MIM P-Bass Setup from Hell. Please help.

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by masterhiggins, Jun 3, 2005.

  1. masterhiggins


    Apr 22, 2005
    So I got this "blem" standard p-bass online that seems to be physically perfect and sounds acoustically great. However, when I plug it in, the output is extremely low, distorted, muddy, and undefined. I mean, it's not just an issue of being picky. I think there might actually be something wrong with the wiring. Regardless of how I adjust the pickup height, it sounds horrible.

    Have any of you guys ever got a factory wiring that sucked?

    Anyway, I'm thinking about just changed them out for bartolini 8s's or EMG-P's. Which one would result in warmer lows, mids, and an over-all more vintage sound, but with hotter output? Is there another Bartolini that would have a more vintage sound?

    Also, would the HR-2.2 harness be the appropriate pre-amp to use if I wanted to accentuate the pickups with active circuitry? Thanks.
  2. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Distortiion and low output don't usually occur together. Distortion is typically a result of overdriving or the pups being too close to the strings. Muddy and undefined is, in general, a different ways of saying the same thing and a natural inclination for a typical P pup.

    I assume you've isolated the problem to the bass - no cord, amp, etc. issue. Not going through the active input of the amp or the like (amp controls are not set to get the response you're getting).

    There's not much to a P bass so if you look into the control bay you should be able to see any obvious issues. If it seems volume and tone are working thoughout the range, solder joints look good, jack fits snug with no, and when you tap on the pup poles with a small allen wrench (or the like) at low volume you get a definitive response - it could the blem aspect was not appearance but the issue you're experiencing.

    Bart's are generally relatively low output pups, not vintage toned per se' but do tend to play well to such music, and various styles in general. The NTBT is a decent preamp (also typically has a gain trim pot which could be used to cut or create distortion) and will up output when you're boosting (and cut output when tone's cut). Most Bart usually have a soft top end.

    EMG's are basically hi-fi in nature and not vintage but they also play well to the old stuff and a broad range of styles in general. Definetly more output than a Bart P, plenty of bass and a more extended top end. Personally I haven't any P to get up about to date and I'm not really into actives but I'd probably go with an EMG over a Bart P myself. You could ad a preamp with the EMG but it wouldn't be necessary. What would be necessary is a couple of 25K audio pots, a battery clip, and stereo jack (and maybe a cap - although I've it without a cap just fine). But the BTC is als a good preamp.
  3. Jonki

    Jonki I will not slap my Bee!

    Oct 14, 2003
    Arendal, Norway
    i have Bart 8S, good warm sound, i cant stop loving them.
  4. masterhiggins


    Apr 22, 2005
    Wow. Thanks for the info. Hmm. I guess I'm ignorant when it comes to pickups...

    I thought that the EMG-P's CAME with a "pre-amp" and new knobs because it was active (according to their site?).

    It shows pictures of them... (confused)

    So, do I have to separately purchase the the electronics? And, if so, am I able to order any configuration that's compatible with active electronic bass pickups? This is sort of a bummer, as I've already ordered the EMGs. Thanks.

  5. masterhiggins


    Apr 22, 2005
    Hmm. I think I get it now. The pups come with basic volume/tone control set, but because of the quik-connect system, it's easy to use any of the preamp systems that they offer. Just one question if you don't mind (luknfur), do you think the P pup has enough sonic range to effectively benefit from the tone-shaping cutting/boosting of, let's say, the EMG-BTC? Again, thanks a lot. I don't have much experience w/ P pups. I've played J's and HB's my entire life.

  6. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    Active pickups have an internal preamp built in and so require a battery to be of any use, unlike passive pups. You can ad an onboard preamp which basically just gives you more onboard control - in the case of the BTC; adding boost (which you can't get from passive controls) as well as cut (which you do get from passive controls) as well as adding bass control. With the BTC there are also a pair of dips with 4 options to alter the treble knee frequency.

    To be honest, I think those quick clips were a cash flow issue - cutting cost and generating funds. There's no benefit to them and it hasn't been a couple days since somebody posted wondering where they could by them cause they lost one - that never happened when the wires were epoxied in place. You still have to solder quick clips like you did the old leads. What would be of benefit to a player is a clip that slipped onto the pots not pup and would slip through the pup tunnel so you could pull and install pups without soldering.

    But the EMG had better range (low's to highs), and to me, a more appealing frequency spread than the Bart P's I've had. Also thought it was a much better pup used as a single pup. The Bart P's I felt were primarily useful in a PJ configuration, and not by itself. But I'm a bridge J guy at heart. The EMG was able to pull off a more convincing J tone too.

    Since you've already got just the P's coming, try them without a preamp and see what you think. It's easy to add later. The site should say, but I don't really know if they ship the harness with a pup set or not. It's not like a major addition for them. You could go to a local guitar shop and radio shack and buy the required components of the harness for $15. So to them it's probably like a couple bucks their cost.

    You can be looking out for a used BTC in the meantime. On ebay today a set of of I think Dean pickups and a BTC harness were going for $28 with a couple hours left and only 3 bid at the time. BTC's show up at least every month if not more often.