New Bass Project; "I'm your Captain"

I’ve been a huge Grand Funk Railroad fan for many years, Mel Schacher is such a great player. Early on, he played a sunburst (with tortoise ofcortoise!) Fender jazz with a Gibson mudbucker in the bridge position. I have always thought that was a good idea that might help in taming that overwound monster.

Life is crazy. A year ago, I began working with a start up guitar company out of New Orleans, La. as a consultant. Last October, I became a partner in the company and as of January 1st, we have rented commercial in the town where I live and we are putting together a factory to produce these instruments. And in 2025, Moonshine Custom will be there too, introducing our first production basses and guitars. Did I mention the factory is less than one half mile from my home? I am stupidly Blessed.

I mention this not to brag (okay, maybe a little… ) but because of this, I have had no time to play around in the shop. Still, I was reminded of this pic and decided that I would do a quick parts build. I purchased a Squier jazz body off of Reverb, it had been painted metallic purple, not the greatest paint job, but I don’t really care, it’s going to get beat up. I’m adding a tortoise pickguard too.

I have several bass necks hanging around, In the spirit of the build, I will be using a Fender or Fender style neck. Definitely with a rosewood fretboard.

I have had an old Gibson Kalamzoo bass hanging around the shop, and it still has it’s mudbucker, ironically it is installed in the same middle position as this will be, and I just found a used set of Nordstrand jazz pickups for sale on another forum. I have plans for the neck jazz pickup.

The body has arrived, the next step is to route it and the pickguard for the mudbucker. This would be a quick build except for the fact that I have a real job now, quite a busy one too (I’m in no mway complaining). My plan is to work on it during the weekend as time allows.

Body pic:

Stay tuned…


The Nordstrand pickups are on the way. I’ve been thinking about just what I want to do in the way of pickups/passive controls. Since I have an extra neck pickup, I’m going to put in the neck position where the the 24th fret would be. How’s it going to sound? I really have no idea, we’ll see.

As for the controls I’m going with: Volume/ Blend between mudbucker and jazz set/ Blend between jazz pickups/ Tone. I will mount the output jack on the rim (side).

I have used this configuration before, it allows you to use any pickup by itself as well as the ability to blend all pickups. I’m still deciding on what value pots that I am going with; most likely, I will use 250k, but I think the mudbucker would do better with a 500k. I’ll just have to play around with that.

As for the output jack, I have been on a search for the ultimate output jack. Back in 2021, I found a “boutique” output jack. They were $40 retail, I purchased 20 of them at $10 each. They are an amazing design, but it is almost over-designed. In addition, it is enclosed. It looks cool, but the outer covering is difficult to properly solder to.

A couple of years ago, I discovered Pure Tone Multi Contact Jacks. These javcks are the best that I have encountered, hands down. When you insert your cable, it is very snug (I’m trying really hard not to giggle), the same when removing it. Top quality. Pure Tone Mono Multi-Contact 1/4″ Output Jack - Nickel – Pure Tone Technologies

Mel’s Jazz has a bound neck with blocks. Unfortuneatly, I don’t have one laying around. I really want to use what I have on hand, so I will have to make do. If this turns out sounding really cool, I will build a Moonshine Custom version.

I do have an Allparts “Thick” Jazz neck. They no longer make this, it’s aroun 1" total thickness at the first fret, but with the 1 1/2" jazz width. I use this neck as a reference for my own Moonshine builds. If I ever sell this bass, this neck will not be on it.


That’s a great project here.
Of course we will need photos to support your bragging ^^
Also, thank you for the Pure tone mono link. This seems top quality, on top of being cheap (I’ ve seen jacks with half this quality and twice this price). And I’ve found their stuff in amz france too (well, four times the price, but that’s understandable).

Good luck with your project, keep us in the loop (with photos).
And photos. Maybe some photos too.


Photos coming… I’ve been busy with the real world, but I hope to get this started this weekend.

The Puretone jacks are really nice. I have noticed that on the black chrome models, it’s best to file/sand the contact points before soldering.

Thank you. Photos on the way. On the way. Onthe way…


I didn’t get a chance to do any work on the project this past weekend, but I do have photos. Lots of photos!

So far, I have the purple repainted Squier body, and the mudbucker
out of a Gibson Kalamazoo bass.



Over the weekend, I went through my parts stash and found the following.
MiM Fender Jazz neck, Fender Jazz tortoise pickguard, and old Badass II bridge. And, just as I’m posting this, my Nordstrand Jazz set showed up (I am replacing the Fender tuners with Gotoh Reso lite versions).

This is where I am at as of now. More to come next weekend.


Very cool, thanks for all the details and photos! I don’t have the skills and expertise for such an undertaking but I do appreciate what goes into creating something like this, so keep us posted with the progress


I had a little time today to put things together.

The jazz control plate showed up today, I had to order a Fender plate to make sure it was correct, I’ve learned that the majority of the import plates are incorrect in shape.

So… I decided that the Nordstrand pickups are too nice for this project, they will be put aside for a future project. Keeping in mind with the super hot Gibson mudbucker, I thought that a vintage Dimarzio Jazz pickup would be perfect. The problem is I don’t have one (I have located one for sale), but I did have a “pretend” version, It is a single coil, instead of then original dual coil design, but it registered around 9k so it will work for now.

I took a look at the body I had purchased, whoever owned it previously got carried away with the sheilding. Personally, I believe that adding sheilding to the bottom surface of the control cavity and the inside of the control cavity coverplate with a small connection between the two is more than enough for shielding (YMMV).

What really got me was there was shielding paint below the shielding!

I measured where a P bass pickups sits as in comparison to the middle “J” position. It turns out that the “E/A” coils are aligned with the middle J pickup location. The “D/G” coils are closer to the bridge, so mthat is where I will position the mudbucker.

The Gibson pickup cover will have to sit on the body (not on the pickguard). This is what I need to remove from the pickguard.

more to come…


Over the weekend I managed to cut out the pickguard to fit the outer chrome cover for the mudbucker. I used my scroll saw to do so.

I used files to finish it out.

Once this was done, I used the original Kalamazoo bass pickguard to give me the dimensions needed to route the body for the pickup. I will have to add a couple of wooden “ears” to the neck side of the pickup route so the cover screws will have something to attach to.

Once the body has been routed, I will wire the control plate. I will go with a “Volume/Blend/Tone” passive set up.

I’m hoping That I will have some time this week to get this completed, I’m looking forward to hearing it.



When I first started thinking about this build, I posted on a local bass page, asking opinions on what jazz bridge pickup wouldn be: A; a good match for the mudbucker and B; I wanted a pickups that could come close to the “Jaco tone”, or more closely the tone that Ross Valory of Journey used on “Don’t stop believing” off of the Escape album (Valory used the bridge pickup of a Ovation Magnum bass… the pickup was basically a dual coil version of a Jazz bass pickup).

Howard Ulyate is a well known pickup builder located in the middle Tn. area, I have known Howard for years. He has made me severral really cool pickups over the years, both bass and guitar.

Howard commented on my post, stating "I can build you that dual coil pickup that you’ve been wanting (I’ve been obsessing over Valory’s tone for years and Howard and I have had a few discussions about it).

I said one word… “Please.” He was also winding me a custom set of strat pickups for a Moonshine relic build that I am working on for my dealer in Texas.

As usual, I jumped ahead and started looking at othe pickup choices, none of them what I really wanted.

Cut to this evening when I received the pic from Howard:

Not only is my strat set ready, but so is my dual coil jazz humbucker!

It’ll be in the mail tomorrow, hopefully I will have them by this weekend!


I had the chance to route out the mudbucker pickup location today, I stiil have to add some kind of small “ears” for the screw holoes for the pickup cover, but other than that, it is done.

First, I made a route to locate the pickup, then I added some poplar inserts to fill the original pickup route.

I need to mount the bridge and neck to align the pickup before I get it mounted. Here is how it looks as of now;

I’m hoping to get this completed this weekend.


Not completed, but I did make progress.

I installed the neck and bridge to make sure that the mudbucker would line up correctly, then I painted the area with flat black paint.

Then I installed the Ulyate Bridge pickup and the pickguard.

Next is wiring the control harness and string ing it up. I purchased this neck sevral years ago, it is a MiM Fender product, If I remember correctly, there may be an issue with it.

I’ll found out soon.

I believe that I may need to place a resistor on the positive lead of the mudbucker to help balance the output with the Jazz.


Just strung it up…

Got a few buzzes, but I’m going to let the neck settle in. plus, it’s a fairly heavy beast.

The mudbucker sound really good, it still retains the over wound growl of man EB-3 (Think Jack Bruce in Cream), but placing it slightly south of the middle position, it sounds tighter and slightly more focused. It sounds wonderful when you roll of the high end, even all the way down.

The bridge pickup is interesting, it is very hot and very bright. I have to play with the pickup height and get it dialed in. As mentioned previously, I need to find the correct resisitor to properly match the mudbucker.

I will post more as I go.


Here’s a close up of the body. I left the potective tape on the Ulyate pickup, I still need to mess with the pickup, but I 'm also thinking of swapping it out for something more vintage just to see what it sounds like.


I’m gathering parts for “Phase II”.

After playing the bass, I’ve come to the conclusions…

1: No matter what Jazz bridge pickup I use, It doesn’t sound as good as the mudbucker does. It sounds good blended with the mudbucker, but when I solo it, it’s just too bright (BTW, I love a Jazz bridge pickup solo’d, the mudbucker is just a totally different sound).

2: The bass is too heavy. I haven’t weight it, but I’m guessing it’s close to 10lbs. It’s a Squier body, I paid too much for it ($140) due to the paint job being worse than I expected, but at least I didn’t have to make one. The body is poplar, I have no problem with that. The paint job sucks.

3: The necks okay, but I would prefer a neck with blocks and binding to look closer to Mel’s bass. I also need to go with lighter tuning keys to help with the overall weight.

4: The standard V/V/T controls aren’t working for me. I have never liked having a bass without a master volume.

I have put some thought into this, and have decided to make the following changes/upgrades.

1: If one mudbucker sound cool, why not make it two… I have a friend in Europe who builds some amazing Gibson inspired builds and in one of his recent builds, he used two mudbuckers made by Artec. I have seen them before, but after he told me more about them I ordered two of the. Interestingly, the on the Artec versions, the string spacing (polepieces) is wider, plus these versions are 4 wire, allowing me to be able to split the coils. They should be arriving today.

2: I thought about buying another body, but honestly, I’ll never be able to recover my money on this one. After thinking about it, I have decided to work on this body. The first thing I will do is remove the finish off of the top, then I’m going to run it througfh my thickness sander and remove 1/8" off of the top. Next I will drill the crap out of the body with forstner bits, after which I will glue a 1/8" poplar top to the body. I’m planning to get pretty radical with the drilling of holes, whil still keeping the original contours of the body. Next I am going to repaint the body in metallic purple.

3: I have taken a (big) chance and ordered a bound/blocked neck on ebay. It should be here in the next day or two. I’m hoping that with a little work, it will be okay. I would like to build a neck for it, but I honetsly don’t want to put that much into this bass. This is a fun project. As a plus, the neck has a reversed headstock!

4: I’ve put a lot of thought into the controls. I have decided to go all out. the control plate will be wired as follows: Volume/ Tone/ stacked volume controls for both pickups. Then… I asm going to make a rear routed cavity to add a five way super switch that will allow for split coils, etc…

I have a lot going on, but this is my “fun” project. I will post pictures soon.


The pickups arrived, I’m pretty impressed, The covers are the same size as the original Gibson pickup, but the polepieces are wider. These also are the four wire versions, which will allow for coil splitting.

I’ve done some research on these Artec pickups, and they are pretty cool, one mod that you can do to these is replace the polepieces with a 1/4" x 1/4" steel bar, this not only allows you to widen the string spacing of the pickup (essentially turning into a “blade” style pickup), but it also increases the output of the pickup. I want to see if this is, in fact true.

I want to still retain the polepiece screws, so I am going to drill holes in the steel bar to allow for the polepieces to be used.

Here’s a pic of the body on a scale.

5.75 pounds. Yikes. I have some big plans for taking care of this.

Here’s a couple pics with the pickups mocked up.

I’m pretty much a symmetrical kind of guy when it comes to building, but I did try angling the bridge pickup with the bass side closer to the bridge, I have come to call this the Hendrix setting. It’s a reverse of the original Fender Strat bridge pickup position. I am considering it.


The Import neck showed up. Honestly, it looks a lot better than I had thought it would, decent wood. The neck shape is chunky, which is good because it will allow me to reshape it. I will also go over the fretwork.

It’s a little snug in the neck pocket, nothing that a little sanding won’t take care of.

These pics also show the angled bridge pickups position.

More to come.


I’ve been staring at these last 2 pictures for some 20 minutes. I think i understand the why of it, i just can’t decide if it looks great or weird, what with the bridge pickup angle accentuated by the opposite angle of the pickguard. But that’s just my opinion. Feel free to ignore it.

I’d really like to see what this evolves into.


I have to agree. This would normally drive me crazy, but I think I’m going to go for it.

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Do I understand it right that you can just order some neck and it will kind of fit? Where did you order? Do they also have 30" necks or even smaller?


I ordered this one off of ebay. It was from an Asian seller, the quality of these sellers can be suspect. I paid under $80 for it, it’s not horrible but it will need quite a bit of work. I was going to reshape the headstock anyway, but it will also require reshaping of the heel as well. The profile of the neck is rather thick, but that will allow me to shape the profile to my liking.

The neck is a tight fit into the neck pocket, but it will fit wil a little sanding of both.

The reason I went with this seller was I was looking for a specific style of neck; rosewood board with binding and blocks and a reversed headstock. I could of built one, but I don’t have the time right now.

These sellers offer these necks in 34" and 30" scales, some even mention that they will build it in whatever scale you want.

There are other sources online for necks like this as well.

I hope this helps.