Contact me with any Questions
Typical Services and Upgrades
start the same every time . . . with our communication. This procedure isn't hard-and-fast or cut-and-dry. No two bass jobs are the same and this page is meant to provide you with ideas and the average involvement with parts and services.
The first thing done to any bass revolves around the inspection and setup
to be performed, ultimately to arrive at the best playability factor surrounding your specifications, such as string height as an example. Any services and upgrades will reduce your overall cost of that setup. The old adage, "The more you spend, the more you'll save" applies here, so let's start there.
Professional Inspection and Setup
consists of inspection for defects and playability as well as total body, fretboard, and hardware polishing with Dr. Duck's Axwax, adjustments of neck relief, tuning, intonation, string action, and pickup height for maximum output. This means the neck is also removed to inspect the pocket for debris from the factory. You'd be surprised at the chips I find that would ultimately throw off a proper setup of the bass.
, such as new strings, or upgrades to electronics (for example) are extra. We can talk about that as you plan your purchase. Many add on parts and services are advisable.
There are plenty of examples for prices on my Workshop page with completed customer basses but everyone is individual, with budgets and what they want to upgrade, but I do have standard upgrades that I feel are absolutely necessary and some that you may want to skip.
of the entire bass without disassembly. There's no charge for this. I just make sure the body, neck, and electronics are functioning before I take it apart for servicing. If this is done alone, I do charge $100.00 for disassembly and reassembly. But this service is really non-existent as most people have more work done eliminating this charge altogether.
Some customers only want a Setup
. To this it costs $100.00 plus $35.00 return USA Shipping. But when a Partial Fretjob is being done (recommended) which costs $100.00 by itself, I then reduce the cost of the Setup to $50.00 making the total cost of the Partial Fretjob and Setup at $150.00
A typical, and ideal, bass job starts with a totally disassembled Body, Neck, and Electronics.
Partial Fretjob and Setup are looked at as one. A Full Fretjob is replacement of all frets which isn't done on a new bass. A Partial Fretjob is where I take the neck off the body, install it dead level in my neck jig, inspect the entire fretboard and frets for any variations in height with digital dial indicators. All figures are tallied for an average and any frets that are +/- .002" or more are all brought to +/- 0.00" by leveling and crowning. Sometimes there are loose frets that have to be removed and reset. This is indicated by a dead tone when tapped.
Fret Ends are addresed after crowning and these are also smoothed to remove sharp factory edges. This is included in the price of the Partial Fretjob. Sometimes a person wishes to have their board "rolled". This is a process of radiusing the edges of the board as well as the fret ends to 1/8" radius or more if a more comfortable playing experience is desired, which most do. Rolling the Fretboard and Fret Ends is an extra $50.00 service charge. If you become a repeat customer, this service charge is eliminated.
Neck Deglossing is another personal preference if you want the finish on the rear of the neck reduced to decrease hand drag while playing. This is a very simple job that I do, at no extra charge, with a non-destructive Scothbrite pad. Sanding the neck with sandpaper and/or steel wool is a no-no. Oh, and those stupid white stickers at the rear of the headstock also get removed, including the adhesive left behind.
Strings and Nut - Strings from the factory are usually lights, and average .040", .055", .075", .095" and the string nuts are usually semi-hollow plastic. Most people like their own brand and diameters of their strings and, for this, you'll pay for those strings as an extra in parts. Changes in string diameters usually calls for the making of a new nut.
Nut Work is determined by the material desired and the size (width) between 4, 5, 6 or more strings. Typically a 4-string bass nut made of bone or brass will cost you $50.00 material and labor. Material other than traditional, such as Mammoth or other exotic bone OR Graph Tech TUSQ are an extra $10.00 in parts cost. And for each additional string slot adds $5.00 in labor. Future bass nut jobs will cost you only parts.
String Guide Retainer . . . tsk tsk for the little button style retainer. On a Fender headstock it sucks because it forgets to hold the A string to tension with downward pressure, leaving that A string to bang around the slot, even on newly made nuts. On 4 string Fender style headstocks I recommend the Hipshot 3-String Retainer and for 5-strings I recommend two 2-string retainers, all of which will set you back for the cost of said part(s) and an additional $10.00 installation fee per retainer.
Tuning Machines are almost a personal preference item where weight could be a determining factor for replacement. Another factor could be them being an inferior product such as some die-cast models with sloppy play in the keys with no bushing to remedy. Other than that I suggest routine maintenance on your tuners as most stock Fender style tuners will last a lifetime with such maintenance. With vibration comes loosening. With loosening comes screwdrivers and the need to put it in your hand from time to time. Don't be scared, it can only strip out a screw or two.
If you require replacement of any tuning machine which involves relayout, setup, and drilling of new holes, this is a $10.00 per tuner labor charge. The cost of the Tuning Machines themselves is also a parts cost to you. Other than that your removed existing tuners will be checked out, readjusted, and polished before reinstallation at no added cost to you as it is part of the Neck work.
Shielding - I clean and smooth out the Cavities and install Copper Foil Shielding which takes approximately two hours and I charge $50.00 for this and includes the shielding on the rear of the Pickguard too.
Controls - I then advise an upgrade to the Electronics which is the elimination of the existing dime-size asian pots and replacement with heavy-duty American CTS pots, Switchcraft Output Jack, Orange Drop capacitor, and wiring of your choice of vintage style cloth covered 22 awg wire or modern high-temp teflon jacketed 22awg stranded silver copper wire. I then drill out your existing Control Plate to accept the 3/8" diameter of the CTS pot bushings.
IF you're having an SX bass reworked, I do NOT generally recommend replacement of the SX Pickups due to the fact they are manufactured to Fender specifications at the SX factory and basically transfer the tone in a vintage Fender style. In other words, if you want to swap these out immediately due to other peoples' opinion, I suggest youi take my educated opinion and suggestion that you hear these SX pickups first. You can always easily swap them out at a later date but at least you'll have grounds to form your own opinion. Replacement of the Pickups at this time is a parts charge only. Reinstalling pickups is part of the job.
I look at the Control Plate as a complete assembly, and, again, when done with a complete bass job, it costs you less in parts, less in shipping, and less in labor. Virtually all shipping is eliminated except when I ship it to your house. Until I know your exact addres I estimate at a worse case scenario at $35.00 . . . but the cost of the installed Control Plate Assembly is $50.00 . . . Note the higher costs of other control plate assemblies when seperate.
Control Knobs are a many splendid thing. If they were not, they probably would have a set price to them and included in the price of the Control Plate Assembly. But, alas poor tulip, your need to choose your own knobbage is upon you and, yes, this is an extra added parts cost. Don't sniffle or snivel . . . the knobs are a lot but not endless.
Sometimes replacing smaller control pots with larger pots brings the need to enlarge the control cavity. This is determined before installing the copper foil shielding, and is an added $20.00 labor and is performed freehand with a router. Most Fender style basses don't need this, but some might, as in PJ style basses where the tone pot engages the sides where the output jack is normally located. This added $20.00 charge is eliminated on any future bass jobs of existing customers.
Pickup Routing is an added charge of $50.00 per pickup for first-timers and $25.00 for on-and-after customers.
Neck Pocket Routing is an added charge of $50.00 when having to enlarge for a new non-stock neck, not encountered with basses coming from the factory. Also, it's sometimes preferable to reduce the neck heel by filing rather than enlarging the body pocket, wherever applicable.
Pickguard Routing for new pickup routs is common, unless you're having a rout match a certain pickguard. For example, having a P p'up setup in the neck postion of a normal jazz bass will cause the routing of the body plus a custom pickguard, unless a P in a Jazz pickguard is made already. But, the point here is for custom pickguards involves your purchase of the material plus $50.00 cost in labor.
Bridge Replacement - While there are afficionados that will stick with their stock Fender bent tin bridge, there are many bridges that are far superior as an uograde for a few reasons. One being the slots the saddle screws rest upon. These slots help prevent excessive side-to-side movement of the strings when "digging in" while playing. And the ever subjective "sustain" added feature with adding heft to the base of the bridge. Now, I don't recommend (and I dislike) those overly-huge base plates where the rear is 2 pounds of gawking ugliness. No, when I refer to added mass, I am talking about a lean, mean upgrade to the standard bridge, called the OEM Deluxe, which is almost exactly the same as the Gotoh bridge, except no fugly logo.
It mounts to existing Fender 5-hole plate locations so no need to drill, and it also allows for the addition of the jazz or pbass bridge cover that other bridges are too large to work. Sure, there are many different bridges but the OEM Deluxe is cost-effective at under $30.00
Bridge Installment - Any bridge that involves redrilling due to its being in a different location, such as individual single bridges or any oddball sized bridges, creates new layout, setup, and installation time, which, on average will dip into your pocket for a $50 note . . . thank you. There is no installment fee for an OEM deluxe or existing bass bridge at this time because the bridge had to be removed to install a new ground wire and shield strip during the shielding operation.
Strap Buttons & Locks - Need I go into this? Do whatever it takes to please you but please replace those damn stock "ramp" style buttons that almost aid in the destruction of your bass because they slope ever so gently so, in time, as your strap wears in, your bass will wear out as it smashes the headstock against the ground~! I don't care if your choice is simple screws and large washers, but the minimum you should have are the buttons with oversized heads. And for Strap Locks, again, many choices abound, my personal choice has always been for Schaller strap locks (30 years and counting). There is no labor cost for installation, just the parts.