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installed Bartolini NTMB into MTD Kingston 5

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by MacheteJames, Mar 23, 2004.

  1. I wanted to gain a little tonal flexibilty, and the ability to make tone adjustments without having to do it at the amp. The Kingston has only a passive tone knob and a volume knob, so there wasn't much room for adjustment.

    The bass always had a harsh, mid-centered tone, great for cutting through a mix but still a rather ugly sounding tone, IMO. There were never much highs or lows, just a ton of mids.
    In fact, the reason I kept the bass was because I love the asymmetrical neck profile, the B string, and it's fantastically good looking with the pickguard removed. The tone never did a lot for me.

    The NTMB seems to have helped somewhat. Installing it was pretty easy. It comes prewired, so there's only a few things to solder. I had to drill an extra hole in the bass, so the arrangement now is stacked bass/treble, mids, and volume. The volume knob has a push/pull switch for switching between active and passive... very nice. The mid pot also has a push/pull adjustment, so you can switch between two frequency bands. I forget what frequencies the bands are.

    The tone is still harsh, but it's not quite so mid-centered any more. In fact, I can now dial in both sizzling highs and ground-shaking lows. The bass control on the NTMB is centered at 30hz, which is maybe a little too low, actually. It still sounds good though, and really gives me some flexibilty that I never had before.

    I had the option of going with 9V or 18V operation, and I figured that the extra headroom couldn't hurt, so I went with 18V. There's a problem with this, though. It puts my Sansamp BDDI into overdrive a little too easily. I'm using the BDDI as a preamp, into a QSC RMX 1850HD. I have to keep either the Kingston's volume turned down, or the BDDI's drive knob turned down, or I'm into distorted bass territory with every note I play. Playing with a light touch helps a lot, if I dig in though, it distorts.

    So the verdict? Positive, overall. Like I said, the basic tone of the instrument is the same, but I have more options now, tonally. I think the harshness may be because of the pickup... does anyone know of a good replacement pickup? I'm pretty sure that the stock one is a Bartolini. I was hoping for a tone more like a Stingray, but that's not really the tone I'm getting with this setup. I'm thinking the Music Man tone is in their pickup and preamp, and a similar setup can't do it.. you've gotta have their hardware.

    I hope this info is of some use to people...
  2. Lockout


    Dec 24, 2002
    I don't think you'll be able to find a mass-produced pickup to replace the one in your Kingston, since they are a different shape and size than most 5-string MM-style pickups. You'd probably have to get one custom made and fitted into your Kingston's cover.

    Anyone know if Aero would do custom jobs like this? If they do, I bet it would be pretty expensive to get one made... but it'd probably sound amazing. :)
  3. Lockout


    Dec 24, 2002
    Actually, I take that back. :p

    I think Bartolini makes an MM-style pickup that would fit, but don't take my word for it, I'm just guessing by the dimensions of the two. I don't know for sure if it would fit, but you might want to look into it.
  4. update:

    I couldn't deal with the constant overdrive I was getting because of the NTMB. The Sansamp's input just can't handle the 18V I was sending into it. The Kingston's pickup is already pretty hot as it is, since I had this problem before adding the preamp, just not nearly as severe.

    So I plugged the bass directly into my Sonic Maximizer, which is connected to the QSC.

    Results: MUCH better tone. Damn, does this preamp sound good. The 18V is enough to drive the power amp with no problem. It's actually enough to send the QSC into clipping if I dig in severely, especially on the low B. But the tone is much improved over the raspy, distorted mess I was getting before.

    I tested it at band practice. This is one bass that will never get lost in the mix. The tone has a little bit of Stingray vibe to it, but for some reason, it reminds me a lot of a Warwick. Lots of low mids, and every note stands out with clarity.

  5. hands5


    Jan 15, 2003
    good 'ol USA/Tampa fla.
    If it were me,I think I would've tried to contact( Bill or Pat) Bartolini to see if they made a quad coil pup (same pup that's on the Tobias Growler) for the kingston because this pup had a ton of flexability along with the NTMB preamp,(although the Growler came with the NTBT preamp).With the Quad-coil pup you could get real nice lows,and low mids -not the best but better than what the Kingston offers as far as electronics that comes with the bass IMHO.
  6. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    The NTMB comes with (or has the option for) a trim pot to adjust your output. Turn this down and your sansamp issues should be solved. Also if you can wire your current pup in parallel you may get more of a classic MM sound. With the gain turned down you may find 9 volts is plenty and can save a few bucks on batteries.

  7. Hi Machete
    Some CHEAP suggestion in case you haven tried them yet -
    1) You could always tweak with the PICKUP HEIGHT a little, just to see if it's beneficial.
    Before you start take care tough to be able to go back to their original height.
    2) Also trying different STRINGS affect the midrange.
  8. These are good suggestions, guys... I will try them. How can I re-wire the pickup into parallel? Is it wired in series from the factory?
  9. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    How many wires are coming out of it and if you take it out are there 4 poles or wires coming out? If you can post a picture of the underside of the pickup I could tell you.
  10. K-Frog


    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA

    Can't be done on the K5. Only two wires coming out of that pickup.
  11. Removing the sonic maximizer from my signal chain and replacing the old, dead strings with a new set of DR Hi-Beams seems to have fixed any tonal issues I had before. No more unwanted distortion. The tone is very Stingray like now.. with certain preamp settings, you could close your eyes and think you were hearing an Stingray 5 in series mode. This is exactly what I was looking for.

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