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Anyone else with a "Project Bass"?

Posts: 530
In order to learn more about working on my bass, but not risk messing up my Fender American Jazz, I decided to start a “Project Bass.”

I found a Silvertone LB-11 on Craigslist for $60 to start out. It wasn't bad, but wasn't all that noteworthy. The neck is in good shape, but it had horrible strings on it - they felt bad and sounded even worse! Some of the sound was probably due to the pickups. I read one review that said they are Duncan Designed pickups, but if that's true the design wasn't implemented very well…

The first mod was just new strings. I put some cheap no-namers on it, and they actually did help the sound, but I think I did that mostly to justify swapping out the pickup.

I swapped the pickup out for a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound SPB-3 pickups, replaced the capacitor on the tone control (stayed with 0.05u), and re-soldered all of the wiring.

I started out with some Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky strings, which were better than the originals and cheap ones, but not to my preference, so I now have some D'Addario EXL165s which seem to be getting the feel and sound how I want them to be.

I also added a thumb rest above the E to keep my thumb away from the strings while I play (bad habits die hard).

In the process I got to practice truss rod adjustments, pickup height tuning, fixing intonation, adjusting the action, and have a more practical understanding of what is happening behind the pick-guard.

As this is now a bass I might play away from home, I need to add some straplocks, but after that I'm not sure what else I can do with it. The options would be to change out the pickguard (the black looks right on the cobalt blue, so probably not), upgrade the bridge, change out the tone circuit, and add a Hipshot Bass Xtender (or 4, since when I detune I do it across all 4 strings). Not sure any of those are cost-effective on this bass.

So maybe it's time to cruise Craigslist again to find “Project Bass II.” Maybe something with a P/J pickup configuration…

Has anyone else done (or is doing) something similar? What did you get, and what did you do to it, and what's next (if anything) in your plan?
Posts: 3139
Check out the ‘Tech Guy’ thread, I'm building my second bass, photos included
Posts: 1103
Build a bass from scratch. I can attest you learn a lot doing it from a block of wood.
Posts: 530
Marko and Mark - you are both way more ambitious, and talented, than I am to even try that! I can see getting a kit to build, but I don't have the touch to start with a block of wood. I would enjoy doing it, but what I'd end up with would look ugly, and probably sound even worse!
Posts: 1103
You'll never know unless you give it a try.

Admittedly, the neck is way more complicated than the body. I did not attempt to make a neck on my first build and bought a neck online. I built my body around the bought neck.

Baby steps…
I have a Pee bass I am slowly building. I picked up a bass in pieces for $25. Swapping out the body for a wooden toilet seat. Hence Pee bass.

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