, and replace it with a BiSonic (or Dark Star).

Peter
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3391
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 8:49 am:   Edit Post

Peter, I have wanted to do that Berry Oakley " Tractor " mod my self. AND ___ (((((The Phil Lesh EB-3 )))))___
I have some new old stock Darlington Pair emitters that might be used in such a pursuit for the pending Lesh EB-3 project.

( I just have too many irons in the fire ! ) LOL ___

Curtis Novak now has a Bi-Sonic !
http://curtisnovak.com/pickups/BS-DS.shtml

AND , all such mods could also be implemented on a fretless conversion ( saving this thread from the high jack :-) )
hammer
Senior Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 484
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 12:08 pm:   Edit Post

The Lesh EB-3 would be an interesting conversion since I own one I never play due to the "muddiness" whenever the neck PU is being used. Where might one look to gather additional information regarding the adaptations/refinements Phil had made to this instrument?

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