First let me define cheap. I don't mean the lowest of the low, the brand names you can't remember that you see on eBay that sell for $40 brand new. Not those. I mean the cheap basses from well known manufacturers, like Fender's cheapest P-bass as compared to their top of the line MIA P-bass, or Ibanez's entry level Soundgear as compared to their most expensive ones. What makes the entry level versions of these basses 'inferior' to their more expensive big brothers? Is it the wood? The hardware? The electronics? Probably a combination of all of them, but which plays the biggest part? Let me get specific. I have an Ibanez CT series 4-string. I think they only made these for a couple years back in '92-93 and I really don't know much about them. They seem kind of like a poor man's Soundgear. I'm the original owner. It stays in tune, it looks nice, it feels nice, it plays nice.... but sounds very blah. It has a P/J pickup configuration, with Ibanez XP1 & XJ1 pickups. Mine is black like the one pictured at the top but with pickups like the ones on the red & white basses at the bottom. http://www.ibanezregister.com/Gallery/basses/ct/gal-ctb1.htm How much of an improvement in sound would I get if I replaced the stock pickups with something pretty nice? Some of you may recognize the name Sean Andrews. I found him by accident on YouTube but I've seen his name mentioned on these forums a few times as well. He has a Soundgear SR506 with Bartolini MK1 pickups, and the sound on his clips in my opinion is fantastic, there's just a lot of authority and solidness to his low notes on the E & A strings. Listen to the beginning of Rush's 'Circumstances' to hear what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=entheogenesis The funny thing is, as good as I think his tone is, I've actually read some negative opinions of the MK1 pickups, saying they're nothing special and not even Bartolinis, but "Bartolini licensed". I sent him a message through YouTube to see if he's using the stock pickups or if he replaced them with "real" Bartolinis but I haven't heard back from him yet. In the meantime, what do you think?