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Unread 01-30-2011, 04:22 PM   #1
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Musicmaster Overhaul

I've had this Musicmaster for around just over half a year now, and since then I have flip flopped back between loving both the sound and finish and hating them.

Well, I've made up my mind. I am giving it a massive overhaul. Planning starts now, and execution hopefully in about a month and a half - as soon as I can work in a shed without dying, basically.

Before I get started, with my ideas, you should check out the damage.
Here are a bunch of photos of the bass, and I'll give some overview
Musicmaster Before - Imgur

I have no idea how this guy finished this bass, but it's horrid. I don't think he removed anything at all, because the tops of the tuners have been painted over, and as you can see in the second last picture, the area under the pickguard is really raised up. I think he left it on and sanded all the way around it.

So now for my ideas.

1) I want a tele bass kind of sound, but I like the idea of staying true to the original bass and putting a guitar pickup in it. So I think I am going to go with a Fralin P92, slightly overwound right in the neck. I am going to give him a call and see what he thinks about that, but it's probably how I'll go.

2) I'll need a custom pick guard, and I drew out the regular guard with a humbucker in the neck... it looks weird. Again, I want to stay true to the original guitar, so I did a drawing very similar to the original pick guard and extended the bottom horn. I have a rough cut out in the last picture. It needs a wee bit of work, but I think I like this shape. With the humbucker it looks very natural.
I am pretty sure I am going to have it made from aluminum. Custom pickguards are not cheap, and due to a "friend of a friend" thing, I could probably get an aluminum one cut for (literally) next to nothing.

3) Sand down the body and refinish it all. This is where I need to make my first decision, and I'm having trouble with it. I'm thinking automotive paint, because I have access to a sprayer and it opens up the finish options a lot. At the moment I am leaning towards a darker 'plum crazy' finish, then have the pickguard black and polish the crap out of the bridge and tuners.

4) Rework the tuners and bridge. The bridge is fairly rusted. It will need new springs and lots of TLC elsewhere to make it look good. If I can keep the original one and make it look good I will, otherwise I will probably keep the saddles and have my girlfriend and her friend make a new bridge. They are fairly confident it would be quick and easy.
The tuners are in bad shape as well. I'm not sure if this is due to 30 some years of neglect, having paint in them, or because they are just cheap tuners. Like the bridge, I really want to keep the original ones if I can, but if they just suck I'll replace them.

5) Track down or make a new headstock logo. I want to track down a good one if I can, then I'll just have to make one for the serial, but if I had to make a fresh one myself then I would.

And I think that's about it!

Thoughts/comments/suggestions?

I'd appreciate any thoughts on the finish specifically.

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Unread 02-17-2011, 12:42 PM   #2
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An aluminum pickguard WILL alter your tone somewhat. Now as to whether that will be a good thing or a bad... YMMV. The musicmaster does really have sort of a weird sound going on. I do like the l45 I put in mine. (A noiseless dual rail, low output, wide bandwidth strat pickup) Mine could use a cosmetic overhall, and a refret, but there is not much of a cure for a bullethole through the headstock
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Unread 02-21-2011, 02:30 PM   #3
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How does the pick guard change the tone?

A couple updates - I'm currently sanding down the body, which is slow going due to the weather. It's been hovering around -20 for some time now, so I've been just working until my hands get cold then heading inside.
Also, the staining is so uneven. In some places it the finish is gone in a matter of seconds, and elsewhere it's pretty deep.
I had to take down the wood where the pick guard was, which is going well except that it's been gouged out lots and I'm not sure what to do about that.

I've made up my mind on the finish now - I am going with the plum crazy. I went down to an automotive shop and he mixed up a sample for me. As soon as I saw it, I was sure it was what I wanted.
The guy I talked to there has been finishing guitars for a few years at a guitar shop, so we talked for a really long time and he gave me a bunch of notes.
Some good news is that it's a one stage paint (I think that's what he called it), so I don't need to do an extra top coat, which will save me a little time and money. The easier the better for this one.
He also advised me to not go down to bare wood, because if I do I would have to seal it again and it would just be more hassle then it needed to be. At first I was pumped about this, but after starting to sand I noticed how uneven the body is, and I'm going to have to strip it all.
Oh well.

And last, I have decided on the pickups. I changed my mind about the guitar humbucker and am now about 97% sure I'm going to throw in Rickenbacker 4003 pickups.
Bam.
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Unread 02-21-2011, 02:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Micahb View Post
How does the pick guard change the tone?
Aluminum alters the magnetic field of your pickup. Thus, an aluminum pickguard will change your pickups overall tonality. Most any metal pickguard will alter your pickup's sound...
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Unread 02-21-2011, 03:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSPrestonEsq View Post
Aluminum alters the magnetic field of your pickup. Thus, an aluminum pickguard will change your pickups overall tonality. Most any metal pickguard will alter your pickup's sound...
Sorry - my question was more "What will the tone difference be" rather then whats actually going on
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Unread 02-21-2011, 03:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Micahb View Post
Sorry - my question was more "What will the tone difference be" rather then whats actually going on
I think it varies a bit. IME, it thins out the sound a bit.
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Unread 04-02-2011, 09:23 PM   #7
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A thinner sound will be the result for that matter.
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