Modded Schecter Stargazer 5

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Former Rogues, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. Former Rogues

    Former Rogues

    Sep 22, 2016
    Hi TB. I am new as a member but have visited the forums pages before for reviews and tips. I am looking for some help because I know very little about electronics and modifications.

    I recently got a Schecter Stargazer 5, 2008 production model, from my brother. The story goes that he bought it in 2008-09 from the son of a deceased music distributor. The son sold this bass for about $200.00 as part of the warehouse clearance. Apparently he wanted nothing to do with his father's business.

    Anyways, this bass comes with a kill switch plus four other 2-way toggle switches. I have no idea what they do. Left to right from the photos, I have my bass boost/cut, treble boost/cut, pickup fader and volume. The stock bass is with EMG HZ pickups (some passive pickups with active EQ preamp and is supposed to have a coil split for the EMG MMHZ in the bridge). This model does not have the push/pull option to split the MMHZ. 20160922_141316.jpg 20160922_142125.jpg 20160922_142136.jpg 20160922_142150.jpg 20160922_142831.jpg 20160921_153528.jpg

    Any help or ideas about the circuitry and toggle functions?

    Let me know if you need any extra photos and different angles. I need to get back in to clean the fader pot anyways.
  2. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Hey, I just brought one back from the dead yesterday. I have two Stargazer 5s (one heavy relic black after having to wet sand a lot of crud off the finish, and one fireburst in much better condition). Other than being a bit heavier than I like, they're wonderful basses. They're my primary basses, my only 5 stringers.

    The blue switch looks like a parallel/series switch of some sort, probably places the two pickups in parallel vs. series. The red switches look like pickup selector switches. The hard part is figuring out the black switch, and what the two pots do. If I had to guess, it looks like the black switch is a preamp bypass switch, and the one of the pots is passive volume and the other is active volume. This is the only thing that remotely makes sense to me. It's a real bird's nest down there.

    This is how I rewired mine, by the way (I put Bartolini bridge pickup in mine):


    EMG HZ colors will be a bit different but the idea is the same. Bartolini Black maps to EMG Red. Bartolini Red maps to EMG White. Bartolini White maps to EMG black.

    My other Stargazer still has the stock EMG HZ MM5 pickup and a slightly different wiring configuration (also has a bypass). The HZ MM5 a very good pickup. However, I don't like the neck pickup at all. The EMG LJ HZ is extremely low output and just doesn't have much presence to me. Both of my Stargazers have Bartolini 59CBJD-LN1 instead, and that pickup sounds like a dream. However, recently I'm starting to think that the A string on the Bartolini isn't all that strong (ever other string seems a bit louder), maybe having to do with the split coil design, and thinking that Lace Man O War Jazz Bridge pickup might be better suited (it's technically for a 4-string, but it works fine as a 5-string pickup if it fits), but it's not really all that bad, so I haven't bothered.

    The only other modification I like on the Stargazer is lighter tuners, but I do that to almost every bass that doesn't come with ultra lightweight tuners.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  3. Former Rogues

    Former Rogues

    Sep 22, 2016
    Thanks honeyiscool.

    I really haven't messed around with everything yet, but I certainly noticed an output increase when I engaged the blue switch (toggle in down position). As far as how each toggle affects the pots, I think I will experiment with that over the weekend to see what I can determine.

    My luthier friend is going to examine the photos as well and put in his two cents, but you have certainly given me some good advice. I can post his opinions a little later.

    The pickup fader knob is a little scratchy and cuts out when I roll it over to 100% neck pickup. This started after I put everything back in, so I will need to see if I loosened something while taking photos. You certainly are right about the neck pickup being low output though. Might be that I don't even bother with rolling the knob past halfway, because the volume change is not worth the trouble for what I will be using the bass for.

    If this thing weren't modded so much, and my soldering skills were better, I'd think about swapping out the neck pup. My one friend swears by Bartolinis. By pure happenstance, all of my guitars and basses run on active EMGs, except my Ibanez RG8 (the only guitar that I want to swap pups on) which has stock Ibanez passive pups. My custom 7 string that is going to be built will also pack EMGs because the luthier doesn't stock anything else. I wouldn't say I am an EMG fanboy, it is just what was in each instrument and I have been satisfied with what I can achieve with them. Also, I run through a number of effects and am not against changing my amp EQ settings between songs either, so the EMGs will probably stay in the Stargazer. Thanks for the wiring schematic though.

    The Stargazer is a heavier instrument for sure, but it is balanced nicely. I'm satisfied with the tuning stability, so the tuners can stay for now. Most of my spare cash is wrapped up in that new 7 string guitar. Cool to hear that you have two. I think they are great looking basses, and this one feels fine enough to play. It is also nice having something different. Next week is band practice and I will see how well it fits into the mix. The band will be happy to have fret inlays for when I am showing them riffs.
  4. Former Rogues

    Former Rogues

    Sep 22, 2016
  5. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    OK, I've been staring at this and I'm starting to see both the intent of most of the switches and also that this is a truly cracked out idea of a wiring job.

    Let's start with the SPDT switch, the little red one with red wires coming out of it. This is not a kill switch and you shouldn't use it as such to make musical effects, it's actually switch that shuts off power to the battery. What's the point? I have no idea. And why is it hooked up to the hot terminal instead of the black terminal? Who knows. I guess it can be used to defeat battery drain when the jack is plugged in, but why would you actually want this in a bass when all you have to do is remember to unplug it? I don't know. So that's stupidity #1.

    Let's move onto the EQ itself. The EQ is not modified at all, thankfully. So if you have to rewire the whole thing, you can salvage the EQ.

    The big red switches, I've figured out what they are, or what they're supposed to be. They are parallel/series switches for each pickup. So one of them puts the bridge coils in series/parallel, and the other does the same for the neck coils. The bridge coil series/parallel is actually a good idea, and Stargazer 5 comes stock with that. Meanwhile, the neck coil series/parallel is a stupid idea. As I mentioned, the EMG LJ HZ has very low output, and that's in series. As it's a stacked coil, there's no point in putting the coils in parallel, because one of the coils is a hum cancelling dummy coil. So let's count that as stupidity #2.

    From there, the output from the pickup coil selectors moves onto the blue switch. As I mentioned, the blue switch definitely looks like another parallel/series switch. When engaged, the pickups themselves combine in series.

    But now we have the black switch. I stared at this for a while because this switch makes absolutely no sense, and here it gets really weird. When engaged in one direction, it connects the output of both pickups together to the input of the EMG EQ. However, thanks to the blue switch, when the blue switch is in the series position, the black switch fails to work in an obvious manner and you'll just get the neck pickup by itself. Let's call that stupidity #3.

    When the black switch engaged in the other direction, it connects the output of each pickup to the blender pot. With all the exotic wiring done, you should guess that the blender pot is of a weird exotic design, and it is. A blender pot isn't the same as a blend pot commonly used in basses, which is two isolated concentric volume knobs with a center detent wired together like a Jazz Bass. A blender pot is usually used in specially modded Strats to blend in a bit of another pickup. They're usually the same as no-load pots, though I am going to guess that it is not here, because I don't think that would even work. Which means that the pot divides 250k of resistance between the two pickups at all times. So in the middle, there is 125k resistance from bridge to output, 125k from neck to output. If the blue switch is at parallel, this means huge output drop whenever you're not anywhere in the middle. As for when you're at the sides, you're never able to achieve full isolation of pickups, there's always a bit of one pickup in the output. But that doesn't mean the blender works properly when the blue switch is at series either. Because of the pickups being connected in series before the blender pot, there will be bizarre interaction between both pickups, and when there is zero resistance between the output and the neck output, what happens is that the series switch wiring causes both pickup outputs to be connected together, and since the blender pot basically places 250k of resistance. So you have a blender pot that doesn't work properly in parallel nor in series. That's major, major, major stupid.

    After the black switch, the preamp happens, and lastly, the volume knob is connected after the preamp output. Which honestly isn't a bad idea since it helps reduce noise in certain situations. Then to the jack. And there's what the wiring configuration's supposed to do.

    I feel good about myself, though, that I finally deciphered what this wiring mod was trying to do. I think it's a really failed attempt at being clever. It's like someone had interesting ideas but just didn't think everything through. I like complicated, clever control schemes. This just isn't one of them. It's just bad. With all these options, there are just too many combinations, and the interaction of the blue switch, black switch, and the terrible blender pot means that there are all these conditions in which the controls won't do what they're supposed to be able to do. And then there's musically useless options like putting the neck pickup in parallel. If I were you, I'd rip everything out but the EQ and start over with a much more straightforward wiring configuration that doesn't involve so many little switches that do so many useless things. Like I said, luckily the EQ is pretty stock, so you have hopes of salvaging it. Rewiring this bass wouldn't be too expensive. All you need is a proper blend pot to replace the blender pot and all the terrible switches that come before it.
  6. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    OK, maybe I was being a little dramatic in the previous post. But these are changes I would definitely make:

    1. The little red switch. You don't need it. Just keep the battery always connected.
    2. Black and blue switches. Kill them with fire.
    3. Get a real blend pot to replace the cracked out blender pot.
    4. Since I told you to get rid of three of the switches, you'll have unused holes in your pickguard, if you want to place a bypass switch back into one of them, then you easily can. You can even reuse one of the switches. But then, you'll have to move the volume pot to be before the preamp and not after, if you want the volume pot to work when the preamp is bypassed. You could probably use the blender pot as your new volume knob. Or you could just get another 250k volume pot and create a VV scheme instead of VB.

    If you want to do these things, then you can use one of the two alternative diagrams I created for my Stargazer 5:


    Of course, you wouldn't have to use push-pull switches because you can easily just use a mini toggle that you pulled from elsewhere.

    Regardless of whatever you do, there's not a lot of cost involved in making all the changes I suggested, as long as you're good with a desoldering pump.
  7. Former Rogues

    Former Rogues

    Sep 22, 2016
    Don't worry about being too dramatic. You've spelled it out pretty clearly and I certainly agree with you.

    Stupidity #1 is just that. I assumed that the wiring either drains the battery when the cable is not in the input, or the guy modding it was being dumb. It is by no means has any musical application (pops and squelches pretty good). Every other active instrument I have disconnects the connection when the jack is removed, which is what I always do anyways. This is pretty much non-sense for a mod. I'll need to try leaving it in the on position while unplugged to determine if it still draws current from the battery.

    That pot connection just seems crazy. So does the series/parallel for the neck pickup. It does have a massive volume drop, and you are right about the neck already being very low output. However, the blue switch does offer some utility and beefs up the sound. The HZ MM series/parallel switch can also have some utility, but everything else is very clearly stupid.

    Thanks for such an in-depth overview of this mess. The other wiring configurations look great as well. Down the road I think I will try modding this myself, and will probably swap out pickups as well, if I can find something that catches my interest. There is really not much practical use for such a low output neck pup in a rock band. It just seems stupid to by a boost pedal just to make up that volume loss.

    For the time being, it works well enough and I can get some useful tone from it without fiddling with each of the toggle switches. At least now I know which ones might have an application when I play.

    Thanks again.
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