Custom 5 string with little tonal range

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by robbd258, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. robbd258


    Nov 20, 2007
    I just bought a 5 string custom bass; beautiful hand rubbed mahogany body, set neck which is also screwed in, high mass bridge, 2 EMG pups, active with vol, vol, tone, active 9v 34in scale wearing High beams. 2 Ric truss rods, syn. bone nut, flamed maple neck with rosewood board 22 frets. Looks great, narrow neck plays great, incredible sustain, but has one sound with little variation. Nice but not versatile. Thinking of new onboard preamp, new pickup(s), wiring series/ parallel..... Need suggestions so I don't ruin the bass, waste a fortune or let an otherwise great bass languish.
    P.S. Wasn't looking for a five string but the price just covered the parts!
  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Which EMG pickups? They make a lot of different types within the same soapbar shell, which makes it easy to swap them for something different.
  3. robbd258


    Nov 20, 2007
    I'm not sure what to look for; the pickups are black (probably doesn't mean anything), no pole pieces showing, p bass config. As I mentioned they are active. Sound is bell clear even on the B. I can't fault that, but can't dial in growl and both pickups sound the same with a little more fullness on the neck pup. Not like any of my other basses. P/jazz, SG, Jazz, Thunderbird all have tonal ranges. Thanks for the reply. Have no experience with different onboard preamps either..
  4. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Are they 'P config' split Ps (2 sets) in bridge and neck position? Should be able to get some mid growl with the mahogany body...
    Try some nickel-plated (like Sunbeams) strings? Or even hex-core NPS. It may take a few different tries with string types to find what works on that bass.
    As far as an EQ, if just string type change doesn't get you there, an EMG BQS will give you some mid control besides bass and treble.
  5. IMO active electronics are overrated. Get a pre-amp (pedal) for your eq if that's what you want. But for on your bass pick-up selection gives a huge range of tones.
    I rewired my (4 coil) bass with three 4P6T rotary switchs, I now have 156 pick-up combinations.
    I would not trade that for any active electronics.
  6. robbd258


    Nov 20, 2007
    Thanks again for the feedback. The pickups are split P in std positions (bass side closer to neck). I just read the new Bass Player mag. section on active onboard preamps, thats what got me started on active, plus the bass is active currently. I was told by the builder that I can't run pups passive. I guess strings as always are the cheapest mod, but the selection is huge. Maybe the sunbeams; never tried them but many players swear by them.
  7. I do have the same problem with my emg active p- pickups , seems like the bass side is quiet compared to the the treble side , i even consider try them in reverse position to see if it helps
  8. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    EMG gives a very HiFi sound. Clear and resonant, with a lot of harmonic content. That's kindof the EMG thing. The EMG X series are designed to sound a little more...old. So if you replace one of them with an EMG P5X, you may find you have more range. I'd try the neck pickup first. As it's EMG, you'll be able to swap them out really quickly with not soldering.

    Or...replace that tone control with an EMG EXB (Bass Expander) or VMC (Variable Mid-Control) control. Those will give you pretty solid tonal range.

    You could also try adding a battery and running it with 18V. It does change the sound a bit. It's not huge, but it is noticeable (to me anyway).
  9. Mine is already 18 volts , forgot to tell , i was thinking going with passive with a preamp