As bassists, we’re used to peering into control cavities like this, but our guitarist buddies might faint at the sight.
As bassists, we’re used to peering into control cavities like this, but our guitarist buddies might faint at the sight.
Low-enders! Welcome to the Bass Bench, my new column about all things bass— from its fundamental frequencies to its fundamental musical mission. We’ll explore modding and also seek to understand your instrument and its main parts. We’ll cover basic maintenance and setup, and even ways to stay cool when your bass malfunctions in the most inappropriate moment.
Here at PG, there’s been a long tradition of offering modding and maintenance ideas for guitarists, but let’s face it, basses and bassists have different needs. While our colleagues are struggling with another attempt to rewire a 5-way switch and test out yet another vintage capacitor, we low-enders have already swapped in our fifth 36-volt, fully parametric 4-band EQ.
Basses have real strings too—not just those tiny .010" wires that are just a few times as thick as a human hair! Our mainly non-tube bass amps are burlier than guitar amps, as are our cabs. In short: Bass players embrace cuttingedge technology and care about big, tough rigs.
Though we might start by simply adding a new pickguard, our bass mods can include swapping electronics and pickups, replacing bridges and necks, and even attempting some Jaco-inspired fretless conversions. Whatever the mod, I like to categorize it as one of four types: visual, functional, ergonomic, or tonal. Categorizing a mod helps us focus on the desired outcome, but these categories can be less distinct than you might initially think.
For example, applying a new finish (which would come under the visual category) will often alter tone. Adding an ergonomic thumb rest might hurt functionality for slap-style playing. Balancing an instrument makes it more ergonomic, and that introduces a relaxed functionality for your left hand. And those new tuners (functional category) can shift sonic dead spots to where they really hurt. These things all connect, sometimes in unexpected ways.
So why consider modding? Maybe you’re unhappy with your bass in one of the categories we’ve outlined. Perhaps your playing has evolved and you want to make your instrument more suited to your current abilities. Or you want to get closer to that unaffordable dream bass. Or maybe you think tinkering is fun.
Perhaps you’re one of those players who needs to know how your main tool works, and you want to be prepared to make a quick repair or adjustment when faced with a problem in the studio or on tour. Most of us go through life without our own guitar tech. If an output jack breaks minutes before you go onstage—and it will, there’s a law about that—you’ll be left completely on your own. And you’ll be glad you’re not viewing your instrument’s innards for the first time.
Okay, when isn’t it a good idea to mod your bass? For starters, some mods can’t be reversed. Or they’ll hurt the resale value or blow your budget or make a particular problem even worse. Often, I have to slow customers down instead of just taking their money and doing the job. Remember, it’s best to move incrementally and take one step at a time. You can easily lose control by, say, changing pickups and electronics at the same time.
In terms of importance, here’s how I rank our four categories: functional, tonal, ergonomic, and finally visual. If the instrument lacks functionality—specifically good playability— I won’t invest any time or money into tonal mods, let alone a visual one. Your priorities might differ, but if you don’t feel that your current instrument is a real keeper, don’t waste too much time on it. That said, if you’re just doing mods for fun—a perfectly acceptable goal—get a low-budget instrument for your first experiments.
Another thing: Always keep the original parts and don’t be afraid to ask a luthier for help. A skilled pro should be able to give you some advice. The more you know about your instrument, the better you can judge if the repairperson is just looking for work or is eager to win you as a future customer.
Before you begin a project, ask yourself these questions: What’s my budget? What mods are the most effective? What’s the value of my instrument? Are there affordable replacements if I ruin it? Is it smart to start a project the day before my biggest, oncein- a-lifetime studio job? Am I just bored or fixing up the instrument to sell it?
Modifying your wiring is cheap, pretty predictable, and reversible. Conversely, spending your last bucks on your hero’s favorite pickup could turn into a huge disappointment if you don’t take other factors into account.
If you’re not happy with your instrument’s playability, visit your local dealer and test-drive a few basses. There’s a good chance your dream machine already exists. If not, you should take every chance to compare various basses, so you understand what you really want.
And finally, don’t spend your whole budget on a new finish unless you really love the rest of the bass. Even then, think twice: Function rules!
In my next columns, we’ll heat up the soldering iron and try some basic wiring projects. The goal will be to learn what can break most often and how to fix it on your own. See you then!
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
Belltone P-90 Foil-Tron Pickup
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.