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Adding P bass pickup to a Sterling SB14? Help!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by b525, Jun 20, 2017.


  1. b525

    b525

    Nov 16, 2013
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    In a few days I'll be pulling the trigger for a brand new old stock Sterling SB14 in pearl blue. Got a good deal for around $450 USD. Being a discontinued bass and a rare colored one, I couldn't pass up the chance.

    I've tried it out multiple times at the store and I know that I'll need to mod it with a reverse P pickup, because my main bass has a P + MM combo. Plus adding some .35 Rotosound swing 66s.

    Question is: which P bass pickup would you recommend? I'm keen on trying the SPB-3.

    But would the stock preamp work with this new pickup? Could I get a 5 way switch config going? Can I make this bass active/passive?


    Those are my main questions. Your reply would be appreciated! Thanks.
    Bonus mock-up:
    21023962001_f794cb5dd0_c.


    p.s. I'm not worried about resale value
     
  2. b525

    b525

    Nov 16, 2013
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    Also forgot to add: I'm looking for a P pickup with plenty of midrange growl, with output that could maybe match the stock pickups. Any ideas would be welcome. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
  3. sikamikanico

    sikamikanico

    Mar 17, 2004
    Arkansas
    Isn't SPB-3 the scooped-sounding one? I think SPB-2 or 4 maybe would have more mids, or Dimarzio Model P... but I don't think you need a hot P to match - I think a typical MM is quite tame by itself (see the next point). So maybe SPB1 or some other P would work fine... its probably a guessing game...

    I don't think you can combine a passive P and an active MM, but you can probably have both go into the preamp (I'd wire them via a switch), or do active/passive.
     
  4. b525

    b525

    Nov 16, 2013
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    Yes I've been looking into Dimarzios too, I'm more interested in the white Split P pickups. Yes it may sound more modern but I feel that would go well with the MM sound. Plus it would match nicely with the white pickguard. Depsite being less mid and more scooped.

    Is the SB14 MM pickup active though? I thought it was passive and just ran through the preamp.
     
  5. sikamikanico

    sikamikanico

    Mar 17, 2004
    Arkansas
    Finding the right P would probably take some trial and error...

    As for the MM, it's typically passive + preamp. What I meant was that you can't blend in a passive P after the preamp... but you can feed both into the preamp. It's then the question of matching the two to sound well together. An alternative would be to design the P to just play by itself, a separate circuit, which means you don't have to compromise matching them...
     
  6. MrMoonlight

    MrMoonlight Bottom feeder

    Sep 2, 2008
    Yes, you could conceivably get the stock preamp to work with this. Nothing's impossible.

    But honestly, IMO it's likely going to be a lot more trouble than it's worth. As an SB14 owner myself, I've been "under the hood" several times...and if you're familiar with EBMM preamps (the SBMM preamp is pretty much an Asian-produced clone of the Sterling pre) you know the wiring is nowhere near as simple as your run-of-the-mill P or J bass scheme. I'd suggest having a look at a Sterling 4H wiring diagram and have a look at what's in store for you before pulling the trigger on the bass (edit: I attached one below). You'll see what I'm talking about.

    Sterling4H_Diagram.

    And I'm thinking your proposed positioning of the P-Bass pickup probably won't sound like what you're used to. You'd ideally want the P-Bass pickup almost flush up against the existing MM PU. I think you'll find most P/MM config'd basses have the MM pickup closer to the bridge than where it is on the SB14. Not to mention the extra routing of the body and having a new pickguard cut (EBMM Sterling PG's don't fit SB14s), etc. Time, trouble and expense with no guarantee that the end result is going to sound anywhere near what you want.

    If all you're looking for is a bass with a reverse P/MM setup, you'd save yourself a lot of headaches by just buying a Warmoth or AllParts body routed for that and then using a third party preamp that is actually designed for a 2-pickup configuration. I'm not really sure the stock SB14 is the ideal modding platform for what you're looking to do.

    Sorry if this all sounds a bit negative, but I'm just trying to give you some things to consider before you pull the trigger.
     
    eastcoasteddie and Ampslut like this.
  7. gfen

    gfen

    Aug 21, 2014
    lehigh valley
    stayed at a holiday inn, once...
    DiMarzio suggests their Will Power pickups for "mid heavy" tone.

    I put Model P's into both positions of my P/P, but they originally suggested that the Will Power might be better in the bridge when I reached out to their support team.

    YMMV.
     
  8. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    If you are looking for low mid growl the SPB-3 isn't what you want. The SPB-1 vintage has plenty in the low mids, that would be my choice.

    It may require changing up your switching, but there is no reason the pickup wouldn't work with your preamp
     
  9. b525

    b525

    Nov 16, 2013
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    Thank you for the helpful reply. I'll start off by saying that I'll be having a luthier do this for me for I lack the skills to do any kind of woodworking. He's kind of a wizard. He can do pretty much any mod imaginable. The custom pickguard is the easy bit, that won't be a problem.
    As for the P-pickup position: My mockup is just a rough sketch, I'm not certain of the position yet but either I'll put it real close to the MM pickup or put it nearer towards the neck like the Hoppus Jazz Bass.

    I'm a big advocate for the P/MM sound. I think it's criminally underrated. I've done this kind of mod already with a PJ bass, with great success, and since I've grown attached to this SB14 already, I think the mod would be worth it. Seriously for $450 this bass would be a steal. And I love the MM pickup solo'ed. But it just doesn't have the neck sound that is vital to my ears. The P/MM sound is just unique and I'm pretty sure it would enhance the tonal versatility of this already beautiful sounding bass.

    I've attached a pic of another TBer's project that seems like the result I'm going for.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  10. b525

    b525

    Nov 16, 2013
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    So theoretically, this stock preamp can handle two pickups, correct? You'll have to excuse my lack of knowledge with preamp wiring, electronics, etc. I'll probably add a blend knob/another 3-way switch for pickup selection and let the 3-way coil tap switch as it is. If that's possible. I'm not sure.

    Thanks for the pickup recommendation as well. I own another bass with an SPB-2 and as much as I love it I'm looking for something different I guess. Possibly dimarzios.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  11. b525

    b525

    Nov 16, 2013
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    What do you mean by separating the P into another circuit? How would one do that? How would that work? Sorry if this seems like a silly question.
     
  12. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars

    The preamp will handle two pickups without issue. It looks like the grey wire coming off of the switch is your signal wire, you would take that to your selector switch, and to that terminal from the switch.
     
  13. superheavyfunk

    superheavyfunk

    Mar 11, 2013
    Toronto
    I know you're all about the P/MM, OP but have you considered a split-J/MM setup? It might get you where you want to go, plus add some nice tonal variety to your arsenal.

    Just a thought. :)
     
  14. FingerDub

    FingerDub Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2016
    Just buy an MM/P then if you want one. This looks like a disaster...
     
  15. sikamikanico

    sikamikanico

    Mar 17, 2004
    Arkansas
    At the extreme, separate outputs. This keeps the P with passive wiring and the MM with active. You can blend the sounds later in the chain, or feed separate amps... or have a two-way switch and one output, but then you can't blend the two. The advantage here is that you consider them separately and maximize the performance of each, without compromises. I know I'd want to have an option of a nice, passive P sound, though the question is what's the best way to achieve it...

    But, if you have a pickup selector and an active/passive switch, you can do anything. The question then becomes - which settings are useful? Are you adding useless options, or making compromises?

    You simply have to figure out what you want to achieve. Then, figure out what would be the best way to go about it. The nice thing about electronic is that you can always rewire things, so you can experiment.
     
  16. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Its a pretty easy mod, why buy a whole new bass?
     
    b525 and superheavyfunk like this.
  17. fermata

    fermata

    Nov 10, 2015
    What about a volume for each pickup feeding into a preamp? And, if possible, it would be cool to have a five-way pickup switch: P solo, MM series (solo), MM parallel (solo), P + MM series, P + MM parallel.
     
    superheavyfunk likes this.
  18. ofajen

    ofajen Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2007
    92.4W 38.9N
    IMO, the Sterling and SB14 could well be the worst possible platforms for modding. IIRC, the switch is integrated into the electronics in two places. Part of it switches the three coils (two coils out front plus dummy coil) into the front end differential preamp (in a less than trivial manner) to create the three pickup coil selections, and part of the switch operates after the differential amp to adjust gain to equalize volume for each of the settings before the eq section.

    Don't construe this as a criticism of the bass. I own an SB14 and like it quite a bit. It is my only active bass and it's enough active bass for me.

    I suppose you could gut the electronics and start from scratch, but it seems a pity as the stock configuration is both elegant and powerful.

    Otto
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
    eastcoasteddie likes this.
  19. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Banned

    Feb 23, 2011
    Denmark
    DiMarzio 126 or EMG Geezer Butler would be my suggestions.

    Those were the choices that I was left with when ruling out all other pickups I contemplated on investing in when upgrading the P/J stock set in my Ibanez Mikro.

    Don't know how well they will take a preamp, but the Geezer Butler pickups that I ended up choosing are absolute killing it at least, and am almost convinced that if I had chosen the DiMarzio's instead I would not have been disappointed either.

    Those two has plenty of midrange punch at least, according to Seymour Duncan's own tone charge the SPB-3's are heavy on bass and treble and fairly weak in mids compared.

    Up to you, you asked fro advice, and you asked for a pickup with plenty of mids.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017

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