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Rockbass mod advice needed

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by chengann, Dec 9, 2004.

  1. chengann


    Apr 22, 2003

    i bought a warwick rockbass recently.
    it's a fortress 5 fretless model.
    nice wood and body. good balance due to the longer
    horn of the fortress model. only disappointment
    was the bridge and knobs which are obviously
    low quality. what can i expect from a $600 bass?
    right? (heck, it probably will only cost warwick
    10 dollars more to use better knobs and bridge,
    why can't they just do that in their chinese factory???)

    i have strung the bass with labella nylon
    tape strings....very sweet sounding.

    however, the mec pickups and preamps
    sound a little too snappy.
    may be fine for a fretted but too edgey for
    a fretless. i have to cut on the treble
    and work on the amp eq.
    hard to squeeze more mwah of out it.
    nice jaco tone at certain settings though. ;)

    i am thinking of changing the pickup
    and/or preamp to get a sweeter fretless tone.
    any advice what is the best route?


  2. I own two rockbasses, a Corvette, and a Streamer.

    IMHO the bridges are fine. Intonation is good, bridge is stable, good sustain etc.

    ...and for the knobs - well, they turn around just like a knob should.

    I did upgrade the pots in my Corvette which weren't great, but apart from that I'm happy, and I will do the same on my Streamer soon.

    The MEC Jazz pups are quite bright, but that suits my fretted Corvette quite well, and contrasts with the warmer soapbars on my Streamer, and also my phat flat strung P-bass :D so I'l leave the MEC pups right there.

    If you're not happy with the fretless tone from the MEC pups and pre though, I'd start by upgrading there, but I'd say you won't get any improvement by worrying about the bridge or knobs.

  3. chengann


    Apr 22, 2003
    yup. totally agree.

    that's why i would like to find out what's the best
    option (without spending too much).

    1. preamp
    2. pickup
    3. all the above ?

  4. I was thinking of getting that same bass but didn't know they made a fretless. I am also looking for a flashback fortress to defret.

    If it was mine, I would gut the electronics altogether and use good quality passive replacements like Bill Lawrence or Basslines. And if possible, I would go ahead and find real warwick black hardware and bridge, looking for used first. How much more could it be?

    Ironic that warwicks use such awesome woods and designs, use a slogan saying "The Sound of Wood", and then design the thing to sound as bright and metallic-sounding as possible.
  5. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I'd go with EMGs. I finally got my first taste of EMG's a few days ago when I was playing the school's frankenbass, and even with dead strings, the bass was full of gut and punch and a nice midrangey cut. You can get some seriously sweet fretless tones from a set of EMG J's -- I'm actually going to (when I get the money) order some for my fretless Yamaha. It's kind of missing on the low-mid...slam that I need. Slam. I'm terrible at verbalizing sounds!
  6. chengann


    Apr 22, 2003
    if you can buy direct from europe or their china office,
    you'll get a fortress with black hardware included.
    for the fretless model, it's ebony fingerboard.

    passive electronics sound good....might bring out the
    wood tone. will i lose out on tone control (3 band eq) ?

  7. haha....that's funny...you're RIGHT...you ARE terrible at verbalizing sounds..."slam"????....wha' the?...

    I really dig the nylon tape wound strings, too. But they're not gonna give you a whole lot of that "mwah"...not to say that they aren't awesome (I use them on my Carvin AC40).

    I'd have to go with angelopb...if you don't like that snappy tone, get warmer pups like quarterpounders.

    If you change the pre, you could go with an Aggie OBP-3 (3 band) but they ARE pricey.

    Does your bass have a pre-bypass switch on it? If so, how does it sound in bypass? (what do the pups sound like by themselves)

    If not, do ya think you could bypass them to get a taste of the tone, or not?
  8. chengann


    Apr 22, 2003
    nope. no bypass.

    acoustically, the strings are giving quite sufficient mwah
    (it's a mix of warwick-like punch/growl...with some rubbery mwah decay)....

    yes, the aguilar does look good. my other bass has bart preamps, it's good too but i would like to try another pedigree.
  9. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I've heard people talk about great success when putting Bartolini pickups into their Warwicks in place of the standard MEC's. *shrug* Apparently they're nice and transparent, so you hear the same tone you get acoustically, only louder.
  10. chengann


    Apr 22, 2003
    just an update:

    i finally found the preamp bypass
    switch. the pull/tap switch on the volume
    knob was kind of tight and i didn't realize
    the switch existed!

    bypass tone sounded about the same as the
    active tone with flat bass/treble. so that
    of nails the fault. i am going to change the
    pickup and see how that goes. going to start
    with a set of basslines...
    will leave the preamp intact for now and use
    it like a passive tone control (to cut the highs).

  11. NCorder

    NCorder Smoke-free since 4/3/05

    Dec 26, 2002
    Dayton, OH
    Wow, I have a thumb 5 bolt-on I was ready to let go of because of the tone. I LOVE the feel of the chunky neck and the way it sounds acoustically, but the tone just ins't there for me plugged in(though its a slappers dream!). Do you really think the Bartolini swap will help the acoustic sound come thru? If so, should I swap the pups AND preamp, or just one of the two?
  12. chengann


    Apr 22, 2003
    i used to have a thumb 5 nt.
    sold it coz it was a maintenance nightmare
    (had to oil it every week, otherwise the wood
    would swell in the tropical weather)

    i did find the mec slightly snappy...

    but i hear a lot of people who love their old thumbs
    with the barts. but that could also be becuase they
    used different wood too (wenge instead of ovangkol)....
  13. chengann


    Apr 22, 2003
    just an update to provide a closure to my initial question.

    i have finally settled for a pickup replacement.
    got a pair of basslines from ebay. results?
    it openned up a lot of hidden frequencies and
    sustain that the stock gold mec missed out.

    the rockbass fretless sounds quite bright
    but not as much as a fender sample i heard.
    i just need to dial to the bridge pickup,
    remove a tad off the treble...and presto, sweet
    sweet mwah. jaco-ish with a tad of warwick growl
    and thump. very nice.

    i dial to the neck pickup if i need more fretted-type
    bright tone.

    thanks all for your suggestions and advice.