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hiram.k.hackenbacker

Jazz Bass Bitsa Comedy

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Posted (edited)

I wasn't going to do a build thread for this. In fact, I wouldn't even call it 'building' as it's more 'putting together', but judging by the way today has gone, I think I'm going to have get my hands dirty anyway.

So this is more for your comedy value than anything else as it's the first time I've done anything like this - and will possibly be the last.

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This sorry tale starts with my purchase of a Fender Flea '61 Jazz Bass just over four years ago. It was a very nice bass. They are made in Mexico and my one bettered a few of the USA Fender's I've had pass through my hands.

You may have read this elsewhere, but one day in 2018, I went to play this bass and found the strings were about half an inch off the fretboard. Definitely not where I had left them the night before.

Long story short, the truss rod had failed. Cue long boring discussion with Fender UK who appeared uninterested. 

Such was my frustration with the failed neck scenario, that I ended up getting a graphite neck from Status fitted to the Flea body by Rob. It's still on it and I plan to leave it that way.

Some time later, Fender sent me this....

1394E362-7FE6-4B1D-AC18-F6D5211AAEF4_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.6d9872ef8c6bc9b622c3ecd0cd0ed137.jpeg

It's sat around doing nothing since I received it and I thought I had better make use of it.

In hindsight, it was nice of them to send me the neck fully loaded with tuners and string tree as I had stripped the faulty neck when I returned it to them.

Stay tuned for the next episode: 'The Search for A Body'

Edited by hiram.k.hackenbacker
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I’ve had the flea bass and the necks are really nice , I look forward to seeing what you do 👍

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Couldn’t you use the box for the body?

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36 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

I’ve had the flea bass and the necks are really nice , I look forward to seeing what you do 👍

So am I 😂

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14 minutes ago, ped said:

Couldn’t you use the box for the body?

Mmm. I could do, but it’s not very Jazz shaped. It would also have the worst neck dive in the history of basses 🙃.

C67A9EF8-52E8-42C3-A61D-BAF79BE80255.jpeg

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12 minutes ago, hiram.k.hackenbacker said:

It would also have the worst neck dive in the history of basses 🙃.

C67A9EF8-52E8-42C3-A61D-BAF79BE80255.jpeg

Put a brick in the box at the other end from the neck?

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47 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

I’ve had the flea bass and the necks are really nice , I look forward to seeing what you do 👍

I had one too. It was a really nice bass, and quite light for a Jazz.
Sounded great, felt great to play, and I agree with @Reggaebass - the neck seemed especially nice & comfortable

The minus side for me, was that Mrs S really hated the bass - she thought the colour was awful. I tried hiding it in a case, under the bed, or even in my workshop....
But that meant I wasn't playing the bass at all... I had hoped, after a while she would forget about it.... but sadly not - she caught me playing it, and her comments returned, with even more derision
So I ended up passing it on, in trade :(

However, if you decide to sell the neck to someone else... hint hint ;)

Looking forward to seeing what you put together

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Episode 2: ‘The Search for A Body’

Part of this comedy of errors is retrospective, but you’ll be up to speed in no time.

My first thought about utilising the neck was to recreate another very special early ‘60’s bass. Up until very recently, that was what I was set on doing, then I had a change of heart, partly due to conversations I had with a couple of well known luthiers around these parts. This other ‘60’s bass might come to fruition in a compete custom build at a later date - not by my hand I should add.

So I started looking around for jazz shaped bodies on eBay, Basschat, Reverb etc etc. There are quite a few out there, ranging from fully loaded to new and unfinished. I wasted a lot of time thinking about what body finish to go for, without giving any thought to a possible refinish. It never even crossed my mind until seeing the work of David Wilson on @AndyTravis Marcus Miller and one of @walshy’s. Around the same time Andy sent me some links to a couple of jazz bodies for sale that he had come across. One of them was this Squier body on Basschat....


190E2BC3-CADC-4319-9DF7-8A68B77BAA76.jpeg.950d2ea71ef213fd9d382e200100a679.jpeg

Given I know stuff all about the variations of Jazz basses and their clones through the ages, it looked OK to me. Slap the neck on, string it up and we’ll see if it works - or is likely to with a few tweaks. This is where I started to get ahead of myself. The seller of this fine body said he would be willing to sell for a reduced price without the pick-up’s. I had kind of decided I wanted to go the stack pot route anyway, so we sorted that and I received the body as above without the knobs, jack, wiring and pick-up’s. Here it is without the scratch plate....

41281CD3-E2D4-40F1-A1C4-642CC2195487.jpeg.cd65c127825373f7e08e0ae1cbb9f134.jpeg

Yes, it does have a lot more holes than I have screws for, but David will be vanishing a few of them for me. I still can’t make my mind up about a finish, but that’s a way off yet (sometime in September hopefully).

It occurred to me sometime between paying for the body and receiving it, that it might be an idea to get a neck plate and some bolts to bring the two together (you were warned that I don’t know what I’m doing). It seems that a lot of Fender spares are not making it over the water in goodly time these days thanks to COVID. All neck plates are out of stock at my usual haunt (Strings Direct), so I bought (a quite possibly not genuine) one off eBay.

D91563FA-CB01-4577-A561-665D4A357CA6.thumb.jpeg.8a63cba31a354a14f760f0568cb57f6a.jpeg

It wasn’t until I started researching neck plates that a learned there was such a variety. Thickness of metal, gasket or not, different logos, custom logos. Anyway, I decided it wouldn’t be right to have anything ‘Fender USA’ due to the neck being Made in Mexico. A ‘big F’ would have been my preference, but this one was cheap and looks like the thick metal variety so I went with that.

I digress. When the body arrived, with fevered anticipation (it might just have been the heat) I married up the neck to the body to realise a slightly unforeseen technicality.....

94BE0B64-6FB9-4867-AA37-1822AF83841B.jpeg.8f1698548149e5bfbbfcef6f8bc504f8.jpeg

....no access hole for the truss rod. I know, it’s not the end of the world, but I’m just kicking myself for not seeing it. Obviously I couldn’t bolt the two together (see above), but the heel sits in the pocket very nicely, better than I could have hoped for in fact.

Stay tuned for Episode 3: ‘Out of Control’

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13 minutes ago, AndyTravis said:

The flea/60’s bodies don’t have truss access either - so it’s bob on 😉

I seem to remember that my Flea does have a small rout to allow access to the heel, but it’s not actually big enough to make an adjustment without digging into the body. You can’t see any of it until you take the scratch plate off. I maybe have imagined this. I’ll check later.

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Deleted scene from Episode 2
I forgot to mention that the holes from the neck into the body marry up perfectly. The neck plate should arrive either today or tomorrow.

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Posted (edited)

Episode 3: ‘Out of Control’

We’re nearly up to date 👍.

Anticipating that I’ll need to source pick-up’s and stack knob controls necessitated more web trawling. The obvious choice for pick-up’s for this bass seems to be....

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They appear to be readily available and would seem to fit the theme of the bass. I’m happy to be steered elsewhere of course if anyone has any recommendations?

Controls - Having read so many excellent comments regarding @KiOgon’s controls and wiring, I contacted John to see what he could offer and he came back with this, which I like very much....

7E2271F0-DFD8-4FA9-9CC7-BE6F23CCB42C.jpeg.00b5ddf8aeb12087ed786aec2c42d84e.jpeg
 

It has a switch for series/parallel for an extra couple quid on top of the version that doesn’t. I couldn’t think of a reason not to have that option, so what the heck. You only live once.

Whilst stripping the body of parts, I kept looking at the channel which the bell plate covers thinking that’s awfully narrow. It’s exactly 20mm to be precise. By now I’m starting to wise up that it’s best to check stuff fits to cater for unexpected surprises. After a quick message to John, he reported back the his stack controls are a little wider than 20mm....

874D9E5A-0483-4803-A3EF-C44A24AB00B1.jpeg.7cee1cc0a50c1d5d3f6ea418387b0e10.jpeg

The thing is, I really like the look of this unit, plus, it means I don’t have to get the soldering iron out. They are literally screw the wires into the terminal block and you’re good. It does, however, mean I have to get the router out 😬. Given that the whole body is getting refinished, what can go wrong? One of the things is that I’ll have to strip out that shielding in the control cavity. You can’t see most of it as it’s covered in black electrical tape for some reason. On a side note, the cavity for the bridge pick-up seems devoid of any shielding at all, so that will be another lesson to learn.

I don’t know what to call the next episode as it hasn’t been written yet. It will probably be neck plate related. Stay tuned.

Edited by hiram.k.hackenbacker
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3 minutes ago, hiram.k.hackenbacker said:

It does, however, mean I have to get the router out 😬.

I had exactly the same problem with a P/J recently. Perhaps check with John as to whether he can make you a unit with mini pots?

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16 minutes ago, Beedster said:

I had exactly the same problem with a P/J recently. Perhaps check with John as to whether he can make you a unit with mini pots?

I think the issue is that I want stack knob controls and I don’t think mini-pots are an option for those. I may be wrong. John did mention mini pots being popular with Squier owners 😂.

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33 minutes ago, hiram.k.hackenbacker said:

I think the issue is that I want stack knob controls and I don’t think mini-pots are an option for those. I may be wrong. John did mention mini pots being popular with Squier owners 😂.

You can get stacked mini pots, John would be the expert on whether they are of equal quality and/or aesthetics, i.e., they might not be able to accommodate the classic '62 Fender knobs).

I'm about to do the same, have a relic'd pink Jazz body and a Squier neck that are destined to be a poor man's Flea Bass :) 

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6 minutes ago, Beedster said:

You can get stacked mini pots, John would be the expert on whether they are of equal quality and/or aesthetics, i.e., they might not be able to accommodate the classic '62 Fender knobs).

I'm about to do the same, have a relic'd pink Jazz body and a Squier neck that are destined to be a poor man's Flea Bass :) 

Calling @KiOgon - do I definitely need to get the router out? 😂

@Beedster - I keep wondering whether I should go for road worn shell pink on this, but as I still have the Flea and the opportunity is there to have almost any finish I can think of, it would daft to pass on that option. Trouble is, I’m OK when asked to choose between four colours, but when asked to pick a colour from any/every colour, I come unstuck.

Do you have a thread for your build?

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11 minutes ago, hiram.k.hackenbacker said:

Calling @KiOgon - do I definitely need to get the router out? 😂

@Beedster - I keep wondering whether I should go for road worn shell pink on this, but as I still have the Flea and the opportunity is there to have almost any finish I can think of, it would daft to pass on that option. Trouble is, I’m OK when asked to choose between four colours, but when asked to pick a colour from any/every colour, I come unstuck.

Do you have a thread for your build?

Lightly relic’d Lake Placid Blue with matching headstock :)

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25 minutes ago, Beedster said:

You can get stacked mini pots, John would be the expert on whether they are of equal quality and/or aesthetics, i.e., they might not be able to accommodate the classic '62 Fender knobs).

I'm about to do the same, have a relic'd pink Jazz body and a Squier neck that are destined to be a poor man's Flea Bass :) 

Yes as Chris said the classic black/chrome knobs only fit the Fender/CTS FullPhat pots and they are the only ones that have the 250/500K volume/tone. The easy option of Altec or similar mini pots have their own peculiar shaft sizes, their knobs, like the CTS are pot specific, smaller diameter, available in single colours, black, chrome or gold. They're a cheaper option and won't need the routing enlarging, but you won't have the look or feel or quality and longevity of the pukka pots.

Cheerz, John

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19 minutes ago, Beedster said:

Lightly relic’d Lake Placid Blue with matching headstock :)

Or heavy “Herbie” relic, no matching headstock 

98F9CC02-B485-4FCD-AA61-2746A8600797.jpeg

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Just now, AndyTravis said:

Or heavy “Herbie” relic, no matching headstock 

Can't disagree with that Andy :)

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1 minute ago, Beedster said:

Can't disagree with that Andy :)

I’ve also said

Sherwood Green or the same ice blue as my miller with a parchment guard - would look the beans...269DA1AF-7496-4A32-970F-0E1DC635F973.thumb.jpeg.81f0b813bacdef674068058b84300172.jpeg0EBAA291-2E5A-40D8-8441-4E83667A8E7B.jpeg.d8be83a5949fb0ff747c5d85f86853cc.jpeg

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28 minutes ago, KiOgon said:

Yes as Chris said the classic black/chrome knobs only fit the Fender/CTS FullPhat pots and they are the only ones that have the 250/500K volume/tone. The easy option of Altec or similar mini pots have their own peculiar shaft sizes, their knobs, like the CTS are pot specific, smaller diameter, available in single colours, black, chrome or gold. They're a cheaper option and won't need the routing enlarging, but you won't have the look or feel or quality and longevity of the pukka pots.

Cheerz, John

Noted with thanks John. Router it is then.
As unexpected as this is, the idea of routing the body is the least worrying piece of this puzzle so far.

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36 minutes ago, Beedster said:

Lightly relic’d Lake Placid Blue with matching headstock :)

As much as I love MHS basses, and I do love MHS basses, I might leave the headstock as is.

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