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Kramer Pickup Upgrades

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by skaboy, Nov 20, 2004.

  1. skaboy


    Oct 16, 2001
    I have a 250B Kramer Aluminuim neck bass guitar.
    It's mighty bass with a mighty weight but the problem is the pickup. It's passive single coil humbucker I presume and being an old pickup (maybe it's designed that way), it has a abnormally low signal. So it's about twice as quiet as a normal passive bass guitar and I have to turn my volume knob on my amp rather high.

    The pickup at the moment does n't cut the cheese. I took it to the shops and the friendly salesmen tested it with a meter and like I experienced, the signal was low. So I am looking for a replacement pick-up for the one I have at the moment.

    Something similar, a passive pick up. I've checked around and there's a good priced Fender Jazz pick-up for sale on a auction site. Problem is, I've never wired pick-ups and is this the right pick-up? If there's sites on pick-ups and wiring it be awesome.

    Suggestions appreciated.

    I've included a picture of my bass.

    Cheers :D

    Attached Files:

  2. IMO the J pup isn't suitable because the shape will pose problems with mounting, and fitting the pickguard.

    You should be looking at the wider rectangular pickups. You can get humbuckers with high output in this shape pretty easily. Then, you might have to enlarge the hole but that will look better than having a dinky pickup floating in a too-large cavity. For starters, I would definitely consider the Kent Armstrong Music Man style pup. 100% potted, no exposed pole pieces, seperate coil leads for different wiring options, and the price is right. In fact if you buy from the forum sponsor (found at the top of the forum) you will get an additional 10% TB discount. Pretty sweet deal and a very sweet pup. Here's a link to the description:


    BTW, WD provides the BEST wiring diagram for these or any of the Kent Armstrong pups with every purchase. You won't have any trouble doing the connections.
  3. skaboy


    Oct 16, 2001
    Great, so the music man pick-up includes the volume and tone pots plus the wiring chart.

    Another thing this is quoted from the site you provided me
    Is this crucial and it's not going to be hard is it ?

    One more thing, how's the sheilding on the music man pick-up? The one I have at the moment has a distinctly annoying hum when the voulme is increased.

    And ah, where's the link to the TB sponsor? That discount sounds good.

  4. Well, no, the pickup doesn't come with the controls. You should be able to use the stock pots that are already in your bass. The pup DOES come with a comprehensive wiring diagram for using the switch they recommend. That's what I was referring to.

    As far as hum - That's what a humbucker is for - eliminating hum. These pups have 2 coils that are wired to eliminate that noise. These are modern pickups and I've never had noise problems with them.

    The "link" I sent you to is posted at the top of THIS forum. Look closely please.
  5. I know there are people that are interested in these sort of things (aluminum necked Kramers)... I realize it's a non-standard pickup size/shape, don't you think he'd be best off getting the pickup rewound rather than routing the body and pickguard for a pickup not meant for that bass?
  6. skaboy


    Oct 16, 2001
    Possible to do it myself ?

  7. Pickup rewinding isn't really a "doityerself" type job. I guess my concern is that there are people that like those old aluminum necked Kramers (I've only seen the ones that vaguely look like Travis Beans) and it would be a shame to rout out or deface a (possibly) collectable guitar. Shipping the pickup to someone like Wolfe at Wolfetone http://www.wolfetone.com/pricing.html or Lindy Fralin http://www.fralinpickups.com/rewind_repair.htm would (to me) be preferable than routing out a new cavity in the bass and the pickguard. Then you have the pickup the instrument came with and no new holes in the body! It should end up costing around $60 with shipping (more than likely less than the cost of a new pickup).

    Before you go and do that, you might want to take it in to someone just to see if it's not something silly like a bad pot or something...
  8. Well, I look at it this way. As a collectors item there are folks that want one. But the going price for these is just under what they sold for new. That, in my book, does NOT make a hot collectable. He's had this for a long time and it's his player. That is the reason he should mod it to his liking. It's worth more as his voice than it is as his wallet stuffer.

    BTW, you could do this without affecting whatever perceived value it may have by having another pickguard made for the new pup. The route under the pickguard can be larger (and may be already!) and the pg will cover it. Keep the old pg and pup and you can give it to the collector you sell it to.

    IMO, there are only about 4 or so really collectable brands out there that consistently have an active market for their vintage models. The rest are hit and miss as far as popularity.
  9. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Doesn't EMG make a pickup for applications such as these?
  10. I guess my point is, with an odd shaped/sized pickup, using anything but the original is going to require routing so you'll either end up with a big ol' exposed hole or taking out a large chunk o' wood. What if he ends up spending $90 for a pickup, spends another $50 for the work and doesn't like what he gets out of it? Or if he tries the routing himself and makes a mess of it (sorry for implying that you're not good at woodwork skaboy- just a 'what if'). Tone and opinions are entirely subjective- whatever you or I like someone else may not- so for someone to trust someone else's opinion on a pickup...

    He knows what he's got with the original pickup- it's just a matter of repairing it.

    When I was 15/16 I got my first real bass. It was a 72 EB-0. I decided that it sounded like crap and that a set of P-Bass pickups would cure it. So I set off with a sharpened screwdriver and routed out holes for the pickup. And it sounded like crap. Throughout the years I've put a G&L bridge on it and gone through a dozen or so pickups and a few Dremel router bits. It sounds OK now- but it's got a huge hole covered by black duck tape.

    I was trying to change the sound of my bass- it sounds like skaboy is satisfied with the sound of his bass, it's just not working right.

    As far as collector value- granted the bass is 25 or so years old, but 15 years ago you could pick up a 1959/60 Melody Maker for under $200. I've seen some breaking a grand. 10 years ago a silverburst Les Paul Custom was a dog. Once the dude from Tool got big they've become desireable and Gibson's started using a silverburst finish again. Again, my point is you don't know what's going to be 'collectable' in the future and it is an American made bass...
  11. OK, your advice is to not change the pup. You've gotta lot of what-ifs for why nots and one absolute truth - Tone opinions are subjective. If that's the benchmark, there isn't ANY opinion or other method that is valid to recommend a pickup because it's not what SkaBoy is hearing. If he does want to swap it out, how would you suggest he choose? You might want to look again at my post and read that I suggested he replace the old pg with a new one to match any pup he uses. If the new rout is larger (and who knows if it needs to be? I don't, do you?) the new pg will cover it and the old pg will cover it if he wants to change it back. You really can't be any more flexible than that.

    Unless you precisely rewind this pup with exactly the same wire (diameter, alloy, length, # of wraps, etc.) the rewind won't ever sound like the original. If there is someone with experience with this pup, they are going to be rare. If the rewinder isn't very familiar with the pup, it's going to sound a lot different. It sounds like either way, you're looking at an unknown. So, weigh an expensive, vintage rewind (with shipping) against a quality $50 modern humbucker (with shipping and pg) and you've got your options. At the least it sounds even given the unknowns. BTW, ferget about a $50 rewind - more like $80 and up since this is a rare bird.

    The lack of success you experienced is only a lesson to avoid the mistakes you made. It isn't a prediction of how Ska's project would proceed. And just from your description, you made plenty of poor choices with your EB-0. As I've described the way to do this without visible alteration to the instrument, I've kept in mind the possible collector value of this instrument and weighed this against the apparent fondness that Skaboy has for the instrument. My solution is just one way to achieve his objectives.

    Well then if I can't predict that it won't be a collectable then you can predict it will can you? :rolleyes: That was the point of my approach to this project - to give Ska some ideas how to replace his ailing pickup in an unusual and arguably rare instrument.

    In the end, we simply have different approaches to this. I just prefer to hold the opinion that there are very few holy grails out there and player basses should be everything to their owners that they want them to be. In the end, the years of playing pleasure will be worth far more than some dream of spinning ebay counters and Brink's trucks filled with cash and ultimately more realistic.
  12. You're right, I just believe that any tinker****ing done with an instrument shouldn't show after it's been put back to stock.
    However a bad decision leaves you with a chopped up instrument that sounds like poo with no resale value.

    A good instrument will be played and enjoyed long after we're gone. How we leave the instruments to their next owners...
  13. skaboy


    Oct 16, 2001
    To be honest, I am just looking for the most cost effective option weighted with the fact that it's going to give me the best possible sound quality. I do look at the sentimental value of the original pick-up but I am hoping to make use the Kramer without making too much of a fuss.

    I did take it to the shops once to be checked on and told them of my problem with the pickup but when I got it back I did n't notice any difference with the sound. The techie did n't even care to explain to me face to face what he did, he just gave the sales-person a scribble to give to me of what he did: re-wire the earth, cleaned the bass, did some tests with a meter and it costed me $100 NZ, roughly $70 US.
    So I was pretty cheesed off at the work, angry and little confused that I could've bought a cheap bass with another 50 bucks.

    It's been quite a journey with the Kramer, taking it to numerous shops but at the moment the answer to my problems would be something that picks ups the vibration of the strings effectively without have to turn my amp to abnormal levels. I understand it could be a pot problem also but with all the evidence it narrows it down to the pickup. And taking it to the shops is going to cost labour so that is n't happening. I am going fiddle around by myself and see what works and what does n't, I mean this is a learning process for me.

    But definite cheers on your input guys.