Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

3-band versus 2-band preamp

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by tombowlus, Apr 22, 2003.


  1. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I am looking to replace the electronics in my DeArmond Pilot 5 Deluxe (neck through), and I'm shopping for a little advice.

    On the pickup side, I am thinking of quad coil Bart's. This alone should give me a good deal of sonic flexibility. I am also thinking about an active/passive switch, which again gives me some tonal variety. I have heard that some luthiers & tweakers prefer 2-band pres (less to go wrong, shorter signal path, less chance for the user to screw up the tone of an already great sounding instrument, etc.), but this is usually where you already have a great sounding instrument. My DeArmond, while good for the money, is obviously a fairly cheap instrument (it plays really nice, though), and won't hold a candle wood-wise (or anything else-wise) to a Sadowsky or similar axe. So, my guess is that I won't be as concerned about "messing up" the natural tone of the instrument, and instead, I may need a Mid tweak option to address natural shortcomings.

    So, considering that I would have a single/dual/series/parallel option AND an active/passive option, would you go with a 2-band or a 3-band pre? For 3-band, I am considering the OBP3 or the Bart HR 5.2. For 2-band, I would probably go OBP1.

    FWIW, the bass currently has a 3-band EQ, so I already have 5 holes (and wouldn't mind drilling more for a switch or two). Also, the bass currently sounds pretty good set flat, but when I try to tweak for room compensation (or to change tone from song to song), it tends to loose its cohesiveness, and suddently I have more sonic peaks & valleys (if you know what I mean). I think that this is more a factor of the low quality components than it is having too many or too few controls.

    Thanks, Tom.
     
  2. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Well, I know it's kinda lame replying to my own post, but I have changed my game plan a little bit, and in case anyone wanted to throw in some words of wisdom, I thought I'd fill you in.

    I have read that you have some string phase cancellation issues as well as output reducing coil combinations in the quad coil setup, so I am probably going to go with splits (but keep the active/passive option).

    I have also read that some of the top notch luthiers (like Roger Sadowsky) prefer not to use a mid-band, under the theory that if you boost both treble and bass, you have a mid-range cut anyway. I'm sure that Roger has other reasons for prefering two band pre's, but that was one I heard. So, considering that I have a lot of tonal flexibility on the amp end of things, I am now leaning towards a two band setup.

    Most likely, my pickups will be Bart M45M's, with the OBP-1 preamp. The only question left, then, is do I add a passive tone control or not...

    Later, Tom.
     
  3. hujo

    hujo

    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Well, If you're getting a 2-band, get one that cut the bass and treble aswell, so that you can boost your midrange, which I think is very useful in cutting through the mix and for EQing for the room you're playing in.
     
  4. I got a three band on my new bass- just because I wanted an extra dial. It really sounds cool too.
     
  5. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Well, after sitting down with Phil at Fifth Avenue Fret shop, playing the bass and discussing the options, here is what we ended up doing.

    I did in fact go with the Bart M45M's, and the OBP-1 preamp. I also added a passive tone pot. But little did I realize how many ways there are to hook all this gear up! Does the passive tone pot go in both the active and passive circuits, or just passive? Blend/Volume, or Volume/Volume?

    Ultimately, since the OBP-1 is boost only, I decided I wanted the option to cut some highs in both active and passive mode, so the passive tone pot is present in both circuits. I still do not have a mid boost or a bass cut, though, so that I will leave to my amp.

    The stacked blend pot and a 1k volume pot is apparently how Rodger Sadowsky sets up his basses, but he is using primo wood and fairly bright p/u's, so the slight amount of treble loss that you MAY get by running this setup works well with his basses, for sure. However, even though my DeArmond features some nice wood (Ash) for the money, it's not Sadowsky quality. Add to this the fact that I chose the "deep" Barts (versus their "bright" option), and I was a bit concerned about bleeding off too much highs. So, we went with two 250k volume/volume pots. In passive mode, then I have volume, volume, tone, which is the same as my Thunderbird (or a Jazz, for you FenderFolk).

    I haven't had much of a chance to run this baby through its paces yet, but so far, I am very happy with the setup. The passive switch is a very useable feature, and gives me some great tonal variety. I doubt that I will ever need the full bass or treble boost that the Aguilar can provide, but even set flat, this is clearly a much tighter, more cohesive sound than I was getting out of my stock active pre.

    Later, Tom.
     
  6. Stu L.

    Stu L. Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    Pics? I'd like to see how crowded that cavity is. ;)
     
  7. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I'd be happy to take some pics over lunch. It is a bit crowded, but no more so than with the stock electronics.

    However, I have attempted to post pictures here before with no luck. Is there a FAQ or something on how to post pictures? It seemed like I needed to have someplace else to host the picture...

    Tom.
     
  8. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Here are some pics of my DeArmond Pilot 5 Deluxe and the new electronics crammed into it...
     
  9. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Okay, that was the bass. Now here are the electronics.
     
  10. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    And another with the Aggie tucked in...
     
  11. Stu L.

    Stu L. Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    Nice. :)
     
  12. I have two basses (a Fender jazz 5 and a MTD Beast 5) that I plan to take to Phil in the very near future to install some pre-amps. I had him order an Aguilar OBP-3 and I am not sure of what to put in the Fender. I think I might just put a J-Retro in the jazz bass so I can easily un-install it if I ever decided to or I might go with a Sadowsky onboard pre-amp.


    Any other recommendations for the jazz?
     
  13. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    stubi19 wrote:

    "Nice. :) "

    Thanks!

    bassmangreg wrote:

    "I have two basses (a Fender jazz 5 and a MTD Beast 5) that I plan to take to Phil in the very near future to install some pre-amps. I had him order an Aguilar OBP-3 and I am not sure of what to put in the Fender. I think I might just put a J-Retro in the jazz bass so I can easily un-install it if I ever decided to or I might go with a Sadowsky onboard pre-amp.


    Any other recommendations for the jazz?"

    I had originally asked Phil about putting an OBP3 in my Pilot, since it already had a 3-band active preamp and all, but he sorta talked me out of it. I already had my doubts as to the usefulness of the 6.5 kHz treble on the OBP-3 (versus the 4 kHz on the OBP-1). It ended up working out well, as I definitely wanted a passive option, and this way, I had an extra pot left for the passive tone control. FWIW, I am really quite impressed with the sound of those Barts in passive mode. It doesn't loose much focus, and the highs smooth out nicely.

    At any rate, I'd think that if you might want to go with a Sadowsky in the Jazz, why not just do it from the get go? Or, if you want a similar setup for a bit less cash, the OBP-1 and the Sadowsky appear to be quite similar. I am have not used the J-Retro myself.

    One of the things that I really like about Phil is that he will give you his opinion (if you ask him to) and he will explain in whatever detail you want the various options and differences between various configurations. He and his crew are top notch.

    Have fun with the upgrades! Let us know how it sounds. I have a band practice tonight, and I will report back with some comments on my mods.

    Later, Tom.
     
  14. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Well, I had a chance to try my new and improved Pilot out at practice last night, and I was very happy with the results. The most amazing thing, to me, was how nice it sounded passive. The wood in the bass must not be too bad, and those Barts sound great with it. The mids are stronger and more even, and the overall tone is much more coherent than it was with the old electronics. With the stock p/u's & pre, it would sound pretty good set flat, but as soon as I started tweaking things, it lost its presence. Now, I can do pretty much whatever I want to the knobs, and it still sounds good (different sounds, of course, but all good!).

    I really like the volume, volume, tone setup for passive mode, and I can get a very wide variety of sounds just by playing with these. When I kick in the active pre, the lows tighten up a bit, the highs gain a little shimmer, and the mids seem to scoop a bit. So I guess I do have a mid boost - switch to passive! The nice thing is, with this setup, I can dial in a good, warm passive tone, and with the flick of a switch (and possibly a knob tweak), I can get a more modern, hi-fi tone. We just tried the single 9v setup for now, and it has all the headroom I could want. I doubt that I will ever need more than just a little bit of the bass and/or treble boost that the OBP-1 can dish out.

    So, now I have my new "secret weapon." No one would suspect that a DeArmond could sound so good!

    Later, Tom.