Replace Stingray 4 pre amp???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Philthy, Jun 10, 2003.

  1. Philthy

    Philthy Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2001
    Wallington, NJ
    I presently own a Stingray 4 w/ maple fret board (I believe it's about 2 - 3 years old). I love stingrays and their feel. However, I'm contemplating changing the on board preamp to get better, tighter, smoother, punchier lows while keeping decent highs and treble. My stock preamp seems to be very noisey and buzzy. When I touch the strings or bridge, it stops. However, I've read somewhere that it could be normal because of the stingray pickup. Anyway, has anyone out there changed the preamp? Any suggestions or advice? Would the stock pickup sound good with a new preamp or do I have to change both the pickup and preamp? Any advice, recommendations or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!

    (if it makes a difference, my present rig is a SWR Bass 750 w/ Goliath III & Son of Bertha cabs)
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I, and several others, have swapped out the stock pup and preamp to put in the Seymour Duncan Alnico MM pickup and SD MM preamp.

    Since both were swapped at the same time, I can't say for sure what result you would get only changing one of them. But the results I got were excellent - warmer lows, and the slap contour (pull the volume switch) on the SD MM preamp is great.

    The Alnico pickup is described as giving a warmer sound than the stock ceramic magnet pup. Personally, if you have the money I'd say swap them both out. I know this violates the 'change one thing at a time' rule, but I've yet to hear of anyone doing this and not loving the results.
  3. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    I replaced the preamp first, and the pickup a few months later. Changing the preamp is IMO an improvement but I have to point that you have a ground problem with your stock preamp (or your amp), maybe one of the wires is loose inside the bass or maybe the amp is not properly grounded. My StingRay had no noise or buzz with the stock preamp unless the amp wasn't grounded.

    keep groooovin'

    P.S. You can read a review of the SD system in
  4. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    I bought a '95 Stingray and play it through the same setup (nice rig, BTW!!). i don't appear to have any buzz or ground problem, but new pre and pup would be something I would do if it means better tone. I love the 'Ray now but improving is always cool.

    Any idea about hou much this would cost?

    David, how much did you pay for what you described?
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I think just under $200 for 3 band MM preamp and alnico pickup. I got mine from Black Rose Custom - best prices I saw, plus the guy there is very helpful. If something's not in stock, he'll get it for you fast.

    You'll see his price of, say $115, for the preamp. It'll then have shipping and handling of -$8, so it costs you $107. It's his way of getting round Seymour Duncan Minimum Advertised Prices.
  6. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    Right, that's a good site, prices seem reasonable.


    Sorry to bother, but is this just a simple change out? any issues??

    Thanks again:cool:
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Pretty straightforward. I didn't actually do this install, I got a tech to do it. That was one of the last things I paid for someone else to do, I generally do these things myself now. Looking at the wiring diagram, should be easy enough.
  8. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    The soldering is quite simple. The trick is how to put the preamp into the body cavity. The space is really tight. I followed a guide that Bill Bolton wrote and that saved my life:

    Fitting the pre-amp to my '94 Stingray 4 knob fretless was not without
    it's moments (it is not as easy as Basslines or the Bass Player review
    suggest - see below) but once installed I'm very pleased with the
    sonic results. My Stringray is a lot less "brittle" sounding on the
    upper mids and highs while the lower mids sounded a lot "cleaner". To
    my ears there wasn't a great deal of difference in the bass end, which
    suits me fine, as the bass end was the aspect of the original Music
    Man electronics I was already happy with.

    The factory default on the "slap" switch isn't a great deal of use to
    me for my fretless styles, but I haven't yet had a chance to play
    around with the presets for it to see if a "useful to me" alternative
    fretless tone is achievable. There's 20db of gain on the boost side
    of the treble control, so fully cranking it does bring in a fair
    amount of hiss, but more modest amounts of treble boost were
    adequately quiet.

    One nice thing about the standard Music Man electronics is that nearly
    everything is on a Printed Circuit Board, so there is relatively
    little wire clutter in the control cavity. In comparison, by the time
    I'd finished with the Basslines electronics installation, there was
    and pretty much unavoidable mess of wire in the control cavity.

    The Basslines electronics consists of 4 pre-wired pots and a small
    circuit board with surface mount electronic components on it. The
    wiring between the pots and the circuit board goes through two colour
    coded multi-pin connectors but there are still half a dozen or so
    solder connections that need to be made between the overall Basslines
    electronics package and the fixed wiring in the Stingray.

    I started the installation by unscrewing the control plate and
    snipping the existing 5 wires attach to the Music Man circuit board,
    leaving just enough attached to the circuit board so I could tell
    which colours went where, if I ever decide to reinstall it. I then
    unbolted the pots from the chrome cover plate and put the old
    electronics assembly aside.

    Next, the new pots were mounted on the control cover plate. Basslines
    provides a lock washer, flat washer and nut on each pot, but if the
    pot is mounted using only those components, the knobs stick up a long
    way off the cover plate.... much higher than on the Music Man
    electronics. I ended up using the nuts from the original pots on the
    new pots, below the lock washers, so I could control how much of the
    pot thread poked through above the control plate. The original nuts
    were a slightly larger size and were a loose fit on the Basslines pot
    threads but were still able to grip adequately to work.

    Basslines provides set of black knobs to fit to the pots, but I
    elected to reuse the original chrome knobs and they fitted onto the
    new pots shafts OK. The Basslines knobs are noticeably lighter than
    the Music Man knobs, enough that over 4 knobs it does make a
    difference, so if Stingray weight is an issue for you, then the
    Basslines knobs could be useful.

    Having finished mounting everything on the control plate, I turned my
    attention to the new electronics. The circuit board has a velcro pad
    on the back and Basslines provide a matching strip of self adhesive
    velcro to stick inside the control cavity to hold the circuit board in
    place. The circuit board is just the right size to fit on the bottom
    of part of the control rout, but I found when I tried to mount in
    there, it was not possible to plug the connectors into the board.
    After a bit of head scratching, I hit on the idea of mounting the
    circuit board on the side of the cavity and this turned out to be the
    only practical place. The connectors now fit, but the preset pots are
    not adjustable while the circuit board is mounted. It has to be
    unvelcroed to adjust the preset pots. I'll have more to say about the
    Basslines instructions shortly, but the complete absence of specific
    instructions on where to mount the electronics in Music Man basses is
    a serious shortcoming, given the narrow focus of this product onto one
    brand of bass.

    Finally having everything mounted, I soldered the remaining
    connections and insulated them with heatshrink tubing. This left me
    with a control plate with mounted pots, a circuit board on the edge of
    the control cavity and a mini-tangle of wires. Even a quick lacing
    job on the wires only tidied things up a little.

    When I went to remount the control cover, it would not sit snugly down
    against the body at the neck end. Investigation showed that the
    switch pot used for the volume control is very nearly as deep as the
    control route and the extra couple of millimeters I had set the pot
    back from the cover (to make sure the knob didn't sit too high above
    the cover) meant that the bottom of the switch assembly did not have
    any clearance above the bottom of the control cavity. Rerouting the
    wires from the pickup to go around rather than under the switch fixed
    that and I was able to mount the control cover snugly against the
    body. All up this probably took about an hour and 15 minutes to
    complete, rather longer than the 30 minutes suggested in the Bass
    Player review.

    The instructions supplied by Basslines are, frankly, rather
    rudimentary and do not cover the installation an adjustment of the
    electronics package in anywhere near enough detail. I've done a lot
    of this sort of work on guitars and basses over the years and still
    found myself wondering what to do next on several occasions during the
    installation. While I was able to solve the various problems I
    encountered along the way, a few extra sentences and a diagrams in the
    instructions could have saved me a lot of time and some frustration.

    keep groooovin'