1. Welcome to TalkBass 2014! If you're new here, we just went through a major site upgrade. Please post all concerns and bugs to the Forum Usage Issues forum. We will be monitoring that forum. Thank you for all of your feedback.

    The TalkBass iphone/android app is NOT WORKING currently. We're working on it. Tapatalk IS working, so if you need to use an app, use Tapatalk. Try using your browser though - TalkBass is now 100% responsive to your phone/tablet screen size ;)

    Please read the TalkBass 2014 FAQ for lots of great info on the new software.

Any Warwick Thumb Users Switch to a Passive System?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by warwick.hoy, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. warwick.hoy

    warwick.hoy

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Beta Tester: Source Audio.
    I'm currently playing a 98 Thumb BO 5 string with the 2 band MEC II preamp. I've owned the bass for going on 11 years but I'm looking for a bit of a change up.

    I've been playing a buddies' passive Carl Thompson with Kent Armstrongs in a V/V/T configuration (I think they are humbuckers but could be soapbars). The pups seem to have a really hot output in comparison to the Thumb. The bass just sings with a lot of clarity and a bell like tone, even on seemingly older strings. It's what I'd expect from a CT and I credit construction as much as I credit the pups.

    The 'Wick on the other hand seems to be very flat and somewhat sterile sounding in it's stock configuration in comparison with the CT (admittedly it's probably due for a fresh battery and a string change).

    My thought is to replace the preamp with a passive system. A friend suggested doing a volume/4way rotary/tone setup. The rotary would select neck only, both series/ both parallel, bridge only. (I think this is a Dingwall setup). The other obvious setup would be V/V/T like a Jazz Bass but wire in such a way as to cancel out the hum you get when you don't have the volumes set in unison (wired in parallel?).

    I'm also thinking about replacing the stock pickups with high output models, or having pups custom wound and using the existing MEC II PUP covers,...likely going with a humbucking pup in a single coil format.

    What I'm looking for is a system that takes better advantage of the pickup placement and the inherent growly tonal qualities of the Thumb but giving it a stronger and less clanky/brittle top end. The current active preamp seems to stifle the basses potential and I feel like going to a high output passive system would open the Thumb up and give it a livelier tone.

    I don't really have any skills but I have a friend that is willing to work with me on this project and he is who I'd go with to custom wind the pickups.

    Opinions and suggestions are requested and pointing out any flaws in my logic is appreciated. :)
  2. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't have the URL handy now, but I did read a report from someone else who replaced their stock MEC pickups with a pair of Villex passive pickups, and they were very happy with the result. I think he used the inline humbucker models.

    I've used Villex pickups in several other (all-passive) project basses, and they sound fantastic. They really bring out the natural tone of the wood and the strings, and the treble is very natural. Villex pickups also do a great job of locking on to the fundamental, especially at or near the bridge position. I think they would work great in a Thumb.

    The big question though is whether you are happy with the unplugged (acoustic) tone of this bass.
  3. warwick.hoy

    warwick.hoy

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Beta Tester: Source Audio.
    With fresh strings I have no complaints,...these strings are admittedly a little on the dull side.
  4. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    IMO, the MEC stock pickups are going to be the weaker link there, and even with a passive setup, I think you'll be much happier with new pickups. I too found the pickups quite sterile.
  5. warwick.hoy

    warwick.hoy

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Beta Tester: Source Audio.
    Yeh,...I just don't think the MEC Pups have any balls.

    I'd like to move to a passive system so I can stop raping the earth with batteries and so that I'm not limited on effects (some fuzzes don't like active preamps).

    I'm mainly concerned that the tonal qualities of the bass and the position of the pups require a bass or treble boost (or cut), which is what the 2 band preamp does (and pup mix).

    I heard along time ago that the tonal qualities of Ovangkol required the pickups to be placed so close to the bridge. But that's hearsay so I'm not so sure how rooted in fact that is.
  6. LowB-ing

    LowB-ing

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's most certainly hearsay as Warwick didn't use ovangol for the first 10 years or so of thumbass production ;-)
  7. blindrabbit

    blindrabbit

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm going to bump this thread because this exact thought has crossed my mind recently, even to the point of the 4 way rotary selector.

    Has anyone gone ahead with this, maybe the OP? My Thumb currently has Barts in it, but something tells me those may not be the best PUs to leave in for this set up.

    Any and all opinions would be appreciated!
  8. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Name a few of those fuzzes. That's nonsense. I've been using effects with active basses since 1976. Never ran into one that didn't work.

    That makes no sense what-so-ever. You can put pickups anywhere you like them with any kind of wood.
  9. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Likes Received:
    0
    Some of the primitive one transistor fuzzes need a high impedance input to work properly. They won't work with active basses.

    I can't remember any of the commercial variants, but the bazz fuss is a well know DIY one. Although the bazz fuss can be fixed by putting a transformer up front.
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Disclosures:
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    They don't sound good with bass anyway! That's why you don't see too many Fuzz Faces being used. It's real easy to fix though. Just install a pull down resistor.

    I used an old Maestro Fuzztone for years I bought back in 1969. I even had it when I converted my Ric to an active bass. It worked fine, and sounded the same. But it was of very limited use on bass except for a solo or something.

    Also I disagree that they need high impedance. They are actually just a poor design that loads down the pickups. That was not intentional. To demonstrate this fact we only need to look at all the tone sucking pedals that left the input of the circuit connected when the SPDT switch was used for bypassing. That was not a feature, just poor design. And being cheap.

    Or an input buffer. Problem solved. You can use a buffer to isolate the input from the output. A buffer doesn't need to have a low impedance output, but even if the circuit needed a low impedance source driving it, that's easy to do.

    Just about every piece of audio gear that's intended for use with high impedance pickups has high input impedances. That's proper design protocol. It then doesn't matter what source is feeding them. Some of those early fuzzes were designed as cheaply as possible.

    Another thing to consider is what if you want to use a fuzz after a compressor? That's why those kinds of circuits are just bad design. It's limiting what you can do with them.
  11. azzyrazzy

    azzyrazzy

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Likes Received:
    0
    Could be that an electronics swap (pickups and pre) would be really refreshing.
  12. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Likes Received:
    0
    Agreed. I didn't say they where a good design, just that they exist :p And it would probably be very rare to find one.

    The bazz fuss does sound surprisingly good with a P bass.
  13. blindrabbit

    blindrabbit

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Likes Received:
    0
    This thought has also crossed my mind, and I'm not yet ruling it out. I've searched and read more threads than I care to count about various pickups and active preamps used in Thumbs.

    However, without getting into the whole debate about the impact (or not) of wood, something makes me feel it would be fun to hear my beautiful Bubinga and Wenge Thumb played through a passive setup.
  14. blindrabbit

    blindrabbit

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bump to start the week with some opinions and input. :)
  15. Morning Beer

    Morning Beer

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Likes Received:
    0
    I asked the same question in the warwick club but no answers. I would really like to go to an all passive system too on my thumb. I have a Vette Proline I gutted the pre out of and run the active PU's V/V/T, I like it.
  16. blindrabbit

    blindrabbit

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Likes Received:
    0
    Curious then, what PUs are you using? Just the stock MECs?
  17. Morning Beer

    Morning Beer

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yup, still need the battery, had to change out the pots too.
  18. blindrabbit

    blindrabbit

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Likes Received:
    0
    I know that I could run the Barts that are in my Thumb right now passively, but I'm not convinced that I like their tone. Thus my curiosity around other (passive) setups people have used in Thumbs.
  19. davidAaronCarte

    davidAaronCarte

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just about exclusively play my Thumb 6 with the passive switch pulled so I've been thinking about going all passive
    Wish there was more info on what pickups guys have had success with but it seems like a lot of Warwick owners tend to leave their basses pretty well alone...
  20. Morning Beer

    Morning Beer

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Likes Received:
    0
    Even on the Warwick forum there isn't much I've seen about going passive. I know one guy over there threw some Nordys in a thumb and I know some that a couple have put Bardens in them but I think both were using a pre. I'd really like some drop ins for mine as I always play with it in passive too, and would use a tone knob more then I would the pre

Share This Page