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Beef up Mexican p-bass??
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unstruck
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#1
10th July 2013
Old 10th July 2013
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Beef up Mexican p-bass??

I bought a Mexican p-bass a few months back. I find that it sounds a bit thin. Kinda growly, but without much heft behind the sound.

I'm wondering if a better pickup would help out. If so, any recommendations? Or should I just scrap the thing and get an American one?

Is there anything else I can do to it mechanically to make it sound better?

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Nate
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10th July 2013
Old 10th July 2013
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flatwound strings. new pickups. fralins are good, so are duncan and fender. this will make a big difference.

Good Upgrade Pickups for P Bass - TalkBass Forums

last ditch, you can pick up a better wiring harness and pots. ebay has tons. find a luthier on craigslist and go to town.
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10th July 2013
Old 10th July 2013
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IN addition to changing your pups what are you using to amplify through? Not all amps are created equal and sometimes something with a little more compression or grit can help solidify a bass sound (you can also use some pedals for this).

There's one other possibility and I know this might sound stupid and like "yeah of course I've tried this and it still sounds thin" (in which case feel free to berate me for suggesting it) but sometimes people don't and well if things are a little growly it may be that you have too much treble coming through, this is bad because it causes natural frequency compression on your bass frequencies (basically the whole signal gets compressed by the amp at the peak volumes, but they're coming form the treble end rather than the bass end), so does it help any if you simply roll back the tone control, adjust the amp eq and turn up the volume?
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10th July 2013
Old 10th July 2013
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The biggest difference between US made & Mexican made P-basses is the imports are made by Mexicans in Mexico the American basses are made by Mexicans in So-Cal.
Sincere piece of advice, do a good setup with new strings, tweak the EQ on your amp & then decide how the bass sounds to you. There really is not a huge difference between US & Mexican beyond price and cosmetics. And, yes, I know I've just committed heresy.
Best regards, Hugh
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10th July 2013
Old 10th July 2013
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Thanks for the replies.

I'm currently only using the bass to record with. I go direct into my bae 312a and then into my Rosetta 200. I think that basic chain should yield a decent bass sound, but it just feels a bit flimsy to me.

I'm definitely going to have it set up professionally. I did put new strings on relatively recently and fixed up the intonation and adjusted the action with my feeler gauges. Not much of an improvement sound wise unfortunately.

Thanks for the link, I'll definitely look into some potential pickup alternatives.


Cheers.
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10th July 2013
Old 10th July 2013
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OK, well, before you go any further and spend any money, have you just tried a good compressor on your signal chain? Put it post an EQ or low-pass (although after the bass and before your preamp could also sound kinda good and give you a little preamp grit, then just use the tone control on the bass to cut out the excessive treble) and see how that sounds. Otherwise I'd head right for a bass amp or failing that an amp sim, I think you'll be surprised at how much difference that can make to the authority of even the "flimsiest" of bass guitars (and that guitar you have shouldn't really sound flimsy).
#7
10th July 2013
Old 10th July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unstruck View Post
I go direct into my bae 312a and then into my Rosetta 200. I think that basic chain should yield a decent bass sound, but it just feels a bit flimsy to me. .


Cheers.
I am no master bass player, but I did have a Mexican P-Bass too and also found it very thin. I didn't change pickups - I just got a new bass.

To me - it's the wood. The P-Bass would sound okay when you first struck the string but then the sound had no body - it all went away so fast. With my new bass - it's completely different.

I'd recommend trying it against another bass - but totally unplugged - just hearing how it sounds acoustically; plucking the strings with the bass unplugged. For me, between the two, its the same effect and very obvious - which is what confirmed for me that it was the actual BASS (the wood/neck etc) that was the root cause. And no pickup or amp is really going to fix that.

Just my 2cents . . .
#8
10th July 2013
Old 10th July 2013
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To me, FWIW, the big diff between the MIM and USA guitars/basses is the neck and the pickups. If you strap on some flatwounds and change the pup (as mentioned above) you'll make a big difference. After that I'd consider a custom neck from Warmoth.

Bill Lawrence also makes killer bass pickups that are extremely affordable. Don't let the price fool you.
#9
10th July 2013
Old 10th July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unstruck View Post
Thanks for the replies.

I'm currently only using the bass to record with. I go direct into my bae 312a and then into my Rosetta 200. I think that basic chain should yield a decent bass sound, but it just feels a bit flimsy to me.

I'm definitely going to have it set up professionally. I did put new strings on relatively recently and fixed up the intonation and adjusted the action with my feeler gauges. Not much of an improvement sound wise unfortunately.

Thanks for the link, I'll definitely look into some potential pickup alternatives.


Cheers.
Aha!

Try using a real amp. I recommend any of the Ampeg Portaflex tube bass amps. Or a real (tube) SVT.

What kind of strings (type, brand, and gauge) are you using?
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unstruck
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17th July 2013
Old 17th July 2013
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Thanks for all the thoughts!

I think I put some DR Sunbeams (45-105) on there last. Do flatwounds have a more robust sound?

I did end up grabbing a Bill Lawrence pickup. Hopefully that'll help a bit. Unfortunately, my room is jammed full of stuff and I really don't have room for an amp at the moment.
#11
17th July 2013
Old 17th July 2013
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You should evaluate the instruments tone and sustain unplugged. Throwing a new pick-up on a bad instrument - if that is what you have - is not the real solution.

Flatwounds are a very different playing experience, and they will change the tone drastically. You are not just "adding" low end, you will lose sustain and high end with them and get a more plucked sound.

American or Mexican doesn't matter

Gustav
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#12
18th July 2013
Old 18th July 2013
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I have a Mexican P-bass that I bought way back in the mid 90s and shortly after I bought it I swapped the pickup for a Seymour Duncan vintage style one and have been quite happy with it ever since. I also have owned a '79 P-bass, and an original '61 stack knob Jazz but my cheap Mexican P has always impressed me. I always use round wound strings on it, and either use a pick or fingers depending on the style needed. That said cheap wood or not, IMHO the pickup swap really made a big difference.
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18th July 2013
Old 18th July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
To me, FWIW, the big diff between the MIM and USA guitars/basses is the neck and the pickups. If you strap on some flatwounds and change the pup (as mentioned above) you'll make a big difference. After that I'd consider a custom neck from Warmoth.

Bill Lawrence also makes killer bass pickups that are extremely affordable. Don't let the price fool you.
I agree with all of this, except for the part about flatwounds. I don't care for them. Also, I wouldn't replace the neck. If that neck is not to your liking, then I'd just get a new bass. I'll also add that I like the finish better on American Fenders. But if it plays well and sounds good unplugged, but just doesn't sound right plugged in, then I'd replace the pickups, and Bill Lawrence is a pretty good place to go for pickups!
#14
18th July 2013
Old 18th July 2013
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Upgrading the pups does help substantially. The Fender pbass 62' pups you can get for about $90 took the thin out of the cheaper fender pbass import we had and put both bottom and top end where it needed to be. Much much better.
#15
20th July 2013
Old 20th July 2013
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Is your gripe with a recorded tone or live? A good DI or a good amp should make that bass sound great. A Fendero is not much different than a Fender. In fact, my main bass is a Korean Squier from 1987 with Bartolini pickup and CTS pots. I would put my bass up against almost any.

Bartolini pickups are a great upgrade. As others have said though, a good setup can help immensely.

Your string height and pickup height can make a huge difference.

Another gimmicky thing that I have tried that I like is a Fatfinger. It is basically a clamp for the headstock. The idea is all instruments have weak spots. The Fatfinger helps to level the playing field. My Squier is no Alembic, but the tone is pretty damn good. There used to be a "Fathead", which was a metal plate you would install on the headstock to accomplish the same thing.
#16
20th July 2013
Old 20th July 2013
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Fralin seems to have the most transparent passive single coils and I'm
sure it can't hurt to upgrade the pots while you're at it.
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20th July 2013
Old 20th July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geetarpicker View Post
I have a Mexican P-bass that I bought way back in the mid 90s and shortly after I bought it I swapped the pickup for a Seymour Duncan vintage style one and have been quite happy with it ever since. I also have owned a '79 P-bass, and an original '61 stack knob Jazz but my cheap Mexican P has always impressed me. I always use round wound strings on it, and either use a pick or fingers depending on the style needed. That said cheap wood or not, IMHO the pickup swap really made a big difference.
I had an early 90's MIM P Bass myself and I believe it had a solid alder body. I bought it used and the previous owner had upgraded the pots and lined the pickup cavity with copper foil, along with adding a BadAss 2 bridge.. After I got it, I installed the Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder pickup. I swear, it was as good as any recent P Bass I've ever played.
#18
22nd July 2013
Old 22nd July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deweyhoser View Post
The biggest difference between US made & Mexican made P-basses is the imports are made by Mexicans in Mexico the American basses are made by Mexicans in So-Cal.
Sincere piece of advice, do a good setup with new strings, tweak the EQ on your amp & then decide how the bass sounds to you. There really is not a huge difference between US & Mexican beyond price and cosmetics. And, yes, I know I've just committed heresy.
Best regards, Hugh
Mexican Fenders have gotten WAY better. But you still have to know the model you are using. If it is a roadworn, than the pickups are quality, but some of the less expensive models still use cheaper pups.
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#19
22nd July 2013
Old 22nd July 2013
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Just went thru this..changed the pickup to an old dimarzio and it made a HUGE difference. The pickup on the standard seems to be a generic sounding pickup. Doesn't have any growl and found it to be middle of the road sonicially. Not giving you a P sound. I
Changed the pickup and the wiring harness (which I would you should change also). Now it is comparable to my 62 RI P and MIJ P. I spent a total of $50 and an hour of time
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