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Pre-Amp for Kingston Z5

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by godspeed, Mar 26, 2009.


  1. godspeed

    godspeed

    Nov 26, 2008
    Ok I am shopping for a pre-amp for my Kingston Z5. The main issue I have in doing so is 1. I'm completely electronics illiterate, 2. I have never bought or installed a pre-amp before. So I don't really know what to expect. My idea is I am going to upgrade the pre-amp first, and see if I can keep my wood covered pickups. If the pre-amp doesn't provide the desired results I will look into some pup.

    These are my main two choices for a pre-amp. I want to use the 18v version of these pre-amps:

    Bartolini NTMB - 3 Band Preamp 5.2 A/P
    2 Pickup - 5 knob configuration

    Controls:
    - Volume (with Active/Passive push-pull)
    - Blend
    - Treble
    - Mid (push/pull freq selector)
    - Bass

    or

    Nordstrand 3 Band Preamp 3B-5a
    2 Pickup - 5 knob configuration

    Controls:
    - Volume (pull passive)
    - Blend
    - Treble
    - Mid (pull frequency selector)
    - Bass

    Why I chose these two pre-amps:
    • I know Michael Tobias uses Bartolini electronics in both his US basses, and the KZX series. Granted they are custom to MTD specs, everyone who owns them are very happy with the range of tones they provide, and they are supposed to be very strong signal vs. the stock KZ preamp. The NTMB should be as close as I can get to that sound.
    • I do not want to drill my bass to install a switch, and do not care for switches in general. The KZ comes with 5 standard knobs (no push pull knobs used) One for vol - blend - bass - treble - mids.
    • Nordstand has an excellent reputation on TB, and I have NEVER heard a foul word from anyone who uses them. So purchasing a Nordstand pre-amp would be based solely on reputation and owner satisfaction alone.

    These two systems allow for a lot more headroom, much more tonal range, and keep the standard 5 knob set up without having to drill new holes. They also provide active/passive tones which would be a very nice bonus.

    Here are some of the things that I do not know:

    • When you buy a pre-amp does it come with everything needed to install them (except maybe knobs) or will I need to buy knobs, batteries, a wire harness, and pots in addition to the preamp?
    • Does a 18v system boost the headroom more than a 9v system or does it just help with battery life? Perhaps both? Is it a worth while upgrade? I see no disadvantages to using a 18v system. Are there any?
    • Can you purchase pre-amps as a complete system already wired so it is just a matter of attaching them to your bass? What do you use to attach the pre-amp to your bass anyway, glue, some kind of epoxy?
    • In a active/passive set up, can I leave the signal cable plugged into the bass while in passive mode and not run down the battery(s)?

    These are all the questions that I can think of right now, but I am sure I will ask more questions as I learn a bit more about it. Thank you all for your help and opinions.
     
  2. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass

    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Those are both great preamps you have selected, and in my estimation the sound of your bass would improve tremendously as a result (former Z5 owner here!).

    A lot of guys on here have done upgrades on both the preamp and the pickups of the Z5, with good results. However, I'm not sure how how many of the upgrades have been solely with the preamp while leaving the stock pickups inside the bass.

    In answer to your questions...

    1. The way preamps come equipped in terms of hardware varies from unit to unit. Some ship with just the module or circuit board and wiring leads as drop-ins; others go out with circuit boards, pots and battery harness, and still others are full packages of just about everything, including knobs. Regardless, you'd need to buy your 9v batteries separately.
    I can't speak for the Nordstrand, but I believe the Bart system includes the harness, module and pots.

    2. A lot of guys (me included) find that some double-sided 3M tape is a great way to secure the module inside the control cavity. Of course, there are other options too, but tape is cheap, easy to work with, and easy to fix!

    3. I'd get in the habit of always unplugging your bass no matter what - it's too easy to run down expensive 9v's. I even go as far as to unplug my active basses after soundcheck to save an hour or so of life on the batteries.

    Lonnybass
     
  3. prokfrog

    prokfrog

    Mar 16, 2007
    new jersey
    Take a look at the Glockenklang 3-Band pre. It's amazing. The Perfect Bass has them at the best price.
     
  4. godspeed

    godspeed

    Nov 26, 2008
    I should be getting my Z5 from The Perfect Bass in the mail today. So I am pretty excited.

    As far as the pup and pre install goes...I learned to start with the cheapest parts and work your way up. So I am going to start with the Pre-Amp, and see if it will do the trick, if not I'll have to invest in some new pups.

    BTW How did you like your Z5? Are the electronics as bad as people make them out to be? Why did you get rid of your?

    It looks like The Perfect bass has the Bartolini 5.2a/p pre-amp completely pre-wired, and includes:
    [*] 9 or 18 volt Configuration
    [*] 3-Way EQ
    [*] Midrange Push/Pull Pot
    [*] Bass Pot
    [*] Treble Pot
    [*] Volume Control w/ Push/Pull Active/Passive Switch
    [*] Blend Control
    for only $165.99, plus I think TB members get a 10% discount. (I know I did when Brandt sold me my Z5).

    This would include everything I would need except for new knobs correct? I noticed it doesn't say input jack, but I see on in the picture? I should just attach this to my bass, install the new knobs, and go right?

    They do not carry the Nordstrand Pre-Amp as far as I know. It isn;t listed on their site.

    Being rewired is pretty important
    • 1. Because I can't solder nor do I have the equipment to do it if I could.
    • 2. The local guitar tech slipped up and told me he can't solder to save his life.

    I am pretty "mobile" when I play I wasn't sure if the double stick would work or not. I would hate to have it come loose and break wires. However the shielding in a K5 is supposed to be good, and I wouldn't want to mess it up by gluing something to it should I ever need to remove it.

    What are these other options?

    Good advice, I play a 4 string Ibanez SR5000 Prestige, with the Active U.S. Barts, in church currently. I always unplug my bass even between worship, and preaching then plug back in for alter call. I don't like having to do it, but I do every time. I was hoping I would be able to just pull the knob to passive, and cut off my amp with this pre pre-amp. Guess not :meh:

    Any sound clips around?
     
  5. prokfrog

    prokfrog

    Mar 16, 2007
    new jersey
    Human Basses are equipped with glocks. You can find youtube demos
     
  6. godspeed

    godspeed

    Nov 26, 2008
    Thanks! I don't think Ive ever heard of Human basses before. I will check them out.
     
  7. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass

    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    In answer to your questions, my old Z5 really "felt" great in my hands and I really wanted to like it. My main issue with the bass was the tone of the stock electronics leaned heavily towards "honky mid" and not enough to "convincing natural low." I just couldn't get an authoritative bottom out of it.

    However, I have heard from numerous other owners that the upgrades they made to their Z5 pickups and EQ have improved things significantly, though I must make it clear that I have not heard the improvements with my own ears!

    Based on what you're listing in terms of the preamp, it looks like the only thing you'll need is a 9V battery and the rest will simply attach into the existing cavity layout.

    Don't worry about the preamp coming loose and breaking wires if the double sided tape were to somehow unstick itself. from inside the cavity. Chances are that the worst thing that would happen would be the preamp module might rattle a little against the cavity cover - but the likelihood that a wire comes off is small. Give the tape a shot, it'll only run you a couple bucks. There are a few similar style adhesive options at Lowes or Home Depot too.

    Last - you mentioned that your tech said he can't solder to save his life...I'd STRONGLY recommend you find yourself someone who can. That's like saying the guy who mows your lawn can't operate small, low-horsepower engines. :cool:

    Lonnybass
     
  8. tomsewell

    tomsewell

    Feb 21, 2009
    Tupelo, MS
    I have the Bart NTMB 5.2 A/P in my Dean Razor NT. The 18v option gives you an additional headroom boost, think it's 12db. I didn't use the extra battery because there's no room for it in the control cavity. I absolutely love the flexibility of this preamp coupled with Bart 9J1s.
     

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