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Recommendations for 'Fenderbird' tone circuits please?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by JohnnyNoStars, Apr 11, 2014.


  1. JohnnyNoStars

    JohnnyNoStars

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Location:
    London, UK
    Hi all, using a mixture of Warmoth and vintage Fender parts, I've made some project basses that I'm really pleased with. I'm now embarking on a new build and would really appreciate some advice...

    I'm building an Entwistle-style Fenderbird, using a Fender neck and an Epiphone Thunderbird body, with x2 '66 T-Bird pick-ups from the Thunderbucker ranch. I'm looking for something interesting to use in the tone circuits.

    I've used Stellartone Tone Caps in two Precision builds (one with a Jazz pick up at the bridge), and I really love the results of those, but I want to experiment. I was looking at a John East preamp system (from here in the UK), but I'm a little worried that will sound too clean and clinical.

    I want something powerful, and would like the ability to dual in a but of grit, dirt, growl, or tube-style distortion even - if possible. I also would prefer to keep it all passive and simple, but am open to suggestions. I don't mind hacking the body around a bit and using two or three pots, or a selector switch to get a good range of sounds.

    Style if music is indie, punk and rock, which is why I want the ability to get that JJ Burnel grit when needed. Finally, the reason I mentioned using a selector switch, is because I'm a big (early) Police fan, and I've always loved the story behind Andy Summers' double-bound Telecaster, and the way that had been adapted with on-board preamps, etc. I wondered whether a similar 'Frankenstein' treatment could work on a relic bass?

    Your input and guidance would be much appreciated.
     
  2. Joe L

    Joe L

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2013
    Location:
    NYC
    Hi I was Johns Bass teck (John Entwistle Band) John did really not use the tone controls and parametric on the buzzards were all at zero. His sound came from a Sans amp, and BTW here did not actually Bi-Amp but PARALLEL amped. The signal was simply split in 2. One 1/2 to the Sans Amp with distortion, 20% chorus and EQ. The bottom end was direct into the power amp using a EQ as a preamp, high end sloped off starting around 200Hz.
     
    chris merrill likes this.
  3. Joe L

    Joe L

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2013
    Location:
    NYC
    John's sound was all in the preamp (Sans Amp guitar preamp) and playing technique. The system was not biamped as he called it) but parallel amped. No crossovers were used, just EQs High frequencies had distortion + chorus and lows were straight into the power amps using a EQ as a preamp Highs rolled off starting around 200 HZ. I seen some charts online of "Little Manhattan" and they are NOT accurate ! The so called "alembic preamp" had no circuit it was just a chassis wired as as an AB switch for the backup or "next" bass. In a nutshell buying pickups and expensive Basses wont do it, save your $$$.
    Keep in mind nobody to this day can slam those strings, control all the gain and harmonics like John.
    --Joe Lancia Bass, Amp & backline tech John Entwistle band "Left for dead tour 96"
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
    AlarmClock314 likes this.
  4. JohnnyNoStars

    JohnnyNoStars

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Location:
    London, UK
    Hi Joe, I guess I couldn't have asked for a better person to comment on this thread! Thanks for your input.

    It's funny, since you've replied, I've tried to examine what I was trying to achieve by asking my original question, and I suppose I was looking for fairly generic advice.

    What I mean by that is: even though Mr. Entwistle has been an influence, I'm under no illusions that I could play like him or emulate his style. In fact, that would be a futile pursuit. The world has already had a John Entwistle, and nobody can 'Entwistle' like the man himself (I've turned him into a verb now).

    What I've been doing, is being inspired by his physical basses - the instruments themselves. I've built quite a few Frankenstein Precisions. I can't play them like him, and I'm not trying to chase his ghost or capture his tone. I'm just taking an idea he worked on, and extrapolating and interpreting it with my own nuances.

    The Fenderbird I'm building, is an Epiphone Thunderbird body for a start - not the non-reverse version he used. I'll be doing mine in a Fender colour too: Candy Apple Red, and relic-ing the hell out if it... So again, certainly not an authentic or faithful replica... More a homage by a respectful musician.

    So what was I attempting to gain by asking the question? Your response has made me re-examine that.

    I guess I was looking for specific recommendations on what circuitry would give me a really big rock tone, from Thunderbucker 66 pick ups... Which is what I'm using. I don't like active, so things like John East or Stellartone pots and circuits are in the running... Maybe an Alembic onboard system... Or a recommendation for some beat switch gear which will give me a good on board gritty overdrive. I'm just looking for a big sound and attitude, to match the bass.

    I'm honoured you replied sir. Thanks for your valued input and insight into John's set up. The man is sorely missed.


    Sent from my iPhone using TalkBass
     
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  6. Joe L

    Joe L

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2013
    Location:
    NYC
    The Fenderbird body was wired stock with it original Gibson factory capacitors and pots, the sound with those was in the design of the sidewound pickups. Particularly the Q-Factor of the coil bobbins. Just build it like you would copy a 60s Thunderbird. You don't need fancy branded expensive pots and capacitors. They may have smoother tapers, last longer but will have Zero influence on the sound when fully open the way John played his Basses
    John never really used passive tone controls. The passive Basses were all played full open with the capacitors having little influence on the signal path, the volume control was used more as an on-off switch. Active Basses were played at the center detents with exception of the master volume control. Those they may as well as never had parametric's because it was all played zeroed out the only benefit was the low impedance hot output to push a long cable (Whos 80 foot stages) This kept the noise from the lasers and dimmer packs out of his backline
     
    lz4005 likes this.
  7. Joe L

    Joe L

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2013
    Location:
    NYC
    If you want clean grit hit the front end of the backlines preamp hot peaking +12dB at around 800-1KC (this to accent and grit the harmonics yet keep the lower fundamental frequency's from distorting) then bring out the lows and high by doing the reverse with a 2nd EQ going to your power amps. This is basically what the classic Marshall amplifier does using a 470PF capacitor & 470K resister in parallel to form a bandpass filter before the signal hits the preamp and distorts. The tone stack circuit them brings the attenuated frequency's back this avoiding the "frying pan" distortion like stomp clipper boxes
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2014
  8. JohnnyNoStars

    JohnnyNoStars

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Location:
    London, UK
    Joe, that's just stunning input. As a complete technical novice, I'll need some time to digest what you've put there, but that's been most helpful... More than you could know, thanks for your time.

    All the best, John


    Sent from my iPhone using TalkBass
     
  9. lz4005

    lz4005

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    A more novice version of what Joe said:
    The tone you want with a passive bass comes from having everything on the instrument wide open and distorting the amp. Use EQ on the amp to make it sound good.
     
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    Recommendations for 'Fenderbird' tone circuits please?

    Try wiring it like a jazz bass but try 500k ohm pots instead of 250 pots
     

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