Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

"Converting" my Ibanez from active to passive...

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by 43apples, Jun 8, 2005.


  1. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    ...what should i expect?

    I have an Ibanez RD500 fretless bass, with stock "Powersound" pickups and a Ibanez two band preamp with blend and coil split for the MM humbucker. I'm not impressed with how the bass sounds plugged in, but it sounds great unplugged, so some people reccomended that i should replace the pickups and install a new preamp.

    I'm going to buy a Bartolini MMC and a Bartolini J pickup when i visit London this summer, and i thougth i should shield the bass and do a "complete makeover" when i install them. To be honest though, i prefer passive basses, atleast i think i prefer them, since my experiences with active preamps to this day haven't been too good, and also i dislike having a battery in my bass ;).

    Here's what i'm thinking of doing: When installing the new pickups and shielding, i'll replace the internal wiring with two volumes, a tone and a coil splitter for the MM. CTS pots, sprague caps and switchcraft switches and jack. I'm pretty confident in my wiring skills, so just soldering it up won't be a problem.

    But the question is: What could i expect to hear (and feel) after the modification?

    Sorry for the long post :)

    -Erlend
     
  2. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    *bump*, i'll really like to hear others opinions and comments on this!

    Please?
     
  3. I am part way through the same sort of modification. I have a fender precision lyte bass which was purchased used, it came with stock "active pick-ups" (one P type and one soapbar). After about three years I decided it needed a new "passive" sound. These P/U's started sounding too clean and had no balls. My other Fender basses (Jazz) are passive and they seem to cut through the band mix better and had better tone IMO.

    I first installed a set of SD basslines "Hot for P" P/U's and purchased a wiring kit which included new 250K pots. I found the SD schematic which came with the P/U's wrong. Fortunately through a thread here I found a Fender wiring diagram which was correct. Wow, it sounds more impressive and much better than the actives. I enjoy an earthier, dirty tone and this is much better.

    Next, I'm adding a SD basslines Soapbar "SSB" P/U. This is a new P/U that SD has just released. It can be wired either passive or active. Passive for me. It should be at my doorstep tomorrow. I'm going to wire it with two volume and one tone control. I can't wait. Soldering was no big deal, just be patient.
     
  4. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    It will sound scary, like any Bart setup :smug:

    Seriously, I would imagine that it would sound a lot like what you want. Barts, in my mind, are quite smooth and beefy, the essence of a good passive pickup. I had them on a Modulus VJ4 (the dual J setup) and they sounded well together, though not my cup of tea.
    From that, I can guess that it will sound softer than that did (graphite neck made them sound bright, which was nice for me, but sounds like you'd hate it), the MM will add a lot more oomph from the J side full, more J-ish split, and will add a pinch of MM balls, though not much.
     
  5. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    Thanks alot!

    Well, i'm after a "natural" tone, not boomy, not brittle, and still not too "earthy". Just warm, detailed, deep and crisp. I need a growly, thick tone that blends well in a band setting, but it needs to be clear and open enough so it lets my playing nuances and the *mwah* come trough!

    So, i'll go for the Barts then! Can't wait until i get them hehe ;).

    -Erlend
     
  6. rllefebv

    rllefebv

    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Keep in mind that many 'active' basses have 'passive' pickups wired through a cheesy 'preamp'... One sure test is to first wire the pickups directly to an output jack and see how they sound with nothing else in the signal path... Chances are fair to good that you'll find the existing pickups adequate...

    -robert
     
  7. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    Robert, that sounds like a good idea!

    I'll do it tomorrow, and post back on the results!

    Thanks alot!
     
  8. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    And if you like the results, I would skip the tone control. In my rock bass, I go straight from pickup to volume control to bass. I keep the volume control since I need to lower the volume for a couple of effects to work properly.
     
  9. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    Skip the tone control, why?

    I use the tone control alot, to me it's the most useful knob on the whole bass :). Especially Sprague cap loaded ones... yummy!

    By the way, the bass ain't my "rock bass", it's my fretless jazz\fusion bass :)
     
  10. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Tone controls are way underrated. But I found the solution:
    J Retro Deluxe Preamp - Active/passive with passive tone control. You can use the tone control in active mode as well, so you can soften up the edge of a treble boost or get rid of a bit of the buzz as needed. You can run it passive for vintage tones, too.

    It does it all... for a price... but it's worth it.
     
  11. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I bought a MIM P bass and like all MIM and MIJ basses that I have seen, it came with cheap pots. So I opened it up and unsoldered the old pots. I have two new pots.... gotta be around here somewhere.... Damn, can only find one.

    So I replaced the volume pot and ordered some new pots. Since I had already unsoldered the tone pot, I just left it in as a placeholder. But I never missed the tone control and never bothered replacing it when the new pots came in.

    I feel the bass is a little more open without it. I also know this would never be noticable in a live situtation.

    This is for rock. When I play country, I roll the highs off a lot. More than 1/2 way with a 0.1uF cap.

    So this is a long winded answer that basically boils down to: "It works for me, it might work for you."
     
  12. JahKnow

    JahKnow Guest

    Hey Erland, just wondering what ever happened w/the RD500?

    Johno!