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So who is control-less?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by cassius987, Apr 10, 2010.


  1. cassius987

    cassius987 Banned

    Apr 20, 2007
    Denver, CO
    I put an active preamp in my fretless Ric and put in a 3PDT switch to bypass the preamp and go passively to a stereo jack, pretty much identical to the stock Ric-O-Sound feature but without any controls in the way. So I have been able to gauge how my pickups sound without these bumps in the signal chain and I'm pretty happy. Not annoyingly bright like I expected, just more articulate if anything. Occasionally a bit too much output but that's what your amp's controls are for.

    Oddly enough the preamp and one of the pickups, which is a special variety of Ric pickup off of a 4002, don't get along so the preamp has to go. (It sounds nice with the OTHER pickup but I was shocked that my ears kind of preferred the passive/no controls sound ever so slightly.) But now that I have sampled my "no controls" tone and approved, I am thinking about only restoring the pickup selector switch and otherwise going straight to the jack. I can control output and tone at the amp; perhaps the only thing I'll miss is the tone controls for sucking off lots of highs for some tunes.

    With this in mind I thought I'd come here and ask, does anyone run a "no controls" bass full time as their main gigging instrument? After all this fretless Ric is that bass for me, the bass that goes to all of my gigs as of the past few years. So if I go down this road I have to be prepared to live with it. Thoughts? Suggestions? Rotten tomatoes...?
     
  2. newbold

    newbold

    Sep 21, 2008
    Toronto
    I don't have bypass but I plan on having a bypass feature on a control plate project and think it's smart.

    You have it on a switch, so it's really more tonal flexibility at an instant.

    Play it for awhile and report back. I bet you'll find a lot of nuances you never were used to relying on for your tone...and if I'm wrong and i'm ever in Denver and remember this to look you up I'd be willing to wager a beer, coffee, Sandwich, or bar cover.
     
  3. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    If I own a bass more than six months it will probably get stripped. Most of my basses over the last 30 years (and all the single p.up basses) have ended up with no controls. If I don't use something I don't want it and I NEVER use the controls on a single p.up bass. Two p.up instruments like a Jazz or Dano clone I like to do the stock volume roll off of the rear so I leave the volumes in but never the tone pot. If I have to **** with the knobs on a bass or go much off a flat EQ on a preamp then in my mind it fundamentally doesn't sound good and I don't want it. If it sounds good flat it is good.
     
  4. TapyTap

    TapyTap

    Apr 26, 2005
  5. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    Cool. I've always loved Jackson's attitude towards equipment.

    From that interview:
    "To properly power a really good preamp you need a big, hot-running AC transformer, not two 9-volt batteries.

    A key for me was an intuition I had while lying in bed in late 1987 about building a Presentation model that would have only the features I wanted on it: A 36"-scale, extra-wide neck at nut and bridge, 28 frets, no electronics, no controls, a chambered body, and a single pickup. One well-placed pickup, I felt, would result in a richer, more complex sound than any two pickups; with two, you’ve got a lot of audio information obstructed by other audio info that’s simply out of phase. Why not choose the best spot to get the most information out of one pickup?"

    I'm buyin' it.
     
  6. TapyTap

    TapyTap

    Apr 26, 2005
    That's the section of the article that says it all.
     
  7. mrufino1

    mrufino1 Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2005
    Nutley, NJ
    Thanks for posting that interview link! I've been looking for it for a few weeks but bassplayer makes it very hard to navigate their site now for some reason and the articles don't show up. I remembered reading it a while ago but then couldn't find it again. I'd love to know the "accident" that broke the 44" scale bass...
     
  8. cnltb

    cnltb

    May 28, 2005
    Gary Willis used to do that as well.
    Not sure if that was before Anthony Jackson or not, but Willis is the one I saw first.
    That coincided with my first custom bass being made and inspired me to go with out.
    Until now i have never had a bass made with any electronics.
    Works well for me.
     
  9. craig.p

    craig.p

    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    The pickup in this 4001 runs right to the jack (no series cap). Left the pickguard remnant & controls in for weight 'cause the instrument's already slightly neck-heavy for me. Every little bit helps. It's a work in progress. I might someday yank the pickguard altogether & fill in the entire cavity w/ some sort of hardening goo, maybe add some fishing weights in the goo to perfect the balance, but I'm in no rush because the balance isn't bugging me all that much & it sounds better than any other bass I've ever owned (for the music I play, of course). People cringe when I pull this thing from the case but then they hear it and breathe a huge sigh of relief. I love coming in with what looks like junk.
     

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  10. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    I love it! I've had the same experience showing up with a beat up Pre with no knobs. Dunno if I'd be too quick add weights or fill the cavity though. If it sounds great don't mess with it....certainly wouldn't do anything not easily reversible.
    I'm being a total hypocrite though....my Pre had the headstock shaved and Sperzel tuners installed to solve the balance problem.
     
  11. cassius987

    cassius987 Banned

    Apr 20, 2007
    Denver, CO
    Great replies, keep 'em coming. I am going to go back to a passive circuit if the sound from the passive-only stereo jack cuts the mustard at rehearsal Thursday... it will use Fender No-Loads for tone pots which can "click" out of the circuit at 10, but will not have any volume controls, and will use a DPDT for the vintage cap in/out which is a feature I use a lot in addition to treble rolloff. There will also be a filler pot. This will still be able to do Ric-O-Sound or Mono, which makes me happy.

    I'll report back... I'd totally forgotten about Anthony Jackson doing this by the way. A good endorsement for sure. And that Ric looks sick! Nice... if you love the sound that makes its beaten-up look all the sweeter.

    Working on the project...
    IMG_2931.
     
  12. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    I have a lot of respect for Anthony, but that just isn't true. Unless you are talking about a tube amp, most SS preamps run on the same voltage as the internal preamp running on 2 batteries. They don't run on high voltage or current. Your pickups don't put out a lot of voltage, so any good battery powered circuit is enough to handle them.

    Also the internal preamp was designed to run on batteries.

    Getting back to the original question. If you run a pickup into a good preamp, you are hearing the pickup as it wound sound with no passive controls, but buffered from the cable.

    If you bypass the preamp and go right to the jack, you are hearing the pickup with the top end rolled off from the capacitance in your cable between the bass and amp. That's the typical passive tone, even without tone and volume controls. The resistance from the controls tends to flatten the resonant peak of the pickup.

    The one pickup didn't sound good through the preamp probably because it became too bright when it had no loading. Rickenbacker winds all their pickups with 44 AWG wire, which is much thinner than the usual 42 AWG used in many pickups, and it tends to be bright with a pronounced upper mid hump. I played Ricks for many years, and they aren't the warmest sounding basses. I was always looking for more low end, so I changed the pickups in the bass.

    You can simulate the cable using a small value capacitor, and maybe a resistor. This is the basic idea behind the Audere preamp.
     
  13. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    I have two '74 Rics that I did all kinds of mods to over the years, including filling in the routs on one and putting on a wood top, filling in under the bridge for Badasses, big frets, etc. Since they are no longer my main bass I'm trying to restore one of them. Stock they are worth a lot of money these days, so I kind of regret having done all that stuff to them.

    You can get a new pickguard with no pickup opening. Then you will kind of have a model 4000.

    This one had a Gibson mudbucker at the neck. Removing all that wood made the action get higher! That's purple metal flake. ;)

    73-4001_fullbody.
     
  14. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    rig01-1-1.
    stambaugh5. And on my P I used to own too. Well, I still own it, but its in 'parts' condition now.
    basspic1.
    I keep the controls set at one position and leave them that way INSIDE the control cavity. I keep the pots in because when the pickups are wired straight to the jack the bass sounds too trebly IME/IMO.

    Works for me.
     
  15. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Nice looking basses. So you keep both pickups on that one bass on all the time? I couldn't do that... I like switching my tone from song to song.
     
  16. When I play a P or J I always just leave every knob wide open. Which is "control-less" in a sense. I MUCH prefer the natural sound of passive basses.
     
  17. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Yep. Different strokes and all that I guess.

    I try to keep things simple and make any adjustments on my amp.
     
  18. mongo2

    mongo2

    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Several of my DIYs have no controls at all, not even drilled for them.
     
  19. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Absolutely.

    But your amp can't get a deep neck tone or burpy bridge pickup tone.

    Running both pickups together is a third tone and eliminates the other two.

    My amp has no tone controls except a 7 band graphic EQ. I set that up for the room and then don't touch it. I have to admit I only use the volumes controls on the bass to turn pickups on and off and to mute the bass. But I do use the tone control on the passive basses and active basses a lot.
     
  20. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    It's not, because the controls are changing the tone of the pickups, even wide open.

    It's not "natural", it's filtered. But it's not a bad tone either. The idea of active basses is being able to get more tones from the bass, and also to get the true sound of the pickups. Some people think that's too bright.
     

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