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Installing MM Pickups on a non-MM Bass

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by 420 Bass It, May 29, 2017.

  1. 420 Bass It

    420 Bass It

    May 29, 2017
    Hello guys. I've been playing bass for almost two years and I think my ESP LTD bass needs an upgrade. I've been watching pickup reviews and demos like a mad man for the last week or so. I think I'll remove the P/J config my bass has and replace it with two MusicMan pickups, as the tone just blows my mind.

    Now... is it even possible to do that? I don't mind paying the extra expenses of digging into the wood and such, but from a wiring perspective - the Seymour Duncan MM pages all state that they are "replacement pickups" for MusicMan basses. Can I get my bass to have these pickups?
  2. Wiring is not the concern. You can wire any pickups on any bass. The trouble is making sure that the new routing completely covers the existing routing, or that a pickguard can cover any gaps. Have you done the measurements yet?
  3. 420 Bass It

    420 Bass It

    May 29, 2017
    Thank you very much for the quick reply.
    Didn't really do any measurements yet, as I've been mostly researching the sounds I like and the pickups that produce them. This is my first bass, and my first pickup change.
    And if by routing you mean "wood holes", I'm pretty sure I've got it covered because P/J pickups aren't really that big, and MMs are.
    As for the placing, I'm thinking... One in the stingray sweet spot, and the second one somewhere bassier...?
  4. The MM sweetspot position will not cover the existing routes. It will be in between them, slightly overlapping the P. You will need a pickguard or something, to cover up the existing routes.

    I googled ESP LTD basses, and apparently what you have is a P bass copy? You can easily cover the P route with a new pickguard, but half of the MM pickup is going to extend over the edge of the pickguard, and the J pickup route will be completely open. If you want to cover the J pickup route, you will have to get creative with a new pickguard shape that covers almost the entire front of the bass.
  5. 420 Bass It

    420 Bass It

    May 29, 2017
    Again, thank you for replying. I'm not concerned so much about hiding the ugly wood holes - maybe there's some metal plates I can get the guys there to fit me bass. It's an ESP LTD B-50 - it is outfitted with P/Js and 24 frets (which complicates things a bit as there's less room). Do you think it's possible to fit two MMs like that there?
  6. If you aren't concerned with aesthetics, then this will be an easy job.

    You can buy routing templates for MM style pickups. Then you will just need to have access to a router and a pattern-follower bit. If you are not comfortable doing the job yourself, then a luthier or any competent woodworker can do it for you.

    Mike Plyler Pickup Routing Template for Bart MM4 - MM5/Nord MM4 - Best Bass Gear
  7. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid

    Jun 7, 2013
    E-II AP-5 TSB

    I own a white one of these and it is an absolute monster of a bass. You should consider saving up and purchasing a bass that has what you want instead of hacking up a bass, especially your first bass. Trust me, I am a serial bass hacker and modder.

    After buying the Seymour Duncan pickups and preamp, router, templates, and metal covers you will have spent well over $400usd. Almost half of what the new bass costs. At the end of the day your old bass will still play like your old bass. Plus it is good to have a backup!

    Good luck friend! The Seymour Duncan MM pickups sound terrific. They do sound quite different when not in the Musicman location so beware of that.
    Zoobiedood likes this.
  8. That would be my suggestion, as well.
    Just because you CAN do something, it does not necessarily mean that you SHOULD do it. This is one of those times where just getting a different bass is the smartest move.
  9. 420 Bass It

    420 Bass It

    May 29, 2017
    Thanks for replying. :)

    Why do you guys think that? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think 80% of the sound comes from the pickups, 10% comes from their placement and the last 10% from playing style.
    I own the bass in black and I think the pickups lack definition and punch. The construction is pretty great and the materials are pretty high quality. 400$ may be half of the new bass, but if I buy a new bass I'll have to pay twice that :/
    Also, I'm thinking about keeping it passive. I get the appeal of a preamp, it's just that that poopie expensive ><
    Anyway, why shouldn't I do that? The plan sounds fine to me. :)
  10. That's not how it works. Your ratios are way off. Why do you think that good bassists can make any bass sound distinctive? The hands of a skilled player make a very big difference. Pickup placement is a huge deal, as well. Try listening to the difference between a neck pickup and a bridge pickup, on a two pickup bass.
  11. 420 Bass It

    420 Bass It

    May 29, 2017
    I know that all these matter, me friend. But if you told Geddy to play a stingray and then a jazz bass, anyone who knows those basses could tell the difference.
    Point is I'm trying to get the musicman sound with those pickups, and I don't see why replacing the current ones is a bad idea. Please explain to me if you think I shouldn't do that :)
  12. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Once you spend a little more time here you will find out that isn't true. There are regular debates on whether Geddy is playing his Jazz or his Rick on certain Rush songs and the Rick is a far more distinctive instrument than a StingRay.
    FunkBear likes this.
  13. Yeah, there are some people that can make a heaping pile of trash sound like the second coming of Jesus. Great players can coax their unique sound out of anything, at least to a fair and reasonable degree.

    In any case, the concern is that you are just better off buying a different bass than ruining yours with extensive modifications that will leave you with no resale value, little chance to reverse things later on, and gaping holes in the body.
  14. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
  15. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid

    Jun 7, 2013

    Pickup placement matters far more than pickup type. All pickups are magnets after all.

    Geddy would still sound like Geddy on a Stingray. He would use the EQ and pull off a perfect Geddy tone. A Stingray can for sure be eq'd to sound like a jazz bass with both pickups on full. Mid scoop is mid scoop, and plucking location is also a big part of achieving the desired timbre. Geddy is a beast at this. We are not Geddy.
    bdplaid likes this.
  16. brianmharrison


    Oct 11, 2007