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New pickups and possibly electronics to a cheap bass?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by petjaolvi, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. petjaolvi


    Jul 14, 2017
    Eastern Finland
    I recently picked up an used Eko MM-305 5-string Stingray copy for a fairly good price. I love the playability of the bass as it has a tighter string spacing and the neck is not too wide (I'm a small guy with small hands!). I can also get the action much lower than on my Music Man SUB USA, which is great.

    The bass sounds good now, but I'm wondering if I could make it more growly and 'Stingray-like' by switching the pups and possibly electronics? Do you have any recommendations? Also, could my bass be changed from passive to active?

    I know, I know, my Eko will always be a cheap bass and it'll never be a genuine Stingray, but as a student I really can't afford a real EBMM bass. I'm also not asking if it's worth it because I won't be selling the bass and I want to explore the world of modifying instruments as there's something rather cool about having an instrument that you've actually improved yourself. What matters the most to me is that I have a bass that I like playing.
    TonyP- likes this.
  2. I did something similar, and it has worked pretty well for me, but the cost of the replacement pickup, preamp, nut, battery box, pickguard and luthier labor brought me pretty close to the price of a used instrument with those features.
    Lobster11, FugaziBomb and Mechanical like this.
  3. petjaolvi


    Jul 14, 2017
    Eastern Finland
    Yeah I figured it would cost money but I've been browsing ebay and used music equipment/parts sites from my country and for example Seymour Duncan SMB-5A pups pop up from time to time for a reasonable price so that would probably be more cost-effective for me.
  4. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    I replaced the electronics on my Squier VM Jazz fretless with those from a MIM Fender FSR Jazz, and it made a big difference, at least to my ears. And everything still cost me less than a used MIM Fender Jazz fretless.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I stopped reading at "I love the playabaility".

    That's the only thing that matters to me when deciding whether or not to dump some money into a bass. If you love how it plays, most anything else can be fixed and it's worth it to try.
  6. petjaolvi


    Jul 14, 2017
    Eastern Finland
    That is a good point!
  7. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Is it like the OLP, with dual volumes? I'd first mess around with the existing pickup, maybe try direct to output wiring, or series/parallel switching, etc... Sometimes it matters what passive electronics there are in the bass, other times not so much. Don't forget to try different strings and setup specs (pickup height especially). That alone can keep you busy for a while, and on the cheap side, and you can learn a lot about the bass. You may grow to like its sound as is, or with minor mods.
  8. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    when a bass is very comfortable to play, it's always worth replacing the pickup/s in my world.

    i replaced the pickups in my ibanez mikro ($179) with a single seymour duncan MM pickup and added an ebay active preamp. the bass sounds so good now, and pretty stingray-like. to cover the hole where the second pickup went, my husband cut out a piece of pearl pickguard material in the shape, more or less, of a ray pickup.

    wintremute likes this.
  9. petjaolvi


    Jul 14, 2017
    Eastern Finland
    Yes, two volumes and a tone knob. I lowered the action to my liking right after I got the bass and raised the pickup a little and managed to get a little bit more 'burp' to the tone. I'm also looking to buy some Cocco stainless steel strings to put on it as I have them on my SUB USA and they compliment Stingray type basses very well (highly recommend them!)
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  10. petjaolvi


    Jul 14, 2017
    Eastern Finland
    Thats a cool looking modded bass you got there!

    May I ask what tools did your husband use to cut the pickguard? I'm also planning to swap out my Eko's white pickguard to a black one, but a standard Stingray Classic 5 pickguard won't fit the pickup and they have the truss rod hole and my bass doesn't have the standard Stingray truss rod, so I might have to do the pickguard by myself to get the look I want.
  11. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    my husband used his CNC mill to cut it out. assuming you don't have one, you could do it with a laminate trimmer or a dremel with the right attachment, which he's used in the past, but he's used those with an acrylic or MDF template.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  12. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Can you make it sound better? Maybe. But I'd rather spend the money and get what I want, and know it will sound good.
  13. fermata


    Nov 10, 2015
    Modding can be a lot of fun and quite rewarding. However, it's not hard to get carried away, either, so it's worth setting some limits and making deliberate choices. For me, the point of modding is to make a budget bass as good as (or better than) the next step up, while still costing less than the next step up.
    petjaolvi likes this.
  14. Mo cowbell

    Mo cowbell

    Mar 2, 2017
    I had a Warlock NJ series in the mid-80's. I changed out the bridge for a Schaller (wanted a Badass but it didn't fit), replaced the nut. I replaced the passive pickups with EMG's. The instrument really came alive and it was worth it to me to make the mods. If I remember correctly, I had about $600 into it. I really don't remember for sure but the point about just getting an instrument with what you want to start with is a valid one. Seems like a "real" Warlock would have been around the same price after the mods. But it sounds like you have a nice playing bass that you want to upgrade so have fun and do it!
  15. Interesting that a single pup instrument has two volumes, definitely not the way the old StingRays did it. I'd check to see if the pickup is wired in parallel (the way the StingRay pups were) and then add a good 2 band eq with a single volume (again the way the old StingRays were).
  16. bass40hz

    bass40hz Cigar smoker, scotch drinker, American Patriot Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Sussex County, NJ
    no endorsements but would love a few ;-)
    Play it like it is and save the money you were going to spend on upgrades and put it towards saving for the bass you really want and are hoping to make the Eko sound like.
  17. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    I do this sort of thing all the time. A Pup and Pre upgrade can do wonders. For your situation contact Nordstrand as they can make you a Pup that fits and they offer a two band Pre for that MM SR Sound. They even have a MM Pup that has OLP sizing.
    wintremute likes this.
  18. If you can do all the work yourself and shop carefully you may not have too much invested.
    It's fun to mod, sometimes makes a real improvement and you get that satisfied feeling
    of making your vision come true.
    At the same time, it's also easy to spend several times what it's worth and end up with
    something that isn't any better than it was to begin with.
    Spend time learning what to expect from each mod.
    Ask here to see if anyone else has been happy when using whatever you want to try.
  19. petjaolvi


    Jul 14, 2017
    Eastern Finland
    I've been looking into Nordstrand reviews and they seem great, so I'll keep this in mind!
    phillybass101 likes this.