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Recommend EMG Soapbar Pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ChandlerCornell, Dec 12, 2014.

  1. Hello everyone, I just received a Dean Edge Pro 5 string bass with EMG HZ soapbar pickups. The pickups sound weak so I'm looking to upgrade to a different pair of soapbar EMG's. What are your recommendations on an EMG upgrade? Thanks!
  2. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I had EMG 40HZ's on my Ibby SRA305. I changed to active soapbars because I play outdoor gigs, gigs where the house power supply may not be the best, and nylon tape strings, so I got them to insulate myself and have absolutely zero noise. I have a CS in the neck position, and it is really round and full, but still with some definition to the top end, and a DC in the bridge, which is bright as it is designed to be. I run it with an EMG EXB to get a variable scoop as any song may require it.

    The descriptions on the EMG website are spot on: CS is big and round, DC is bright and linear, TW is a combination of CS and J, the P and J are like the regular EMG P & J versions, and the "X" series has extended frequency response - a little brighter highs and a little deeper lows, and a little hotter output.

    Compared to the HZ's, what are you wanting besides more output? And have you adjusted the pickups as close to the strings as possible without the strings clacking on the pickups to see if that helps? Except for my gigging requirements, I would have left the HZ's on my Ibby as I like their tone - full and round. And EMG is right on there, as well: the HZ is most like the CS tonally.

    Now all that said, consider this first: my Ibby had the EMG EXB, which Ibby calls a "Phat II" between the HZ pickups and the output jack. That really helped buffer the tone, raise the output, and rolling it on just a tad really brought out all the HZ's have to offer. That one control would be a lot cheaper than a whole hog change of pickups and controls, (unless your gig circumstances indicate it). Yes, you would need have a place on your bass to mount it along with a battery, but you're going to need to figure out a battery option, either in the existing control rout or an additional rout for a battery box anyway if you go full actives.
    ChandlerCornell and JustForSport like this.
  3. Thank you iiipopes for the reply! I'm looking for higher output, more definition in the mids, and a quieter pickup as the HZ is noisy. The Dean bass has an active preamp and I'm not sure if I should get active EMG's or passive. I may even want a whole new preamp. I use a fairly large pedalboard and I know active electronics keep things going smooth in that situation.
  4. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Sometimes the preamp is the problem with insufficient gain and noisy parts. Have you tried bypassing the preamp to get the true tone of the pickups? Wherever the hot lead of the pickup solders on to the board, you can unsolder it, temporarily solder it to the finger lug of a jack, run a ground to the other lug, and see what the pickup actually sounds like. That would help you make a definitive decision. Remember also that EMG actives don't need a separate preamp unless you specifically want some onboard tone shaping other than the traditional volume and tone.
  5. So if I get new active EMG's they'll replace the active preamp already in the bass? I'll just take the electronics out and install the new?
  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Active EMG pickups each has its own preamp in the pickup. But all that is supplied with each pickup is a battery clip and volume & tone controls and a jack. If you want the full range tone shaping on board that you have now, you will need to look into a EMG BTS or other comparable preamp to go with it. I suggest you peruse the EMG website and read more about the pickups and study the PDF's they have on line of their wiring diagrams. At @$100 street price or more for each new pickup, and more for the BTS system, you could end up spending almost as much for all new guts as your bass cost new. Since I gig regularly, for me it was worth it; you will need to do your own cost/benefit analysis.

    To recap:

    1) Raise the pickups to see if you get better tone.
    2) Bypass the preamp temporarily to see if it is causing noise or degradation of tone, even though you have tone shaping.
    3) If the pickups sound good bypassed, consider a different preamp or other tone shaping controls, or conversion to passive.
    4) Finally, if you really like the feel of the bass, but nothing about the pickups and onboard circuitry, and the cost/benefit analysis is acceptable, then consider pickups and/or preamp change.
  7. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    Aguilar DCB5's straight up kick aZzz. Oh that's right you said EMG's sorry.
  8. JustForSport

    JustForSport Guest

    Nov 17, 2011
    Yeah, try this first.