Pickup and Preamp overhaul: upgrading to Delano and ACG

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by rojo412, Dec 6, 2015.

  1. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I recently acquired this MPG Level 5 in a trade. And I've been kinda slow on projects lately, so I decided to take this bass to a whole new level (no pun intended!).

    This particular bass has passed through a few hand lately and I asked a few of the previous owners why they gave it up. And pretty much everybody said it didn't sound lively enough.
    Bartolinis tend to be a very mellow, smooth pickup and the preamp compliments that well. But if you're like me (and I know I am!), a Stingray-style bass should be kinda agressive. Punchy, thick...

    And if you're familiar with single-pickup designs like me (and I know I am), you know that there are some tonal limitations that come with the simplicity.

    Taking all of that into play, I decided I wanted to help this bass find all kinds of new uses! So I opted for a DELANO Dual Coil pickup and an ACG FILTER Preamp.


    First thing's first: take the Bart stuff out!

    IMG_2123.jpg IMG_2125.jpg

    I should mention that the ACG is a buffered preamp and is designed for 2 pickups. I decided to wire the pickup as North and South coil, as if they were 2 separate pickups.

    I should also mention that the switch hole needed to be filled and I'm not one for dummy switches. But this buffered preamp isn't easily bypassed, so for the moment, I opted to wired up the bypass to just send the pickup directly to the jack in parallel mode. (And thanks to line6man for the advice on that one!)


    Once the preamp was in, the pickup went in relatively easily and I wired the whole mess to the switch and VOILA!



    It's now got a "WalEmbicRay" thing going on. I think I have some learning to do on the preamp settings, as it's practically infinite. But it's got a crispier, cleaner, and higher output. And the filer controls on the preamp can go from zingy-jazzy clear to absolute brown note with the flick of a wrist...
    The art seems to be finding where within that swath to set things.

    Anyway, I love doing projects like this!

    Attached Files:

  2. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    Excellent post!

    Thanks for sharing. That new setup sounds fantastic!
  3. 5StringPocket

    5StringPocket Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Very cool project and a nice bass to work with.
  4. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    I like it. I like the simplicity of a one-pickup bass, and Delano makes great stuff. I have an ACG in a fretless, and it delivers an amazing amount of tonal shaping capability. Great combination!

    Oh, and good call on the bypass-straight-to-the-jack too. That makes a lot of sense as a fail-safe. I've done that as well, and it's saved me at a couple of gigs!
  5. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    The switch basically started as just a functional hole filler, honestly. But when bypassed, the pickup alone in parallel sounds great. It's very "authentic" to the SR5-ness.
    And the ACG has a huge learning curve! I have to figure out how to work with it better, but every time I plug this in, I feel like I'm learning something.
  6. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    UPDATE: I bagged the ACG. It was a cool preamp, but just a bit more than I needed for this. The natural tone was really good, so I opted to put in a real-deal Musicman Stingray 3 band. It wasn't a direct drop-in, but a fun project nonetheless.

    Started with this:

    Removed the pots:

    Spliced in wires:
    And pots:
    Fit it in:
    And added some foam to keep the board from hitting the shielding:

    I plugged it in late last night and it's got the SR5 vibe in spades! I attached a crappily played clip though...

    Attached Files:

    SirMjac28 likes this.
  7. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Very cool love the sound.
  8. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I wanna know more about this "MPG Level 5". Never heard of those, but from your pics it looks like a pretty swanky axe.
  9. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Matt Pulcinella made some pretty sweet basses for a while. MPG Home Page

    He's since stopped making them to concentrate on his own music. But what he's built over the years are great basses that compare very highly with many other boutique companies. The prices have come down, but what you get (assuming it was taken care of) is a lot more bass for the money than you would with many other companies. I'm not going to name names, but this thing easily beats out some that I've played which cost a hell of a lot more.

    I did actually take this to a jam last night and loved the results. Ergonomically, this bass is super comfortable in any position. It weighs very little, but sounds huge. And the new pickup and ballz-out preamp really cut through. The ACG was very capable as well, but man... what a learning curve!
    Bob_Ross likes this.
  10. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    So are you putting that ACG pre up for sale?
  11. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Already sold it to my man Roger, sorry.
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