I recently acquired a SUB by Sterling - Stingray (walnut stain 4 string). While I understand that I wasn't going to get the utmost quality out of a bass that goes for less than $300, I believe I might have an issue with the pickup. Overall, the setup is great and the bass is very playable. However, playing the E string, whether open or on any fretted note, I get a farty distorted noise that is pretty lame. The pole pieces under the E string are not too close, and I am not playing ridiculously hard. I can play any other string with the same intensity and get no distortion, but as soon as I play the E string... distortion.
First of all, is this a pickup or preamp issue? Second of all, is replacing the pickup or preamp worth it for such a cheap bass and what are your best recommendations for MM pickups and suitable two band preamps?