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Do Sadowsky onboard preamps work for both 4 and 5 string basses?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Michael-F, Dec 30, 2016.

  1. I have a 2013 Jazz Bass American Deluxe 5 string. The preamp is making a buzzing noise so it has to be replaced. When I switch to passive mode the noise disappears. I've read that others have had their Fender preamps fail too so I don't want to get another Fender preamp. It seems most everyone likes the Sadowsky preamps so I am leaning in that direction.
    Two questions:
    1. Does the Sadowsky onboard preamp work for both 4 and 5 strings?
    2. Are any physical modifications of the bass required or is it a simple swap? Audere says their preamp is a simple swap so I am considering the Audere too. I welcome any feedback on any of the brands. Thanks.
  2. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    The preamp itself doesn't know if its in a 4 or 5 string bass. Sadowsky makes 5 string basses and I am sure they use their preamps in those basses. As far as modification, I doubt you have any issues fitting it in your bass, but I am not 100% sure about that as I have never used a Sad preamp
    malthumb likes this.
  3. Thanks for the confirmation regarding the 4 and 5 strongs. It looks like the plate might fit into a Jazz Bass but not sure. I read on his website that Roger Sadowsky got started by adding a preamp to Marcus Miller's Jazz Bass so that is promising.
  4. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Sadowsky's preamp on a Jazz plate is a drop in replacement for most Fender Jazz Basses - should not be a problem for your instrument. If the instrument were passive, you would need to find a place for the battery, but since yours already has a preamp you have an existing place for it. The three knob version is the standard 2-band, treble and bass boost (no cut), while the four knob version also has a passive treble roll-off. Both have preamp bypass switches, but without the passive roll-off you will have no tone control onboard.

    Both work for 4 and 5 string basses.
  5. Excellent, thank you so much for the details! I was leaning towards the four knob version but until you clarified the difference I wasn't quite sure of the benefits of the four knob.
  6. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Your question has already been answered, but I still want to point out that I installed a Sadowsky preamp in a Fender American Deluxe Precision 5. Completely transformed that bass from pretty darn good to awesome. Being a Precision, the preamp came not attached to a control plate, but still installed easily.

    Before Sadowsky

    After Sadowsky (black knobs)
  7. Good to know, thanks! Seeing your pictures makes me regret not buying a Precision 5 string. I have a 1970 Precision 4 string that I bought new and was my main bass for most of my life - until I started playing a lot of gospel music and needed the 5 string for a lot of songs in Eb and Db. I have small hands so I was concerned the Precision neck would be too wide for me so I opted for the Jazz Bass. Plus, my local Guitar Center didn't carry the Precision V but they did have the Jazz Bass V in stock. I still wonder if I would have preferred the Precision V. Thanks again.
  8. Torrente Cro

    Torrente Cro

    Sep 5, 2013
    I suggest 4 knob version with VTC. It is a great extra feature, works both in active and passive mode.
    Chasarms likes this.
  9. Thanks, that's what it sounded like to me. I was wondering if VTC works in passive mode too so I appreciate the confirmation.
  10. For reference, ANY preamp works with ANY number of strings. Preamp choice and string count are completely and utterly unrelated things.
  11. Thanks, that now makes sense to me. I appreciate the confirmation!
  12. baxter_x


    Nov 27, 2013
    What about the low B? Did it change its presence?
    I'm asking as I'm considering buying a Sadowsky or changing the preamp of my ADPV for a Sadowsky. I own two ADPV and thinking about letting them go, even for a Sadowsky, is a bit puzzling for me ;)
  14. The open B String is nice and punchy with the Sadowsky preamp and it has good, clear distinction between the half step increments such as the B and C. My only disappointment is that it only has controls for bass and table and nothing for the mids. I was aware of that before buying it and it's not a huge problem for me. Some guys might not want to live without a mid control, though. My Aguilar and Ampeg amps have sufficient mids for my style.
    MSIMSBASS and malthumb like this.
  15. baxter_x


    Nov 27, 2013
    Is it "better" than with the Fender Preamp? About the mid knob I think there is a version of the Sad preamp with a mid knob.
    Did you install it yourself or someone did it for you?
    Have you ever tried an "real" Sadowsky?
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017
  16. Contrary to what several postings I've read say, I am not sure that the Sadowsky preamp is significantly better than the stock Fender preamp but it's definitely different. I like the Sadowsky but I was also happy with the tone that I got from the Fender preamp - that's why I bought it. I initially tried to buy another Fender preamp, which I would have done if the Fender website was a good website (which it is not) and offered the preamp for sale. Since it did not, I started doing some research and discovered others that had problems with their Jazz Bass preamps. One guy even replaced it with another Fender preamp only to have that new preamp fail too! I was also influenced by the enthusiastic opinions I found online from Marcus Miller and Will Lee, who are huge Sadowsky fans. Both of them are excellent players and get great tone. I liked my Fender preamp in combination with my Aguilar DB750 amp but not as much with my Ampeg PF-500, though. The Sadowsky is a little punchier and has more highs and slightly deeper lows. It's a really clean and impressive design, one that I could have installed myself but since I work with Steve Crisp, in Santa Cruz, CA, who is a fanatically detailed vintage guitar craftsman, I had Steve install it. I like the Sadowsky with the Ampeg amp better that I did with the Fender preamp, so that is an improvement - but I still wish I had a mid control knob with the Sadowsky, as I did with the Fender preamp. Honestly, I would not have even thought of buying the Sadowsky if the Fender preamp had not failed but after buying the Sadowsky I am satisfied. I am an old school Fender guy so fortunately my Jazz Bass still basically sounds like a Fender bass with the Sadowsky, just a little more punchy and with a wider frequency range. If that was not the case I would not be a happy person. Hopefully this helps!
    MSIMSBASS, baxter_x and Zooberwerx like this.
  17. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I have an onboard Sadowsky paired with a Nordy P/J pup configuration. Great pre but I've found the high-end to be a little too complex. It's tough to tame as the EQ is boost only. The VTC helps to some degree when rolled-off at least 50% and the balance of the adjustment is done at the amp. My Epifani has a selectable 3 khz / 6 khz treble freq center so I set it at 3 khz and roll-off a couple notches. I like the mid-voicing as is. All things considered, I'm toying with the idea of switching out the Sadowsky-equipped J plate for another drop-in...it's a tough call as there are no guarantees as to how the replacement will interact with the existing pickups. I'm certainly open to suggestions!

    murphy likes this.
  18. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    I am a big fan of the Sadowsky preamp, but you have to be advised that it has its own tone. I have found it tends to sit in the mix well, and the bass and treble boosts are VERY musical. That is, you can push them pretty far and not muddy up the tone or get boomy. For example, you can pan to the bridge pickup for all that grindy goodness and push the bass 40-50% to fill the bottom back in and it sounds great.

    The audere is very transparent. If you want a very transparent pre, you should also consider a Nordstrand 2b or 3b.

    Personally, I am not a big fan of mid boosting as it sounds artificial to my ears. My stock Sadowsky ash/maple has plenty of natural mid presence and you can easily accent it by favoring the bridge pickup. Sadowsky has a 3 band pre that they use in the Wil Lee models, but I don't know if they sell it stand alone.

    I would definitely go with the VTC and drill the bass for a side mount jack. The relationship between the active treble boost and passive tone is pretty special. You can boost the active and use the passive tone to round the harsh edges off th e sparkle. It's very cool. You can also get a Nordstrand with passive tone setup.

    The Sadowsky preamp won't quite produce the Sadowsky tone on its own. You'd need his pickups was well. But, it'll definitely have some of that vibe, and if you listen to clips of Sadowsky basses and like them, I imagine you'll dig it.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
  19. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    surprised nobody has mentioned the John East JRetro preamps, made specifically for deluxe jazz basses. They have a mid control and seem like the best replacement for the Fender preamp if you like your mids. Depends on what you play and what tone you're after but I love that mid control on the Fender preamp, if I swapped out that pre I'd be looking for something that gives me similar control over the midrange.
    murphy likes this.
  20. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Can you run the ADPV passive? I used to have one but I don't remember.

    Anyway, you could try the Sadowsky stomp box preamp. It's the exact same preamp and you have it for both basses. If you like it, you can install the onboard and sell it so you have your controls close.

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