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ForbiddenWytch

Do you consider it sacrilege to modify a signature bass?

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Posted (edited)

Evening all! 

Im wondering what the general opinion on modding signature basses is? As it’s nearly 2am, there’s a long story behind my question below but if you want to ignore that and just leave your opinion, feel free! The gist of it is “bass I need to justify keeping and don’t want to have to sell so need some more variety out of it and buying another bass isn’t an option due to money & adding new pickup would be much cheaper” 

I own one of the Fender Steve Harris Precision basses from the 2010 run of Made In Japan sparkle blue basses but whilst I really do love it and love the P bass sound, to justify keeping a bass of that value I need to use it more so I need some more versatility from it. 

I have a bass with two J pick ups in it and a bass with P/J (Spector style) pick ups in it already so I have the Jazz sound and P/J sounds covered but two of my favourite bassists, Marko Hietala of Nightwish & James LoMenzo of Megadeth/BLS/etc. both have basses with a regular P pick up and a reversed P pick up in the bridge position which is one of my favourite tones I’ve heard and this has got me thinking of adding a reverse P and a mini 3 way toggle switch to my bass to give me extra options. 

I have considered selling the bass quite a few times but ultimately, I have far too much sentimental attachment to it to let it go (i’ve owned it from new, first “new” bass I had, first high end bass etc etc) and there’s a lot to the back story of how I got it/gigs played on it. Also better mention that Steve Harris is the reason I play bass too. This means selling it to get a cheaper bass for modding is out the window. Not just the sentimental reason but I love the spec and finish of the bass.

The bass it’s self isn’t mint but it’s been extremely well looked after so it’s not like i’d be modifying a show piece, this is a workhorse and I have already installed a Hipshot D-tuner & Graphtech black tusq nut when the original broke on it but apart from that, it’s stock! 

I should add, I wouldn’t dare attempt routing the bass myself, I would pay someone to do it properly so it’s a clean rout and likely have the cavity lacquered then I’ll copper tape the cavity like I have shielded the other pickup cavity already. 

Costs wise, i already have a pickup to go in it and copper tape, switches and wire so the only outlay would be the cost of the routing. 

Anyway. Sorry for the essay and interested to know what others think. If you’ve read through that then I congratulate you and apologise again for my late night ramblings! 😂😂

 

6C11DAF8-6D29-496A-8204-BEF4F3113644.jpeg

(Pickguard is reflecting an Iron Maiden flag pinned to my ceiling, it’s not artwork on the pickguard)

Edited by ForbiddenWytch
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Unless Steve still owns it you’re free to do as you wish. If he wanted it to remain original he should never have sold it to you 😉

There’s no point just owning a bass you’re not happy with or which isn’t the bass you really want. Either sell it or modify it which, let’s not forget, is how Steve ended up with that bass in the first place... and his one isn’t blue anymore either 😂

If you’re really that troubled by it, pick up a cheap P body off ebay and route that. Then you can always put everything back to normal when some forum warrior is whining at you for not realising that, some day around thirty years into the future, this bass will have grown mojo and be most desirable in unplayed original form. 

Make sure to post the end result 🙂

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28 minutes ago, Doctor J said:

Unless Steve still owns it you’re free to do as you wish. If he wanted it to remain original he should never have sold it to you 😉

There’s no point just owning a bass you’re not happy with or which isn’t the bass you really want. Either sell it or modify it which, let’s not forget, is how Steve ended up with that bass in the first place... and his one isn’t blue anymore either 😂

If you’re really that troubled by it, pick up a cheap P body off ebay and route that. Then you can always put everything back to normal when some forum warrior is whining at you for not realising that, some day around thirty years into the future, this bass will have grown mojo and be most desirable in unplayed original form. 

Make sure to post the end result 🙂

You summed this up perfectly. I was thinking about the same thing - that in 10 years time (you said 30! :D ) this might end up in the "Ebay Weird and Wonderful" area, with people speculating why such sacrilege was performed! But the OP gives such a great explanation of why he would do it - that combination of loving the bass to bits, yet wanting something a little extra from it, and not being in a financial position to do an entire project to create a replica bass with additional features.

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It is your bass and you are free to do whatever you want with it. There are only two considerations I think, one is that if the mod doesn't give you what you hope for it is impossible to go back to original and the second is the mod will negatively effect the resale value (but then again you might never want to sell it for the reasons you described)

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You can do as you wish. It's yours.

Can I make a suggestion though? IMHO the Tony Franklin idea , of a switch, means you miss out on some nice 'in between' tones. Have a think about using the jack socket hole to go VVT (a la Jazz) and putting the socket on the bottom (a la original P/Tele). There are some great tones to be had by blending the pickups rather than just having them on or off.

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I like Dr J's idea of getting a cheap P-body/spare scratchplate and modding that, even if only to give you a "test bed" for ideas.

You could rout a bigger pickup cavity for the bridge pickup, giving you a choice of P, reverse P (as per your preference) J, Double J or MM.

You could use the spare 'plate as a similar test-bed for electrics. I like Steve Browning's suggestion of VVT, but might go further and have stacked pots (sacrilege!) in the original holes and have VTVT.

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Mod it - it’s probably never going to be a ‘classic’ in years to come and it’s not a limited edition - that’s not to say it won’t be a good bass.

Ifnypu don’t like the rout it can always be professionally filled and refinished and be barely noticeable.

Double P basses are cool.

With the switch I would only consider what YOU will use, for example I would never have a switch bridge, neck, both As I would never use the bridge alone, but a neck/series/parallel I might.

Horses for courses - mod and enjoy 

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I mod 90% of my instruments, including signature models.

But for some reason that Harris P looks perfect to me and I'd leave it alone.

If you want another PJ then you could build a parts bass really cheaply - it is only a P after all. 

 

Routing - especially visible routing that cannot be covered by a scratchplate - will definitely kill the used value. Maybe by as much as 50% of the usual used price. Just because it has an extra pickup in it doesn't mean it will go up, and it's not like you can leave the hole empty if you well, that would look worse.

Before I got the router out I'd want to make sure that the bass was perfect in every other way before I took that sort of hit.

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IMO if I wanted more versatility from a P bass I'd change the pickups. If that didn't work I'd get a good preamp pedal. If that didn't work I'd find a bass that did exactly what I wanted and buy that.

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1 minute ago, chris_b said:

IMO if I wanted more versatility from a P bass I'd change the pickups. If that didn't work I'd get a good preamp pedal. If that didn't work I'd find a bass that did exactly what I wanted and buy that.

OP already said buying a new bass is not an option

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I would get a new precision body/pickguard, do the mods to them & swap over the neck/hardware from the Harris bass to that. Then as finances allowed I'd buy a neck and all the hardware piece by piece to fit to it so the original bass can be slowly rebuilt. Then you will eventually end up with two basses including a completely custom one and an all Rolf Harris original signature model.

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Don't do it.

Despite these being a production model, there aren't many about.

5 years or so back, the odd one that came up was about £500 used. Now the odd one that comes up is usually around £900/£1000. One loony tune had one up on eBay a few months back at £2200.

They haven't been made since about 2012 I think.

It's not all about the money, it's the importance of Steve's blue P especially in the 80s and whilst it's only a personal opinion, these particular basses should really be kept original as a part of rock music history.

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51 minutes ago, Cuzzie said:

OP already said buying a new bass is not an option

Everyone should have a plan B.

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Just now, chris_b said:

Everyone should have a plan B.

Or a chris B

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It’s worth a premium, I’d spend a few pennies getting a cheap used PJ body on eBay to get it out of our system. Wrap the SH body in a soft cloth and put it somewhere safe

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43 minutes ago, Cuzzie said:

Or a chris B

I wish.

Sadly, even before the lockdown, my diary was telling me people don't seem to need a chris b as much as they used to!

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43 minutes ago, Geek99 said:

It’s worth a premium, I’d spend a few pennies getting a cheap used PJ body on eBay to get it out of our system. Wrap the SH body in a soft cloth and put it somewhere safe

You mean wrap it in a Powerslave t-shirt, surely?

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Nope, nothing wrong with modding a sig bass IMO.

I put '60s lollipop tuners, hum-cancelling Aguilar J pickups and stacked knob controls on my Geddy Lee Signature. Don't care what anyone else thinks :)

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Posted (edited)

All reversible 

routing non-reversible 

I did all sorts of mods to an 80s tokai jap strat back in the day. Wish I hadn’t 

Edited by Geek99
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16 minutes ago, Geek99 said:

All reversible 

routing non-reversible 

I did all sorts of mods to an 80s tokai jap strat back in the day. Wish I hadn’t 

Uncle Stew May say different......

 

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Plenty of people have modded the J Mascis Squier Jazzmaster. A lot of folk seem to buy it with the objective of modding something on it.

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4 hours ago, Jean-Luc Pickguard said:

I would get a new precision body/pickguard, do the mods to them & swap over the neck/hardware from the Harris bass to that. Then as finances allowed I'd buy a neck and all the hardware piece by piece to fit to it so the original bass can be slowly rebuilt. Then you will eventually end up with two basses including a completely custom one and an all Rolf Harris original signature model.

D'ya know what it is yet?!

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I've always subscribed to the opinion that if it is your instrument, do whatever makes you happy. Plus those signature models are just a marketing ploy. I am sure Adam Clayton or Steve Harris won't mind if somebody in Stoke has changed a pickguard!

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