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Electronics retrofits,, costly lessons learned!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by bassix, May 11, 2011.

  1. bassix


    May 1, 2000
    Denver, Colorado
    For the past year or so I've had several of my basses modded with new pickups and preamps,, and have learned a few things in the process. Most noteworthy is that high output pickups might not be the best choice to use with a preamp. I installed an over wound pickup and a well known, high end preamp in my P-bass. While both the pup and pre are beautiful designs on their own, when used together I noticed a lack of dynamics almost immediately. In addition, the pickup would 'pop' when picked hard on the E-string. I just had the pickup changed to a lower output, vintage design - and the bass just came alive!

    In one of my Fender 5-strings, again I had a pair of pickups known for their huge fundamental and clear, strong output. I already have another bass that uses these same pickups in a passive configuration. Very organic dynamic response. Occasionally I do wish they had a little more 'push' though,, so I reasoned that pairing them with a powerful (bypassable) preamp should do the trick. Wrong! Again,, the dynamics were gone,, and the combination of the huge fundamental of the pickups with the beautiful LF boost of the preamp was -- mud. Good concept,,, not so good execution. SO,,, I'm having lower output pickups installed (new DiMarzio Area J's!) in hopes they'll play a little nicer with the preamp.

    Another presupposition that has blown up for me: bridges with string thru-the-body capabilities don't necessarily result in an increase in attack, harmonics, sustain,,,etc. etc. etc. Nothing wrong with them,,, but I've found the difference might not be that great. I had a Badass V bridge installed on one of my 5-strings,,, and had purchased one to put on a second,,, but played it (after replacing the electronics with all Sadowsky pickups and pre) for a couple of gigs and found I didn't dare replace the stock bridge it came with! Really nice sounding bass!

    So,, after modding 5 basses,,,(great sounding instruments, all!), I don't think I'll be gassing to do it again very soon. Another costly lesson learned - - an inexpensive bass can become a pricey one pretty quickly!
  2. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    especially when you are buying and changing pickups for a volume control! Obviously you are simply over-driving your preamps with "hot" pickups. The proper way to deal with this is to get a couple of resistors (maybe 5 cents each max) and either wire them into the bass or the preamp. Many amps and preamps already do this with "passive" and "active" input. Don't think that this means that passive basses MUST be plugged into the "passive" jack and active basses into the "active" jack. NO. Think of those jacks as labeled active= "hot" pickups. Passive= normal pickups.

    You can simply turn down the volume on your bass, but the problem is that sometimes this can change the tone if you are used to that "volume always max" tone. That's why a resistive "pad" or attenuator is the answer.
  3. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I have put crazy-hot pickups (Sadowsky HCs, 15k+) through an OBP-3 with 18v wiring and it was the most beautiful sound I've ever heard.

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