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Dumb Music Man question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cmprock, May 9, 2015.

  1. cmprock


    May 28, 2010
    Hey Guys... I'm a guitar player primarily so I get a pass on the dumb question right??!! Hahaha!

    I love the MM Sterling for its feel... (Small hands etc) but I don't love how it sounds. (Sorry MM lovers) It's a little glassy and "hyped" for my liking. I prefer passive I guess. So is it possible to convert a sterling to a totally passive bass? And if so, what would be required? Just removing the preamp... And/or pickup change?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Session1969


    Dec 2, 2010
    Have you tried the bass at 75% volume, switch in the first position and playing closer to the neck ? Give that a go before gutting it.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Not only the volume, but the EQ also. After years of playing MM basses, I discovered with my Bongo that if I start out with the EQ 1/3 of the way up and consider that "flat", I get much more organic sounds out of it. MMs have aggressive pickups and electronics. I used to always add EQ, now rolling back it adds a whole new dimension.

    As for your question about making it passive, yes, it can be done - but I don't know how.

    And finally, if you're in the market for a new bass and love the feel of the Sterling, you might want to check out a Big Al. It has the same feel, with a ton of added tones. It goes passive, also.
  4. Seek out a passive EBMM SUB Sterling. They are rare beasts, but I do believe they are out there.

    If you are going to gut a Sterling (i.e. yank the preamp, the pickup is fine to leave in), consider doing it with an SBMM SB14. Same dimensions, same great feel, less expensive and less to "lose" by taking that drastic step.
    waynobass likes this.
  5. jamro217

    jamro217 Supporting Member

    Is it possible to add some sort of bypass switch rather than yank the preamp, so the mod is 100% reversible?
  6. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Depends on the pickups, but I would bet so, but getting the controls right might be tricky. I don't know any specifics, sorry, but unless they're active pickups, you can generally bypass the preamp.
  7. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Generally speaking, MM basses sound pretty dull passive.

    If you don't like the way it sounds I'd suggest that you keep looking.
    Rocky and davedblyoo like this.
  8. jamro217

    jamro217 Supporting Member

    Any viable alternatives to major surgery are always worth investigating.
  9. MMs aren't for everyone; you can mess with it all you want, but it will always sound like an MM. That' a good thing for most, not so much for others or myself.
  10. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    If you are serious this is what you can do. Take out the old pick up and the electronics and put you a new pick guard for new pick up and put in passive electronics. People do that to bases all the time .
  11. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    MM Sterling (and Stingray) electronics mount directly to the body. The pickguard is just for show.
  12. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    This has been my experience with the couple passive EBMM basses I have owned. There's a reason why that pickup in that spot uses a preamp.
    GBassNorth likes this.
  13. hasbeen

    hasbeen Commercial User

    Sep 23, 2004
    Vice President, KMC Music. Warwick U.S. distribution, Ampeg distribution
    what about a passive J bass since you like a narrow neck?
    Rocky likes this.
  14. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    The Sterling has ceramic pickups. You may want to try an alnico pickup like the Stingrays have. Also if that doesn't work then try a Big Al. EBMM quality and more vintage tones.
  15. Roger Lima from Less Than Jake has recently converted a Sterling to passive with Lace pickups. I'm not sure this is what you really need, though... Have you tried a Stingray?
  16. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    Is it the 3 band eq version? My 3 band stingray can be ran with no battery plugged in and its technically passive. The eq knobs do nothing but the volume still works. It could be something to try before ripping out the preamp!
  17. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    Just get a passive bass man. I only play passive basses, and although I dig MM tone (Stingray), it's not exactly "it" for me, and I'm a precision kind of guy anyways. I can get in that territory with my PJ (both pups on), it sort of reminds me of MM like tone (not exactly, sure, but close enough). Get either a passive jazz (great slim neck), or maybe even a PJ or P with a jazz neck. I rock a PJ with a jazz neck and it's honestly everything I'll ever need.
    Timmy-Watts likes this.
  18. I wouldnt take out the preamp in the sterling... it will lose a lot of value... Try a fender jazz Narrow neck and passive
  19. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    As others have said, if the sound of the Sterling isn't for you it would be best to move on to a different bass with a similar neck, there are tons of options. Converting a Sterling or a Stingray to passive would completely diminish the resale value of the bass. Most people that are drawn to Sterling and Stingray basses are drawn because of the unique sound they produce, drastically changing that sound would be considered a negative by most.
    Last edited: May 10, 2015
    blindrabbit likes this.
  20. Timmy-Watts

    Timmy-Watts Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Been there, done that with the going passive on a Stingray. Trust me and save yourself the trouble. It isn't worth it. I agree to experiment cutting EQ and playing close to the neck. I can get pretty organic warmer tones from my SR5 (essentially a sterling) by going single coil and cutting highs.
    Waltsdog and blindrabbit like this.

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