Bart Preamp sounds great, but super thin in the mix...not sure why.

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Luke Warm Water, Dec 18, 2016.

  1. Luke Warm Water

    Luke Warm Water Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2012
    San Diego
    Hello All,

    I'm not a tech guy, but my dad is gaining knowledge in this area as he is pursuing luthiering in his retirement. So I'm sort of asking this question to pass on to my dad as a jumping off point or a broader spectrum of possibilities from those of you with more experience.

    I bought a Bart Preamp from a TB'r a few years ago and have it currently installed in a Warmoth (Alder, Maple, Pau Ferro - sonically sounds/feels great) with a Bart jazz neck pickup and a soapbar bridge pickup. The preamp was hooked by a local luthier who is respected and does great work, but is a guitar player, not a bassist. The bass sounds goods, great in fact, and most people wouldn't think anything was wrong by just plugging it in and thumbin' around.

    However, in a live or studio situation, it is bright and thin in the mix. NOT crazy thin, but thin enough to where you notice a definite difference when any other bass takes its spot and suddenly the bottom is there. I've played it in many live situations and most of the time have put it away and used my back up bass instead because it just doesn't fill the space that it is supposed to. In the studio, an engineer had me crank the bass and completely mute the treble (roll it off all the way) to get somewhere near a decent Fender tone in the mix. I've owned a number of basses and never had a studio guy struggle with any of my basses like that. (It had a two j's in it at that point, no soapbar.)

    So I have been prone to just getting a new preamp (or pots maybe) to see if that helps, but don't want to make any moves too quickly, as it could be a simpler fix. Does anybody have an idea of what the 'subtle yet disheartening' issue could be.

    Looking forward to staring blankly at your technically informed answers, and relaying them to my ol' man like a boss. :)
  2. 4StringTheorist

    4StringTheorist Supporting Member

    Assuming you've already tried a fresh battery. :)

    Troubleshoot #1: Your description sounds like something to me. Phase issues. Does the bass sound substantially better and less thin when panned to one pickup? If so, the pickups are out of phase. Swap the + and - wires on only one of the pickups.

    Troubleshoot #2: verify all wiring against the Bartolini schematic. Check that all Solder connections are sound and all controls are performing their designed function.

    Troubleshoot #3: bypass the preamp and pots and wire the pickups directly to the jack (temporarily of course). Is the sound better? If so, it's definitely a preamp issue that goes beyond miswiring .
  3. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    If the pickups aren't ill placed or out of phase (it happens), chances are you will get back to a plain thick tone if you get rid of the preamp altogether and go passive.
    It saves most instruments.
    4StringTheorist likes this.