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ForbiddenWytch

Do you consider it sacrilege to modify a signature bass?

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Your bass your money IMHO you can do what you want to the bass . Like its been said not like Steve Harris owns it , even if it was the actually bass he owned / used if you own it its your to do what you want to do with it 

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IMO The sacrilege would be not to do whatever you want to do with your own bass 🤗

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I’m tempted to say just do what you like with it. As others have said it’s your bass 🙂

The only other advice I can offer would be to very very carefully consider if you ever intend to sell it though... any mods will absolutely destroy the resale value. You won’t get back half what you would if you’d left it alone.

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I would second the “get another body” advice. Then if you do decide to sell, the resale value is intact. Ultimately up to you, but what seems like a great idea now may not in a few years time. 

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You said you’d never sell it, so resale concerns go away.

You said you’d pay a pro to do the routing.

You’re after a certain sound and you know how to get there.

I say do it!

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24 minutes ago, Pea Turgh said:

You said you’d never sell it, so resale concerns go away

Hmmmmm 😋

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5 minutes ago, ForbiddenWytch said:

Hi everyone, thanks for all the replies, wasn’t expecting so many! Will have a read through and reply to them as well.

I am right - just listen to mine.....

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1 hour ago, CamdenRob said:

I’m tempted to say just do what you like with it. As others have said it’s your bass 🙂

The only other advice I can offer would be to very very carefully consider if you ever intend to sell it though... any mods will absolutely destroy the resale value. You won’t get back half what you would if you’d left it alone.

Quite. Signature instruments are partly about getting a certain sound, part getting a bass with specs which works for you (which often is a unique or unusual combination which is hard to find in other instruments) and part hero worship. If you change the spec away from the standard "This is what Harris / Sheehan / Berlin etc uses on stage and in the studio" then you will damage the hero worship value of the bass.

I have always wanted a Yamaha Attitude Ltd II in seafoam green, like Billy Sheehan used on the Steve Vai: Live at the Astoria DVD. I'd always known as well however, that aside from getting the signature Sheehan overdriven super P tone, that I'd get a lot more out of the bass if I had a J pickup in the bridge position. Luckily enough, I managed to get exactly that from a member on here and to boot, it was considerably cheaper than any other Attitude LTD II, despite being in fantastic condition. It was virtually box fresh, with a set of Lace Alumitone P and J pickups, flawless routing work and all the rewiring. The pickups aren't cheap and the workmanship is excellent, so I'd guess the cost of the mods at being a few hundred quid in their own right, work which devalued the bass by a large margin. This made it an ideal buy for me, being a total bargain and in my optimum spec and with the work already done, so I didn't need to agonise over getting the mods done or take the financial hit on the value of the bass. Should I ever come to sell it, which I don't think I will, it owes me quite a lot less than LTD II in standard spec.

 

 

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I have a Dee Dee Ramone Precision. I didn’t do anything drastic with it but I have removed the tone pot and fitted different pups. I kept the original parts in case I ever want to sell it, which is unlikely. But that’s the only reason I can see for not making irreversible changes.

But it’s yours now so you can do what you want.

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The real sacrilege would be to sign a modern bass. ;)

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As soon as you put the first ding in it you've modified it 😉

In my opinion, unless it's value to you as an object is greater than it's value as an instrument, do whatever you need to do to make it give you the sounds and feel that you want.

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Posted (edited)

It's definitely not sacrilege, but I just don't think it a good use of your cash.

Having done this in the past I don't see spending several hundred pounds with no idea what sound you're going to end up with as a good plan. I have a Precision that I modified and saw a massive improvement is tone when I replaced the P pickup. I was so impressed with modding I decided to add the J pickup and a preamp. That cost a lot and I got about a 5% improvement in certain circumstances. In the end the best sound was the preamp flat and the J off. So my experience tells me that mods work up to a point, then you're into diminishing returns very quickly.

Edited by chris_b

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I think you can get an idea of what you like before the mod

If you have played with a noise cancelling dual coil jazz type pick up at the bridge and liked it, it’s not too far off a Dual cool P pick up granted the field area is different.

Same for a Humbucker to a great degree, as essentially that is what a split coil is.

There are basses out there with 2  Split coils BC Rich, Fender Elite II approx 82/83 so there are examples of a sound which some people will prefer.

If you mainly only ever gravitate to a P sound, or in a 2 pick up bass Solo the neck, I agree it prolly won’t add much and you would have hammered a bass

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Posted (edited)

I was watching some of the Book of Souls live stuff the other day. There is one song where one of Steve`s blue sparkle basses pops up briefly and it looks amazing. 

That has to be for me, hands down the best looking P bass to be made. I realise they aren`t a holy grail bass but as Karlfer says, there arent many about and I wouldn`t be taking a router to it.

Eddie would no doubt be upset if you did and you don`t want to do that do you? :angry2:

Get a cheap body and mod it. 

 

Edited by jezzaboy
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In the late 90's I bought a fabulous brand new Japanese fender Duck Dunn signature P Bass. I was restless and being too young and immature to appreciate the virtues of the P Bass I had a MM humbucker fitted in the bridge position and EMG active EQ installed. 

This widened the tonal range immensely however it doubtless wiped hundreds of the resale value. 

In hindsight I would not do that today and if necessary sell the Duck Dunn to release funds for the very best possible alternative instrument I could afford. 

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It's not sacrilege - but if you mod it and in 10 or so years don't feel the way you do now about it, when you come to sell it you'll be kicking yourself so hard you'll have buttocks where your cheeks used to be. Even now it's rare and not without value, irreversible mods will make a huge difference.

I would go with the plan of buying a decent but inexpensive P/J body and swapping neck & hardware over.

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Back to the original intent of the OP.

The specific sound you’re chasing will be down to more than the additional reverse P, and potentially not much to do with it at all. Are you 100% sure this mod alone will make you happy? 

There’s people out there spending £000’s chasing the specific ‘Arry clank that can’t agree on the recipe. You’re taking that very bass and chasing a different sound.

Absolutely do what you want with your own gear, but the result might not be what you want. Speaking from experience of many expensive mistakes. 

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Posted (edited)

This thread has gotten way more replies than I expected and typically my laptop has given up the ghost so replying on my phone will take me a little while haha

I’m really glad it’s gotten so many replies as well. Thanks to everyone who has so far!

Edited by ForbiddenWytch

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If it was me unknown if the bass has any special parts if not I would look at cost of say selling the body or complete bass vs getting a body & doing what you want to do with it . I presume a Steve Harris sig bass is not going to go up in price like say a 62 p bass etc 

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Give it time. When I started playing nobody thought 70’s Fenders would ever be worth a damn and now look at the crazy, crazy world around us 😉

Everything becomes more valuable once it hits thirty years of age. A limited model like this? For sure, I think it will be priced on the higher side by our future replacements.

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I agree with the "You will be devaluing your bass" comments, but it's your bass, so I'll focus on what it costs and what you could end up with.

You have a bass and you love it and it's sound. One thing you should know, if you replace the pickups you will change that sound. Will you still love the new sound?  If you add another pickup and change the electrics you have the same dilemma. You'll change the sound. Do you know what sound you're changing it to? Before you start this you have to be certain you will like the sound of your bass when you are finished, because depending on what you do you might not be able to retrace you steps. 

Fender pickups will just give you the Fender sound. A very effective way to upgrade your sound is to change the pickup. There are some fantastic P pickups out there, Bartolini, Nordstrand and Seymour Duncan to name just a few. You can get a very wide range of sounds out of those.

I'd still recommend looking at outboard preamps. They will give you an even wider range of sounds without having to change your bass. So you keep the sound you love and plug in the preamp for the extra versatility when you need it.

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Thanks again to everyone for your replies. Again still on just my phone so I can’t replied to each one but I’ll sum up some of the more frequent things here and I’m trying to keep answers brief.

* the cost of having a pickup routed is expensive...?

i know quite a few people who would be able to do it professionally and for a very reasonable price. Less than the cost of a set of pickups so the cost of the route isn’t a problem.

* Buying a new body and transferring the parts...?

I can see why this one has come up but simply, buying a new body isn’t an option. I absolutely love the blue sparkle finish which is why have this one. Other than that, finding a body in the colour I want and that’s made of a decent weight piece of Alder (to be the same as the Harris) that either doesn’t have pickguard screw holes already or has but matches up to the chrome pickguard *then* paying for the bridge pickup route and new pick up to install would put it past the price of what I could pay for a whole new “project” bass. 

* Why don’t you swap the pickups...?

I have done, I’ve had the SPB-1 (originally came with it), SPB-4 (Harris signature pickup), SPB-3 (wanted more grunt but they didn’t work for me in this), old Jackson J50 (had a set from a Charvel/Jackson 3B bass), EMG GZR and DiMarzio Model P... so yeah cool I’ve tried a few pickups. All of which I love on their own but I miss having a bridge pickup to blend in.

* Or try changing the electronics...?

This is one bass I refuse to put active electronics in but I have done other changes to the wiring like switching from 250k to 500k pots or more recently, switching the volume to a push/pull pot which bypasses the tone control in the down position (my preference and Harris has the tone removed from his bass) but pull it up and it engaged a Fender TBX pot which I installed in place of the regular tone. Now, I absolutely love the sound of the P bass but I keep wanting to blend in some bridge pick up for that bite!

So besides active electronics, not much more I can do. 

* A lot of people buy signature products purely based on the name / some people buy products because the spec is up their street...?

This applies on both fronts. Steve Harris is the reason I play bass, the reason I have a scarf of my favourite football team knitted around my strap, the reason i put my foot on the monitor etc etc but as well as that, I’ve always been a fan of the P bass sound, all my basses have had Badass II bridges on them, the sparkle blue finish on this bass is one of the most beautiful finishes I’ve seen (IMO) and apart from the lack of flexibility, I love everything about this bass. I support Leeds United, I’m not going to go buying the West Ham livery bass and be seen playing that on stage but this bass has done * a lot * of gigs and some important gigs too. 

* How do you know this is a sound you will like?

As mentioned in the OP: James LoMenzo & Marko Hietala who are two of my favourite bassists, use basses with the P/reverse P configuration and I really love the thump it gives their basses.

I’ve owned a couple of BC Rich Basses with double P pick ups in them and I always loved the sound of them. As well as that, the 3 Tobias basses i own have 2 soapbar pickups in them which have P positioned coils under the casing (I’ve tested it and opened one up when replacing them). 

* Side note to the above in case some one asks “if you liked that sound why did you replace them/sell them?”

the BC Richs were too heavy and awkward. Had to go. As for replacing the pickups in the Tobiases, the stock pickups in these basses (the Toby Pros in case any one wondered) are notoriously low output and whilst they sound good, I wanted something with more output. One has Nordstrand J coils for a Jazz Bass sound, one has P coils for the double standard P sound and the other is still stock as I’m awaiting the Fishman Mike Inez 5 set.

* The bass is likely to go up in value...?

not planning on selling it though. It’s one of two basses I don’t ever see myself selling (the other being the bass I got for my 18th birthday from my Parents)

* (Not sure if this was mentioned but this is my other option) What about a J pickup?

I have two other basses that have the P/J set up. The only way i’d add a J coil to this bass is if I could get one of the 80s Yamaha J bar pickups from the BB basses as have that installed. Why? Because Thin Lizzy are another one of my biggest influences and Phil Lynott’s Black P bass had a BB J-bar pickup in it (along with a Creme DiMarzio P) but I’d rather leave that for a Lynott project some day.

Finally: * It’s your bass, so you do what you want with it...?

I know, I know... and i suppose I have already made a couple of changes so it’s not strictly a Steve Harris P bass any more so it really shouldn’t be a problem. Just worried I’ll have the police at my door! 😂 

 

I hope I haven’t left out anyone’s replies/ideas there and I apologies if I have! I hate replying on a phone screen!

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Do what you want :)

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