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BETTER PICKUP for Musicman SUB Sterling

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by GTH007, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. GTH007


    Apr 13, 2015
    I own a MM SUB Sterling SB4 Music Man S.U.B. SB4 Bass Guitar, Black .

    I am looking for a BETTER replacement pickup than the regular. I want that Musicman STINGRAY tone. Punchy low end, bright high end. I am thinking mainly of EMG or Seymour Duncan. Which one would be the best and which specific one? Any other suggestions? Which is the best for SLAP? I play FUNK/HARD ROCK. I want to sound like flea in his early days with the RHCP(first album,freaky styley).
  2. GTH007


    Apr 13, 2015
    Basically i just want to upgrade the sub sterling to make it sound closer to the real deal stingray. My bass is active. Im trying to spend 80-120$ here but if you feel strongly about anything just say it. Thankyou:)
  3. lifeoffroadbass


    Aug 7, 2013
    The best thing I've heard are the ones that nordstrand and Aguilar are making. There's a great video on YouTube of the Aguilar in a music man and you can find a video on YouTube as well of some guys put the nordstrand in an olp bass. Sounds like the real deal. But honestly, you could buy anything really and it should sound better. If it were me, which I am planning on doing to mine someday.....Aguilar. They are just to good.
  4. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Over the last few days I have played 3 EBMM (2x 2-band and 1x 3-band), an SBMM Ray34 3-band (my own) and a SubRay. If I were to be brutally honest, they all capture the essence of the Stingray sound and the main differences were in materials, hardware quality and playability rather than overall sound - all three are capable of 'the sound', but the way they respond to the player, and therefore what the player needs to do to achieve 'the sound', is different.
    IMO, the pickups on the SUB are fundamentally good and a poor setup can make a 'real' ray (or any instrument for that matter) sound terrible. On one of the 2-band EBMMs I tried, the pickup height on the bass side was too high by about 1mm and it was producing horrible wolf tones and a weird 'tremolo' effect above the 12th fret. A few seconds with a screwdriver fixed this and changed the whole character and tonal balance of the bass across the whole range.
    FWIW, I would try getting the most out of what you have before shelling out on a new pickup. Even then, if the instrument is not very responsive or is badly set up, no new pickup will compensate for that.
    blindrabbit and orangejulius3 like this.
  5. orangejulius3

    orangejulius3 Supporting Member

    May 6, 2013
    La Habra CA
    I agree with SteveCS.
    When my SBMM Ray5 came in, I had to tweak a couple things on the setup to my taste.
    Intonation was off on the D and E string.
    Pickup was too close to the strings and was driving my amp into dirty tone.
    Strings were slightly higher than I need.
    D string saddle was rattling when plucked due to uneven screws.

    After adjusting everything, it sounded amazing. It sounded a little brighter than a real stingray, but my guess would be the maple fretboard.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015
    blindrabbit and SteveCS like this.
  6. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Music Man sound and pickups | TalkBass.com

    The answers you are looking are above. Long story short, SD Alnico or Ceramic if you need more presence in the mix. I did not care for the Nordstrand and I have not tried the Aguilar.
    Dave W likes this.
  7. I wonder if the SB4 pickup is wired in series like the other Sterlings are, and if the OP wants a Stingray sound, then he'll need to get a pickup wired in parallel, like the Ray4 (or Ray34 or SR4).

    That aside, I generally agree with the recent comments above - as an EBMM owner and fan, I've found the SBMM line basses to perform quite remarkably in comparison to their EBMM equivalents. Consider a set up, a string change, and changing your playing style first. Also keep in mind that Flea has a good chunk of his sound coming from effects and pedals too.
  8. wmhill


    Aug 20, 2012
    upstate NY
    MTD basses endorsed artist Bartolini pickups emerging artist TECAMP bass players gear endorsed
    I have several basses with the Bartolini MM 4 cbc and love them. Should work great in yours as well.
  9. GTH007


    Apr 13, 2015
    Thanks guys. Ill checkout all the pickups mentioned. How about the EMGs though? I was originally looking at the Musicman EMGs.
  10. GTH007


    Apr 13, 2015
    Also, this may be a stupid question(forgive me) am i looking for active or passive pickups? I know my bass is "active" does this mean that the preamp is active? But just because thats active doesn't mean the pickups are necessarily active? I thought i read that the pickups are passive and the preamp is active.

    Forgive me if I'm not making sense.... This is all i know(or thought) but what does it mean for the pickups to be "active" or "passive" and what is the difference?
  11. GTH007


    Apr 13, 2015
    Btw, i do think my bass is setup properly(and technique decent) so right now i guess if i wanted to make it better it would be a better pickup right?
  12. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    The EMG doesn't sound like a Stingray so I'd stay away from that one.

    The vast majority of active basses have a passive pickup and an active preamp. All Stingrays follow this. You want a passive pickup.

    As for changing the pickup to make it "better" is really a matter of personal opinion.

    I'd go with Seymour Duncan as well. I've tried a lot if aftermarket pickups and they were my favorite. I use the Ceramic version in my SR4. Nordstrand makes a nice product but they were all too polite for my taste.
    I haven't tried the Aguilar.
  13. GTH007


    Apr 13, 2015
    Okkk thanks. I used to get a popping noise when slapping the e string hard. I believed it was the string hitting or coming in close contact with the pickup poles. So i lowered my pickup a lot and it sounds great but im worried it could sound better if it was higher. Finger style would be better but slap i would get that noise. Thats why i was thinking of the emg because it doesnt have 'pup poles' right?
  14. GTH007


    Apr 13, 2015
  15. Sure, it fits the size, but that doesn't mean it sounds anything like what it is replacing. Go ahead and get the EMG if you really want it, but the general consensus in this thread (and elsewhere) is that it doesn't sound anything like the EBMM pickup, which is what you say you are aiming for.

    Take a chance and buy the new Aguilar MM pickup. Everything they make sounds great IMO, so chances are this pickup does too.

    Aguilar Amplification: Bass Pedals, Bass Pickups, Bass Preamps, Bass Amplifiers, and Bass Speaker Cabinets
  16. GTH007


    Apr 13, 2015
    Ok, thankyou for your thoughts everyone!

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