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Onboard Digital Preset Controls

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by pbasswil, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    Here we are in 2012, and most of us carry in our pockets devices that make the Apollo 11’s computer look like a crank-driven calculator.

    Given that electric toothbrushes now contain microprocessors :)^D lol! ), are there no on-board bass preamps that can memorize entire bass control harness settings for instant recall?

    Patches, as it were -- to remember and instantly call back p.u. balance, EQ, level, coil-splits, phase, etc. settings, all with one button push or knob turn?

    (Just to anticipate certain reactions: no, you wouldn't need this for a P bass. But it could be handy on a Benavente or Tobias... :^)

  2. There was one, but I can't remember what it was called.

    Most people don't want that crap on a bass. Wiring should be as simplified as possible, and preferably analog.
  3. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    EBMM Gamechanger.
  4. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    That looks interesting. Without studying it though -- doesn't that system require programming with a computer or something?

    What I'm looking for is, for instance, a way of switching from e.g. a neck p.u. P-bass type sound, to a Jaco-ish bridge p.u. sound -- all in one quick movement, without having to additionally stop to re-EQ.

    Non-modular synths have had this since the 70s. Basses with few onboard options don't need it, but if you use complex, active basses, it could be really helpful.
  5. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    There's this, which could potentially be applied to a preamp: http://www.guitarelectronics.com/pr...rogrammable-Guitar-Pickup-Control-System.html

    There was also the Line 6 Variax, which didn't really take off like anyone expected it to.

    Otherwise, there isn't much in the onboard digital world. I think that most musicians just prefer to have analog controls on their instruments and leave the digital world for their pedals and stuffs.
  6. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Yeah, you hook it up to the computer to adjust your presets. The five position switch chooses the presets.
  7. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    Ah, that looks interesting. I wonder how easy it would be to make it control 3 band EQ, for instance. Would be cooler if it had its own (good quality, flexible) EQ integrated into it.


    What you describe is certainly what we're used to; but then, at the moment players are not exposed to other options.
    If there was a simple-to-use, good sounding integrated control system with presets, I think there could be interest.

    One situation that always comes up for me is that when I switch to my bridge p.u. I find I need to add lows; and probably also do some other EQ and level fine-tuning.

    I could kick in EQ from a pedal or multieffect whenever I switch pickups. But I'm not a big fan of pedals -- more pieces to set up and to supply with power. (Plus, that's a second adjustment to make.)

    And anyway, different basses and p.u.'s need different EQ; so why not have the exactly right EQ for each bass, already onboard and preset.

    I appreciate that that way of working doesn't appeal to everyone. But I think if such a system integrated right into the bass or guitar was perfected, then a lot of players would start to see the appeal.
  8. That's the one I was thinking of. They used a cellphone display, lol.
  9. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    I think the market would be very small.
    Look at how many bass guitar payers won't use active analog onboard circuits. Onboard DSP would probably fair even worse.
  10. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    Marleaux had a programmable EQ on their Consat bass 10+ years ago but it only stored different frequency settings for each of the 3 bands. The gain control for each band is still manual. Storing gain settings would require encoders instead of traditional pots. Very cool concept though.

    Vigier had something along those lines too but it required an external power supply IIRC.
  11. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    Thanks for the references.

    Yup, the key concept is that it needs to an all in one, dead-simple-to-use solution. These ideas and initiatives cited so far are great experiments, but I think for most players they don't add enough convenience to offset the complication they bring.

    I think what would finally make this kind of system interesting to a wider market would be one that pulls all the pieces together in a way that actually makes on-stage adjustments simpler and faster -- and which doesn't take the player's attention away from performing.

    - memorizes _all_ settings of the entire bass/guitar control harness.
    - switches between patches instantly and effortlessly -- like the lever on a Strat or Stingray
    - does not sound degraded, compared to traditional analog wiring
    - doesn't require more frequent charging or battery changing than a typical onboard preamp.
  12. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    One big problem with having patches that are perfectly consistent is that nothing else in the rig is guaranteed to be. The room will make everything sound different, strings can be newer/older than they were when the preset was created, etc. At least for a while, changing presets on the fly will not be a quick task, and the best solution will be to throw on a bypass switch that puts the preamp into manual-mode.
  13. Crater


    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
    Read up on the Gibson "Firebird X" and "Dusk Tiger" guitars, they were equipped with on-board electronics that are probably above and beyond what you're dreaming of. Neat technology, but it was a humongous, gigantic FLOP in the marketplace. Granted, guitarists are much more conservative about technology than bassists, but still.

    Those are all feasible with modern microelectronics, except the last one. There's no way on earth (or any other planet) that you can have all that extra circuitry and have battery life be the same.
  14. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    It didn't help that they were butt ugly gimmicky guitars. The current people at Gibson have not shown a knack for designing anything new. They just rehash the old tried and true designs, or come out with (IMO) hideous things like the Firebird X, Dusk Tiger, or Zoot Suit SG. Ack!

    Also, those guitars had effects units in them.

    One easy way to have presets, is to install a 2 or 3 band preamp for each pickup. Set each pickup for the tone you want, and blend between them.
  15. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    My Line6 Variax connected to my PodXtLive does all that and then some. It's a shame that they never really caught on, it's a really awesome system. In a single patch I can store the bass model, all knob settings on the bass, effects, EQ, compressor, Amp model, cabinet, room size, microphone type, and any 4 of about 100 different effects.
  16. sharp8874


    Jan 10, 2011
    Interesting thoughts here. When I first heard about the "gamechanger" a while ago I thought it was cool but lame that you had to plug it in to change the settings. Anyways I have done some research and have some ideas on how to change between pickups and if the are in phase or are in series or parallel. Geting the eq to work out the way you described is going to be a challenge because you basically need to fit a small digital mixer into a bass.