OLP Musicman 5 upgrade vs Ibanez GSR206 upgrade

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by DeadheadSteve, Oct 28, 2019.

  1. DeadheadSteve


    Mar 14, 2019
    G'day TB'ers, TLDR at the bottom.

    I come back to your wealth of knowledge and experience once again. I currently have in my possession a OLP musicman stingray copy and a Ibanez GSR206. I will be looking at upgrading ONE of these guitars pickups/wiring in the near future, but im trying to figure out which one i should choose.

    The OLP is passive, 5 string, made from maple and heavy enough to break a toe through a shoe. I love the obnoxiously large tuners and the body seems to fit well with my stature. I haven't done any upgrades to the beast so it still has the crappy pickup and jack it came with. I would be looking at upgrading the pickup to something like a seymore duncan to try and get closer to that MM sound (minus the pre-amp)

    The Ibanez GSR206 is active, 6 string, made from basswood and light enough to carry with a finger. The neck is wide, but the action is nice and low and the neck pup gives me something akin to a fender sound when the active pot is rolled off. The wood is weak, with lots of chips taken from the body, and the pups struggle to play anything lower than an E without the stupidly noisy "PHAT II" pre-amp crap. Hoping to replace the bridge with an aftermarket soapbar to help makeup for the drop past the low E and ripout/replace the preamp.

    I love both these bases for each of their own characteristics and the options they both provide. However i know they can be made better, and the goal is to essentially do one up as my "main" bass and keep the other for backup. I'm not scared to choose one and stick to it.

    New pickup/electronics for my OLP musicman? If so can you suggest something better than the seymore duncan to achieve my sound?
    New Pickup /electronics for my active Ibanez GSR206? Can you help suggest something soapbar like that will help the bridge get a bit of character and beef?

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2019
    Zoobiedood likes this.
  2. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    What's wrong with the OLP? I'm not sure what passive pickup would give you the sound, but I'd look for something beefy. Maybe ceramic or neodymium pickups?

    For Ibby, I'd start by just removing the preamp, see what that gives you...
  3. DeadheadSteve


    Mar 14, 2019
    The OLP is just old and starting fall apart/rust/rattle. It was my primary bass till i got my ibby, but I have always kept it around as a future project guitar to start learning setups/hardware changing etc.
    The ceramic duncan 5.4's seem to cover majority of the tone im chasing, minus the MM pre-amp. I just didnt know if there was anything newer/more exciting - i only just recently learnt about the BigBladeMan Chancellor signatures which look AMAZING but i have 0 ways to get some in Australia aside from Ebay and its bloody hard to find clips.

    Yeah this is going to be my fist step, but im scared about loosing the functionality of my B string as it seems like the current pups (which i believe are called soap-bar?) seem to be lackluster without the pre-amp engaged to give me a bit of girth. Most recommendations ive found online in regards to the ibby is just drop it and buy a better guitar.

    Thanks for your reply!
  4. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Not a bad advice... maybe for the OLP too :)

    I think there's a few clips of Nordstrand pickups on youtube… not the best way to hear them, but better than nothing... they make some cool stuff at Nordstrand, but Duncans are like less than $100, so...
  5. DeadheadSteve


    Mar 14, 2019
    It was cheap and I'd like to keep something i wouldn't mind frankenstiening in the future when i get on my planned luthier phase!
    Unfortunately its either $200 and a few hours to do the work or $800 for something second hand half decent. Even most EBMM go for $2k second hand where i am. Its rough.
  6. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    If you were to upgrade the OLP for a more Stingray-esque character, I would most certainly try a preamp first. The preamp is part and parcel to the Stingray sound, the other part being a parallel wound humbucker. If you have one part and not the other, it's just not quite there. I had an Ibanez RB820 and RB920 with a JJ in the Stingray sweet spot. Both were passive, the pickups are decent (closest tone was when ran in parallel) but the tone just lacked that extra bump and zing character the MM 2BEQ preamp adds. Dropping a Duncan stacked Bass/Treble preamp in the bass got it much closer, close enough for RnR. Getting a proper MM preamp clone nailed it.
    There are many 2BEQ preamps out there that would drop right in, most average around $100. There is a cool mojotone one for about $100, the Duncan for $65 and a Nordstrand for about $160.

    As for the Gio, I would also just consider a preamp upgrade. That Phat circuit is garbage. Same thing applies, there are many options for around $100-150 depending how you want to configure the usage of holes in the body/concentric pots, etc...

    If adding the preamp doesn't do exactly what you want on either bass, you can then address the pickup situation. The pickups on both basses are certainly usable.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
    wesonbass likes this.
  7. The Gio Rip the Phat out. I have a GSR205 I fitted a £I0 Chinese Belcat 3 band which is PERFECTLY OK. Huge step up from the Phat 2
  8. voronfly


    Dec 22, 2010
    I have a Tony Levin OLP, which i thought i ll convert into HH version. I ended up installing a single SMB-5A and it gave a pretty good result. The stock chinese preamp works well enough with it. I recently acquired a EBMM 5 HH, and from what i can tell, the OLP is pretty good sounding. Need to mention that i got the OLP used, and i assume all the flaws were already fixed by that time, i only had to do a proper set up. In my opinion OLP is more bass for what it worth, compared to GSR Ibanez.
    I could never find a good sounding ibanez, even now i have a SR5005 and i am not satisfied with B string. As GSR205 is an entry level bass i would not bother with it at all.
  9. The Gio is a perfectly good bass oncece you replace the Phat the tuners and the bridge

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