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Nordstrand vs John East for MM preamp

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by silky smoove, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I'm using a Nordstrand MM4.2 in a Stingray build, and can't decide on the preamp.

    From my research and thread here on TB; John East's MMSR kind of has its own thing going, whereas the Nordstrand is very close to a vintage set, which is apparently from 1978 that Carey owns.

    Anybody done a direct comparison between these two preamps?
  2. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    I haven't directly A/B'd them but I have heard them in different basses. Both are really well executed and nail the classic Stingray sound.

    Just to clarify, John East built his by reverse engineering the preamp from a classic Musicman Sabre.
  3. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    the nord and sgd's pre all were built using that same schematic as well. you probably cant go wrong with any of them and if youre handy with a soldering iron, just wire one up yourself using the unclefluffy boards. im currently using one in a 76 jazz and a 79 ray.
  4. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Me and a soldering iron are not only incompatible, we're sworn enemies, haha.

    Sounds like I can't go wrong either way. I like the idea of a Nord and a Nord going together, but I also like, trivial though they may be, the center detents on the John East. The Nord is slightly cheaper than the 2-band East.

    I hate when things are so close. It makes my indecisive brain scream at my wallet.
  5. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I've checked out the Nordy MM pickup with the vintage preamp. I owned a 79 Stingray. The Nordy pickup and pre sound at least as good, actually a little better. A little thicker on the G string and cleaner low end. This might be just from using higher quality parts than the original preamp.
  6. birminghambass

    birminghambass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2002
    Birmingham, AL
    I've owned both. The Nord is definitely more faithful to the original.
  7. maurilio

    maurilio Musician - Owner Mo's Shop & MBD - Tech Nordstrand Supporting Member

    May 25, 2003
    Studio City+Redlands, CA
    Endorsing artist: Nordstrand - Genzler Amplification - Sadowsky - Dunlops Strings - DR Strings

    If by center detents you mean the tone pots have the "center flat position, it has to be a recent version or something.
    I just install a east MM pre for customer and there was no center detent on it (?)
  8. yeah, my East MMSR preamp does not have any detents either...
  9. bludog

    bludog Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2012
    Brooklyn 11217
    Hey @silky smoove

    I know I'm digging up a zombie on this one but curious how you like the Nord MM4.2. Also, did you go with the Nord Pre or East?

    I just put the John East 2 Band in my Stingray Classic. It had a Seymour Duncan pickup and pre in it when I bought the bass. I decided to replace just one piece at a time so that I can actually gauge the impact of each component. It sounds a lot closer to a pre-eb Ray now, but still seems a little off with that P/U. The MM4.2 seems like it would be a better option. But looking for some feedback... Got any?

    BTW- Been following your studio build thread since the first post went up. Love the progress. All the best with the project!

    Any other feedback from TB would be great too, but don't want to hijack a dead thread and then have it go off on a tangent. PM me or keep it relevant. Thanks!
    PeaveyPlayer likes this.
  10. birminghambass

    birminghambass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2002
    Birmingham, AL
    If your pickup is the alnico version it won't sound much different from the Nord.
  11. bludog

    bludog Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2012
    Brooklyn 11217
    Thanks, that's helpful except I have no idea which one I have because it came installed. Will need to open it up to know for sure. I'm thinking it's not because the tone doesn't sound right to me.
  12. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I ended up selling that bass before I completed it.
  13. John East

    John East Commercial User

    Jan 10, 2002
    Oxford UK
    Owner of E-Pro & East UK
    Not strictly true, although I had a Sabre, I used my my 76 Stingray, see below, as reference. Although the preamp in mine was covered in epoxy, I already knew the schematic.

    The pre-EB Sabre and Stingray are very similar in terms of schematic but I stuck to the Stingray. The treble control and pickup input are a clone in order to have an exact replication of the interface and treble control, which is crucial. I did include the bright from the Sabre in order that I could supply a unit which would work with a Sabre too, since the circuits are virtually identical. But the bright needs an extra switch of course, and if not used, does not detract from the basic Stingray charm.

    The original has the bass and treble round a single stage, but ours has two stages, with a separate stage for the bass control. This allowed tweaking the bass without interaction with the treble. The bass control has a little more level compared to the original, but without losing the same contours as the Stingray at the lower settings.

    I used toggle to A/B which switched the pickup between preamp inputs as well the preamp outputs feeding the jack, to achieve a strict isolating A/B-ing set-up.

    STINGRAY 01 (2015_05_14 16_18_22 UTC). STINGRAY 02 (2015_05_14 16_18_22 UTC). STINGRAY 03 (2015_05_14 16_18_22 UTC).
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
    MarkoYYZ, bludog, mouthmw and 3 others like this.
  14. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    I'm curious, why not just use the later/modern 2 band stingray preamp for easier reference? MM claims that "The current Ernie Ball 2 bander EQ is exactly the same as the Pre-EB 2 band EQ" with certain variations and component layout change and Tatalum versus Electrolytic capacitors (which according to audiophiles sounds smoother, less harsh), and MM claims "the current preamp is electrically the same as the Pre-EB, but in a more modern package". How big can the difference be tonally? It's a pretty simple preamp, and the IC chip hasn't changed.
  15. Has anyone changed the pre amp in a musicman stingray classic?
  16. I have a stingray classic I'm thinking of changing the pre

    does it sound fatter ?
  17. John East

    John East Commercial User

    Jan 10, 2002
    Oxford UK
    Owner of E-Pro & East UK
    I wanted to definitely compare, using all the original 76 bass, pickup and parts, as a my benchmark.

    I'd certainly expect the EB 2B to be the same schematic as the pre EB 2b as stated, but with modern components.

    I know that many get very precious about component types, but I wasn't using tanatalums or even the original chip type. Although it's possible to measure and hear differences in capacitor performances, for example, they usually have to be used/configured in a way which highlights their differences. But if the circuit doesn't stress the components in a way where the different characteristics are significantly affecting things, then virtually impossible to assess differences, certainly with a bass and bass rig. Of course a full-blown scientifically set up audiophile test may well highlight subtle differences much more easily. The point is to use components in a way where their unwanted characteristics are not relevant.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
    depalm and mouthmw like this.
  18. Is there a huge diffrence when switching the Ernie ball classic pre ?
  19. John East

    John East Commercial User

    Jan 10, 2002
    Oxford UK
    Owner of E-Pro & East UK
    I've not been able to compare to the latest EB 2B, but if it's the original schematic, even with latest component types, unlikely you'd be able to tell, testing with a bass and rig.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016