New Preamp Day [EMG BQC]

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Wanker_Joe, May 7, 2018.

  1. Wanker_Joe


    Sep 26, 2017
    Hi All,

    My bass is a 2008ish Spector Rebop DLX-FM 4 string. Light, attractive and very playable - it's my primary gigging bass. One day after a jam party my bass had the most terrible static and popping emanating from it. Changed out the cables, battery, double checked the amp, battery and cables with my other basses, definitely something wrong with my Rebop. About a week later all the "oomph" disappears. Static pops get worse and occasionally loss of all sound. My guitar player who is also an electrician came over and we traced it to the preamp. Damn.

    I made a post on the Spector club asking for some suggestions, and they came through with a deluge of excellent options! After some thorough research, I eventually chose an EMG BQC preamp. I have always liked the EMG sound; the basses I've had with EMGs always seemed to match my playstyle very well, and since I already had EMG pickups in this bass, why not!

    Installation went okay. Unfortunately the pot holes didn't fit the two stacked pots that came with the pre, so I had to drill them out a bit, which honestly was terrifying. Also the cavity is a bit small for it. I managed to get everything and a battery to fit, but it is very very tight. In total we needed 7 solders. We re-used the cables that went from the pickups into the dead tone-pump. It was straightforward to solder that to the solder points as the manual states (4 solders). All the internals were connected with the supplied quick-connects. The output jack that came with the preamp kit was far too short, so we reused the existing one. After a bit of work determining ring/tip/sleeve points we made the last 3 solders. We opted for a single 9-volt rather than 2 because frankly I didn't want to route the body to fit a second 9-volt. Including the light surgery and some baby duties (my guitarist did the work with me and has a 1-month old at home - we swapped out amusing the baby and doing the work) it took about 2 hours. Not bad at all.

    I wired it up as suggested in the manual, EMG HZ pickups -> Active Balance Control (ABC) -> BQC -> Volume -> output. In retrospect, I think I bought the wrong pre, as the manual indicates using the ABC to help deal with active EMG pickups and to use a different skew for passive pickups, my pickups are passive. Oops. Of course, I only noticed this tidbit after we had installed the preamp. It still works fine though! (Thank goodness!)

    Before I discuss the sound I would like to point out that I am a "tone is in the fingers" type of player. I much prefer to vary how and where I play than futz about with EQs and the like to get the tone I'm looking for. I am a set it and forget it kind of guy. My usual play style is mostly slap, some aggressive finger style and strummed chords near or over the neck and a fair amount of tapping. Yes, I'm a total wanker. I never play with a pick (I don't even own one), I love the picked sound but I've always felt uncoordinated and find them hard to use, so I abandoned learning it; I'm lazy that way. I play standard E-A-D-G tuning and use a medium gauge string. Of course, my assessment of the pres performance is going to be only in relation to the above info. YMMV, etc.

    Sounds-wise I find this pre is crisp and very clear with all settings at unity, with no hint of distortion. The BQC does not have the high-output-almost-compressed kind of sound that I was expecting given my previous experience with EMG systems - the output isn't even as forceful as the tone-pump was. I was pleasantly surprised by that. The EQ seems to be geared way more for boost than cut. Cutting does a bit, but boosting can be overwhelming. Full on bass boost with the treble down gives the bass a very warm and full sound; playing softly with fingers near the neck produces a nice mellow bassiness. Aggressive playing however causes the pre to distort when the EQ is all the way up. Probably if I had set it up to 18v it would have had more headroom, but honestly I don't tend to play with much boost anyhow. Bass boost is also far more noticeable than the treble or mid boosts. Additionally, the mid frequency sweep also doesn't seem to do as much as I would have thought. It's a little more subtle than expected, but that's fine. Playing as I regularly do, slight bump to lows and very aggressive finger style near the neck with lots of slap the sound is pretty great. Even though I find the output more balanced than the tone pump was it still has a nice aggressive sound, which is what made me fall in love with the Spector in the first place; thankfully it still sounds like a Spector! Tapping and harmonics also ring nicely with no hint of distortion and no over bearing high-end peaks. Strummed chords are nice and full.

    Band practice is on Friday so we'll see how it sounds in context with the band. A gig is also coming up in two weeks so I'm excited to hear how it'll handle out at the gig. At least in my practice room I've been very happy with the results.

    Pros: Very clear sounding pre amp. Quck and easy to install, clear and concise instruction set. Also, if you like to boost, this thing has boost for days! Just don't play too aggressively when you boost all the way up, or perhaps consider going 18-volt. No hint of distortion when playing aggressively with the EQ settings at a reasonable level.

    Cons: Didn't fit my Rebop very well, especially bothersome was having to drill larger holes for the two stacked pots and the output jack is laughably short (I don't own a bass that this output jack would fit into, I'm not sure what type of bass it's supposed to fit). Also, I should point out that the knobs surprisingly didn't all fit that well, and don't seem to tighten well on the pot posts. Minor gripe, but still pretty annoying to me.

  2. packrat

    packrat Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2017
    Sydney, Australia
    I did this in a similar Rebop 5 but also replaced the pickups with active emg 40dc/40p5 which meant I had very little soldering to do. Great result.

    I also used the vol pots from the new pickups to keep the vol, vol arrangement.
  3. Wanker_Joe


    Sep 26, 2017
    I should have done something similar to that with respect to the volume pots; I miss the vol/vol setup. Maybe something to play with in the future.
  4. packrat

    packrat Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2017
    Sydney, Australia
    Free vol pots if you get new pickups :)

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