Author Topic: Well I THOUGHT it was done...  (Read 6538 times)

daan

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Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« on: April 27, 2015, 03:02:42 PM »
I've been working on this bass longer than I'd like to admit, but it's finally in one piece and I can play it.
It's a 70's Hondo II Jazz copy. Rather than the plywood like most of them I've seen, this one's made of ash (or something that looks like ash anyway) I took all the electronics out (they didn't work anyway) and Our Intrepid Leader gave me a bridge to replace the terrible one it came with (Thank you again, Dave!) I found some "Firebird style Mini-Humbuckers" on ebay for less than $20 for the pair. These are something like within 1/4" of the same size as what came out of it, are most likely Artec pickups that sounded good in my other hacked-together bass

I also found a "pre-wired Jazz bass control panel" for less than $30, probably a used take-out from something because it had really long leads for the pickups.

I had wired everything up a couple times, and it never really worked. I could wire either of the mini-buckers to the output jack and get noise, but not thru the pots. I futzed and futzed and ended up just re wiring it with new pots and the diagram from SD http://www.buzzardsbass.com/electronics/wiring/diagrams/J-Bass/Jazz.gif
Now it makes noise, but turning the knobs doesn't seem to affect anything, like the sound doesn't change. After seeing the amazing builds you guys put up here I'm kinda embarrased to show my hack-work around here,  :-[  but I have a couple questions for you experts:
1. could my lack of tone change be from bad parts (everything was as cheap as I could afford) or more likely me just wiring it up wrong?
2 Would just wiring it vol/tone/3-way make more sense than the v/v/t (or blend knob or whatever) make more sense? (and be less likely for me to screw up)
3. I did notice on playing it for the first time that the "G" string was a lot quieter than the other 3. Also, after measuring it 543264326 times to get the bridge in the right place,

the pup routs are shifted way over to the "E" side, I'm guessing my quiet string is because the pups are not under the strings quite right?

They SEEM to be OK, but who knows... with the old ones, if I centered the pickup under the strings, the top of the pup route could be seen under the pickup ring.

I centered these pretty evenly, but that one string is still not as loud as the others.  ???
4. The action is WAY higher than it used to be- I guess spending 4 years in my basement didn't do it any good...

I strung it up and raised the bridge up enough to get it to stop buzzing, and now it's the stereotypical "half-inch high action". I've never actually adjusted a truss rod before, go figure, and don't wanna break this one (it's totally not worth getting a new neck for, not that I could either afford one, or know how to adapt a standard one to this odd ball shaped thing. It does have a headstock adjusted truss rod, and the nut on it appears to adjust with an Allen key,

but the one I have that fits the nut doesn't seem to want to move at all, and I don't want to snap anything. Also, I don't actually know which way I should be turning it in the first place, so I thought I should consult the experts before I make stuff worse. Can I even adjust this out, or is the neck now warped too much to have a playable bass? THe action was nowhere near this high when I bought it, or I wouldn't have gotten it in the first place. I should mention that the neck has never come off it since I got it, and it's been in my basement pretty much the whole time, other than when I worked on it outside in the summer a couple times. I figured it was more humid down there in the winter than upstairs in our wood-heated house, but I could be wrong...

THank you guys, especially for having me in the coolest bass hang-out on the net.
If it was good enough for Danny Bonaduce, it ought to be good enough for fake bass players everywhere!

Dave W

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2015, 09:07:03 PM »
1. By "makes noise" do you mean you're getting tone from the pickups but the controls aren't working? Or is it just hum? Could be bad parts or a cold solder joint.

2. No. Nothing wrong with vol/tone/3-way but not any less likely to be a problem.

3. That could be it. Hard to know without checking. If you can't remove the cover, you can always lay some iron filings on a piece of paper over the pickup to see the pole pattern. Just be sure to avoid getting the filings in the pickup.

4. Righty tighty -- clockwise when looking at it from the headstock end -- to decrease relief. You don't have to loosen the strings but if you can't make it move as is, better loosen 'em. You could always try loosening first to see if it moves at all. Whatever you do, don't ever crank it more than 1/4 turn at a time.

I doubt it was any more humid in your basement. the relative humidity is higher but at a lower temperature.

amptech

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2015, 01:37:41 AM »
I'd really give that nut some attention, that's for sure. You can check how much clearance there is between string and first fret by pressing down string at 3.rd fret. You don't need much clearance, just enough not to buzz. Seeing nut, bridge and neck (straightness) as a whole is quite useful sometimes. I say this first, because I find it more easy troubleshooting electronics/pickups without being annoyed by everything else on the instrument. :) And, if the neck is very bowed, remember to put some pressure on when straightening it - the rod should only keep it straight, not straighten it.


drbassman

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2015, 05:38:08 AM »
Thanks for jumping in here guys.  I'm a little distracted right now!
I'm fixin' a hole where the rain gets in..........cuz I'm built for a kilt!

godofthunder

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2015, 06:53:16 AM »
I can't tell from the pictures if the neck is bowed. It looks like you can drop your saddles more..................as long as the bridge pickup can be dropped down as well. A neck shim would help the situation I think. As stated by others go slowly when adjusting the truss rod. turning it clock wise will tighten it making the neck flatter, loosening it (counterclockwise) will introduce more relief or bow. Hope that helps. PS it looks like your E string is sitting a little high in the nut, is the channel wide enough for the gauge strings you are using?
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daan

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2015, 07:15:28 AM »
Hey thanks guys, I'm >< THIS close to having a finished bass and I'm excited to get there!
As far as "noise", I mean, it sounds like a bass, it isn't humming. The "tone" of it just doesn't sound any different if I turn the knobs. The volume changes somewhat, but all the way down it's silent, and moving it at all it's as loud as it goes.
And yeah, the nut isn't filed right but I haven't addressed that yet (don't wanna file it too much and then need a new one!)
If it was good enough for Danny Bonaduce, it ought to be good enough for fake bass players everywhere!

godofthunder

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2015, 07:32:47 AM »
Nuts are cheap go for it! That's a good bass to hone your skills on.
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Pilgrim

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2015, 09:19:48 AM »
My suggestion on the electronics is to find a diagram for wiring a J-bass in the sequence you want, and then follow it.  Chances are that there's a short or a misplaced connection that is causing the problems. 

There are a lot of J-bass wiring diagrams on the Interwebs. Here's one at Stew-Mac that's pretty conventional: http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Pickups_and_Electronics/Wiring_for_Jazz_Bass.html
Good sloppy playing is an art in itself. (Uwe)

amptech

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2015, 12:50:07 AM »

And yeah, the nut isn't filed right but I haven't addressed that yet (don't wanna file it too much and then need a new one!)

Buy a couple of bone blanks and download a Dan Erlewine nut guide or something, I promise you that´s rewarding.
You don´t need all the files he talks about, a small hacksaw and an inexpensive ratfile set will do. And different grades of sandpaper and something to polish with (3M pads up to 12000 grit or something) an you´re away. I think nut filing is described thoroughly here on lbo too. I was amazed how easy it was to set up any bass as I replaced iffy nuts with good ones. You just need that one evening concentrating on that blank, and you´re hooked - it´s great!

As for the electronics, if the volume is not shorting the signal, maybe the pot is not working? You bought cheap ones, right? Sometimes they just do not work. Before completely switching to CTS on my amp builds a couple of years ago, I sometimes threw away 1 out of 10 chinese pots each batch I ordered. Good parts = less troubleshooting.

As a footnote, I´ve had 2 of those cheapo mini humbuckers you describe. They were so silent (output wise) that I ended up using only the covers, baseplate and pickup rings. But in their favour, they had an even magnetic field, no ´g string trouble´on mine.

Best of luck, builds are always fun! 

nofi

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2015, 12:03:45 PM »
i have always enjoyed yours and other 'inexpensive' instruments. a lot of things can be done cheap or free and not worrying about wrecking a 2500 bass is quite liberating. carry on, sir. :)
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chromium

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2015, 01:06:33 PM »
You don´t need all the files he talks about, a small hacksaw and an inexpensive ratfile set will do. And different grades of sandpaper and something to polish with (3M pads up to 12000 grit or something) an you´re away.

First one I ever made:


I used exactly that- inexpensive needle file set, sand papers, etc..  all stuff I had around.  Bought a big package of bone blanks off Ebay for a few bucks.  Give it a shot, Daan. It's not that hard if I can pull it off!

I had an old Ibanez jazz bass similar to yours that I had bought for next to nothing, and it sounded so good the times I took it out.  Your's actually looks of nicer quality.  The one I had was 'burst with laminate top/back, and what looked like pieces of mystery-mahogany in the middle (you could see all the joins projecting thru the laminate).  Of all the basses I've sold, that's the only one I still sometimes think about.


dadagoboi

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2015, 03:51:12 PM »
your tone pot is wired wrong.  The hot wire from the bridge pot goes to the center lug of the tone pot then to the hot lug of the jack.  The lug that you grounded needs to have the capacitor going from it to the ground on the pot, it shouldn't be grounded directly...go back and look at the diagram again.  You're going to have a cool bass when you get done!

daan

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2015, 06:39:17 PM »
Man, I don't know why I keep hacking away at this thing... I tried to get the E string to sit in the nut better, I lightly sanded it with some 400-grit, and now the string pops out of the slot every time I hit it.   >:( I went slowly and lightly, I didn't go nuts on it, but obviously I overdid it. Now I gotta buy a nut and some files...

So now it doesn't play thru the amp right, and also the string pops out. Grr.  So I called my Dad to come over with his chain saw and we cut down some of the half-dead, overgrown bushes from next to the house.




I seriously considered taking the chain saw to the bass, since I'm so frustrated with it right now.
If it was good enough for Danny Bonaduce, it ought to be good enough for fake bass players everywhere!

daan

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2015, 06:49:39 PM »
I had an old Ibanez jazz bass similar to yours that I had bought for next to nothing, and it sounded so good the times I took it out.  Your's actually looks of nicer quality.  The one I had was 'burst with laminate top/back, and what looked like pieces of mystery-mahogany in the middle (you could see all the joins projecting thru the laminate).  Of all the basses I've sold, that's the only one I still sometimes think about.


I've actually had a couple like that now, and I started a kind of "bass archeaology project" where I collected every pic of a Jazz copy with different names on them, I think I was up to 20 or so before I got distracted by ...well, everything else going on. I'm pretty sure between these basses and fake LP's, that was 75% of the import guitar output of the 70's.

The "Carlo Robelli" I had, this one was a very close copy (a "real" Jazz guard fit right on, and it had fairly nice J shaped pups) I liked the neck on the ash Hondo better. THis one was pancacked like an LP, but it was "real" wood. I also had this

a plywood "no-name" with the mini humbucker size pups. THis one was really beat, the neck was warped and the pups (pr the pots, I guess) didn't work. I only paid $30 for it though so I wasn't expecting much.
If it was good enough for Danny Bonaduce, it ought to be good enough for fake bass players everywhere!

daan

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Re: Well I THOUGHT it was done...
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2015, 06:52:49 PM »
your tone pot is wired wrong.  The hot wire from the bridge pot goes to the center lug of the tone pot then to the hot lug of the jack.  The lug that you grounded needs to have the capacitor going from it to the ground on the pot, it shouldn't be grounded directly...go back and look at the diagram again.  You're going to have a cool bass when you get done!

I'm printing this out now, I will rewire it the next chance I get. Stupid question: WHich one is the "tone" pot? My guess is the one next to the output, but I thought I should ask before I start soldering the wrong things (again)  :-[
If it was good enough for Danny Bonaduce, it ought to be good enough for fake bass players everywhere!