Bass resonator upgrades: Lipstick pickup and pot recommendations?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by SoundOfOneHandSlapping, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. I'd like to swap out the lipstick pickup and the pots on a Harley Benton Resobass. Perhaps the cone as well. I'm looking for recommendations.

    The stock pots are stamped "ALPHA B500". The volume pot works as it should, but the tone pot does virtually nothing. Rotating the tone knob 100% accomplishes as much as turning a tone knob 5% on any other bass I've played.

    The stock "lipstick style pickup" has a (standard?) screw spacing of 89mm. It is very bassy and low output. It would be nice to brighten up the amplified sound of the instrument. I can't resolve these issues with effects pedals, it's almost as if the signal bypasses them entirely.

    The cone (9 1/2") has dulled overtime.

    It's a relatively cheap Korean made bass, but I get a lot of use out of it, so I figured I'd ask what's out there.

    Attached Files:

    moonshinegtrs likes this.
  2. Warpeg


    Jun 20, 2005
    Install a piezo?
  3. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    That's a liner taper pot, and it doesn't usually work as well as audio taper pot. So you could change that. But I'm not sure why it wouldn't fully kick in at 100%, that might require some more investigation. At that point, the cap is fully engaged and the pot does not matter. It should be a very dark sound. Maybe the cap is not large enough?

    In terms of pickups, Kent Armstrong lipstick pickups come to mind. I'm not sure what model exactly came in Lakland Scheff basses, but those were Kent Armstrong lipstick pickups, and sounded strong and clear.

    No idea about cones. Try other sections of Talkbass, you'd probably get more feedback there. Maybe even Luthier's corner?
  4. This is really helpful, thank you!

    Is there a specific capacitor or pot you could recommend?
  5. I may look into that!
  6. Warpeg


    Jun 20, 2005
    moonshinegtrs likes this.
  7. I'm sure it's a good system. The OP might want to contact Schatten before ordering it. The description specifically says spider bridge and he has a biscuit bridge resonater. They're similar but different and you'd want to check if that one will work with a biscuit cone. I looked briefly on their website for a system that said biscuit and didn't see one but I could have missed it.

    Having said all that, I have a Tele body guitar routed out for a resonater cone with the stock neck pickup and an old Schaller oyster stuck on the cone and a volume for each and it works pretty well for what it is.
  8. Ok, so I've found a cone replacement over at Resophonic Outfitters. I'm still looking for more suggestions for a drop in lipstick pickup replacement.

    The Kent Armstrong bass specific lipstick pickup is fitted for a jazz bass. Although, both Kent Armstrong and Curtis Novak make lipstick pickups wound for a guitar that would fit this bass. I wonder how those would sound? I'll keep digging...
  9. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    When I hear the phrase “resonator bass”, I immediately think of @moonshinegtrs ...
  10. If anyone would know about resobass pickups, it would be Moonshine. I'm sure a Kent Armstrong strat sized pickup, if it fits, will sound fine.
  11. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Inactive Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    Thanks @ctmullins and @Matt Liebenau, I do dig me some Resonators...

    @SoundOfOneHandSlapping; Guitar Fetish makes a really nice lipstick tube pickup in 3 different outputs, the 8k pickup is almost twice the output of the stock pickup (8k vs 4.9k):
    KP - Pro Tube "D"- CHROME- Fits Danelectro - Kwikplug™ Ready

    A big part of the lipstick tube sound is how it is set up. I raise the pickup until it is almost touching the strings and then back off each side while playing the bass to find the "sweet spot.

    Another option is using a single coil early style p bass pickup, here is one of my basses with a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder pickup (it originally had a lipstick tube pickup).

    It was a fairly snug fit but it worked great.

    The piezo pickup is another good choice but remember that it will also pickup any string noise, contact with the body, etc... (this could be good or bad depending on your playing style).

    I usually go with a magnetic pickup only or a combination of mag/piezo with a preamp. Schatten has some really cool stuff as does Fishman and LR Baggs. My personal favorite is Bartolini but there are many others out there.

    It is my hope to one day find a piezo system that can provide the sound I'm looking for, Rick Turner has that tone nailed.

    As for resonator cones, the Beard cone is a very good high quality cone. Being high quality it is hand spun and very lightweight which makes it both more responsive (louder, brighter) and more fragile... Something to consider, if it is dropped or banged around too much the cone can collapse which will pretty much destroy it (the cone). Bisquit cones such as yours are slightly more sturdy but can still be damaged. Of you do purchase one just remember to be careful with the bass.

    I have always loved the metal bodies such as the one on your bass... Beautiful!

    Moonshine :bassist:
  12. Thank you! There is so much to digest here.

    I really like the 8k pickups you've suggested, they should fit nicely. I would just have to swap out the base plate (terminology?) with that of the original pickup to accommodate the 89mm mounting screw spacing.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the thread about the transformation of your build. Your bass is stunning! The idea of installing SCPB-3 is also very appealing, but I worry that it may be too snug of a fit. The pickup cavity on this bass only measures 16mm wide.

    I think I'll skip the piezo pickup for now, although those Rick Turner basses do sound beautiful!

    I've ordered a Beard cone. I've read that these sit a bit higher than the national style cones, but I should be able to shave down the saddle to compensate. I'll make sure to handle the cone with care (thanks for the tip!).

    Lastly, when I removed the stock cone I was a little surprised to see the biscuit was mounted using two screws rather than using the centre hole to create the dimple. Is there any practical reason for this or is this just another case of 'you get what you pay for'?

    Once again, thank you! This has been incredibly helpful.
    ctmullins likes this.
  13. The only biscuit bridge resonaters I’ve seen or worked on all had the bridge mounted with one screw in the center of the cone. Granted, that’s a sample size of 4 or 5.:D There is a hole in the middle of that cone which makes me wonder if the original got hogged out or otherwise damaged somehow.
  14. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Inactive Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars

    Like @Matt Liebenau said, the standard is a single screw using the center hole.

    No idea what that's about.

    Moonshine :bassist:
  15. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    it sounds like the tone pot is touching something it shouldn't so it's basically shorted, as in turned down to "0" all the time.

    either that or somewhere else in the wiring you have a partial short that's bleeding off treble and loudness. try wiring the pickup straight to the jack, it might sound totally different.
  16. Here's an update for anyone interested.

    -New Beard cone
    -New biscuit and saddle installed
    -New cover plate installed
    -Tuning machines replaced with hipshot HB6 ultralites
    -Brass nut installed
    -Kent Armstrong 8k pickup installed
    -Electronics replaced with CTS pots, Orange drop cap, and switchcraft jack.
    -Second strap button installed

    It sounds SO MUCH BETTER NOW, both acoustically and plugged in. A local luthier (who's probably on this board) did a bang up job. The Beard cone made a tremendous difference. It sounds like a completely different instrument now (in a very good way) but with a familiar feel.

    Thanks for help fellas

    Attached Files:

  17. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Inactive Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver BC
    That looks really cool. Post a sound file?
  18. Unfortunately, I'm not set up to post any clips right now. But just to give you an idea of what it sounds like, here's a clip of Alessandro Corsi killing it on a Resonator. I think he's playing an Ozark which is virtually identical to the Harley Benton in every way.
    Jeff Bonny likes this.