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Swapping Sadowsky pups and preamp?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by secretdonkey, Apr 3, 2018.

  1. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I know it seems like sacrilege, but what are the practical options for swapping out the pickups and preamp on a Sadowsky bass - specifically, it's a Metro UV70 5 string. I'd like to be able to swap the native stuff back in if I don't like the results or want to sell the bass. I have a Fender J (4 string) with EMG pickups and preamp, exact same wood combo as the Metro, and the tone of that bass works so much better for me. Between the Fender/EMG, my MTD 535 and the Metro, the latter is a sonic outlier. Shrug.

    Any of you fine folks done that or know of a thread devoted to the subject? A quick search didn't turn up anything for me.
  2. 1bassplayinfool

    1bassplayinfool -Nowhere Man- Gold Supporting Member

    smeet and secretdonkey like this.
  3. Has this guy been run out of town yet?

    Look, well while I'm here...can anyone suggest a good set of cheap replacement speakers for my bergantino nv610?

    I jest, I jest.

    Any jazz bass pickups should directly drop in right?
    Breeze3, kobass and secretdonkey like this.
  4. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    You are the first I have heard who had changed the guts of a Sadowsky..... Well I guess it has to happen sooner or later.
    I have a Sadowsky 5 NYC and would not change anything. I guess by you doing this I was wondering why so many have not. Why I didn't even think about it is because of the simplicity of the bass. 2 tone knobs bass and Treble. Generally light. Very close to a fender with more tone availability, like many said a fender on steroids . Has the creation of idea's from the minds of the studio musician back in the days when they were busy. Its a great bass and they are pretty consistent with one another. I hate to say it and I don't mean it as a slap in Rogers face but they are a one trick pony. They were made to sound what you hear in a good pop, rock, R&B, jazz, funk, commercial record. Hard not hear bassist who record for a living not to have a Sadowsky stamp of some sort in their bass library.
  5. howlin


    Nov 15, 2008
    I'm Not There
    If the Sadowsky isn't working for you and you already have 2 other basses that do then sell it. Why hang on to something you don't need?
  6. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I had an nyc 5. Too scooped for my taste. I replaced the HC pickups with Sadowsky single coils. Better, a bit. I replaced the SC’s with Nordstrand’s, even better. But I still didn’t like the boost-only 2-band eq. Ultimately I couldn’t get what I wanted from the instrument, so I sold it. They are great, but not for everybody.
    secretdonkey likes this.
  7. WorktheWood

    WorktheWood Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2014
    Don't feel bad about wanting to switch out the Sadowsky electronics. I've owned several Sadowsky basses, trying to like them, but have sold them all. They just don't have the sound I like. I recently bought a Fender Elite 5 and it works so much better for me. As for electronics options, I'd probably give the Pope Preamp a look. I didn't like the original Pope preamp but the most recent found in Fodera basses sound really good. I think I actually like the standard Pope preamp they use for the standard line better than the custom. You can buy the standard Pope pre from several on line retailers. As for pickups, any decent true single coils will probably sound better than the HC's if that is what is on your bass.
    secretdonkey and smeet like this.
  8. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Thanks for the replies. Selling the bass and getting another is the obvious solution, but except for the tone issue the bass is *exactly* what I want - it's the 5-string version of my fantasy J bass color/wood combo since I was a teenager. Finding another configured the same way would likely involve buying another bass online, without being able to play it first, so that would be another big roll of the dice and who knows how much $ with a buy/sell spread...
  9. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Id change the pickups first. Try a set of true single coils. Id recommend Nordstrand. Then see what you think
    EagleMoon and secretdonkey like this.
  10. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    I have 10% Fralin overwound singles in my parts J5.
    I'll live with the noise bc singles give you that special something.
    It had one of those prewired Stellartone Jazz setups on it which is interesting.

    10% is a bit much if you liked EMGs but that super quick thumpy thing is present.
    They white wash every amp I've played it thru (kinda like EMGs), I'd stick with 5% overwound and an active 3-band if that's the way you want to go.
    Otherwise try out a Stellartone setup, they can be fun.

    I've also really liked Dimarzio Area P's and Area J's with OBP-3's.
    You get this throaty hot thing going that's cool.

    Older Barts with a TCT is also something fun, but you end up needing to work a little harder with your amplification than the above.
    secretdonkey likes this.
  11. Jeffrey Wash

    Jeffrey Wash Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    Santa Cruz
    I think that's good advice from bikeplate. If you really love the bass unplugged then, based on my own experience, you would always regret selling it. Electronics are relatively easy to experiment with and you can always go back to stock if it doesn't work out. I replaced the soapbar pickups on my Sadowsky 24 Fret 5 string NYC a couple of years ago and am very happy that I did so. The build quality of Roger's basses is top notch; I've owned several of them - same model - and can attest that each bass had it's own voice - the dynamic response, the resonance, etc. When you find a bass that speaks to you - that has that certain MOJO - never let it go!
  12. WorktheWood

    WorktheWood Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2014
    I agree with changing the pickups first. That will effect the tone more than the preamp.
  13. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    If it plays, and it sounds good unplugged it's a good bass that needs an electronics change.
    I saw a set of white EMG J5's that were on Reverb for $75 shipped bc the guy needed LJ-LJ for a Thumb instead of LJ-SJ.
    That would have been an easy $ burn.

    If I was supposed to work in TX I'd just bring my parts J5 and let you play it bc it's an accident, someone built it the way I bought it.

    Otherwise go with what you know works.
    I'd be tempted to try the JX's.
    secretdonkey likes this.
  14. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    My somewhat faint recollection about the EMG pups/preamp and for sure the MTD will have a warmer tone with less bark and more upper end bite. I tend to find those packages to sound a bit compressed; but, a lot of players dig them. Could be that you just aren’t interested in the Jazz Bass derived Sadowsky tone. I prefer Delano pickups with my Sadowsky preamp (even have them in my NYC); but, that Sadowsky preamp is the ticket to access a wide range of Fender-ish sounds.

    But, if that isn’t what you are looking for...then, I might spend some time with different pickups and sell the instrument if those don’t get what you want. For non-Sadowsky pickups, I can recommend the Seymour Duncan SJB-2 for a massive grind single coil vibe and the Delano JMVC4 for almost everything else that preamp will do.

    Only other thing is make sure you understand how to use the preamp (no offense intended); especially the VTC. There are some subtle things there. You have to use not too much bass and treble boost, and then sweep the VTC to find the sweet spot.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
    secretdonkey and Zoobiedood like this.

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