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can this BTB be saved?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Warwickthumb, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. A few years ago I bought an Ibanez BTB. I don't know if the guitar place put me under a spell or what because I bought the thing. I love the looks of it, the wide neck etc. Its got the worst tone Ive ever heard come out of a bass. I spent many a nights playing around with the controls on my bass and amp and no luck. I seriusly cant even sell it. Nobody even wants it. I've gone down as far as 250.00 plus the hardshell bass case and strap locks, and no luck. I know ill never get back what I paid for it. Does it just have to many bells and whistles. Bass, Treble, Mid, mid freq adjust, blend, volume. Im in love with the jazz bass and its sound.
    And i know this can't reproduce the same sound, but come on, for the price I paid for it, I expect more. I saw a vid of Bill Dickens playing his conklin, and it has the same type of pickups. Not the same brand, mind you, but the same style(soapbar) His sounded great. So can I gut this thing, buy a decent pre and pickups, and make it at least sound decent? All I know it this was the last Ibanez I will ever buy. My cheap SR which was my first bass didnt even sound that bad.
  2. ebladeboi123


    Jul 11, 2005
    Oberlin, Oh
    Yes, you can get a new pre-amp and new pickups. There are so many options. You can get an aguilar pre-amp and some bartolini pickups, and you'd be set. Some like bartolini's some don't.
    Pickup brands I sorta like:
    Lindy Fralin
    Suhr (never tried them, but really want to)
    Seymour duncan
    Kent armstrong (heard great things about the soaps they make)

    Now you'd have to look for a soap-bar style pickup. For the pre-amp, you can really go anyway you want.

    Pre's i like/want to try:
    Demeter (just ordered one)
    Bartolini (compressed highs, not that great, but decent for the money)

    You're looking at dropping another 200 or so into your bass if you do it right. Or 400 if you do it extravgently.
  3. I belive the better version of this bass has barts. BTB1000 or something right? Anyone else try this before? I just want to make sure before I throw all this moey into it, that it will work. And I did want to add, yes I tried the strings thing. Elixurs and Blue Steels. They sound decent on other basses. I use DRs on my Jazzes
  4. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Man, don't let the "style" of pickups fool you. There is no reason that the pickups in Bill dickens bass should be anything like the ones in yours. Soapbar is just a generic name for rectangular pickups with no visible pole pieces.

    I don't know what your style or budget is, but throw some barts in there and see if it changes your opinion of the bass
  5. Yeah and my Brice has soap bar type pickups. And yeah know what, that thing sounds great too. I have inexpensive basses mostly because in the past I didnt have alot of money. But im moving up a little at work. And my next bass will be the "one" I have GAS for an MTD, Ken Smith, and Elrick. After hearing Andrew Gouche play that MTD im leaing towards that. But I saw a bass player at a church play a Ken Smith and I fell in love. Ive played a 6 string before and it was very nice. But anyways back to the subject at hand. There is no reason that Brice 6er should sound better I payed almost nothing for it.
  6. Keeaumoku


    Dec 29, 2004
    Thumb... what a coincidence! I recently bought, then returned a BTB405QM 5-string. I purchased this axe online from zZounds.com, and it was what they called "blemished." There were three tiny scratches on the back, otherwise the guitar was new. I'm assuming this one was a floor model. I paid $460 for it, and it was the Bright Blue color.

    Anyway, I returned it for full credit, but I had to pay return shipping charges, and from Hawaii to New Jersey, that cost me a little over $40 via UPS 2nd Day Air. I never got to the point of plugging the thing into my amp. I discovered right off the bat that I wasn't going to be able to play the thing. That neck was just too wide... seemed like a 6-lane highway to me! Another reason I returned this axe, and you're going to relate to this: I found an excellent 1999 Thumb-5 NT in one of our music stores out here for $1300. I knew right then that the Ibanez was going back to New Jersey!

    Like you, I think the 405Q is a beautiful piece to look at, but I honestly didn't even hear it, because my small hands just weren't going to be able to play that super-wide neck. It just felt too awkward. I've read where some guys have changed-out the pups and pre-amp, and to positive results, too. So, I would say, if you have no problem playing your Ibanez, and you really do like it (other than it's current sound), then you wouldn't be wasting money by modifiying the electronics. As long as the person who does the swap knows what he's doing... I'd say you should be okay.

    Good luck! :D
  7. That's not entirely accurate. Most soapbars are humbuckers and need that shape to house 2 coils - usually side by side. Sometimes this is also done as a split arrangement like the MightyMites. One coil is the active coil around the pole pieces and the other is a dummy coil, wound in reverse to cancel out noise. In the split style, both are active and are just wound in opposite directions but wired in series (I think) :D
  8. The neck isnt a big deal for me. I have big hands. And I play a six string too. It does sound pretty good with the teb,mid and bass set to the middle or flat. If i turn anything up then it just sounds like garbage. The majority of my basses are passive, thats the only active. I know what active does, and its not supposed to do that.
  9. Ok crisis is over for me. I did something I should have done, and I learned a valuable lesson today. It was in fact not my bass after all. It was the strings! I used the strings that I had on my sixer. And it sounded great!!! Nice and bright, and when i kicked in the bass and treble it had nice punch!! Ive been playing for 12 years now. And Ive never been satisfied with my sound. Figured It was a weak bass. And I used Blue Steeles and and Elixurs throughout the years. Usually put Earnie Balls or DRs on my jazz. I knew I should have listend to everyones advice on strings, but I was stubburn. Im sorry for doubting yall. Now I gotta figure out what those strings are. THey came with the Brice. THe sound im looking for is either that of Andrew Gouche or Marcus miller(finger style) Thats close to the style I play now anyways.
  10. thats a relief, i was about to jump in to defend my 406QM's bretherin :)

    (i can see the neck being off-putting for people with smaller hands, never had a problem myself)
  11. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Out of curiosity, does the bass sound good acoustically to start with?

    If not, you're in a bit of trouble.
  12. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    I can understand where you're coming from. When the strings die on my BTB, I want to give it away. Mine is a dark sounding bass already so it requires fresh stings.

    The mid sweep control is a good asset, but the preamp overall still isn't that great.

    I might swap out the pickups and preamp eventually. I can't do that kind of work, so I will have to send it to someone.
  13. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    If you want to change the pickups, first you need to measure them and find out which size soapbar they are. There are several sort-of-standard and some unique sizes so not all 'soapbar' pickups will fit. Some manufacturers will only offer some designs in some sizes.

    Check out the Bartolini site for a .pdf they have caleed 'Drawings and Dimensions' or some such. they make a large number of shapes and sizes and that'll give you the most commonly used names for the shape you have, eg EMG35/40/45, P4 etc.

    You also don't need to stay active. You can always wire it as a passive bass if you use passive (ie with no pre built into the pickup casing) pickups.
    Comments so far are that the BTB is dark sounding. My first guess then would be some EMG's if they fit, wired passively (just using the supplied pots and no preamp) and use the tonal shaping on your rack preamp.
  14. Well these cheap strings made a heck of a diffrence. Your right it had a very dark sound, with to much mud IMO. These strings brightened this thing up quite a bit! Made eqing alot easier. Bass sounds 100% better. This bass may be made for dark suck your soul out rock. When im done it will be a happy, soulfull, thumb funk machine :hyper: (er I hope :smug: )
  15. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    I agree that many soaps are humbuckers, but mighty mites are set up staggered like a P pickup under the plastic covers, and soapbars are often single coils as well.

    Anyway, my main point is that you have to be carefull, because soapbars (even ones that might be both humbuckers) can sound drasticaly different from one another, and there is not necessarily a "soapbar" sound the same way that there is a "p" or a "J" sound.
  16. I agree all the way about gauging the tone and comparing it to a P or J. About the only one you'll get even close in comparison to is the P because P's are humbuckers to begin with.

    I reread my post and it sounds like I was saying the MM soapbar had a dummy coil. Of course it doesn't but when I wrote it, I also wanted to avoid the direct comparison to the P pickup because the coils are unequally sized. Both coils in the MM soapbars are active in the sense that they are signal producing and not there simply as a filter for RF noise. I'm always trying to be as accurate as I can and that sometimes gets even more confusing. :rolleyes:
  17. Sutton


    Mar 3, 2005
    Plainwell, MI
    I'll buy it for 250 :)