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Sadowsky Onboard Preamp questions

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Kevin.Kevin, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. Hey guys

    I am looking into upgrading my current bass with a sadowsky onboard preamp. I just found some of the information misleading

    Curently I have a fender jazz, with active EMG's. I play mostly jazz, reggae, and world/latin type gigs. Im looking to kinda warm out my tone, but keep it strong and cutting through. I like the idea of having my sound on my bass already when i get to the gig.

    I talked to Club Bass in Toronto and my understanding from them would be my pots would get setup with the preamp as volume/blend/bass treble controller/ vintage tone control, with my jack moved to the bottom of the bass instead of the plate.

    I then saw some review stating that the preamp was only really beneficial to passive pickups and stuff.

    So I dunno your thoughts guys? I was also looking into the outboard preamp as it would save some cash, not having it being installed an all. Is it the same thing and the onboard one?

    Help a brother out.

  2. basadam


    Nov 29, 2005
    True. Sad pre is designed for passive pickups.
  3. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    Not so sure about that. Sadowsky used to use EMG pickups in the Modern 5's. I believe they came with the Sadowsky preamp.

  4. the Sadowsky is like any other preamp in that it WILL work with active EMG's if you like...

    the problem with the Sadowsky in reggae is that it is boost-only, so taming those highs would be a challenge without employing VTC (vintage tone control, which is simply a passive tone control)
  5. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    I played a J-Bass with EMG pickups and a Sadowsky preamp for a few years. I had the preamp put in at the Sadowsky shop back when Roger was still on 48th and Broadway in NYC.

    With the Sadowsky pre, the EMG pickups retained their modern edge and bite, but a lot of warmth and fullness gets added to the overall tone.
  6. basadam


    Nov 29, 2005
    I didn't say it wouldn't work. OP referred to a review stating that "the preamp is only really beneficial to passive pickups" and I agree. There is the low-Z vs hi-Z issue. Think of a bass amp with seperate inputs for active and passive basses; you wouldn't want to run your active bass into its passive input. Running a preamp (which shapes the tone and ehances the signal) into another preamp is not normally a good idea unless you're after a special effect. I'm guessing the resulting bass will also need to have two separate batteries, one for the pickups and one for the preamp and the input jack will need to be wired to switch both preamps in at the same time. I may be completely wrong but I'm seeing potential problems in this picture. I am open to be enlightened though. :confused:
  7. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    You can pull the power for both the preamp and the pickups with the same battery. EMG pickups have very low current draw. You may need to use different pots for volume when using active pickups, but other than that there should be no problem.

    Not sure why you think that running one preamp into another is a bad idea. It's what you do when you plug an active bass into a preamp, head, sansamp, etc.
  8. yes...If I recall, the EMG's use a 25k volume pot...but I'd have to check, I have an EMG P in a drawer somewhere...
  9. Mr_Dave


    Mar 11, 2005
    Melbourne, Australia
    Employee - Basscentre Melbourne
    Try PMing Nino Valenti. He uses EMGs in at least one of his sadowskys. Pretty sure you change the volume pots and you are unable to have the VTC in your preamp...
  10. slaerts


    Aug 3, 2006
    It seems a lot of mucking around, especially having to drill a new input jack into the side. Why not try the outboard pre-di, I had one for a long time and it was amazing, exceptional tone with a mute switch and a di thrown into the deal too.
  11. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    Try finding one. Sadowsky.com is out of stock.
  12. Thanks to everyone for your help. I talked it over with my teacher as well and he seems to think that is right up my alley. Adding the warmth while retaining the strength and bite the EMG's have.

    I will have to drill a new input jack, but I trust the guys who'd be working on it. Alot.

    The outboard did cross my mind. But I like the idea of just plugging in and playing tone all onboard ready to go.
  13. Rano Bass

    Rano Bass

    Sep 9, 2006
    Tijuana Mex.
    And yes, you are wrong ;) it doesn't need a separate battery and it doesn't cause any problem to use another preamp on the signal.

    Sadowsky used EMG's for years on his basses (modern and jazz style basses)

    This particular Sadowsky has EMG's http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7k4q8ztvMU you can see it at around 2:15
  14. Fretlessboy


    Nov 29, 2007
    St Augustine Florida
    Endorsing artist GENZ BENZ/HERCULES STANDS/XSonics
    I have been using a Sadowsky outboard pre foe 15 years with my 1965 EMG'd Pbass/77 Jazz Bass (now gone) and my Lakland JO5's and it works great with active or passive pickups. Now I did NOT like when running a bass with active tone because it was too much. I think as long as you are running passive tone the Sadowsky outboard is a winner.
  15. basadam


    Nov 29, 2005
    Since everybody keep saying that I'll have to accept...


    I still need to question the wisdom of recommending a Sadowsky (or any other "preamp") to use with active pickups. I never said the hell will break loose, I just agreed that a Sadowsky preamp will not do much good after active pickups. As I said before, a preamp basically does two things: It enhances the signal and often it is accompanied by a kind of eq. I take it that the OP is happy with his pickups, so there is no need to enhance the signal, all he needs is some kind of on-board eq. I would recommend a Sadowsky preamp to everyone with passive pickups without hesitation but when you use it with an active system you're reducing it to a 2-band boost only eq.

    Here are the things I see here:

    1. A Sadowsky on-board kit sells for $200. EMG BTC kit (which adds 2-band cut/boost eq) sells for $100. Unless you are dying for the specific frequency points of Sadowsky I'd say that's $100 too much. BTC seems to be designed to be installed without any modification - no holes need to be drilled.

    2. You should not use the 500K blend pot supplied in Sadowsky kit with EMGs. You should also not use VTC (I do hope the tech who'll do the install will know what he is doing). OP will need to use the existing blend and tone controls. That takes my point to VTC.

    3. I never used EMG pickups but the reviews I've read indicate that depending on use the highs may need to be tamed. No surprise, this is one of the advantages of the active circuit - better signal, better highs. You know I can say the same about Sadowsky preamp and that is why many people recommend VTC. Without the ability to use VTC, if you need to cut highs, you'll depend on EMGs 25K tone pot. Guess what? If you leave it there and the existing vol/vol or vol/blend setup of EMG, you're gonna need five holes not four and that will not fit onto a J-bass plate. Or you can buy Sadowsky kit with VTC ($250 - see my point 1), throw away the VTC and use the supplied stacked knob.

    4. The battery issue: Even EMG recommends the use of two batteries for "increased headroom and performance" and that's for their pickups only.

    I am a huge fan of Sadowsky basses and preamp, I use them and I love them. I love my outboard Sadowsky pre with my passive Fenders and Laklands. I don't like it with my active Lakland. Sadowsky makes great stuff but there are some cases in which it may not be the best solution - cost/tweakability/installation/etc. Chances are despite these issues OP may end up very happy with an EMG/Sadowsky setup. But to avoid the opposite I'd really recommend to find an outboard Sadowsky to try first.
  16. maurilio

    maurilio Musician - Owner Mo's Shop & MBD - Tech Nordstrand Commercial User

    May 25, 2003
    Redlands, CA
    EMG J set + vol 25k (you can use your existing pot) + blend 25k + 25k pot for passive tone (you can also use the existing pot and cap) + stacked B/T + Sadosky pre + stereo jack on the side + ONE battery 9v = perfect match!
    This used to be exactly THE Sadowsky way back in the '80 and '90.

    You'll be happy, I can guarantee. I was.

    One thing, you might have some problem fitting the pre and the battery in a J cavity. I've done it several time, but takes some dexterity (sp?)
    Since you are drilling for the side jack, why not a battery box?


    BTW, buy the Sadowsky pre without VTC, you have already all what you need in you bass
  17. maurilio

    maurilio Musician - Owner Mo's Shop & MBD - Tech Nordstrand Commercial User

    May 25, 2003
    Redlands, CA
    1. he wants the Sadowsky sound (and I'm with him, I don't like the EMG pre)
    2. right for the blend pot, wrong for the vtc (it's a simple passive tone pot. You can use a 250k for EMG, but the ideal it's the original 25k that he has already in his bass)
    3. partly right about the ability to cut the highs without a passive tone (Sadowsky is a boost only). for the rest see my previous post.
    4. no need of two battery (see my previous post).
  18. basadam


    Nov 29, 2005
    Nothing against that. I just doubt that we're helping him realize there may be other options. As in
    a) Sell your active pickups and buy a set of Sadowsky passive pickups to further reach Sadowsky sound.
    b) Keep your pickups and instead of Sadowsky go with a full EMG setup.
    c) Blend EMG with Sadowsky but keep such and such points in mind.
    He is already using EMG pre which is built into his pickups.
    He should use 25k; Sadowsky does not recommend the use of his VTC with EMGs. And even with a 25K tone pot that doesn't leave him space for separate bass&treble pots so he needs a stacked 25K/25k pot. That's extra cost and that was my point.
    It's not a must. I'm just saying he may have headroom problems as indicated by EMG.

    And please check OP's first post. It appears that his tech has planned a vol/blend/b-t stack/vtc setup. I seriously doubt he's aware of 25K v 250K vtc and/or 50K vs 500K blend. If you introduce a 250K tone pot or a 500K blend pot to that kind of setup you'll degrade the signal.
  19. Mr_Dave


    Mar 11, 2005
    Melbourne, Australia
    Employee - Basscentre Melbourne
    I'm with Maurilio - the Sadowsky Preamp sounds totally different to the EMG BTC pre, i've had the EMG pre in a bass before and didn't really like it. The EMG preamp built in the pickups is a totally different thing.
  20. about the vtc control.fodera has used a passive tone with emgs with the mike pope preamp for years now(wooten sig).now i would contact sadowsky and ask them about it.they did make the preamp an would know how it can be used.

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