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RBX375 now redundant, time for a project!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by samboskull, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. samboskull


    Mar 29, 2009
    WARNING! Gratuitous amounts of reading and brainstorming imminent.
    Do not read if:-
    Unexperienced in bass electronics
    Operating heavy machinery within 24 hours.

    My RBX375 recently let me down after 4 years of faithful service by making a horrendous distorted popping growling sound. It happens when I play too hard and is more common on the deep end (It's actually impossible to make happen on the highs, and I have to smash low E to get it to distort, but anything low D and below is just bad). And it's not a case of playing softer, it's the force any regular bass player would play at for metal.

    I've got a new bass now because of this, and it will be my main with the rbx demoted to back up (A broken back up, haha), but more than anything I just love the feel of the RBX. Something about it just works with my hands I guess.

    Me being stupid, didn't even think to ask on this forum what might be causing this problem, but a short search reveals quite a few others had a similar problem, and it was found to be in the preamp, and not the vanilla yam pickups (Which is where I thought the problem lied, but thinking about it obviously not, when I rolled all the blend to the bridge pickup it still happens)

    But I've always wanted to slap some high end electronics on the RBX and take that playability with me to a higher level. SO! Here's what I've gathered in research and what I plan to do:-


    The RBX Pups are huge, apparently they fit 6 string pups, but obviously it has to align to the 5 strings or be a bar. I'm none the wiser on where I want to go with this, but I was thinking of fitting an MM5 on the bridge and something else in the neck, wedging them in and covering it up with a pick guard However I think this might be a BAD idea because it's a bit closer to the bridge than the MM 'sweet spot' and I think the lovely MM tone we all know and love will be lost.

    For the neck I was thinking a nice deep meaty pick up. The MM would handle most funk/rock fine, but sometimes you just need to get smooth fat creamy dollops of bass. Like Barry White's voice in a bass pick up. I love versatility, and with a balance knob you can find a sweet area between the two.

    So, any sugestions? I think the RBX pups are 1" x 4", like I said not too fussed about space but I'd like it as full as it can be.


    The problem at hand, it would appear! No later do I learn the bass has a preamp (6 years of constant playing and I never once wondered how the battery powered the signal. Airhead.)
    than I find it's causing the problem! Well no longer. Everyone seems to be raving about Aguilars, and I was looking at the OBP-3 (top of the range from what I gather).

    BUT! Everywhere I look, people demonstrate the Aguilar preamp by playing anything but rock. I've seen one metal head who's tone was HORRENDOUS (And he bragged about playing 16ths at 250 BPM. Obviously using his ring finger to pluck never occurred to him.) but I think that was more him just being extremely METUHHLLL. So does anyone know if the Aguilar is a versatile do-all (or the majority of it) preamp? Or would I be better suited elsewhere? I think a lot of people chose it because of it's size and the tiny routed cavity on the back of the RBX, which leads me on to my next point!


    Right, I was trying to work it all out how to wire it and make it sound decent with the RBX's vanilla knob layout (1 vol, 1 balance, 1 treb and 1 bass). It runs on boost so you can't actually cut the treble and bass, so the only way to get mids is turn them down.

    That's when I realised this set up is never going to work. In a total hollywood diva "I CAN'T WORK WITH THIS!", I decided, I'm going to have to get drilling. I am going to completely rip out the basses electronics, route the cavity to a larger size, 'get mah drill awn' and go for the full shebang 2 pup, 5 knob, 2 switch set up.

    Is there any advantage to Vol/Vol instead of vol/blend? I imagine vol/vol is more versatile, but I don't have a single bass with vol/vol. Also the switches, one is A/P, the other is "msw"... What is that? Is that mid switch like I think? I thought that was built into a push/pull pot with the Aguilars, not a separate switch? Unless both switches are in push pull pots, in which case I might not even have to route the cavity and just drill an extra hole.

    The End.

    So, if you actually read all of that drivel, you probably got bored and forgot half the questions, (I know I did, I'm reading back through it now to see what I need to know haha!)

    tl;dr, basic summary:

    - Is the Aguilar OBP-3 versatile? As in not just 60/70's jazz sound.
    - Is there any point to a MM in the bridge slot if it misses the sweet spot? If not, what would be a better choice?
    - What neck pick-up? I'm a lover of fat creamy bass sounds. Creamy cream creamer.
    - Vol/Vol or Vol/Blend?
    - what on earth is an 'msw' knob?

    I have previous experience in electronics and soldering, I went through a phase of buying "broken" guitars from a local music shop and fixing the electronics, but I've never had to do anything with bass electronics, especially not active. It's going to be a fun learning experiment, that should theoretically yield a superior one of a kind bass that I can rock up to any situation with.

    (I have a fetish for custom instruments actually, the best bass I have ever laid hands on was a Fender USA P-Bass that had a custom neck and bridge pickup. It was being used by a guy in a professional Green Day tribute band and it played like an absolute dream. Each to their own!)

    Anyways, let the games BEGIN! Bestow me with your electonic pup knowledge almighty talkbassers!
  2. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    You can fit EMG-45 size pickups in that bass. As long as they use blades, and aren't split coils, it will work.

    I put narrow 6 string blades in my 5 string pickups just for cases like this, where someone wants more than 5 strings in a 5 string size soapbar.

    So any 6 string pickup that uses a continuous blade would work.
  3. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I've been an RBX375 player for four years now and I'd done some research on it.

    The pickups are indeed EMG45-sized as SGD said, even though the EMG45 is actually a six-string pickup casing - the thumb-rest contour on the original pickups is to blame. I'm not sure how the pickups sound by themselves - I've been thinking of trying it, but I'm currently gigging with the bass so any experiments are off limits for now. I can't quote the exact thread I read it, but supposedly the pickups aren't half bad. If you really want a different sound - SGD's the man.

    The preamp, however, is definitely the weak spot. When the bass was at a friend's place for maintenance along with my cheap Chinese 6-string, we found out the preamps are nearly identical, rather cheap units. What could've happened in your case is that either the preamp chip went bust or something in the supporting circuitry did, so the preamp can't keep the signal clean.

    As far as the preamp goes, then, I'd either have it tested or swap it. I've been planning to do so myself, and I've got a DIY MM Stingray board ready for wiring, as I think it'd work nicely. If you don't want to make it yourself, SGD makes his own preamp that's just like that.

    As far as the controls go, I don't find VVT better than VBT or vice versa, I have both and I can dial in a good tone with either.

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