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bellcat preamps?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Pillgrimm13, Dec 7, 2011.


  1. Pillgrimm13

    Pillgrimm13

    Sep 29, 2009
    queensbury ny
    ive been looking at those bellcat preamps on ebay, under 20 bucks but are they worth it? ive got a bass that has a bartolini p and only 2 holes for pots so i was thinking for trying the a 2 band 3 control preamp and soldering the tone wires to a stacked blend pot. im not looking for the perfect sound just something that will be cheap, work and sound better than the crap stock pickup that was in the bass origenally.
     
  2. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
  3. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    That should answer the question right there.

    Can't imagine it would be very good quality.
     
  4. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Electronics have an incredible price markup. You'd be surprised to see how little an electronics manufacturer pays for components.
     
  5. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    I'm a manufacturer, so I do know. But when you add in labor and stuff... It's not that much of a markup.

    These are likely made in China. If you've ever seen the electronics in something like an SX guitar, you can see how low quality they are.
     
  6. SirRolfe

    SirRolfe

    Jun 18, 2011
    Ann Arbor MI
    Can't say much until you try. So... try 'em out! Only $20
     
  7. m.oreilly

    m.oreilly

    Jul 5, 2006
    Ukiah, CA
    if you want to waste $20. i'd really try, as was previously mentioned, going passive to see how those barts sound, you might be surprised.
     
  8. Pillgrimm13

    Pillgrimm13

    Sep 29, 2009
    queensbury ny
    i might try it passive first with one of those black ice onboard overdrives first, can always try the cheap preamp later if i want. (or i can save for a bartolini preamp)
     
  9. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Those Black Ice overdrives are just two diodes, in parallel and with reverse polarity, in a block of epoxy. You can do the same thing for under $1.

    It doesn't work very well on lower output pickups like Barts. You need very hot pickups to get a lot of grit.

    I'd rather waste money on the Bellcat than the BlackIce. :meh:
     
  10. Pillgrimm13

    Pillgrimm13

    Sep 29, 2009
    queensbury ny
    yeah i guess i wont try the black ice then, maybe the preamp would be better. i love barts but passive they sound a little weak. hard to go wrong for 20 bucks. the worst part is the time it takes to wire it all up.
     
  11. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Yeah, what the heck, give it a shot.

    I've tried a few of the Kent Armstrong preamps, and they don't sound bad for the money. They are more than $20 though.
     
  12. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    That's funny. I worked on products that cost $500 dollars and sold for $10,000. I knew exactly what everything cost, as I had the bill of materials. My department alone did over $50 million a year. When I did aftermarket repair, my company charged the customer $500 just to have me diagnose the problem. I've replaced caps that cost the company less than a penny apiece and saw the customer be charged $300 for the repair, which often took less than an hour total.

    Parts were so cheap that if one fell to the floor, it was rarely ever picked up. We had 2 SMT lines (one leaded and one RoHS) and one through-hole running 24/7 5-6 days a week. I imagine that Belcat does the same. I know you're not a major manufacturer and you don't get the price break that one gets, but Belcat might have less than 25 cents total tied up into that preamp, and that preamp may well have the same components that a boutique one will have. Cheap parts do not equate cheap performance.

    Chances are your computer has chips on it made by one of those $500 units my company sold to Intel for $10,000...
     
  13. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Well most guitar related electronics don't sell for such high amounts. One exception would be Alembic, they are really marked up.

    I used to work for a large electronics company that did defense communications contract work for the US government. We would use mil spec parts for prototypes, so instead of a $0.40 capacitor, we paid $40! I eventually talked my supervisor into ordering regular grade parts for prototypes.

    I would guess they have about 25 cents in that preamp. But as I said, if you check out some of the cheap import guitar pickups and such, they really aren't made very well. So even with the cheap labor and buying large amounts of parts, they are really just about making a usable product.

    There's a reason why people often replace the import preamps in basses like Spector, Ibanez and Yamaha, and they are likely made in the same factory. They just don't sound good.

    So cost aside, you also have to consider the design of the circuit.

    There's a story about Kent Armstrong being approached by someone from Dong Ho Electronics in Korea. He said "I make $2 pickups - crap pickups. Can you help me make good pickups?" So he did and that's the Kent Armstrong import line. So just because they were a huge Korean electronics company and were able to make pickups for $2 didn't make them good.

    So this $20 preamp might be fine, but it might be just OK also. Corners were surely cut somewhere.
     

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