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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bassamatic, May 28, 2010.

  1. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    A few weeks ago I picked up a like new Ibanez Artcore AGB 140 bass. It is the thin hollow body with F holes and a single pichup.

    The instrument is beautiful and really easy to play, but the sound was not too exciting, very middy, and the tone control seemed to do nearly nothing. It did not cut the sound, it just changed it a little.

    I expected that it was perhaps miswired or a wire broken loose, so I took all the controls out and found it perfectly wired in the same manner as a standard P bass. Meanwhile I find that another TBer has the same problem, and as I did some 'Net research - many others as well!

    At the urging of 62bass here who has the same problem, I spent a good afternoon checking, measuring and double-checking everything, and the only thing I could find that seemed weird was that the DC resistance of the pickup seemed very low - around 1.4K Ohms instead of the usual 10-15K. I happened to have another of these same pickups in my part drawer, and measured that one, and wow! it was also 1.4K ! This is very strange.

    I drew up a schematic and sent it to my genius engineer, and he said that the pup impedance was so low, that it would not work properly with the standard 500K pots and 0.05 Cap!

    I ordered 2 x 50K pots and installed them with the 0.22 cap he suggested and voila! The bass sounds MUCH better and the tone control WORKS! My guess is that some engineer at Ibanez had the thought to design a low-impedance pup to reduce noise, but somehow the production engineers did not get the word, and used the same pots and cap as usual. Evidently Ibanez continued to make them WRONG for the entire production life of the product. They probably did not sell well for this exact problem.

    The other possible fix is to replace the pup, which was reccommended by my engineer. He says no one has every made a good low-impedance pickup. I checked out the Bartolini M34C-B - this seems the one to get, and I found a review of it that was glowing. AND - guess where the reviewer put it - in an ARTCORE BASS!!! Too strange. See the review here - http://www.bgra.net/2004/review.php?id=67&type=pickup

    ANYWAY - if you have one of these fine basses, you can increase the sound quality by a huge factor by changing the pots and cap or the pickup and have a completely different bass.
    Oddly, Pachap, seang15 and 5 others like this.
  2. Raw N Low

    Raw N Low If I can't hear it, hopefully I'll feel it Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    Denver, Colorado
    Good review, ironically I'm headed to Nebraska this weekend to pick up my Artcore bass. However the one I'm picking up has dual humbuckers. I wonder if it will have the same problems?
  3. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    I had one of those for a short time a couple of years ago. Perhaps I didn't keep it because of the tone. The dual pups are different from the single.

    I also did not want the short scale. I think all of the dual pup models are 30". Another strange decision from Ibanez - I would have done it the other way around.
    bholder likes this.
  4. YCBass

    YCBass Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Thanks for sharing!

    I stupidly sold mine sometime ago and now I am hunting for one again... Great basses! I had the same problem as you described but I just learned to deal with it... Thought about putting in one of those Gretsch style TV Jones pickups in there but sold it instead... Maybe I'll try something like that next time.
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Bump. Great thread and great info.
    Deak likes this.
  6. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Wow man. That's genius. Wish i was smart enough to do stuff like that
    dr_gonzo likes this.
  7. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    The electronics are definitely the shortcoming of the first generation of Artcore bases. I was not pleased with the tone of mine, or the look so I put in the guts from a Jack Casady bass.


    It's a whole new wonderful animal now, and it looks great too. I also put on a set of cloverleaf ultralights to complete the "vintage" look.
    bholder likes this.

  8. me, too :(
  9. YCBass

    YCBass Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Again thanks for sharing... I posted before that I was hunting for one and just in the last week and a half I now have 2 of these! I have both the AGB and ASB 140.

    These are real gems and I look forward to digging in to the tone control as you shared here. I actually love the tone of these basses but I am just looking for a little more versatility with the tone control. I think I will also try Halfrounds on one and Flats/Chromes on the other.
  10. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    You will hear a very nice difference when you change out the controls. Now I wish I had kept my short scale Artcore. It was also very beautiful. Ibanez sure knows how to make the hollow bodies.

    I am not sure that the 2-pickup Artcores have the same issue, so be sure to measure the pup resistance before making any changes.
  11. Sure. Where were you a few years ago when I bought, then sold (2 months later) my Artcore?
  12. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    HA! - I am probably the guy that bought it from you before I passed it on to another sucker, (or so I thought)!
  13. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    I'm going to try this mod as well. Thanks, Gio!

    I've always been happy with the overall tone of my AGB-140, and don't often use the tone control as it did sound a little strange. I do like the output of the pickup, however.

    A couple of questions, if you don't mind:
    -You used 50k pots for both controls, correct? Audio or Linear?
    -Did the output volume of the bass change drastically after the mod?

  14. A Dark Star handled any tone defiency present in my ASB-140. I wish I had known about your fix before I got rid of my AGB-140.
    bholder likes this.
  15. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    Also, did you mean .022 cap?
  16. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
    That's funny. I remember having an Ibanez "les paul" bass years ago, chambered that I bought cheap without ever plugging it in. Had to have been from the early 80's or so. Plugged in it was gutless and the tone control, if I remember correctly, didn't seem to do anything. I wonder if it was the same problem. I left it behind in a move (didn't even bother to try to sell it, just left it with room mates) because of it.

    Now I wish I still had it, just to try it out.
  17. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    Allright,... mod done! Results are good! Same sound & output, but the tone control works better now. You weren't kidding about the .22 value, .022 did nothing. I couldn't find a .22 on short notice, so I wired up two .1 caps in parallel. That did the trick! I used two 50k audio taper pots - worked great.

    Thanks, Gio S!

    In surgery:

  18. Sorry for the necromancy, figured I should keep all the info in the relevant post for future user search purposes.

    Anyone know if this issue is present in the newer Artcores? I just picked up an AGB200 (the trans brown dual pickup with the centerblock) and I can't really tell if the tone control is doing anything at all, in any pickup selection.

    Anyone out there with an AGB200 that can tell me about the tone control on yours?
  19. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    Well, these models are no longer made, and there is no indication of any changes during the production. Since you indicate that the tone controls have little effect, this is probably the case.

    However, the ONLY one that I have personally taken apart for this is the single pickup model.

    If you are ambitious one day, you can pull the controls and check the values. Then you have to unsolder one pickup and check the resistance. If the pots are around 250-500K and the pickups are not around 10K Ohms, then you have this problem.
  20. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    Just an update. I finally found a used Bartolini M34 neck pickup to replace the funky Ibanez pup, and installed it today. I must say that the sound is really great. Very punchy and "burpy" with strong mids.

    The pup is 4.5" from the bridge instead of the 5.5" of a P bass so there will not be a lot of low end, but the sound is very good - can't wait to try it with a band.

    Of course I used the standard 250K P type pots with it.