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sr406 project bass...

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by allan grossman, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. After a year and a half, two failed preamp installs and a decision to make the bass passive after all, my 2002-ish Ibanez SR406 project bass is finished.

    Caution. Geekish bass mod stuff happens below ;)

    Soundgear preamps of that vintage actually work pretty well but are a bit noisy if you crank the treble up. This is the second SR406 I've owned and basically it's a heck of an okay six-string for not a lot of money. Dual trussrods make for a reasonably stiff neck - the B string isn't as tight as on the Laklands I've owned but it is acceptable.

    Anyway, first mod was to install a pair of Kent Armstrong humbuckers - I selected them for two reasons. First, the best tone I've ever heard come out of an electric bass was a Lakland Jerry Scheff model and they use KA lipstick pickups. Second, the KA pickups use bar magnets and will work just fine with the tight string spacing on an SR406. Any EMG-40 sized pickup will fit as the stock Ibanez pickups are about 1/8" longer than an EMG-40.


    Next, the electronics. I gutted the control cavity, installed two 5-way coil select switches and a no-load tone pot I made with a dab of clear fingernail polish. The control cavity looks a bit like a rat's nest but I can remove any component without desoldering it and I kinda like that. I wouldn't use the cloth-covered wire again, though. The insulation just pulls back which is kinda cool, but it also frays and gets in the way when you're trying to solder. I did have to take a Dremel tool to the control cavity and remove about 1/8" of wood to get the 5-way switch on the bottom left of the pic to fit.


    Anyway, the 5-way switches split the coils for each pickup this way -

    1. Series in phase (normal humbucker)
    2. Single coil (north coil)
    3. Parallel in phase
    4. Single coil (south coil)
    5. Series out of phase

    Since I'm a big fan of single-coil tone I normally run the bass with the neck north coil and the bridge south coil turned on - it's got a nice, raw, vintage jazz bass tone.

    I also installed a Graphtek nut at the suggestion of a friend on another forum - all it took was to pop the old nut off and stick a drop of super glue on the new one. Pic here -


    And a pic of the entire bass.


    All in all I'm pretty happy with the project - and the batteries won't go dead :)
  2. santucci218


    Jan 26, 2007
    not that im an expert, but i was always told to use a tiny tiny dab of wood glue or elmers glue to hold on the nut, and never ever super glue. also, the nut looks thinner than the fretboard, not that it matters, but cosmetically i would be bugged.

    so whats next, new preamp?

    anyways, i bet shes sounding better huh?
  3. Busker


    Jan 22, 2007
    Hey, that looks nice. Did you put that copper foil in the cavity?

    I'm going to do an active to passive conversion as well to a Dean Edge I picked up for $50. Heck, I might repaint it too, from black to vintage white. I'll probably just spray over the black. Then it would be vintage white, but have all black hardware. It might be a cool stage bass for little money.

    The reason I got the Dean for $50 is no sound would come out of it - likely a dead preamp.
  4. Yeah, the nut is a tiny bit narrower than the fingerboard but it's one of those things I just gotta live with, I guess - as that was the only size six-string nut available although you could have them make you one. Actually it doesn't bother me at all :)

    Sounds *much* better. Actually the stock Ibanez pickups aren't all that bad but the preamp gets a little noisy if you crank up the treble much.

    New preamp? Nah. Although the control cavity looks pretty roomy it's really not if you try to install an 18v OBP-3 or a 5-knob U-Retro. Tried both.
  5. Yeah, I did the foil. It's not real pretty but it wasn't all that hard and you can solder to it - you can't see it in the pic but the star ground that used to solder to the preamp is now soldered to the foil.

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