Common Bass Guitar Modifications – Upgrade Your Axe

Upgrading Or Modifying Your Bass Guitar

Modding your bass is a fantastic way to get it sounding, looking and playing exactly how you want it to. You can even take a relatively cheap bass and customize it fully to your specifications. This video lesson takes you through the main bass modifications and why you might want to think about it for your bass.


Companies like Hipshot and Gotoh make replacement machine heads that can reduce the weight. This will help you out no end if your bass is neck heavy. Vintage instruments often have stiff, inaccurate tuners and a new set will help you get in tune quickly and stay there. Your bandmates will thank you. The Hipshot Xtender is a popular upgrade that allows you to detune your lowest string at the flick of a lever.

Hipshot Xtender popular bass guitar upgrade

Hipshot Xtender

Replacement Nut

The nut is such an inconsequential looking part of the bass but it plays a big part in tone. This is a really cheap and worthwhile upgrade. Nuts can be made from bone, aluminium or a whole range of synthetic material. You can even have one made from Woolly Mammoth bone! Truly a vintage option.

Woolly Mammoth nut blank bass guitar modification

Woolly Mammoth nut blanks (

Swap Your Bass Neck

In the video, I use my made in Japan 90s Fender Jazz. The original neck was rosewood and I got rid of it before later deciding I wanted a Fender neck again. I had a custom neck made but my tastes changed and I craved a Fender once more... (beware of the rabbit hole that modding your bass can present). Warmoth make great necks as do many other independent companies online.

Warmoth replacement bass guitar neck modification


This is a pretty cosmetic upgrade and purely down to personal preference. Many luthiers can make a custom pickguard for you so do check with your local one.

Bass guitar replacement scratchplate

Onboard Bass Preamp

There are a whole host of companies making really great onboard preamps for bass. Aguilar and Sadowsky are two of them. Preamps give you flexibility to change your EQ on the fly during a gig or session. Some players like them and others play only passive. You can bypass some active circuits.

Sadwosky onboard preamp bass guitar upgrade


These are one of the most common ways to add more punch and power to your bass. There are some incredible replacements on the market these days but make sure you have a decent resonant sounding bass to start with. From there, your pickups will really enhance the tone.

Aguilar bass pickups are a really popular bass mod


A high mass bridge can add sustain to your bass tone and, again, Hipshot makes some great ones. The Leo Quan Badass II Bass Bridge was one of the most common upgrades to vintage Fender basses but now there is loads of choice. Bridges also enable quick and precise adjustments to the set up.

Badass bridge - popular bass guitar upgrade modification


I swear by Dunlop Straploks and have them fitted to most of my basses. This is such a simple upgrade but keeps you and your bass safe from embarrassing stage-related incidents.

Dunlop Bass Guitar Straploks - A great upgrade for your bass

These are the most common bass guitar upgrades but there are more. It can be really fun but always have the end in mind and try not to change things just for the sake of it. Happy modding!

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  • Please proceed with caution as making changes to a bass guitar could have long-term effects on how it sounds and feels. In certain circumstances, it’s even been claimed that changing the colour or kind of finish on your bass will substantially change how it sounds! If you’re short on cash but still unsure about whether customising your bass is the best move for you, wait. The essential functions of guitar parts must be understood before marking any changes.

    • You only live once! Go for it…

      Obviously with caution and there’s always the option of taking it to a professional (something I do most times).

      I think worrying about paint is a little over the top but that’s just my opinion. Thanks for the comment!

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