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Sterling SB14 Single Coil Epiphany

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by grillman, Aug 29, 2017.


  1. grillman

    grillman

    Dec 15, 2014
    It is not a question nor a cool story but I felt like sharing it.

    I have owned a Sterling by Musicman SB-14 for about 5 months now. I bought it second hand with a Nordstrand pickups mounted in it. This quickly became my main bass. I love the sound and playability of it.

    For those of you not familiar with this bass it has a 3 way switch allowing you to choose between parallel, series and single coil.
    I used the series setting most of the time and occasionally parallel (mainly when I slap, so rarely). And I somewhat dismissed the single coil settings early on. I was not really convinced by it while playing on my own. I think the fact that it has a lower output played a part in this.

    But about 3 weeks ago in a full band setting (rock-2 guitars), I switched to single coil to play something very subtle. And then forgot to switch back to series. While playing the next song my sound felt a bit thin so I boosted the bass and middle on the fly with the onboard EQ and it had a spectacular presence (mids 15% boost, bass 30% boost). It had some of the characteristics of the P-bass tone and a Jazz bass with bridge pickup soloed. Only that it didn't feel too thin thanks to the EQ corrections. When I realized that it was because I was using the single coil I felt really stupid that I dismissed it for so long. After watching some reviews of this bass, it seems that I am not the only one to dismiss the single coil settings, so I'd like to encourage the ones who do to try it in a band setting.

    When I came home I thought about it and it sort of made sense. When I use the single coil it soloes the pickup closer to the neck. The position is somewhat between a P-bass and a jazz bass bridge pickup. And since the pickup of the SB-14 is a triple coil (with a phantom coil underneath) it didn't have any excessive hum. It has some very defined high-end and a nice growl in the low-mids. It sounded great with the overdrive as well (SA Aftershock).

    Overall I am just very happy with that bass. I just found a new useable sound for it and it is a great feeling. It reminded me that I should spend more time tweaking things and have fun with the settings.

    PS : If any SB14 users (or Sterling users, I've heard they are quite similar) feels like sharing some settings I'd be excited to try them.
     
    andruca likes this.
  2. andruca

    andruca

    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Oh, finally somebody I can agree with. Did you have any mod done? In all the 3 pos Stingray5s/Sterlings I've played (and as per EB's specs) the single position produces sound thru' the bridge side coil, not the neck side. I've had Stingray5s since 2001 and recently got a Sterling5 HS too. 10 years ago I switched from 100% parallel to 100% single coil. It's got the most bite of the 3 for me. Now, on your usual single H 3-pos Musicman setup you're using the bridge side coil when in singles mode. Lately I even went the extra length on all my EBMMs and put a 4PDT switch to swap both coils. It doesn't change anything on series or parallel mode but it allows you to choose which coil makes the sound when in single coil mode. THAT is the one closer to a P kind of clank, subtle, but noticeable (center is about 1cm away from that of the P half that's closest to the bridge).

    On the HS Sterling it's a different thing. There's a position that allows only the humbucker in single, but it must be filtered somehow as it sounds WAY thinner than a stock single H single position (it of course can get close using the onboard EQ). I did the same mod to this bass, it does the same thing for position 2 (humbucker in single). It doesn't affect position 1 (humbucker in series), or 5 (neck PU soloed, the P like), but it does produce phase cancellations in positions 3&4 (the ones involving both pickups, the more Jazz like), still usable with EQ (vaguely RIC-ish BTW). The bad thing about the HS is that there's volume and EQ mismatches when switching that are not there on my Stingray5s (transition is WAY smoother). My Ray 5ers are both "original" 5ers, so ceramic, 3 coil pickup (when in singles, the bridgeside coil is in parallel with a 3rd -phantom- coil that does not produce sound, it's there only for humcancelling purposes). The "modern" ones are completely redesigned electroncally (lost the phantom coil on Hs and HHs, Stingray5 went alnico -for coherence with the 4 string- and in came the Sterling5 as the ceramic 5er, etc). Haven't dealt enough with modern Hs and HHs but in my Sterling HS those mismatches are pretty annoying.

    Sorry for all the blabber, happy to find somebody that appreciates the greatness of the single coil position. As for me, I've recorded several LPs with the stock (bridgeside) single tone and there's no thinness to it @all. The occasional sorta' thinner sensation is probably mostly due to the less scooped nature of that single coil sound than because of a lack of low end. And still, I rarely need to boost the onboard bass really (and then, if I do, it's just past the center detent, only if I get too much of a middy feeling).



    And here's a sound sample of some Geddy mumbling with the 4 sounds I get on my single Hs, one round each (sansamped and compressed)...
    1) parallel
    2) single (stock)
    3) single (neckside)
    4) series
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
    Skillet and grillman like this.
  3. grillman

    grillman

    Dec 15, 2014
    I really feel that it has something to do with the fact that the soloed pickup is on the neck side. It was like this on mine when I bought it. I have no way to find out whether it is the stock settings or not. I absolutely love it though.
    And those recordings you provided prove us that it sounds amazing.

    That bass was modded by the previous owner. He mounted a Nordstrand in it. I think he messed with the wiring a bit because it is different from the stock one (top position - Series, Middle position - parallel, down position - single coil).
    Maybe he made it so that the neck pickup was soloed on purpose or maybe it was a mistake. Either way I love it haha
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
    andruca likes this.
  4. jaybones

    jaybones Inactive

    Mar 4, 2015
    Kelleys Island, Ohio
    none
    Eh, I thought Music Man made the Sterling not Epiphany... :cool:
     
  5. andruca

    andruca

    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Oh, might be this, probably he wired the coils reversed so you have it that way. Easy to tell which one is on touching the poles with the tip of a screwdriver. I lately prefer this neckside single sound to the stock bridgeside tone. Sounds amazing and character is very sensitive to touch.
     
    grillman likes this.
  6. murmur70

    murmur70

    May 3, 2017
    Indiana
    That would be a cool name for a bass though.
     
    grillman likes this.
  7. murmur70

    murmur70

    May 3, 2017
    Indiana
    Epifani does make amps.
     
  8. grillman

    grillman

    Dec 15, 2014
    Great to see I am not the only one thinking this way. Hope we can spread the word about this find then. We should suggest it to MM haha
     
    andruca likes this.
  9. jaybones

    jaybones Inactive

    Mar 4, 2015
    Kelleys Island, Ohio
    none
    I actually saw a CL listing selling an Epiphany Les Paul. Believe it was in West Virginia or some other Appalachian state.
     
  10. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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