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Original 63 Jazz how to make more punchy- greater gain?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by suraci, Nov 11, 2016.


  1. suraci

    suraci

    Apr 11, 2005
    First of all I am not clear what some of you probably much better understand.
    The differences between what one gains by carefully ( not ruining the basses authenticity ) adding active electronics / higher boost pu, and frankly, the labels bassists give to these changes!

    "Punchiness" "sustain" "Boost" ( among other qualities of bass sound - you are welcome to add more) are some broad labels - and the electronics to gain these attributes.

    I guess this thread is not just asking for the how-to part, but the labels and accepted concepts for when we are modifying our sound from the original.
    Snce it is a broad topic it could "get crazy".. but it is also a topic that interests many of us.
    So starting with those 3 terms.."Punchiness" "sustain" "Boost", help me ( us ) associate a piece of electronic equipment with a basses tonal possibilities aka punchiness, boost, sustain ( can a bass increase both sustain and punch in one alteration? I tend to think sustain and punch are opposite ends of the bass sounds spectrum)
    I have never owned an active bass. I have no conception of the relationship between punch and boost! None!
    Honestly I do not understand the difference between gain at the amp and gain at the PU and gain in the active electronic end!
    Technology keeps advancing, so I am hoping some of you can help.
    I am a respected musician in the worlds I have inhabited.. but I know little about this area of expertise... yes it is possible! Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Laker

    Laker

    Mar 23, 2000
    Why not run an outboard preamp so no change to your instrument. I just had my '63 Jazz re-fretted and had it restrung with RotoSound Swingbass strings (I've used them on that bass since the '70s) and the instrument sounds fantastic running it through my practice amp, an Eden WTX500 driving a TC Electronic RS210 cabinet. The alder body resonates quite well and it has a great low end punch with nice, clear mids and highs.
     
  3. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    ummmm... huh?

    Get a preamp pedal. Tons of them out there, some meh some great. Leave the bass itself alone.
     
  4. jim nolte

    jim nolte

    Oct 26, 2006
    california
    Get an out board Sadowsky pre, you'll have plenty of 'punch' :)
     
    moonshinegtrs, MHT75 and MobileHolmes like this.
  5. Morgan Koren

    Morgan Koren

    Dec 31, 2007
    Vancouver bc
    Get another Jazz-style bass and mod it. Maybe a Roadworn or Nash. If you're not content with a '63 Jazz, then cash it in while it's still worth big bucks.
     
  6. suraci

    suraci

    Apr 11, 2005
    Thanks guys
    What are outboard preamps?
    Would an EQ pedal by Boss be the same thing?
    I own a little box by Sadowsky, but do not find it transparent.. so I do not use it.

    And active pu has battery power
    how is that different from an outboard pre
    and again is any old pedal for bass ( Boss eq )
    somehow different?
    I need to be educated on all of this.
     
  7. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Iowa
    I wouldn't touch anything on the bass. Screwing with it will completely devalue it, assuming it hasn't been screwed with before. It may just be that vintage isn't what you're looking for. It's a flavor, and vintage basses are pretty inconsistent anyway (I haven't played that many 60s fenders, but I have heard from a fair number of people that not all of them are special). You could sell a decent condition 63 for quite a bit, depending on color, condition, and originality. Even a beat up one, all original, would give you the proceeds to buy anything short of maybe an alembic or tricked out fodera (and you could still score those used)

    I'd start by fiddling with the EQ on your amp, frankly. That can do a ton. Beyond that, a compressor or some kind of external preamp pedal. Compressors, in particular, can add some punch, sustain, and boost, depending on how you set them. I run a Diamond on all the time, and it is subtle, but kind of sweetens the sound. I keep it set volume neutral, but it will boost if you want to.

    But, after reading your posts, I'm not quite sure what you're looking for. You want a different sound, but then don't want it colored like the sadowsky preamp? I'm not quite sure what that is, in practical terms.

    To answer one of your follow up questions- very few basses use active pickups (and even active pickups is a misnomer, all pickups are passive, it's just a question of where the preamp lives. With "active" pickups, the preamp is typically inside the casing). Most use regular old pickups and some sort of on board preamp (powered by a battery). The preamps usually provide much more flexible EQ than a passive bass, may or may not boost the signal, and may or may not be transparent sounding. I've got a number of active basses. My main one is a parts J bass with an audere preamp, which has essentially zero output boost, a lot of eq control, and provides very little coloration (set everything flat, it's basically passive). My stingray, on the other hand, has a preamp with a very distinctive built in character. The various outboard preamps are pretty much the same thing as the onboard, just moved down the signal chain a bit. My understanding is the sadowsky is basically their on board preamp in a box.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016
    Mastermold, UNICORN BASS and mikecd1 like this.
  8. suraci

    suraci

    Apr 11, 2005
    I am not quite sure either... but let me use real world reactions as a reference
    I played a Music man with active electronics ( I assume that is the case )
    That bass does NOT have the tone of mine... innumerable bass players in the past 35 years
    have salivated over this bass, with one exception - a guy who is all about KNOWING about bass, but not about PLAYING bass.
    My bass was being held by Marcus Miller at a store... I was told he planned on removing the frets. But he released it.. and I scooped it up.
    So the bass is well above average.. maybe a hair darker in tone than average.

    I played my 63 on a crappy fender rumble I think it's called
    then I played the active bass
    I got more gain on the Music Man than the 63 and without distortion! This is a revelation to this
    dinosaur. I did not realize that active electronics can make your slightly underpowered amp sound
    louder WITHOUT distortion
    While the passive bass will have be less loud.
    I am writing this thread to learn about active basses.. sound production and any other related topic.
    I am quite aware of the value of bass and alterations ruining the value if not the tone.
    I am here to learn, if you guys can continue offering help or even a site where active electronics versus passive are explained
    plus outboard pedals- how is that different from active onboard electronics?
     
  9. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Iowa
    Just turn up the gain on the amp preamp a little? If anything, an active preamp on a bass has the potential to make the amp distort (that's why most amps have an active input or button, to make the input less sensitive). My audere is a low gain preamp, and it runs fine into a standard amp input. Preamps, in general boost the signal from the pickups a little before amplicifcation, and provide some tone shaping EQ. This is true whether it is on the bass, in a pedal, or the preamp in your amplifier.
     
  10. suraci

    suraci

    Apr 11, 2005
    Thank you
    I have been a professional for ages
    I intuitive know when an amp is out of gas - you cannot turn up gain.
    The tone is not right
    whereas the music man playing through SAME amp settings
    jumped out ( punchy I guess ) more so than the 63.
    I know it's the electronics of the two guitars.. one active one passive
    it's the only variable really ( well amend that... distance of pu to strings )
    My gut says in't the electronics that make the major difference.
    So I want to borrow from the active world ( pedal, pu replacement that does no harm, etc )
    to augment what I already have.
     
  11. Please don't mess with your old bass. Just go buy an active bass. You could easily spend enough on modifications (mods) to have just gotten a new bass. This is the site that will tell you probably more than you ever wanted to know about bass. I see you've been here almost as long as I have. But I'm guessing you haven't spent a lot of time reading. Please spend a good bit of time reading up on this stuff and educate yourself. Good active basses can be had for as little as a few hundred dollars and of course the sky's the limit from there on up. Some companies that come to mind are Ibanez, Ernie Ball Music Man, Sire, MTD Kingston, and there are many others. You should start by going to a music store that carries a number of different active basses and just play a bunch of them. There is a forum called pickups and electronics here that addresses all these topics. Read, read, read and study up. I use this site as a research tool to educate myself on all things bass. But then I'm a bit of a gear geek, more so than most of my bass playing buddies, but spending time here studying costs nothing and will reveal a wealth of information. You have a bass that many only dream of owning please leave it as original as you got it. If you've been here over ten years and only own one bass you definitely haven't spent much time actually ON this site. I'd venture to guess far more of our members have 2 or more basses. I own many, one reason is just to have both Passive (non active) old school types as well as active (modern) basses for just the reason you are describing, more punch different tones and frankly a more modern sound. I play professionally so I need different types of basses for different types of gigs. Good luck in your quest. Prepare to be overwhelmed with information.
     
    Mastermold likes this.
  12. There are plenty of ways to upgrade a vintage instrument. First and foremost don't do anything to the wood. No drilling, routing, etc. Secondly, check out DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan for DIRECT REPLACEMENT pickups. Save everything (and I mean everything) from the original. Good luck.
     
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  13. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    Consider a compression pedal. You can certainly get plenty of boost, punch, and sustain. I find that preamp pedals, alone, can be a little "flat" when they are really transparent. They do boost the signal, which presents particularly in the highs, which can sometimes make them more modern and hi-fi sounding. Of course, if you have a nice EQ section, you get some tone sculpting options, which may benefit pedals coming after it in the chain, and/or how your amp reacts to the bass.

    As for compressors, I've recently had good luck with the Horizon by Solid Gold FX, but it is a tad colored (not wildly), with a slight bump in the low-mids, and leans to being more of an effect when the settings are turned up. It can add a nice bit of thickness and warmth at lower settings. The OVNIFX Smoothie is less of an effect, and more of a tool. It has a clean blend, and a tilt EQ (lets you make it darker/brighter), and relatively simple controls and interaction. You can certainly get a gain boost out of these units. There are several others out there, at varying prices, each with loyal fans, and variations on how transparent and/or effect-y they get (Cali76, Diamond, Empress).
     
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  14. yup unless you really want to, a pre-amp is the quick and dirty answer to your goal you can add sustain, punch, thump, grit and growl to name just a few :)
     
  15. 9Thumbs

    9Thumbs

    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    I just bought a Boss Bass EQ from Sweetwater. I bought it to help eliminate feedback from my upright bass. It didn't help much with that, but, It gave me amazing control over the tone that went into my amp. It also has a volume slide, so if you want to you can overdrive the preamp in your rig a bit with it. I sent it back because I'm happy with the way my Fender basses sound through my amp, but for $100 I'd recommend it highly if you want to change the sound of your Jazz without modifying it. The Boss sounds the same with all the slides centered as it does in bypass mode and doesn't seem to distort the timbre of your bass. It just gives you a lot of control.
     
  16. xroads

    xroads

    Nov 6, 2012
    Maybe a stupid question, but worth asking: can you have the electronics of your bass checked by a professional repairman?
    Sometimes on old basses, things deteriorate (magnets, wiring etc.) that can cause what you describe.
     
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  17. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Iowa
    That's a thought too. I had a bass I had wired myself where one of the pickup grounds wasn't quite solid, and it would pass a signal, just a quiet one. Actually come to think of it, I had a similar problem with a cord this year too. I couldn't figure out why I was having to dime my MB500 to play by myself. Short answer is, you don't need to do that
     
  18. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    With regard to sustain, my view is it starts with the setup and physical aspects of the bass. Some may employ a compressor to enhance the appearance or impression of sustain.

    With a passive bass there is a timbre or organic sound that exists that will probably be altered in a significant way if you alter the gain path. Adding active electronics or a preamp pedal add another stage of gain between the bass and the amplifier. In a passive bass the volume control only cuts and is not considered a gain stage. The effect of adding more gain stages can vary, but will often lead to a louder, thicker, or more punchy sound at the expense of the organic or complex timbre of the passive instrument.

    Whether that is good or bad is entirely subjective and situational.

    My view is that a classic passive bass is at its best when operated as such, and therefore I prefer it au naturale. If you are working to change a specific sonic property then I would start with EQ and amp adjustments, and probably consider a compressor if it seemed necessary. I think the last thing I would do is consider an onboard preamp for that bass. If that were the sound I was going after I would simply buy a modern active bass to use as well.
     
  19. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Iowa
    That's an excellent point. I don't think I've ever played an adequately set up bass that had any meaningful sustain issues.
     
  20. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    Lots of differences between a Musicman and a Jazz Bass. Was the MM a Stingray or Sterling? IMO, they are very "punchy" in that they have a very strong attack. Some of that is preamp, but the biggest factor is the pickup and pickup placement. A jazz bass will never sound like that.

    The MM will probably be louder than the Jazz, too, which can create the illusion of "better." Better is subjective. If you preferred the MM tone, selling your jazz bass should easily produce the funds to buy a MusicMan.
     
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