Musicman Sabre 79 pickups switching

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by °v°, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. °v°


    Sep 11, 2005
    Hi there,

    I just got me a Musicman Sabre bass from 1979, and was wondering whether someone had any idea about the pickups and their switching :

    1. Are the 2 pickups (slightly smaller in size compared to Stingray) wired in parallel or in series ? There are only 2 wires (black & white) coming from the pickups...

    2. What does the phase switch do exactly ? From what I read, it is supposed to put the 2 pickups out of phase. But what I hear is a different sound when any of the 2 pickups is soloed or both together :
    - soloed bridge or neck pickup : the tone with the phase switch on is very interesting, sounding sort of fretless or upright like, with less bass but still usable by slight (quarter of a turn) bass knob boost.
    - both bridge & neck pickups : the tone with the phase switch on is really thin and not very usable, even with bass knob boost to the max.
    So, since the tone with phase switch on is different in the 3 pickups positions I am really wondering what does this switch do ...any ideas ?

  2. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    They're parallel: the + and - are side by side. Even with only two wires the + and - are separate, its a + + / - - setup for humcancelling.

    Series would be where you have the - from coil 1 feeding into + on coil 2 to crate larger output instead of two.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  3. °v°


    Sep 11, 2005
    Hello Sir,

    thanks for your answer, indeed it does sound like parallel to my ears - without that ugly low mids bump typical of series (reason why I don't dig the Sterling so much, for instance), at least as long as coils are wound to sound decent on their own (with coil tap). But as soon as coils are overwound, the series sound becomes really terrible and parallel is the only way to get a decent tone.
    And about the phase switch, I am still struggling to understand why the hell I get a different tone depending on pickup selection with phase switch on. I made the following wiring scheme, and it looks like the 2 pickups are out-of-phase with the phase switch on, regardless of pickup selector position. A bassists who owned 15 Sabres confirmed to me yesterday that while this is the way it is supposed to be, some Sabres have been modified in order to get different out-of-phase style tones depending on pickup selector position. So far, my guess is that the modification is in the preamp (where the -wire goes to), but not sure. Anyone any ideas ?
  4. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I never bothered using the phase switching when I had the Sabre, it sounded too thin an anemic when flipped, so never found that useful for anything.
    They obviously did away with that and the treble booster switches in 81 and went to coil selector instead.