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 Post subject: Squier Jazz Bass Mods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:55 am 
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Hey guys, for awhile now I've been playing my little brother's neglected Squier Affinity Jazz Bass and ive been thinking about making modifications to make a decent (or just a better bass) I didnt want to make a rash decision as to doing this without help so i turned to the forums for help.

There are three main things I want to change: the pickguard, finish and pickups. For the pickguard, i have this all white 3-ply pickguard and was wondering if there was a way to draw on it and have the design fade. In regards to the pickups, what pickups would you say can encompass many genres such as punk rock, funk to jazz, or in other words, pickups that can encompass many tonal results. And as for the finish, I was wondering who exactly you would remove the finish off the body and applying a new one, as I have heard that it is rather hard to remove a polyurethane finish.

If there are any forums already talking about such topics please tell me, and thank you for anyone that can help.


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 Post subject: Re: Squier Jazz Bass Mods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:03 am 
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ashboy12 wrote:
Hey guys, for awhile now I've been playing my little brother's neglected Squier Affinity Jazz Bass and ive been thinking about making modifications to make a decent (or just a better bass) I didnt want to make a rash decision as to doing this without help so i turned to the forums for help.

There are three main things I want to change: the pickguard, finish and pickups. For the pickguard, i have this all white 3-ply pickguard and was wondering if there was a way to draw on it and have the design fade. In regards to the pickups, what pickups would you say can encompass many genres such as punk rock, funk to jazz, or in other words, pickups that can encompass many tonal results. And as for the finish, I was wondering who exactly you would remove the finish off the body and applying a new one, as I have heard that it is rather hard to remove a polyurethane finish.

If there are any forums already talking about such topics please tell me, and thank you for anyone that can help.


Hi Ashboy and welcome to the forum!

A few points:
1. This is not going to be easy.
2. This is going to be costly.
3. This is going to be MESSY.
4. Home refinish jobs seldom have the expected outcome.
5. The Squier Affinity is the bottom of the Squier line with a used one worth about $100 to $125 where I live in NC USA. After you spend untold hours and dollars refinishing and upgrading it, the bass will actually still be worth about the same for sale or trade...or maybe even less if the refinish is botched. Even if everything goes 100% according to plan you'll still have the same hardware and wood.

You might actually come out cheaper trading it in on a better quality bass in the color you want.

That being said I'll address your questions in order.

A. Fading a design could be done by overspraying the design with a very thinly mixed paint the exact same color as the guard. An automotive body shop can mix a paint to match your guard. I don't recommend painting a guard as you are going to knock off the paint with a pick maybe, but in this case it would fade the design.

B. There are as many different opinions on pickups as posters here. Find an artist you like and find out what pickups they use, then try those. On a budget project like an Affinity I'd stick to the mass produced pickups like Seymour Duncan or Fender. Another option would be the WILDE pickups by Bill Lawrence which are just a little more. They are still mass produced but in smaller numbers. The right pickup can make a difference in an instrument's voice. However, because of differences in the quality of the wood and hardware, putting Custom Shop pickups in an Affinity bass will not make it sound just like a Custom Shop bass, but instead it will sound like an Affinity with Custom Shop pickups. You can expect a different basic sound, but don't expect miracles.

C. Refinishing a guitar or bass body is the last thing I recommend someone with no experience at it attempt. The outcome is rarely what was expected. Removing the poly is a huge hassle, expensive, very messy and very labor intensive. You have to use very caustic chemicals to strip it requiring specialized personal protective gear and even then you will still have to use lots of muscle, sanding and steel wool scrubbing what the stripper doesn't remove. Some refinish shops charge $150 to strip a poly body, so that should give you clue that poly stripping is not fast or easy to do. For home refinishing there is a company called RERANCH that sells refinishing supplies and offers tutorials on their website at http://reranch.com/index.htm

In a closing note to you, there are things you can do to any bass that will improve the basic tone and I would suggest those first or when doing the pickup upgrade. They are relatively easy and cheap. I think you'd be better served spending money on these upgrades than on paint.
First: Shield and star ground the bass to reduce hum and RFI.
Second: Put in a better tone capacitor than the cheap stock poly caps. Usually a better capacitor will make a surprising difference.
Cost for these two upgrades is about $20 and probably the best upgrade money and time you can spend.

You can find links to helpful tutorials on both these simple and beneficial upgrades on the website in my forum signature below. First, go to that site and click on "DO IT YOURSELF SETUP AND MAINTENANCE." Once on the Setup and Maintenance page read the section "SHIELD YOUR BASS." Next go to the "REPLACEMENT UPGRADE BASS PARTS" page and read the section titled AXEGRINDERZ which explains a lot about tone capacitors.

I think I'd leave the finish alone and possibly go ahead with the pickup upgrade and also do the Shielding & Cap upgrade at the same time as the pickup upgrade since you'll basically have all the electronics out then anyway.

GOOD LUCK!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:57 am 
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Brother Dave's post is very good advice!

I second the capacitor mod and star grounding for your affinity Jazz.

That will make a shockingly good improvement in the sound of your bass.

Don't get into a refinish. That's a lot of work and usually is a bad idea for a budget bass for all of the reasons Dave pointed out.

You can easily apply stickers to the bass body for a unique look.
Its not my thing but a lot of players like to make their basses unique this way.

I saw a bassplayer use an affinity Jazz and he made a US flag motif on the body using colored contact paper. That's a lot easier than refinishing and you can easily change it if you want to.

I don't see that new pickups for an Affinty Jazz are really worth it. The stock ones are surprisingly good when the bass is shielded properly and you can rock out on the bass and not worry about losing a lot of money if someone steals it or something happens to it.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:04 am 
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capacitors are good things to keep in mind... and pickups well, they'd affect the tone of the instrument but they won't sound the same on a Fender with a similar pickup.. especially with the agathis over alder wood on the Squier's..

BC is right, shielding, caps and replacing pots are all you need...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:05 am 
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eyecandy wrote:
capacitors are good things to keep in mind... and pickups well, they'd affect the tone of the instrument but they won't sound the same on a Fender with a similar pickup.. especially with the agathis over alder wood on the Squier's..

BC is right, shielding, caps and replacing pots are all you need...


I think this is the first we've heard about replacing pots on this thread. I personally do not see any benefit in replacing perfectly good 250k pots on this project. They work, they are 250k, I have no problem with that myself.

"Caps are a good thing to keep in mind?"

The wood, the pups and the caps are the heart of an electric bass' tone. I've yet to see an electric bass which could NOT be transformed, for better or for worse, with caps and a radically different pup. Once you start changing things, it becomes a project. An experiment.

A pickup change might be in order for a specialized sound. Granted, the Asian stock pups are decent but frankly they are generic sounding and mighty mid-oriented. Quarter Pounders would be a definite character change and bring out a totally new attitude, if for nothing else than higher sensitivity and increased dynamics.

In other words, THEY JUST MIGHT SOUND COMPLETELY NASTY!

But then again, I'm probably one of the three people on this ENTIRE site that actually likes the stock S.D. Quarter-Pounder Jazz pups or the vintage sounding Bill Lawrence WILDE set for Jazz bass. I know they are both pretty noisy, but with good shielding they sound amazing and the sensitivity on either set after setting them up correctly is TO DIE FOR. The PROBLEM WITH THEM is MOST people are TOO LAZY to do a good shielding job which is ABSOLUTELY mandatory to make them totally useful with the tone cranked wide open.

Most people just want to buy a cheap bass and throw dollars at it thinking it will miraculously sound amazing with no real work involved.
"Screw this part on there and process the Tech 21 like THIS." That stuff is so...NOT happening in the real world people. AND, it isn't EVER going to be amazing the first time. Once you get into modding an instrument you have opened the KING of the CAN OF WORMS and it ultimately is up to YOU to find the sound you were looking for in the first place.

To be PERFECTLY frank, I could tell you PRECISELY what I'd do and it would NOT work for you! That is because I am me, and you are you, and we are TWO DIFFERENT PLAYERS with two totally different goals and two very different techniques.

ALL I CAN DO as a friend is point you in the RIGHT DIRECTIONS and hope that by some miracle you find whatever tone you are seeking.

Replacing perfectly good pots? That will make...NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:59 am 
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i checked the Squier J's specs, they come with 500k pots, a bit too much for a J, well if my info is incorrect, i guess I'd live with the 250k stock..

http://www.squierguitars.com/pdf/curren ... ervice.pdf

:oops:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:39 am 
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Excellent work, I had not looked at the schematic. It would not hurt a thing in the world to try the 250K pots.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:16 pm 
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I know that the right pickups can and will make a big difference in this bass.

I just wrestle with the idea of at what point should a player save their money for a better bass as opposed to spending the equivalent value of the bass on parts?

A Squire Affinity Jazz bass is only $179 street price at GC right?

I guess he can always keep the original pickups to reinstall if he ever trades or sells the bass, but the parts replacement game can get expensive!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:25 pm 
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That is right B.C.! As President Obama said, "You can put lipstick on a pig. But it is still a pig."


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:18 am 
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Sometimes those pigs with lipstick are fun to play!

I think Sara said the diff. bet. a Hockey mom and a Pit bull is lipstick!

I won't get political. I just enjoy checking out the Squire basses in a store and finding the best one.

Some of them can be surprisingly good.
[/quote]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 7:23 pm 
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BCbassman wrote:

I just wrestle with the idea of at what point should a player save their money for a better bass as opposed to spending the equivalent value of the bass on parts?

A Squire Affinity Jazz bass is only $179 street price at GC right?

I guess he can always keep the original pickups to reinstall if he ever trades or sells the bass, but the parts replacement game can get expensive!


I've heard a lot of heated arguments either way on this topic. I think it really comes down to a case-by-case basis, and exactly what the individual player values.


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