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EMG 40DC tones, am I doing it right?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by imtiaz3, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. imtiaz3


    Mar 31, 2011
    Hey everyone,

    I have a pair of EMD40DC's that I install into my Ibanez SR405 bass. I also got an EMG BQS system that I install in there and I have it running on 18V.

    Now from my understanding, using 18V to power this system would give it more head room, and if I understand that correctly, it means it won't distort at higher volumes

    now my issue, I find the 40DC's distort quite easily when I hook it up to my orange terror 1000. I have the have the gain very very low for it to sound clean. I understand orange is meant to sound a bit dirter the higher the gain it, but with the 1000 watt model again i'm lead to believe I should have more head room before it gets distorted and again i don't have to put the gain very high before it distorts. I noticed it more when using my XLR out to my computer, it distorts and you cannot get a feel for the clarity that EMG is known for and the reason why I got them in the first place. My orange amp has the button for if you use an active bass which is pressed so that is active

    if i play through my 4x10 cab, it's not as noticeable, but it's there at higher gains

    The pickups i don't have as high as possible, i don't have an exact measurement but i've lowered them but i still find it distorts very easily, again more noticably when using my XLR output

    now on the other hand i use a rickenbacker and a pbass on the same setup, it's much smoother, cleaner, and all the clarity comes through, even when i de-pressed the active switch button on the amp

    now my question, is this just how the EMG 40DC's are or does it sound like i have something setup wrong, whether it's pickup height, or my 18v system is not correct or just a bad combo between using emg 40dcs and an orange amp. Again I like the EMG 40DCs, they are very beastly but I was still under the impression I'd get alot more clarity out of them which I can't seem to hit

    any suggestions, feedback, or if anyone has a similar setup, some sound samples would be good, perhaps I just don't have a good enough understanding of how all these pieces come together and overlooking something.

  2. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Running the preamp as 18V means that the preamp has increased headroom and it wont distort as easily; that doesn't mean that your amp wont distort.

    The DC pickups are quite hot (I have a set myself), and it's causing the amp to distort. Turning down the volume on your pickups and using your preamp sparingly tend to help limit the amount of distortion at the amp.

    You can always throw a trimpot into the bass after the preamp and use it as a volume control to limit the overall signal that you're feeding your amp.
  3. awamori


    Dec 10, 2009
    Have you tried replacing the batteries?

    Dying batteries tend to make EMG 40DC's distort IME.
  4. imtiaz3


    Mar 31, 2011
    i haven't done it for some time, but i'm pretty sure the batteries are good, i put fresh batteries in when i did the install, and it's not like it got worse over time, it pretty much was like this since day 1
  5. dax21


    Nov 26, 2011
    Have you tried using a different amp/bass?
    I have a pair of DCs, though with different preamp (varimid 3). The only way to make it distort is if you turn the bass knob all the way up and pick hard. Treble/mid knob will give you a huge volume bump but no distortion. And this is the regular 9v preamp.

    +1 on the battery thing. Try hooking up your bass straight to your computer (you don't need any kind of XLR for this, though you will probably need to lower the recording input on your PC). I doubt it's the pickup height, EMGs are made so that they could be raised pretty high.
  6. Did you try to engage the -15db input pad??
  7. irock


    Mar 12, 2007
    Newmarket On Canada
    Im having the same problem. I have emg 45dc in a peavey grind. It was working fine. Then i added emg bts preamp in hope to get a better sound but now it distorts all the time. High and low volumes
    I emailed emg. They asked for pics of the installed preamp and Im waiting for a reply back

    Fyi. Preamp installed by a professional. 2 brand new batteries 18volt, -15db pad engaged on amp. Tried on many different amps
  8. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    It's the preamp in the head that distorts, not the power amp.

    I used to use DCs with a Mesa 400+ and didn't have any problems unless the amp was really cranked up (it was only 300 watts, and had a tube power section).

    DCs are very edgy sounding pickups.
  9. imtiaz3


    Mar 31, 2011
    Since i posted this I got a rickenbacker 4001 from 1975, this one plays beautifully with my orange amp. I'm guessing the nature of the orange amp and the hot/higain sound of the emg 40dc just don't mesh together

    i find the 40dc very very very loud at the neck position, so i'm just going to say that the 40dc is just not in an optimal position on my bass. I've read in many posts that the 40dc was supposed to be a music man clone and sounds best in the MM sweet spot.

    every bass i see that comes stock with 40Dc's doesn't seem to put them to close to the neck, they seem to be further from the neck position on things like on some spector basses that have them. I try blending the pickups so the bridge is a bit louder, but the 40dc at the bridge is quite burpy so for most of what i play, it just becomes too distracting of a sound and doens't mesh well with the rest of the band

    i've been look at possibly getting a 40cs since people said it's a much more polite sounding version of the 40dc, but i'm guessing it would be just as loud/hot like the dc, just not as trebly, so i may end up with the same problem there at the neck or bridge, where ever i put it

    the 40j sounds appealing to since i personally like the sound of it from vids i've seen and people said it's much quieter so it may work for me, but again trying to find samples of the 40j and especially the 40cs are so hard to come by
  10. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
  11. imtiaz3


    Mar 31, 2011
    Interesting with the 40dc

    I took peoples advice here to the extreme, and basically tried turning thee volume down and keeping the eq flat, which made a clear signal that was not too hot, but I found a lot of the character of the pickup was not apparent this way, the growly attack and bite of the 40dc was weak this way

    But I did instead is maxed the volume and turned down the 3 eq controls on the bqs completely down and man, this actually sounds really good now. Its aggressive, clear heavy, overall much more balanced

    I'm guessing the bqs is just what I'm not liking, but before I attempt to bypass this, when the bqs is set to flat, is the pre amp actually acting neutral or is still adding some eq to the sound? I've read some posts here where people felt that the emg pre amps seem to add eq even when flat. When set flat on my bass its way too hot and sounds articial and it sounds like setting the eq to 0 sounds like the natural sound of the 40dc.

    What I want to know is those who have more experience with it, if I removing the bqs and just have the 40dcs with no active preamp, will I get a tone similar to the bqs set to flat or similar to cutting all the frequencies on the tone controls completey?? What I would hate to have is removing the bqs and having the pickups sound too hot and artificial again without having very limited tone control
  12. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Most preamps will impart a little tone shaping when set flat, but it's often very subtle. I feel that the guys notice the biggest difference are those who are going from a completely passive setup to an active setup, because the buffer in the preamp combats the parasitic capacitance in the signal chain.

    I don't have any experience with this preamp, but according to the data sheet, when the preamp is flat the EQ pots are centered. Aside from a slight change in gain and mild tonal coloration, you should be hearing the pickups in their mostly natural state. It wouldn't hurt, though, to try a simple vol/vol/tone setup with them and see if it sounds more to your liking.

    I guess that "artificial" sound has been a complaint about EMGs for years. Their new -X line of pickups were supposedly designed to combat it, and they've gotten rave reviews all over. If the DC's aren't working for you for that reason, you can always try a set of the DC-X pickups.

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