NBD, maybe: MIM PJ JAGUAR, plus pain, uncertainty... advice sought

Telecaster88

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TL;DR: How do I know if I'll ever adapt to full-scale bass, which is causing me pain. How do you all manage your playing related pain issues? Should I return this Jag?

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Hey all, yesterday I took receipt of a new MIM Player Jag Bass, and it's brought my uncertainty to a boiling point.

I'll try to be succinct (EDIT: I failed): I've played six-string since the mid-eighties. A few years back I started getting into home recording and purchased a (now-infamous) Gretsch G2220 to put down some bass tracks on my songs. Well, I fell in love with that bass, and with bass playing.

Problem is, last year I banged up the nerves in my right/picking arm. I have both Ulnar Nerve damage and Carpal Tunnel going on, plus muscle/joint issues, and I'm unable to play a non-contoured guitar without exacerbating the pain. I can play my Strat with no issues whatsoever, but my old Tele, no; and the Gretsch bass, no. So I started down the rabbit hole of short-scale contoured basses. I was looking at the various cheaper import models, and I've ended up all of a sudden with three more cheap, short-scale basses: a Squier Mini-P, an Ibanez TMB30, and an Ibanez Mikro. But I don't love any of them. They're all right, but none of them sounds like or feels like the Gretsch to me.

In the midst of this madness, I also picked up a TMB100 full scale bass I found used for only $150. I couldn't pass up the price. The TMB100 is by far the nicest of the lot, I love how it sounds and I can almost manage with the contours on it, though they're not as forgiving as those on a Fender.

So, in my latest effort to solve this issue, I thought since I can play a Strat pain-free, possibly a full-scale Fender bass might somehow be a better fit for me (??). I found a new MIM Jaguar Bass locally at a great discount. I ordered online to get the discount and picked it up yesterday. Very nice guitar, sounds incredible, nicely made. I played it for a few hours last night and by the time I got to bed, my right arm was in pain from the shoulder through the elbow, the forearm, wrist and into my fingers. I'm starting to think I may physiologically be stuck going the short scale route, and will have to make do with one of the basses I already have (I can sell the rest). I also think I may have gone temporarily insane, with all these basses surrounding me at this point.

I've never returned a guitar in my life, but I have 30 days to return the Jaguar if I need to. I'm wondering if I'm ever gonna be able to handle a full-sized bass. I'm 53, and obviously already have nerve/joint damage in my arms (both of them, though the picking arm is the worst). I know a lot of you older folks have switched to short scale to mitigate pain.

Well, I guess I'm not even sure what I'm asking.

--Do I give up on full-scale basses?
--Do I return the Jaguar or hope that over time I'll adapt?
--How do you folks with pain deal with it?

Sorry I wrote a book, I'm just disappointed and in pain, and wondering where to go from here. Thanks for listening! I'd love to hear your thoughts whatever they may be.
 

Telecaster88

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Welp, I found a short scale (30") Squier Jaguar bass (with upgraded Player Series pickups!) on a great deal on Reverb. So the Player Jag will sadly be returned. But I have high hopes for the Squier! If that doesn't work I'll give up and just hire Geddy Lee to play on my records.
 

FortyEight

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Yeah I thought technically the Jag basses were 32", not that that helps you much since the Jag you got isn't working.

I'm totally with you on the affect a body can have. I also don't like the Gretsch 2220 for that fact. I've played them in stores and have liked the neck but not the body.

I play in a country band where we do 3-4 hour sets. I play mostly sitting cuz I have heart issues that don't allow me to stand for long periods of time. I do stand for some of the songs lately, which is nice. Standing does for me mitigate some of the issues with more blocky bodies.

Like a Tele doesn't bother as much when I'm standing. But when I'm sitting forget it. After playing for 15 minutes on my Tele my right shoulder starts to really fatigue and feel wonky. Whereas my "Starcaster" (cheap strat I've tweaked over the years) I can wrap myself around it and play for hours and feel no fatigue. I have and do. I do sometimes feel the right shoulder stuff when doing a lot of palm muting or picking at the bridge on ANY body shape, but I don't have to play that way the whole time.

The other thing I notice between my Jazz bass and P bass is that the nut feels closer on a P. Just as the nut on a Strat feels closer than many guitars. Which makes grabbing an F chord or F note on a P a bit more palatable than the Jazz. The body of the Jazz kind of situates it further away. Same with a Jazzmaster. The only two guitars that have felt like home to me are Strats, and Jaguars. And a Mustang (one without that big old cylinder on top of the trem system). And SG has an easy body to deal with but the nut feels a bit far away. I think I could manage one of those though.

So if your Jag bass is indeed a 34", a P bass may feel easier to deal with. I do believe the nut will feel closer. And my P seems to be a nice balance of weight. My Squier 70's Jazz bass will cause my but and leg to fall asleep on longer sessions. LOL. Problem is I'm sort of starting to really dig the sounds I get from that thing. And my P can sometimes sound kind of one note-ish for my own original music. But good for the country band.

Hopefully the short scale Jag falls into the goldilocks "just right" for you. Let us know if it does. I've yet to feel at home on a short scale bass but the longer scale thus far hasn't I too hard on me. I do feel like one day my hands are gonna be like, I'm done with with this crap. I guess it depends on how long I play in this country band. Cuz I play a lot of bass every week. Hours and hours and hours. Some weeks I play more guitar when the country band doesn't have as much going. But my P's frets have gotten worn and I gotta deal with that soon. And theres not doubt that playing bass takes more strength from both hands, generally speaking.
 

Telecaster88

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Thanks @FortyEight ... That's interesting about the P Bass feeling closer to you. I'll check that out next time I'm in a shop. The SS Squier is arriving tomorrow, so I'll get to check it out soon!

I've been a Tele player all my life, but after these injuries I had to find an alternative. I ended up with what Fender calls a Whiteguard Strat... Tele neck and hardware on a Strat body. I love it! Sounds just like a Tele, but like you said, I can wrap myself around it and there's no discomfort. So lately, for six-string, I stick with that and my Am Std Strat.

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FortyEight

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I've never heard that term before and ive never seen one in person. i think I've only seen one on this site. Might've been yours. I've started my own thread about shaping a Tele body. Or saw it in someone elses thread about it, maybe? About two weeks ago i got out my files and did some more on mine. its not as good feeling as a strat yet but its a lot better.

if i feel up to it i may do another session sometime but it does feel more comfortable as of now.....

yours is gorgeous. To me the strat is so right in a lot of ways. but i hit the switch a lot if its in the 4th and 5th position cuz i do a lot of long and percussive strumming. i dont ever seem to hit the controls on a tele. i also dont like the volume knob closest to the strings. that one gets in the way sometimes too. plus i think 1 and 2 pup guitars have less magnetic pull and 3 just seems like too much. when compared to 1 and 2 pups.

also if im palm muting and picking, the middle pup is in my way a lot. I have learned to pick closer to the bridge when not muting which puts my pick right in the middle of the two pups. but when muting it just always hits that middle pup. so it either needs to go or be low.

now since i started picking leads closer to the bridge im actually hitting the tele bridge pup with my pick. mine is up pretty high....
 

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ahiddentableau

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Why not contour the Gretsch? I mean, if you love that bass and the way it sounds, and it's just the body shape that is the deal breaker, why not break out the tools and have at it? Sure, it'll look bad, but if you're using it for recording that doesn't matter, right? And it's inexpensive. It's not like you're taking a knife to a Van Gogh here.
 

Call Me Al

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Just saw this thread. Get to check out the new bass @Telecaster88 ? Personally I wouldn’t force anything that is causing discomfort. If the Squier doesn’t work out, there’s a Fender Player Mustang, 30” and PJ pickups. Equally awesome as the Player Jaguar!

Either way, best of luck!

Yeah I thought technically the Jag basses were 32", not that that helps you much since the Jag you got isn't working.
The current Classic Vibe Jaguar is 32” (great finishing, but I found it a little neck-divey.) The previous run of Vintage Modified Jaguar came in a 34” and 30”. :)
 

Telecaster88

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Hey thanks everyone. @ahiddentableau - - I've definitely thought about contouring the Gretsch, and I know guitars are "just tools," but I don't have the heart to start slicin' and dicin' a guitar like that. If I had any experience or skills in that regard I'd do it, but I don't want to hack it up.

@Call Me Al -- yes! I got the SS Jag bass in last week. My arm is still hurting from the Player Jag so I'm taking it slowly, but I think the Squier is going to work out for my purposes. It's definitely a step down in quality from the player. Needs a setup badly, and there are little fit and finish issues (bridge is not flush to the body on the bass side, some fret buzz higher on the neck).

I'll file a full report soon!

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Call Me Al

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Hey thanks everyone. @ahiddentableau - - I've definitely thought about contouring the Gretsch, and I know guitars are "just tools," but I don't have the heart to start slicin' and dicin' a guitar like that. If I had any experience or skills in that regard I'd do it, but I don't want to hack it up.

@Call Me Al -- yes! I got the SS Jag bass in last week. My arm is still hurting from the Player Jag so I'm taking it slowly, but I think the Squier is going to work out for my purposes. It's definitely a step down in quality from the player. Needs a setup badly, and there are little fit and finish issues (bridge is not flush to the body on the bass side, some feet buzz higher on the neck).

I'll file a full report soon!

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Sweet ! Hope it works out!

On several of my inexpensive import basses, they had buzz up the neck. A neck pocket shim, 1-2 slices of business card fixed it right up. :)
 

Telecaster88

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Sweet ! Hope it works out!

On several of my inexpensive import basses, they had buzz up the neck. A neck pocket shim, 1-2 slices of business card fixed it right up. :)
Thanks for the tip! I'm gonna try and do as much fine tuning as I can and if I still have issues I'll take it in for a pro setup.
 

FortyEight

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my cv jazz suffers from some buzz too. i knocked down a few high frets up there. but i think it could benefit from a pro. i saw a vid of billy sheehan and he says on a bolt on neck bass of more budget type basses he knocks down all the frets above 12th fret a bit. he showed how he does it. seems legit.
 

Telecaster88

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Well, I sat down with the Squier SS Jag this afternoon. The E string was way higher than any of the others, so I lowered it quite a bit to more closely follow the radius; raised the G string saddle a quarter turn or so and that took care of the buzzing above the 15th fret. Reintonated it, and voilá, it's a bass! I put on my braces (wrist brace for carpal tunnel and elbow brace for golfer's/tennis elbow), and played for an hour or so through my Rumble 25. Sounded really nice! The pots maybe aren't so great, not much variance throughout the sweep, but both pickups and tone all the way up gives a suitably thumpy but clear sound. No additional tendinitis/nerve aggravation after playing, so ding ding ding I think we have a winner!

Took a look at the bridge. It's flush to the body on the treble side, but lifts a bit as you look to the bass side. I couldn't budge any of the screws at all, so I'm thinking the holes didn't get drilled deep enough. It's in no danger of coming off (I don't think!) so I'll leave it for now. If I ever wanna replace the bridge I'll deal with it then.

I still feel bad about returning the Player Jag. It's a really nice instrument! But it hurts to play it, so it won't be doing me any good to keep it around. I'll return it to the shop tomorrow.

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Skyhook

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--Do I give up on full-scale basses?
--Do I return the Jaguar or hope that over time I'll adapt?
--How do you folks with pain deal with it?
1) You might have to, but wait and see. If it comes to that it comes to that but wait and see.
2) Also the wait and see thing here. Don't return it. You got a great deal on it and if you recover somewhat, then it's right there.
3) If waiting and going easier doesn't do it, I'd suggest seeing some(possibly more than one) specialist about it.
 

ADK Teleman

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Hey Telecaster88! I too have issues from carpal tunnel, so I can relate! My wife got me a MIM Player Mustang bass. It’s phenomenal! I’ve done 4 hour gigs with no pain or issues! You get the PJ configuration, a neck that’s to die for and the sound, is like a full scale. Plus the Firemist gold color is awesome !
 

Telecaster88

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Hey Telecaster88! I too have issues from carpal tunnel, so I can relate! My wife got me a MIM Player Mustang bass. It’s phenomenal! I’ve done 4 hour gigs with no pain or issues! You get the PJ configuration, a neck that’s to die for and the sound, is like a full scale. Plus the Firemist gold color is awesome !
That's great! I love the way those Mustang basses look, but for now I can't get away with a non-contoured body.
 




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