New bass incoming, dead pickup, good replacement?

What's Hot
robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 1692
So, I figured I could use a bass for recording purposes and have bought a Grant Jazz bass. Looks like this:



I've not got it yet, but it's described as having a dead bridge pickup.

Assuming it *is* actually dead, what are my options for replacements? I know little to nothing about basses + pickups!

R.
0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Comments

  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 13139
    Measure the size of the existing pickup very carefully....
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 2791
    edited March 10
    Specifically, measure:
    1) the end-to-end lengths of both pickup cavities.
    2) the distance between the height adjustment screws along one side of each pickup.
    3) the D.C. resistance of each pickup.

    On expensive bass guitars, these three measurements should be different per pickup. On some budget basses, they may be the same.

    There are numerous possible explanations for a non-functioning pickup. Several of these are due to other components. Hence, the place to beginning looking is the control cavity. You may find dry solder joints, broken off wires that no longer connect to anything and gunged up pots that fail to pass any signal.

    If everything seems good in the control cavity, check the pickup itself. 

    The output conductors for the bridge position pickup pass to the control cavity via a drilled hole in the body *wood*. It will be necessary to slacken off the strings before raising the bridge pickup out of its cavity. With the pickup gently removed, examine its underside where the output conductors are soldered. Once again, dry solder joints or broken connections could be the cause of the problem.

    Hopefully, some minor running repairs will see the Grant bass right. Its plywood body and dogbreath tuners limit the improvement that can be achieved by spending very much money.
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 1692

    There are numerous possible explanations for a non-functioning pickup. Several of these are due to other components. Hence, the place to beginning looking is the control cavity. You may find dry solder joints, broken off wires that no longer connect to anything and gunged up pots that fail to pass any signal.
    Yes, I'll give it a once-over when I get it and check for obvious issues.
    Hopefully, some minor running repairs will see the Grant bass right. Its plywood body and dogbreath tuners limit the improvement that can be achieved by spending very much money.
    Uh oh - are they not very good?

    R.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30907
    Typical cheap Japanese copy from the 70s-early 80s. Quite cool in their own way and have a nice ‘vibe’ but generally need some upgrades to be really functional.

    As Funkfingers said, the machineheads are probably the priority after finding out what’s wrong with the electrics - they’re usually very poor.

    It may be a dead pickup, but it’s just as likely to be the volume pot for it. If you like the bass and want to keep it and actually use it ‘properly’, I would simply replace all the electrics - all the pots, jack and the wiring, it’s all pretty crap. If the pickup is dead, ask Ash at Oil City about a rewind - probably cheaper than a new pickup, and sometimes the dimensions of these cheap ones are a bit off so a standard Jazz one may not fit.

    All this assumes the neck is straight and the fretting is OK, so check that first!

    I like these old things and I’ve restored quite a few to good, playable condition - but be aware that a few do have serious issues.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 1692
    I picked it up this evening, and it seems to play pretty well. I've not had chance to plug it in yet or have a closer look at the pickup issue.

    It needs new strings - I know nothing about bass strings. What are a good set to go for?

    R.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 2791
    It needs new strings - I know nothing about bass strings. What is a good set to go for?
    ICBM said:
    this assumes the neck is straight and the fretting is OK, check that first!
    Assess the neck for straightness with the current set of strings.

    Whenever the string tension seems to be more than a bass guitar neck can take without bowing forwards, I choose 040-095 gauge strings. 

    The other question is, what sort of tones do you require? Bright and snappy or deep and plummy? In other words, roundwound or flatwound?
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • prowlaprowla Frets: 861
    When I started, Grant and Columbus were the cheapest decent affordable basses; I had a Columbus Jazz.

    Regarding the pickup, you can unsolder it from the pots and use a multimeter to see if it's got a resistance (should be 4-10k).

    If the pickup is pooped, you could have it re-wired; I've used Alegree.

    As for upgrading, etc., I'd think twice about it - part of the fun is keeping these old clunkers original.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • SporkySporky Frets: 12791
    If it's really read, not just a wiring issue, if send it to Ash at Oil City to rebuild. That way you know it'll fit the rout, but you also know it'll sound ace.
    Be your own evil twin. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • TheGuitarWeaselTheGuitarWeasel Frets: 3013
    edited March 19
    ICBM said:
    Typical cheap Japanese copy from the 70s-early 80s. Quite cool in their own way and have a nice ‘vibe’ but generally need some upgrades to be really functional.

    As Funkfingers said, the machineheads are probably the priority after finding out what’s wrong with the electrics - they’re usually very poor.

    It may be a dead pickup, but it’s just as likely to be the volume pot for it. If you like the bass and want to keep it and actually use it ‘properly’, I would simply replace all the electrics - all the pots, jack and the wiring, it’s all pretty crap. If the pickup is dead, ask Ash at Oil City about a rewind - probably cheaper than a new pickup, and sometimes the dimensions of these cheap ones are a bit off so a standard Jazz one may not fit.

    All this assumes the neck is straight and the fretting is OK, so check that first!

    I like these old things and I’ve restored quite a few to good, playable condition - but be aware that a few do have serious issues.
    £30 plus postage for a rewind ... if the pickup is the thing that's borked
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Oil City Pickups  ... The Guitar Weasel blog

    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 1692
    £30 plus postage for a rewind ... if the pickup is the thing that's borked
    £50 for two? :)

    And can you make them sound better (whatever "better" is - I've still not even plugged the thing in!) :)

    R.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 1692
    It needs new strings - I know nothing about bass strings. What is a good set to go for?
    ICBM said:
    this assumes the neck is straight and the fretting is OK, check that first!
    Assess the neck for straightness with the current set of strings.

    Whenever the string tension seems to be more than a bass guitar neck can take without bowing forwards, I choose 040-095 gauge strings. 

    The other question is, what sort of tones do you require? Bright and snappy or deep and plummy? In other words, roundwound or flatwound?
    I would say the former - I can always roll off the tone if required.

    R.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • SchnozzSchnozz Frets: 446
    edited March 20
    Nice Jazz Bass, Robin - Dimarzio Model Js will see you happy (their Bass Pickups are far better than their Guitar offerings).
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BigLicks67BigLicks67 Frets: 425
    Robin, I've got a set of cheap generic (Chinese) J bass pickups you can have for free. If you are want them pm me with your address and I'll send them over. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 1692
    Robin, I've got a set of cheap generic (Chinese) J bass pickups you can have for free. If you are want them pm me with your address and I'll send them over. 
    That's very kind of you.

    I shall do so now.

    R.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 1692
    Finally got round to plugging in earlier this evening. I confirmed that the bridge pickup wasn't working

    I removed the strings and disassembled everything and it turns out the bridge pickup wasn't connected, but was open-circuit when I measured it. I pulled it apart and found that the red wire had come off so I re-soldered it back on. It now measures 4.9K (neck pickup measures 4.7K).

    It's got a replacement pickguard with holes in a different place to the original, and someone has just screwed the thumb rest on top of the pickguard, with the screws going through right next to a pickguard screw. I might try moving that to a more sensible position.

    The under-pickup foam has perished so I'll find something suitable to replace it (I think I have some neoprene from inside an MoD ammunition case that should do the job).

    I decided not to bother with new strings just yet, and scrounged an old set from my bass player (he changes strings fairly regularly).

    Looking forward to seeing how it sounds when I put it back together.

    R.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • prowlaprowla Frets: 861
    I think it's often the case that a faulty pickup may not need re-wiring.
    I've used the foam from a sanding pad under a pickup, before.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • prowlaprowla Frets: 861
    I think it's often the case that a faulty pickup may not need re-wiring.
    I've used the foam from a sanding pad under a pickup before; it seemed to have about the right consistency.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • pintspillerpintspiller Frets: 460
    For strings I currently use Rotosound Swing Bass on my VM Jazz. Better than the cheaper Rotobass, but regular Fender strings are very good.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30907
    For strings I currently use Rotosound Swing Bass on my VM Jazz. Better than the cheaper Rotobass
    Interesting... I've found the cheaper Rotobass to be so far superior to the Swing Bass it's almost funny.

    Swing Bass feel rough, start off sounding bright and gritty but die and then sound dull within a matter of weeks. Rotobass feel great and sound great out of the packet, and I've had a set on my bass for almost four years - and they still sound fine. I was going to get a set of DRs for it but have never felt the need to get around to it.

    Swing Bass are also notorious for chewing up softer frets.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BigLicks67BigLicks67 Frets: 425
    So, I take it you don't need those pickups I sent you?
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 1692
    So, I take it you don't need those pickups I sent you?
    Assuming my pickup fix works, no.

    I was going to ask what you would like me to do with them - I'm happy to send them back to you?

    R.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BigLicks67BigLicks67 Frets: 425
    No, keep them you can always pass them on if someone needs them.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
Sign In or Register to comment.