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new Warwick pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Jacob Bartfield, Mar 20, 2003.

  1. Bartolini

    19 vote(s)
  2. EMG

    12 vote(s)
  3. Basslines

    10 vote(s)
  4. Aero

    5 vote(s)
  5. Lindy Fralin

    2 vote(s)
  6. Bill Lawrence

    0 vote(s)
  7. Lane Poor

    3 vote(s)
  8. keep the stock MECs

    21 vote(s)
  1. I'm thinking of changing the electronics in my Warwick Fortress One. I'm not sure yet if the best idea is to change the preamp or the pickups, (or both). However, if I do change the pickups, I was wondering what I should get.
  2. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    What sound do you want? They're all good pickups but to decide between is down to personal taste.

  3. I'm looking for something that still retains the natural growl of the bass, but without the annoying brittle high end of the MEC pickups.
  4. I'd also like to know if getting a new preamp would be a better idea. In terms of new pickups and a new preamp, which would be the best one to start with?
  5. I noticed I'm getting a couple votes for keeping the MEC pickups. I'm a little surpised about this. Are MEC pickups actually as good as Barts or EMGs? My impression was that they were not.
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I replaced the MEC pups + pre in my '90 Thumb 5 with a Bart system when the MEC pre died. I was not happy with the result. While I was bothered by the brittle high end on the MEC's, they at least had good bottom end.

    With the barts, the bottom end was very wooly and undefined. I ended up pulling the bart pups out, and putting MEC's back in (keeping Bart pre) while I consider my options. This interim result is not fantastic, but much better than the 'all Barts' show.

    This doesn't mean that Barts aren't "quality" items, their construction is perfectly fine. But the end results were not what I wanted sonically. Plenty of other people swear by them, I ended up swearing at them :) Especially after paying $500 to get a sound I didn't like ($300 parts plus $200 for setup + install) It was this experience that made me decide to do all this work myself in future where possible - much cheaper (apart from cost of pups / preamps of course).

    Options I'm considering at the moment are Dimarzio Ultra Jazz 5's, Bill Lawrence J45's or EMG's, probably with a U-Retro preamp.
  7. I'd say Seymour Duncans. I'm no Warwick fan, but with all the Duncan equipped 'wicks I've tried, the tone was a good compromise against the ****ty feeling neck.

    EMG's are my favourite pickups, but a lot of people find their highs brittle too. If you were to go 18V on the EMG's you wouldn't have this problem, but even so I think you should go with Duncans. Woodchuck will back me up here.
  8. Hey PanteraFan, thanks for the suggestion, but watch what you say about Warwick necks. I happen to think my bass has one of the nicest feeling necks ever.

    Anyways, I think the first thing I'm going to do is get my bass wired so that it could be played passive and the electronics are bypassed. If I don't like the passive tone, then I know it is the fault of the pickups and will probobly get them replaced.

    Does anyone else agree with davidmwilson? The last thing I want is an undefined, mushy bass sound, but at this point, Bartolinis are what I'm leaning toward.
  9. If you had my hands, you'd think differently ;).

    I've never played a Warwick with Barts that touched the SD, or the EMG sound. I'm not a huge Bart fan, but they've really worked in the Pedullas and Laklands I've played. Your passive option is a good choice, but even if the pickups do suck you may buy new oens and find that the preamp is still muddying up the tone.
  10. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I'm definitely in the minority in my opinion, from what I've seen here there are plenty more people that love them than hate them. As panterafan says, the overall sound is a combination of a number of parameters (neck, wood, pups, preamp etc) - and I'm sure Barts sound killer in a lot of basses.

    But my experience was that I lost the growl that I love about the thumb with the barts setup.
  11. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    i'd change out the preamp first. the preamp sucks pretty hard, wheras i've always been pretty impressed by the passive sound.

    i wouldn't put barts in it though. i've never heard a bass with barts that has the same kind of clarity and growl that even the stock MEC setup produces.

    if you've got the bank, drop in a U-retro. and then tell me how it sounds so i can do it :)
  12. I just found out that it would be very difficult to wire my bass so that it can be passive (as well as active). This is because the pickups are active won't work without the help of the preamp. I'm not sure if a new preamp would even work with the bass's pickups. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I may just leave the pickups and the preamp and just be satisfied with the sound I'm getting now.

    Do you think a new preamp would really improve the bass's sound?
  13. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    while it's true you can't run the pickups without some kind of power to them, you could still have an active/passive preamp - the passive switch bypassing all the circuitry of the preamp but not cutting the power to the pickups.

    most warwicks have one stock, i use it more than i use any of my tone controls. it rocks.
  14. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    As Jason says, you will have to supply power to the pickups if they're active. This is easy, splice the (usually)red pickup power wires with the red battery wire.

    When you run it passive, the active pups will still be drawing power from the battery but the sound will bypass the internal preamp. So, blend should still work but EQ won't.

    At the moment, I'm running with MEC pups and Barts preamp. It's better than the all Barts show, but still doesn't cut through as well in the low mids as the all MEC setup does.

    That's what I'm doing next. I had to get a custom one, without the blend toggle switch. It still has an active/passive toggle, which I'll have to work out how to integrate (if at all) with the bass. I'll probably leave it on active, which I always do anyway, and just leave the switch in the control cavity. In the spirit of only changing one thing at a time, I'll leave the MEC's in for now and report back when I've got the U-Retro in. I put one in my Fender Hot Rod P and loved the results.
  15. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    Whilst we're on the topic of Warwicks and electronics, could anyone help me out. My '87 Streamer has EMG pickups but I don't know what the preamp is in it. Basically, I want to add another battery (because the EMGs will sound better on 18v) but I don't know if the preamp will cope with an 18v supply. Or could I power the EMGs with 18v and the preamp with 9v? I've thought of upgrading the preamp to something fancy like an 18v Bart or Aguilar OBP-3 but, whatever this preamp is, it's tone and eq contours work very well for me.

    Does anyone know what preamps were fitted as standard to early Warwicks, and if not, could someone out there that knows they have an MEC 2-band preamp tell me what it looks like?


  16. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    can't help you with the first part, but I can with the second.

    The MEC 2-band preamp from my '90 Thumb is about 1 1/8" long, 3/4" wide. It has 10 wires in total, 5 coming out opposite sides on the 'top'. Hope that helps.
  17. herrera


    Feb 15, 2002
    according to most of reviews about changing pickups on a warwick most of the time they said that if you chage the preamp will make a very big difference?

    wich preamp will be the best option ?
    i have a thumb 5 with the 18V sistem
  18. Staying on the topic of warwick and pickups:
    I'm looking at getting a warwick corvette 5!! love it more than any bas but I'm looking at getting a pickup upgrade. I'm leaning to a passive setup. I'm thinking villex, what do you guys suggest?
  19. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I guess the difference depends on what you already have. My Thumb '90 had the 2 band EQ MEC and MEC pups. My preamp died, and I got an all barts system (my woes with that are described earlier in this thread).

    I'm now back with the MEC pups and just installed a U-Retro preamp from John East. I'm still planning on replacing the MEC pups, just haven't decided what with yet.
    But the U-Retro sounds really great on a Warwick, there's plenty of bass boost plus the mid sweep + cut/boost is very handy too.
  20. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA

    OOOOh i now hate you!!

    when everything is left 'flat,' how would you say it's different from the MEC preamp? how different is it from passive mode?

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