Cheap Bass vs Expensive Bass

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HaychHaych Frets: 534

OK, so let me start by stating for the record that I am not a bass player and my attempts at playing bass are questionable to say the least.

I own a cheap Squier Affinity PJ, which is adequate for my needs (well, it was - read on) which is basically laying down basic bass lines onto my home recordings.

However, recently I borrowed my sister's 97 Fender Deluxe Jazz Bass for a few days.  As a guitar player (after a fashion) and as somebody who loves Strats, Les Pauls, and all sorts of other six-string guitars I can honestly say that my sister's Jazz is THE nicest guitar I've ever laid eyes and hands on in my life!  It even smells gorgeous!

Anyway, that's a bit of a digression.  My problem now is that having used my sister's bass, not only is it much easier to play, but it sounds incredible by comparison to my cheap Squier.

Is there anything I can do to make the Squier sound a bit better on my recordings?  The Jazz is active so has a beefier output but the Squier sounds quite hollow and dull compared to the full fat Fender.

Would changing the pickups and maybe the bridge have a positive effect on getting a better tone out of the cheap bass?  If so what would be a good choice of either/both to consider?

I may just have to move the Squier on and acquire a Deluxe Jazz instead should I ever have enough disposable income!

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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 1010
    What do you consider to be expensive?
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  • Mark1960Mark1960 Frets: 16
    Suggest you look for a used 97 Fender Deluxe Jazz Bass or similar. Once you have tried a quality instrument, it's hard to go back.

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  • HaychHaych Frets: 534
    Freebird said:
    What do you consider to be expensive?


    I think my sister paid about £1200 back in 1998 for the Deluxe Jazz, I don't know how much they are now tbh, or if they are of a comparable quality.

    Mark1960 said:
    Suggest you look for a used 97 Fender Deluxe Jazz Bass or similar. Once you have tried a quality instrument, it's hard to go back.


    I'm trying to persuade her to give sell it to me but I think I'm onto a loser with that battle.
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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 4924
    Get your sister to play bass on your recordings ;)
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3401
    Haych said:
    I think my sister paid about £1200 back in 1998 for the Deluxe Jazz, I don't know how much they are now tbh or if they are of a comparable quality.
    The nearest equivalent of your sister's Fender bass will cost in the region of £1600 - 1800. The exact model name and specifications have changed slightly over the intervening two decades. There have been several generations of noise-cancelling pickups and the onboard active EQ has become more sophisticated.

    Much of what is appealing about the 2008 Dlx Am Jazz Bass can probably be recreated via an Fender American Standard bass and some electronics upgrades. You might even achieve the desired result with a modified MIM Standard instrument. 

    Haych said:
    Is there anything I can do to make the Squier sound a bit better on my recordings? 
    Yes, probably. 

    Haych said:
    The Jazz is active so has a beefier output but the Squier sounds quite hollow and dull compared to the full fat Fender.
    It ought to be possible to extract a full fat sound from a single pickup Precision Bass. Much depends on how you amplify or process the signal. (HINT: Apply a little valve saturation overdrive. Your playing dynamics will determine how "furry" the bass sound gets.)

    Haych said:
    Would changing the pickups and maybe the bridge have a positive effect on getting a better tone out of the cheap bass?  If so what would be a good choice of either/both to consider?
    Possibly. 

    The stock pickup in the Affinity is not of the top flight. A pickup and electronics upgrade might help. If you make little or no use of the J type pickup, waste no time, money or effort upgrading it.

    A high mass bridge might add mechanical sustain. I sometimes find that it alters the tone for the worse. 

    This is an old photograph of my Squier Vintage Modified series Precision Bass. The modifications are EMG-GZR passive pickups and a Gotoh 201B bridge. 

    https://i.imgur.com/fYVm2f8.jpg?1

    This bass guitar has appeared on several recording projects. It gets as much use as my more expensive bass guitars.

    Haych said:
    I may just have to move the Squier on 
    There are plenty of potential takers right here on this forum. 


    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 1010
    Old Tokai and MIJ Squier basses are good quality at reasonable prices.
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  • pintspillerpintspiller Frets: 565
    How much you want to spend? How long you want to wait?

    If you buy new are you talking Squier or MIM money? If you want to wait you will get something better for the same money.
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  • Which was the sound you liked most from the Jazz?  If it was the in between sound with both pickups on then you'll probably be best off just buying a Jazz bass rather than modding your PJ.
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  • SporkySporky Frets: 14073
    I found that the answer to my "how do I make bass sound good on recordings" question was the Hartke Bass Attack. Marvellous thing.
    Be your own evil twin. 
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  • The Hartke bass attack sounds fairly similar to a sansamp.  Which then means if that behringer, which I haven't tried, actually sounds similar to a sansamp then it's worth a go for the price.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15892
    The Hartke bass attack sounds fairly similar to a sansamp.  Which then means if that behringer, which I haven't tried, actually sounds similar to a sansamp then it's worth a go for the price.
    All Preamp Di pedals do sound different - some very different to others. I have 7 and they are all different. You have to find the one that does “your” sound
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  • The Hartke bass attack sounds fairly similar to a sansamp.  Which then means if that behringer, which I haven't tried, actually sounds similar to a sansamp then it's worth a go for the price.
    All Preamp Di pedals do sound different - some very different to others. I have 7 and they are all different. You have to find the one that does “your” sound

    Very true, I've owned quite a few.  I had a Hartke and still have an RBI.  To me they sounded fairly similar for moderate grit but I preferred the RBI.  I didn't really like the way the Hartke worked, the EQ was always on and there was no way to compensate for the signal change the shape control brings about.  I haven't tried the v2
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15892
    The Hartke bass attack sounds fairly similar to a sansamp.  Which then means if that behringer, which I haven't tried, actually sounds similar to a sansamp then it's worth a go for the price.
    All Preamp Di pedals do sound different - some very different to others. I have 7 and they are all different. You have to find the one that does “your” sound

    Very true, I've owned quite a few.  I had a Hartke and still have an RBI.  To me they sounded fairly similar for moderate grit but I preferred the RBI.  I didn't really like the way the Hartke worked, the EQ was always on and there was no way to compensate for the signal change the shape control brings about.  I haven't tried the v2
    The Ampeg SCR sounds very unique, as does the Eden WTDI.. and anything with a valve in it..
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  • HaychHaych Frets: 534
    Get your sister to play bass on your recordings ;)
    Haha, would love her to, distance and time kind of preclude that though :(

    How much you want to spend? How long you want to wait?

    If you buy new are you talking Squier or MIM money? If you want to wait you will get something better for the same money.
    Hmm, I might wait a bit and splurge on something MIM - I quite fancy the Geddy Lee MIM sig Jazz.  Maybe I'll scour eBay for a used one at the right time.
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  • The Hartke bass attack sounds fairly similar to a sansamp.  Which then means if that behringer, which I haven't tried, actually sounds similar to a sansamp then it's worth a go for the price.
    All Preamp Di pedals do sound different - some very different to others. I have 7 and they are all different. You have to find the one that does “your” sound

    Very true, I've owned quite a few.  I had a Hartke and still have an RBI.  To me they sounded fairly similar for moderate grit but I preferred the RBI.  I didn't really like the way the Hartke worked, the EQ was always on and there was no way to compensate for the signal change the shape control brings about.  I haven't tried the v2
    The Ampeg SCR sounds very unique, as does the Eden WTDI.. and anything with a valve in it..
    I haven’t tried either of those but I can believe it. I’ve still got 7 different bass pres and had at least another 5.

    I do think the Hartke sounds similar to the RBI. That’s why I sold it, I liked it but on balance it didn’t offer anything that different to me and I preferred the sans amp
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  • I've had a MIA precision for about 6 years, recently bought a Vintage V4 for £200, new, and you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference sound wise, plays the same as well, just the finish and the tuners aren't as good
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 11140
    I've had a couple of high end basses, but my bass of choice (when I was still playing bass) was a Squier jazz. I did a relic job on it and just liked the look of it so that was the one I played. I dropped an onboard preamp in to get more of an active sound, but to be honest I liked it as it was. I should dig it out again, it's been in the loft for a few years.

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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2505
    Bought a Harley Benton fretless violin a short time ago, after new strings and a bit of work to the fretboard it plays like a champ. I could fork out an extra 2k to get the Hofner version with a nitro finish and ebony fretboard but there's really no need, the HB does everything I require.
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3401
    Haych said:
    Would changing the bridge have a positive effect on getting a better tone out of the cheap bass?
    It might. 

    The photograph that I pasted earlier reminded me that I still have the stock Squier VM high mass bass bridge. (Essentially, a Gotoh copy with no logo.)
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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