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Music Man sound and pickups

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

  1. Alien8


    Jan 29, 2014
    I have had an awesome experience with Nordstrand getting a custom MM5.4 to fit my now main bass - Dillion VMB-500. The bass is a clone of a '79 MusicMan 'Ray with an extra string in nearly the same dimensions as a 4 stringer! Love this bass.

    BUT Love it more since getting the pickup in place. I'm shocked at how much this one change improved the overall balance and tone of the bass. The best way to explain it is that there is more of everything to work with. Clearly the original pickup (which wasn't all that bad to be honest) had a distinct tone that was missing clarity and definition in the mids that no amount of EQ would enhance. Now, WOW.

    So as a benchmark through my build (should really post more details of it) I compared the sound to a 2009 'Ray 3EQ. I built a pre and used the stock pickup and the sound was really quite close to the "real deal", like really close. After the swap, well, I've sold the "real deal" as this ended up even better than it! Quite shocked actually, I wasn't expecting it to be "better" in the end, but soooo glad I did the work. I've had the bass out during all of the changes at various points (ie just a passive stock bass, then pre amp in, then pickup.). Each time before the pickup it was okay, drummer noticed it was different initially, but never really got tone compliments. Then, with the pickup, unprompted, was getting: "wow, what did you do to your rig? It sounds amazing!?" All the pedals and tweaks I've been through have not made this much of a difference.

    Again, if you need something to really bring out clarity or need a custom fitted pickup, go Nordstrand. They were easy to work with and didn't charge a whole lot for a custom build. They squeezed a MM5.4 into a 4 string cover size, and set custom pole spacing. Couldn't be happier with the service or product!!
    rojo412 and LiquidMidnight like this.
  2. bassman28

    bassman28 Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2010
    North Carolina
    I am trying to put an 83 Cutlass back together so if someone has a blown or non working 2 band 70s to 80s Stingray pre I would be interested in it. Or a working one of course. Thankyou
  3. also, on the newer USA Sterling's -- they have a ceramic pickup -- the EB MM Stingrays - USA have an alnico pickup - according to their website - I have both and I can tell the difference in both 4 and 5 strings
  4. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    How would you describe the sounds relative to each other?
  5. Glurg

    Glurg Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2015
    I really wish i could buy the P pickup out of a Caprice separately. It sounded great
    JakobT likes this.
  6. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    Just to bring some light on this SD-preamp, I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this in the previous 38 pages....

    I have used this preamp in my '94 3-band Stingray. It sounds a bit mellower than the EB 3-band, and when speaking with SD tech support about the preamp, they said that their engineers took all the good stuff out of the EB 2-band preamp and created a 3-band out of it. This was perfect since at the time, I was looking to get some of the harshness out of the high end of the bass. It now, I have come to embrace the original again.

    The preamp also has SD's proprietary mid-cut "slap" switch incorporated as a push/pull volume pot. The amount of mid-scoop can be adjusted via a trim pot on the main circuit board. There is also a gain trim pot right beside the mid cut adjustment. It can be ordered as a 4-knob or 3-knob with a stacked treble/bass pot.

    Music Man Active Preamp

    Music Man Active Preamp

    Although this preamp is designed for a single-pickup Stingray bass, meaning it doesn't come with a blend pot for a two-pickup application, one can easily be incorporated.

    The reason I was talking to SD tech support in the first place was that after the preamp was installed, I was experiencing a lot of noise in the signal. This is because the original Music Man pickup needed to have its pole pieces grounded. This was easily done by placing a strip of copper tape over the bottoms of the pole pieces of each coil and carefully soldering a grounding wire to the tape, then solder to ground. Aftermarket 4-wire pickups already use a bare grounding wire in the shielded group of color-coded wires.

    Since I absolutely love the Stingray tone and try to install at least one MM-type pickup in all my basses, this preamp is a wonderful thing and costs about half of the John east preamp, if budget is a major issue...like it is in all of my situations...
    Zoobiedood likes this.
  7. BassLife77


    Nov 13, 2009
    San Diego
    I wouldn't trust any SD preamp. they use cheap junk crap Lelon capacitors then have the nerve to charge you $150 for the preamp. a top quality capacitor would cost no more than 25 cents. If they use capacitors that cheap you have to question the quality of the other components.
  8. hmm... ok :meh:
    Matt R likes this.
  9. Lachlan Legge

    Lachlan Legge

    Jun 5, 2017
    Western Australia
    May rant on about certain subjects
    don't forget that the sterling uses a switch on the H model that allows it to go from series to parallel to coil tapped. That's another part of that model.
  10. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Audio Mike Lull Custom Guitars Gallien Krueger amplification Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups
    Aghhh...I wrote this over 6.5 years ago and at high level geared more to Stingrays.
    Have a great day.
  11. Clemouze


    Sep 1, 2016
    Paris - France
    Don't know if it's the right place to post this but I've made a comparative video between stock 3-band EQ 2000 Ernie Ball Stingray pickup and the Aguilar AG4M.

    I've posted a tread : Aguilar AG4M semi-review/comparative Stingray 3-band EQ video

    The link to the video :

    It could be useful since I didn't find a lot of info about this pickup
    Groovegestapo and TonyP- like this.
  12. CaseyJ


    Jul 28, 2016
    Northern Indiana
    I just bought a Sterling Sub 4 string, and find that the preamp is way too loud. What would be a good replacement Pre amp that is not super pricey? Thank you in advance for any help.
  13. BassLife77


    Nov 13, 2009
    San Diego
    its too loud because the preamp is wired directly to the jack. there is a mod where you can switch the wires so the volume is wired to the jack. I would do that first to hear how it sounds before buying another preamp
    bdplaid and CaseyJ like this.
  14. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    I'm looking for a MM 4 string pickup. Whose do you think is most close to the original sound, like RHCP's Aeroplane?
  15. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Audio Mike Lull Custom Guitars Gallien Krueger amplification Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups
    Easy the regular winding Nordstrand MM replacmemt
    Cracker7 and murphy like this.
  16. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    The Nord is at the top of the list, but looking to see what else is out there. Thx!
    murphy likes this.
  17. murphy


    May 5, 2004
    Toronto, Canada
    I agree re Nordstrand....love my alnico mm5, .5.2?..that replaced my SR5vers ceramic

    converted to an HS ...burying half neck pickup under the pickguard....
    added pickup selector three way blade

    but added a Nordstrand 2bMM preamp as my pre died

    and added EMG vari mid....for fun.....Love it

    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
    Cracker7 likes this.
  18. murphy


    May 5, 2004
    Toronto, Canada
    Cracker7 likes this.
  19. mbene085

    mbene085 Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2018
    Does anyone know if the pickup in the old USA-made S.U.B. 4-strings were alnico or ceramic?

    I've added a series/parallel/single coil mini-toggle on mine and find it a vast improvement. The series setting gets that extra growl in the midrange that I was lacking with the 2-band EQ.
    mcnach likes this.
  20. nivagues


    Jan 18, 2002
    Alnico pickup (parallel). The USA SUB had the same electronics as the normal 2EQ Sting Ray.