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Music Man sound and pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by TonyP-, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. fermata


    Nov 10, 2015
    I put the GFS in my Ray4, and I like it--it's smoother and warmer than the stock ceramic. It's also not as hot. Not sure how it compares to the Duncan, but I'd say it's certainly good bang for the buck.
  2. ChronicPyromaniac


    Jan 25, 2001
    It's good to know it's not as hot. I didn't have the problems with the stock electronics distorting at all, but the stock pickup made the EBMM preamp distort. I have the pickup height as low as it can go.
    fermata likes this.
  3. thebassbuilder


    Mar 7, 2012
    Spartanburg SC
    guitar builder, Meyers Guitars
    I have one of the GFS mm pups in my the one to the left and it is a killer pup. For the price you cannot beat it. Start with that first as the cost is so cheap if you do not like no real loss. I love the tone of this pup because it give that perfect sparkle to the tone that just sounds so good. Defiantly give it a try and let us know what you think.
  4. RWet


    Aug 9, 2016
    Have a SR5 - had the phantom coil come undone. Guitar tech put it back together today but got a call saying that the Poles under the B string weren't as strong as the others. He wanted to know if that was a SR5 thing - I didn't know. So - does anyone else know? Is it by design?
  5. Hey guys ! I've actually signed up just so I could join this thread.

    So, I've recently bought a Sterling by MM Sub Ray 4 (as per my profile pic) and since I know a lot a guys like me do not have 2K to drop on a brand new Ray, I figured I'd give you my honest thoughts on this bass, and walk you through the different stages of the modding I did.

    Fresh out the box, IMHO, it's a hell of a bass ! For 400 dollars, you get what I think is the best starter/backup instrument you could possibly imagine. Cool perk, it comes out of the factory very well set up. Medium action, perfect intonation, good pickup height. The factory setting will suit most playing styles. Of course, if you want it more personal, grab a wrench ! Without getting into too much detail, all the woods used are of good quality. The neck is very playable, there isn't any lump or bump on the fingerboard, and the frets are well placed and smoothed out. As far as the body goes, it's not quite as heavy as a Ray, but still heavy enough to give you a fair amount of sustain. The only flaws I've spotted on these babies are the electronics. On one hand there's the pickup. I've read people wondering whether it uses alnico or ceramic. It's ceramic. I've seen many SUB Ray4 models and I have to say, the quality of the pup is a lottery. To be explicit, mine came with unaligned magnets. I can snap a pic for those interested. Basically, all 8 poles were sticking out randomly. One E magnet was higher than an A, a G higher than a D.. Which resulted in an uneven sound. That's quite a shame cause the pickup in itself has very similar tone to a real Ray, just less full. And on the other hand, on to the preamp. Same problem here, it lacks in quality. The volume control has no sensitivity and goes from 0-100 real quick ! As far as its voicing, it is too treble-oriented, but it has a hell of a punch ! But it is quite unidimentional.. So to sum it up, killer starter or backup bass as it is, with great materials, but the electronics leave some to be desired.

    Soooo let's get to the modding part ! Before anything else, I need to tell you guys what kinda tone I wanted to achieve. I grew up on blink-182, MxPx, Less Than Jake, New Found Glory.. Lots of hip-hop too, but nothing that bears much influence soundwise. Except for NFG, back in the late 90's, all of these guys were using Ray's. I know the purists will despise that, but the tone of a 90's Ray with a 3 band EQ's and ceramic pickup was a real eargasm ! AND SO WERE THE CLASSIC ONES PUT THE GUN DOWN DAMMIT ! So that's what I was going after. Heavy low-mids, warm and agressive high end, fat overall sound. So, I swapped both the pickup and the preamp at the same time and here's what happened :

    - For the pickup, I went with the Seymour Duncan SMB4-D (ceramic humbucking) wired in parallel.

    Music Man

    - For the preamp, I went with a John East MMSR 2 band EQ. I know I just went on about the whole 3 band thing, but I prefer keeping 2 knobs and EQ-ing my mids with a pedal. Personal preference.


    Now some might wonder why picking a rather vintage preamp trying to achieve a modern tone. Well, simply because the East is to me the most faithful pre of all. And a preamp alone isn't gonna define the tone signature. It's a 50/50 mix between both the pickup and the preamp. So I did the modding, and all I can say is WOW. I was nervous at first that the combination wouldn't quite do the job, but the doubts quickly vanished. With the East pre, I get the classic Stingray tone, as close as possible to the original, and with the SD, I get the agressiveness, punch and brightness from the players I used to listen to. Here's a cover I recorded with my upgraded bass. Play the track and feel free to let me know what you think. If anyone would like to hear this configuration in a different genre, or with other settings I'd be happy to help.

    If you've made it this far, thanks for reading and once again, happy to help if needed ! ;)
  6. Buzz E

    Buzz E Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2014
    San Francisco, CA
    Sounds awesome! Great post as well...!
  7. Thanks man ! Hope I didn't bore the hell out of everyone else with such a long post, but I figured you know.. A lot of us are on a budget, so a little imput on what can be a great alternative wouldn't hurt :)
    Harris74 likes this.
  8. ChronicPyromaniac


    Jan 25, 2001
    I always thought Nothing Gold Can Stay sounded like a Ray, and I looked around on YouTube and it looks like Ian WAS actually playing one in '99. I have a lot of the same influences as you, and the Ray 4 has been awesome in getting THAT sound.

    Also, the four string Rays always used Alnico pickups; the SR5's used ceramics for a few years, and then switched back to Alnicos when the Sterling 5 came out.
  9. Ian did use one ? Damn, you just taught me something ! Just noticed the Mark Hoppus signature on your profile pic (A.K.A God's bass) :) If I was in the US I'd probably try to buy it from you haha.

    But I'm sure about the whole Stingray and ceramic thing ! They switched to ceramic in the early 90's (around the time Flea contributed to the design) and switched back to alnico in the late 90's when they design the first Sterling models, cause there was no point in having both basses sounding close to the same.

    You're absolutely right on the 5 strings though !
  10. ChronicPyromaniac


    Jan 25, 2001
    I wouldn't sell. It has a lot of sentimental value for me.

    http://www.musicmanbass.org/mycustompage0068.htm disagrees on the issue of pickups. There are people who know more than me, though, and maybe they'll chime in. AFAIK, the SR4 pickup has always been Alnico, and the Sterlings have always been ceramic. The SR5 is the only one that changed.
    Phyzzbin likes this.
  11. ChronicPyromaniac


    Jan 25, 2001
    I have an additional question about the GFS. I've heard the shape is slightly different and that it's a taller pickup, requiring a bit of routing. Was this your experience as well?
  12. thebassbuilder


    Mar 7, 2012
    Spartanburg SC
    guitar builder, Meyers Guitars
    This can be true. The pickup is bigger all the way around. I made the template for my build so there were no issues for me. I think they are close enough to sand or file down the lower sides of the pickup covers to make it squeeze in. You could maybe even replace the guts from one cover to the other. As for them being a deeper pickup I do not think so. These are no joke great pickups and I have found to be well worth the money and the extra work to make them fit. This is the case with all GFS bass pickup covers. I have tried them all (I think) and the covers are bigger than any factory cover or standard pickup routing template you can buy. So FYI everyone who looks at buying their stuff. The p bass and j bass will swap out to your stock covers no problem. As for their active p bass pickup it is a good bit wider than stock and those are like EMG and cannot be removed from the cover but sound crazy good with there built in boost switches. Sorry for the tangent but figured I would share everything I know on them for others to know before buying. Also they are great to deal with customer service wise as I got a p bass pickup, that one of the leads were not soldered to the coil good and they sent me another pickup ASAP and just asked me to send the other pickup back when I could. Sorry for the long post and I do not work for them or anything, just like their stuff.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
  13. Nope - dropped straight in.
    thebassbuilder likes this.
  14. JLW


    Dec 5, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    Matt, this was incredibly informative. Just out of curiosity, did you record that song with a pick or is it fingerstyle? Thanks!
  15. I used a pick ! Whenever I play rock or metal that's usually how I go. I tend to play fingerstyle all the rest (funk, hip-hop...)
  16. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    Just put an Aguilar AG 4M pup in my Music Man SUB (2 band active, USA). Haven't tested it through my amp setup or band setting yet, but direct through my sound card and some VST plugins, it definitely tames the clank, and sounds bigger in the lows-low mid departmet. It's not as bright as the stock ray pup, but it sounds more balanced to me, like it has more meat to the tone. Reminds of the pre eb rays tone, and with the original 2 band preamp, it definitely still sounds like a stingray. I need to try it with my band to see how it breathes in the mix. Pickup output is about the same as the original. String to string balance sounds better to me and I can have the pup a bit higher than my stock was. In fact, very close to recommended settings (I always have my pup a bit lower so I can really dig in when I want to).
  17. Hawk600


    Dec 19, 2015
    Nashua, NH
    Have anybody here tried the John East 2 band preamp installing it on a Stingray 3 band amp?
    If so how did you like it? Is it worth the money?
    I am thinking in doing the mod but not sure if the difference will be significant enough to worth the $200 plus.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
  18. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    I haven't personally (because mine is the original 2 band), but I've a read about more than a few people changing their 3 band with the JE preamp. In a nutshell - if you prefer the tone of the 2 band stingray, the upgrade would be worth it. From what I've read, John East makes the closest preamps to the original 2 band stingray preamps, plus, you can get an additional mid control which when set flat is just like the 2 band ray. 2 band sounds pretty different to a 3 band IMO, so it's all down to a personal preference.
    mcnach and Hawk600 like this.
  19. Brother Goose

    Brother Goose The Process IS the Reward!

    Dec 4, 2013
    Syracuse NY
    God Is Love
    I have the SD 3
    Band system and pup in a Warmoth gecko 5 and it is OUTRAGEOUS. all settings are functional and I was also surprised by the slap switch
  20. Hawk600


    Dec 19, 2015
    Nashua, NH
    Yes I am seeking the 2 band tone, I was thinking in getting a Ray34CA as alternative since the 2 band Stingrays are too expensive for me right now and I already have a Stingray 4 HH and a Music Man Sterling HS that sounds amazing even having a 3 band eq but I am not kim of the SRHH 3 band tone.
    Tried different Strings but the bas is not thunderous and thigh like the Sterling, is more like a distorted bass, not so smooth.

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