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Dual preamps for dual pickup bass?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by SwamiRob, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. I've got a heftily modified ATK300 which I absolutely love and has been pretty much my only bass for anything loud for the last 15 years or so, but I'm starting to get a bit pissed off with having to push the highs in it's current setup. I'm using a Vfe RUP and having to push the gain on the top end a fair bit, and wanna be running them pretty clean.

    My current setup has the original preamp out, a Model J split humbucker routed in, and a Bassculture.de humbucker, all in VVTT format (although the tone controls seem to be linked together somehow, it's been working well enough for a while anyway...).

    The humbucker sounds very dark at the moment, but it's worked well before when I used to just use a trace compressor on it's own and nothing else, and tilted the EQ to be brighter, and the J pickup picked up a bit of slack for it too, so the humbucker had the big lows and a bit of highs sorted, and the J does all the warm mids.

    Now I'm using this fancy drive pedal, which I absolutely love for being able to drive just the mids and add some super low bottom end without the boomy higher stuff, it's not working out as easily.

    So I wanna get a preamp to try sort the humbucker out at source, my brother has a Sterling Sub SR4 and the preamp on that is lovely, so seriously considering some sort of rip off of that since 2nd hand Musicman parts don't exist. However it seems like I'm gonna run into a problem where my Jazz pickup is going to get buried, and it's already noticeably quieter anyway.

    So in essence, I wanna be able to EQ my humbucker, without EQing my Jazz, and keeping the Jazz at a volume where it can compete still. A passive solution would be nice, but I've seen stuff about passive HPFs being a pain, and I'm not sure it'd sort out the problem as well as a proper preamp. Don't mind having 2 preamps, but don't really need the EQ for the Jazz, so perhaps just something to boost the signal would do?

    The other thing to make things a little more complicated is that the Bassculture humbucker is already very very loud passive, when I run both pickups full my Trace comp input clips at under 9 o'clock if I play hard, so need a preamp that I can mellow out at the end of it. Something I've heard the Musicman style 2 band eqs don't have.

    Very wordy and complicated there but any easy solutions to sorting out my source sound? When this bass sounds right it's awesome, just having to push ALOT of top end, and cutting anything below the low mids on either pedals or amp just makes it lose all it's power to my ear!
  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Not much to offer, but interested in the responses. I’m sure it’s technically possible to run separate preamps, but probably not optimal for reasons related to gain staging or mixing or something.

    Have you experimented with different strings?
  3. Yeah I've had a few on with this configuration. I like the growly metallic sound of new roundwounds, just not if they've got loads of click to them, so don't wanna really force it with that ideally because it's one of those things that you can just hear regardless of your EQ. Plus the ones I'm using are balanced tension and they even the bottom end out nicely. The sound of the bass is awesome, just lacking some top end from it and having to do some major EQ to sort it out.

    The Jazz could probably stand to be a bit brighter, so might be worth trying it on both, but if I can split it that'd be nice.
    ctmullins likes this.
  4. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Stainless or NPS? DR Hi-Beams are a really nice bright string. I’m just thinking that finding the right strings might be easier than attacking this through electronics. But as I said, I’m interested in what the real experts have to say. :)
  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Not that this helps but, back in the day, the Warwick Pro M series (circa '97) had 2 individual preamps with stacked treble / bass for each. The harness was mated to a what appeared to be a single humbucker but was actually 2 side-by-side J pups in a shared housing.

    Any way you could install 2 EMG BTC's for the desired results? They're cost effective IMO and have a fairly compact footprint.

    EMG Pickups / BTC Control / Electric Guitar Pickups, Bass Guitar Pickups, Acoustic Guitar Pickups

    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  6. somebrains


    Feb 7, 2017
    Pro M's ate batteries.
    If someone was going to do it again, allow for a pair of 9v's.
    Maybe delve into what drone/RC guys are doing if a compact dual 18v setup is possible now.
  7. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012
    The John East filter preamps kind of do this, however with different EQ controls. You get a variable HPF and boost/cut on each pickup, then a master tone and treble boost.
  8. 4StringTheorist

    4StringTheorist Supporting Member

    The early Tobias Growlers had two separate pickups in a single MusicMan humbucker shell, with a separate preamp for each pickup. Each pickup had a separate Treble/Bass stacked knob and a separate mid switch. Then there was a blend knob and a master volume. It was an interesting setup. I rented one for a week once because I was pondering buying it. Neat combinations of tones you could get... scoop the midrange on one pup, then pull out the bass and treble on the other.. you could sort of decide which timbral elements you wanted from each pup.
  9. somebrains


    Feb 7, 2017
    I remember those, I had no idea what to make of them.
    My world was very simple back then, and the notion of separate control over the 2 coils of a humbucker struck me as the spaghetti controls I'd worked on from 60's and 70's gear that would walk in the store.

    Now that I'm older I'm playing a bass with basically 4 single coils placed almost next to each other and I love it.
    I'll end up trying to next John East preamp that hits the classifieds.
    4StringTheorist likes this.
  10. So there's no problem in mixing them really then? That's my main concern. I'm sure there's some sort of cheap(er) signal boosting circuit with no EQ that doesn't have too much footprint I could use for the Jazz, as I'm pretty happy with the sound of that. Some pretty interesting sounding basses though, seem to do what mine is doing slightly unintentionally as a passive bass, mixing a slightly scooped pickup with a more mid heavy one.

    The John East stuff looks pretty interesting though, considering I already have more then enough volume it looks pretty interesting to maybe have the BTB bass/treble control on the humbucker, and the Mid Sweep control on the Jazz pickup.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
  11. somebrains


    Feb 7, 2017

    Preamps are shaping what the pickup(s) outputs.
    If you take the dual preamp examples of a Tobias Growler or a Warwick Masterman, I didn't like them 20+ years ago bc I didn't like those pickups. It's like being put off of pizza bc you really don't like the dough.

    At the time, there wasn't anything in the market that was a discreet pair of singles in a MM or humbucker cover I could have swapped to.
    There wasn't any pickup that I heard and went "AHA, I gotta explore new ideas bc that's really interesting."
    My idea of perfect tone 20 years ago was an early Spector I played in a pawn shop in Oakland and a 70's P a guy I knew fished out of a dumpster.

    I'm only really coming around to the idea of trying dual adjustable gain and separate controls bc I've been using Nordstrand Bigmans in a bass the last month or so. Maybe it's something that will further open up useable tones, maybe it won't.

    I really didn't think there was anything to be gained complicating my onboard electronics that couldn't be dealt with outboard.....until I had 4 Big Singles basically slab lined across my bass.

    Check out this guy's tone with a Growler and 400rb:
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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