Bass modification time

I had a good time spending a few hours yesterday with my bass buddy Joshua Pickenpaugh. Josh is a bass playing savant with mad skills and rapier wit. He and I have been buddies for the better part of 20 years and so any chance to hang out with him is time well spent.

However, today’s get together was all business. Bass business, that is. After purchasing a few replacement parts online, I invited Josh to bring his tools over so that major surgery could commence on my beloved 1995 Fender Jazz bass of mine. The instrument is a gift from a friend who will remain anonymous. This friend knew I was getting back into bass playing a while back and gifted the instrument to me. The instrument plays just fine, but just needed some more oomph. Here is a picture of the instrument as it was before today’s surgery.


The first thing to go was the stock Fender bridge. It was replaced by a Babicz bridge. The Babicz retrofits perfectly onto J basses and there was no addition routing or screw holes needed. The eCAM saddles are a little daunting, but the thing is built like a tank and is highly adjustable.


After that we worked on replacing the tuning mechanism on the low E string with a Hipshot BT7 Bass Xtender. Again, the retrofitting was spot on and turned out to be a piece of cake.


After that we turned out attention toward swapping out the pickups. The bass was given to me with a pair of Fender Samarium Cobalt Noiseless (SCN) pickups installed. On the plus side, the pickups are dead quite. Zero noise. None. Very impressive from that angle. However, they aren’t the punchiest pickups in the world and I love my basses to have considerable oomph. So a new set of pickups was in order.

Toward that end I ordered a set of Aguilar AG 4J-HC pickups for the swap. My main amp is an Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 and so I figured that the two would play quite nicely together. Here is a look at the bass just after the soldering was completed.


With all of the surgery done, here is what the completed project looks like.


I kid! That’s Josh’s yellow “Tweety bird” Fender Precision strung with tapewound strings. Good golly, what a bass that is. Here is the actual finished project on mine.


It looks amazing and sounds beastly. The resonance on the bass is 100% better than what it was. I can’t say enough good things about the Babicz bridge. If you are looking for an aftermarket bridge upgrade on your Fender Jazz or Precision bass, look no further than the Babicz. The eCAM saddles are a glorious piece of technology and the bridge just seems to allow the strings to ring so freely.

As for the Aguilar pickups, my hunch was correct. They do play so very well with the Tone Hammer amp. The bass now has oomph for days and I can easily see me taking this bass out for gigging in the near future. I love my Ibanez 6 string and it is my main axe, but this Fender will now have a wonderful place in my gigging toolbox.