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Lakland 44-02 w/Barts output level for passive conversion

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by rheohead, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. I've been thinking about converting my Korean Lakland 44-02 with Bartolinis from active to passive. I've been reading the forums to gather information about the conversion. My question is this: If I remove the preamp from the signal path but keep the Barts, will I get enough output signal from the pickups themselves? The Bartolini website is a little thin on output specs.

    I'm going to replace the current 50K pots with 500K pots and going Vol/Vol/Tone. Or would 250K be better?

    Is there anything I can do to ensure a strong output signal? I've already got the pickups as close to the strings as I dare.

    Is there any thing else I should consider before heating up my soldering iron?

  2. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    The volume pot on the 44-02 has a pull-up switch to change to passive mode. If you try that, you can see exactly how much output you'd have taking the preamp out.
  3. Thanks Mike. I've already done what you suggested and it is really the impetus for my question.

    I guess I should clarify my question.

    The preamp in the 44-02 is quite powerful but I tend not to use the EQ to either boost or cut. I mainly use the volume, blend and coil tap toggle to find the sound I want. Most often, I leave the EQ controls centered. Because I'm not boosting anything, the output level is rather low. This is compounded with that fact that I play rather lightly. So I was thinking: "Why bother with the EQ stage if I don't use it. I could just go passive and use the blend and the toggle." So I switched to passive mode (as you suggested) to see what the output would be like and it is even lower.

    So my question then became: If I physically remove the preamp from the signal chain, would I get a little bit of gain back?

    Or in a different way: Does the passive switch send the signal to the output jack or am I loosing signal through the preamp circuit even though I'm in passive mode?

    All of this line of thinking started when I was reading through the forums and someone mentioned that some of the MM-style pickups are low-impedance and were designed to be used in conjunction with a preamp to boost the output. So I'm trying to determine what scenario I have to deal with: a) I've got low-impedance pickups and they can't be used without a preamp and need to be replaced with high-impedance ones in order to go passive or b) I've got high-impedance pickups and they will work just fine without a preamp.

    I'm sorry for the long-winded post but I think this is a lot more clear on what I'm looking for.

    Additionally, I opened up the control cavity and removed all the pickup screws in an attempt to measure the DC resistance at the pickup itself but I could not figure out a way to raise the pickup out of the body high enough to get a multi-meter reading without using excessive force and risk damaging something. Then I posted to Talkbass.
  4. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    The Bart preamp has a gain control that allows the signal to be boosted (or cut) regardless of how you have the EQ set, so setting the controls to be flat doesn't necessarily give you a good idea of what the passive output would be.

    On the other hand, the output you get when you switch the bass into passive mode is pretty much the same as the output you'd get if you got rid of the preamp altogether, since the signal is just going through the (passive) volume and blend controls at that point.

  5. If the output from the Barts is going to remain as low as it currently is, I guess the next logical question is:

    Are there any MM-style passive pickups that have high output and don't require a preamp?
  6. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    May I ask why all the concern for a hotter pickup? If you're happy w/ the tone you're getting, why not turn up the gain/master at the amp? Or is that not an option?

    FWIW, it's been my experience, and others might chime in here, that hotter pickups are not usually better, or even equal, as far as tone is considered.

  7. @giorob815: The long-standing issue I've had all of my playing career is that I've got a very light touch with my right hand technique (I'm right-handed). It didn't cause many concerns earlier on but lately I've had more than a few sound engineers come up to me during soundcheck asking for more signal. On my Genz Benz, I usually have the gain dimed on and on my Trace Elliot I can't even get the clip light to come on occasionally with the gain dimed. So yeah, very light touch. I've been trying to get used to playing harder. I've compensated by playing with an MXR (CAE) Boost/Line Driver and I usually add +12 to +14 dB just to get to "useable". I've always been a little gun-shy when it comes to any stage gear that needs batteries and I had the power supply for the boost pedal crap out during a show. I need to leave that thing on for hours. My ultimate goal is to not have batteries in anything... but I'm starting to ramble.

    Bottom line is I'm a plug-and-play kind of guy.
  8. Barts are notoriously low output. I have been doing a lot of research on their pickups lately, and it seems that many of their pickups are lower output. I think the classic series are supposed to be hotter, and maybe some versions of the MM pickup are hotter, but a preamp seems to be a necessary evil with their pickups. I've put Barts in an old jazz bass with a TC3 booster circuit, which has no active tone controls. It still uses the passive VVT controls, and feels like a standard passive bass, but the output is more normal. Ironically, I preferred the way my pedals were being driven with lower output. I would say that you might want to look into a different bass if you want to lose the battery.
  9. Your amp is dimed and their still asking for more signal? Light touch or not something doesnt sound right here. Could you fix this by playing harder perhaps? Also +1 to turning up the little gain screw on your onboard preamp. All you need is a small screwdriver. I had mine at 2oclock and it had plenty of output.

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