Back in mid 2021 I got myself a Squier Mini Precision Bass. I was offered a gig playing bass for the end of that year and, being a guitarist who records bass, but doesn't normally play bass live, I was dreading the thought of playing my heavy, cumbersome Squier California Series J-Bass.
I like that bass, but it's pretty hard for my guitarist fingers to get around and it weighs about twice as much as the lightweight Strats that I'm used to, so I decided it would be worth getting a small bass. The Squier mini Precision bass fitted the bill, being small and affordable.
Another important consideration for my budget restraints was the fact that I didn't have a bass case or gig bag. Instead of having to spend money on one of those too I was able to fit the mini P-Bass in my existing guitar gig bag. The mini P-Bass is exactly the same length as a Stratocaster and fits in a guitar case with ease. Once I took delivery of this little beast I made a video, which has become my most viewed on Youtube over the last 2 years.
Anyone who knows me will have guessed by now, it wasn't long before I had modified it! I put in an Alnico 5 pickup, which I wouldn't say is really better, but it is more vintage-sounding with a lower output. The stock pickup is excellent, especially if you want to be loud and proud playing on stage. However I do prefer the nuances of the Alnico pickup.
For those who are keen to know what the pickup is. It's a Belcat BP-40A-BK (BK means black I think). It has a DCR of 9.4k ohms. It is not a super hot pickup, but I'd say it's pretty standard for a traditional Precision Bass. I also got a black pickguard from Ebay, which I think looks so much better than the original white one.
I then put Rotosound flatwounds on it and made a follow up video, but they were a little too long to fit the bass properly. They worked, but I didn't like them much. The tension felt a bit too high for me and I found that I couldn't intonate them properly. I went back to the stock strings and added a Fender Hi-Mass bridge. That's the configuration I used for the gig I had forthcoming that year and it stayed that way until September 2023.
The stock strings were getting really dirty and mucky by this stage after being put to constant use in the studio and after discovering that Labella make a specially-designed set of strings for the mini P-Bass (well any bass with a 28.6" scale) I decided to try flats out again.
I'm glad I did. I find these Labella strings leagues ahead of the Rotosound in both feel, tone and performance (seeing as they actually intonate properly). I also decied to switch back to the stock, vintage-style bridge because I prefer the look and seeing as I'm more interested in this bass having a traditional sound I think it suits the flatwound better tonally. The Labellas have a nice dry thump to them like you would expect from flatwounds, but they seem a bit brighter and less muddy-sounding than other flatwounds I have played, like the Fender flats on my Squier J-Bass.
So for now I'd say that there are no planned modifications anymore for my Squier mini P-Bass. I love it as it is now!
My Most Loyal & Longest-Serving Guitar.
As I was typing this post I realised that I have not had any guitar in my posession longer than this Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster.
It very well could have not survived the journey at all after all the abuse it's been subjected to at the hands of my inability to leave stuff alone!
It has had some reconstruction around the neck pocket where it suffered serious damage and it has had a few gouges filled and patched up. It has been refinished about 5 or 6 times and now it deserves to be played with no more facelifts! The frets are getting worn and it may need a refret at some point, but for now, it'll be ok. It still works.
I've been through so much with this guitar. I found it used in Phuket Town in October 2012 and instantly loved it when I picked it up (except the colour). It was originally sunburst with a tortoiseshell pickguard. I went on to strip the finish off the body and the neck (a big mistake) and finihsed it in a Wudtone finish (which turned out to be a horrible decision). Just for the record, I think the Wudtone finishes are pretty awful, but my tastes have changed since 2012/2013.
After my dismall first re-finish attempt I sprayed the guitar sky blue and fitted it with a mint-green pickguard. That was an amazing finish and I refinished it twice more the same colour after some fading of the paint happened and then after some serious damage that I had to repair, I re-finished it again to hide the "surgical scars".
In 2022 my aesthetic principles must have changed because I started to go off nearly all colours except black and white. This resulted in yet another re-finish of my trusty Classic Vibe to what you see now and regardless of whether my tastes change again or not. This is the last re-finish I am giving this guitar. The overall dimensions of this guitar are probable a lot less after all the sanding it has been subjected to!
It has been through many different wiring schemes too, including the Toneriders that are currently in the Red Racer Strat. Now there are a set of unbranded, made in China, alnico 5 pickups. Low/vintage output and sounds perfect for this guitar. Wiring is bone stock, 5-way switch (the original CRL from my old Custom Shop '56 Strat that I had from 2004 to 2014). The tone capacitor needs changing though. I've got a 0.01 micro farad in there and I'm going to try going back to a more traditional 0.047 micro farad instead.
I love this guitar and anyone who knows me will know this guitar. Every musician I know who has played on the same stage as me will have played alongside this guitar at some point.
It is a significant player in the story of my guitar-playing life. I love this guitar!
From "Telesonic" to a Raucous Esquire with a Little Extra.
It started out as a sub $100 dollar Tele copy called a Telesonic. For the price I thought it was worth getting as a modding platform and it came so-well set up that I thought it was better than it had any right to be. Talk about massive value for money.
However I went ahead and modified it extensively. It's been through a couple of different iterations including having a hidden neck pickup under the pickguard. Now though the format is as follows:
Alnico 2 bridge pickup that sounds wonderful, a piezo bridge/saddle unit made by Brenner Engineering and upgraded tuners (Fender vintage kluson-style) with conversion bushings. The original tuner holes are 10mm and these tuners are made for 8mm bushings.
I love this guitar for its simplicity and it is fast becoming my go-to guitar. Soon it may end up being my main squeeze for the gigs I play with my 4-piece band "The Livewires".
I originally intended the piezo pickup to use this guitar through an acoustic Impulse Response device to turn my electric into an acoustic for both stage and studio, but I've rarely had use for that except on a small number of recordings.
Instead I live on the bridge pickup most of the time and the piezo sounds good for when I need to back off on gain and play a bit cleaner. This guitar sounds fantastic and really does a great job of nailing the tones of the fiercer side of the 1960s.
I love playing all the "Attitude" stuff on this guitar like the Who, The Sonics, The Rolling Stones. Well everything really.
It will soon be subtly modified with a new control plate that places the 3-way switch at an angle. This will allow better access to the switch for quick-flick changes on the fly.
Vintage Racer Partscaster.
Here is my 60s-inspired, hardtail Strat built from parts. It is as light as a feather and plays really nice. The neck is a bit of an oddity for a Strat-style guitar. It is constructed like an early 60s slab-board, rosewood neck with a typically Fender-esque profile of the 60s era, except it has a 12" radius fretboard and is a little wider at the nut by about 1mm. That doesn't sound like much, but it makes a big difference to how this neck feels compared to my other Strats.
The electronics are pretty standard: 250k pots all round, a 5-way switch and a set of Tonerider Alnico II Blues (TRS4). The pickups are great, but not the most typically-Strat-sounding. They are a fair bit more midrangey, than 60s Strat pickups to my ears. However they still have a nice, open, chimey-enough sound.
I am deliberating whether to keep this guitar as it is or to put in a single P90 instead and really make a racer of this guitar. If I put in the P90 then I'll have to decide whether I should put these Tonerider pickups in one of my other Strats or whether I will be forced to get or build another cheap Strat so I have a home for all my sets of pickups!
Watch this space to see what happens...
The finish is candy apple red with some added gold sparkle from a tin of paint I had called "Candy Gold". The finish has some flaws, like the area around the bottom edge that I missed when spraying the candy red coat.
It doesn't show too much, so it doesn't bother me.
Some days I pick up this beauty and it feels like the best guitar I have. Other days I put it down after a minute or two as it does nothing for me. It's very much a mood guitar for me. I think it has to do with the neck. Some days I'm just not in the mood for how it feels, but some days I don't want to play anything else.
I also love the way it looks. The colour really shines in certain light. It has a real vibrance to it that gives it some life of its own.
This is a brief update. There will be more details in a future post.
Back in June 2023 I felt it was finally time for a very, very overdue refit and overhaul of my studio.
It had been about 8 years since I had last decorated it and I was fed up with the brown walls, not to mention the shelf space I had built that ended up just attracting clutter and junk.
The room is 3 x 4 meters, so not big. However it is ample in size if the layout of the contents is designed well. This I believe I have managed to do quite well.
The result is that I now have a nice studio room with improved overall acoustics (thanks to a carpet) and enough space for a small band (4-piece) to play. For a long time I was keen on the idea of getting an electronic drumkit, but had nowhere to put it. After the re-design this is now possible and indeed a reality.
I'll go into more detail in a future post and I'll mention any other additions or modifications I make to the room/layout. I have a couple of ideas already that I may try out, like further acoustic treatment to improve the sound of the room.
For now though I'll say that I'm really happy with how it turned out and I think it'll positievly influence the creativity and productivity in my work space.
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