Talk me in or out of swapping pre-amp and pick-ups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Bill Murray, Nov 25, 2022.

  1. Swap the pickups!

    6 vote(s)
  2. Swap the Preamp!

    3 vote(s)
  3. Swap both, regret nothing!

    12 vote(s)

    84 vote(s)
  5. Sell it and start over!

    14 vote(s)
  1. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray

    Dec 12, 2019
    New Hampshire
    :smug:Recently picked up a Stealth Sterling Ray 35 HH. LOVE IT. Feels and sounds great, the band I’m using it in compliments my tone every rehearsal!

    I’m a bit of a tone junky in the sense that I’ll put in the work with my fingers and then explore how to accent that with EQ. I’m super confident in my abilities and with my tone.

    I’ve never modded a bass. Am I missing anything? If so, can you articulate what sort of changes or improvements I might notice if I were to swap out electronics. As I said I love the bass as is and so does the band but is it possible to take what the bass is already doing and make it even stronger?

    I’ve been eyeing the Darkglass Tone Capsule (1. Because Darkglass rules 2. Because the focus on mids).

    For pick-ups I’m scoping out the Nordstrand Big Man or Big Split Man (just based on the tonal characteristics/description on the website).

    I spent $890 on the bass, all the upgrades will run about $700, when all is said and done that’s a $1600 bass.

    For what it’s worth I’m using this bass in A standard for some old school death metal, think Oliver Pinard (Cryptopsy, Ingested, Cattle Decapitation) and Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse).

    Please, enlighten me! :bassist:

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    mcnach, Ellery and Riff Ranger like this.
  2. I voted sell it and start over.

    Hear me out.

    Those sterlings are alright, but if you could get 6-700 plus the 700 you're gonna spend, you can get a really nice used bass.
  3. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I'm glad you put the "LEAVE IT ALONE" option in all caps, because if you hadn't included the poll I would have said that and put it in all caps.

    I'm a big believer in not fixin' if it ain't broken, and I'll double down in this case since your bandmates, as well as you, are loving the tone as-is. Swapping electronics will probably make it sound different, but if it already sounds great to your (and your bandmates') ears, the odds are against it sounding significantly better. You'll feel like an idiot if you spend $700 on "upgrades" and, at the next rehearsal, everyone says they liked it better before.

    I disagree with @lidl e about starting over because, as you said, you "LOVE IT" (again, in all caps) and, mentioned that this was because of its "feel" in addition to tone. Finding a bass that "feels right" to you isn't easy. And again, it makes no sense to me to start over to get a "really nice" used bass when you're so happy with the one you have.

    One other thought: If you're interested in "upgrading" your tone, I wouldn't necessarily start with the bass; I'd give equal consideration to amp and cab(s). What kind of rig are you playing this through?
    MadJack, RattleSnack, 4SG and 13 others like this.
  4. I always advise against putting a lot of money where you boost your investment WAY past what a good used one would sell for.

    You occasionally see Squiers on Reverb and the other usual places where the owner installed full Bart or EMG setups, new big money bridge, maybe the keys, and advertising it for twice or more what it sold for new.

    It's still there next month. And the month after that, the month after . . . . you get the picture. Who'd buy a used Squier, even with terrific improvements, used for a grand or better. Or a Sterling Sting Ray . . . . it's hard to get San Luis Obispo prices for an Indonesian axe.

    Hey if it's 'only money' and it's no big deal, have at it. Otherwise I'd keep it stock or apply hard found parts you could get at a big discount to keep the spend low, if you expect to get at least most of your money back.

    It's your call.

    Personally speaking, I'd always live with an axe for a while, different strings, fine tuning the setup, different ways to approach the amp, etc. After several months, once I figured out how to live with it, I rarely found much reason to start swapping bits under the hood. But that's me.
  5. I totally agree for the most part, BUT, as a bass player, once you get that bug in you that you want a change you won't be satsisifed until that change happens.

    Heavily upgrading an instrument is fun, but if you want to upgrade and flip one day, you're almost never gonna get the value back whereas a nicer used bass will only go up in value.

    And i understand a bass is not an investment, i have many, but things change and better to have the possibilty of selling it and getting something better or recouping your investment.

    Also, theres a chance the upgrades will make you lose what you love about the bass in the first place.
    Mike Marshall and Bill Murray like this.
  6. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray

    Dec 12, 2019
    New Hampshire
    In all honesty that’s the route I had decided on prior to even making this thread. I am curious to see what other people do/had done.

    I love Stingrays in general, they just feel right to me and that took years and many basses to discover.

    I do also have a 5HH special but I don’t want to be changing tunings weekly, plus I prefer flats on it AND it’s sparkly purple with gold hardware haha so it doesn’t exactly scream metal. Now I can’t imagine modding a bass like that, but I’m sure people have done it.

    I’m using a Mesa Subway 2X15, Mesa D800+, and a Darkglass Microtubes X7. 100% sold on this rig too.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2022
    MaxSpinrun, kentiki and Lobster11 like this.
  7. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray

    Dec 12, 2019
    New Hampshire
    hence why I have never modded anything haha
    MaxSpinrun, Lobster11 and lidl e like this.
  8. Can you take that 700 for the upgrades add another two and build a cool warmoth bass?

    Then you'd have two basses exacrly what you want!

    Warmoth builds are fun and easy, you get exactly what you want and you can doxa reranch refinish which is fun and comes out great!
    Bill Murray likes this.
  9. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray

    Dec 12, 2019
    New Hampshire
    I’ve always been curious about Warmoth but I’ve never heard the word “easy” associated with a DIY build haha.
    BassToGoGo likes this.
  10. CallMeAl


    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    Me thinks you answered your own question! :D I’d stay put
    VoodooJazz, Ostie, kentiki and 2 others like this.
  11. It's really not hard. Screw it together, pay someone 50 quid to wire and setup.

    A bolt on is easy to put together. Easy to wire as well in passive or with a prewired harness. You'd be surprised.

    You get eveything pre dilled including neck and control holes.
    Bill Murray likes this.
  12. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Sell it and get a stingray special
  13. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray

    Dec 12, 2019
    New Hampshire
    That was my original goal buuut I wanted a stealth 5HH and that was only available from Sterling (could go classic, but I prefer the roasted maple neck and lighter weight of the specials).
    kentiki and bikeplate like this.
  14. Generally I say go for it, but I’d leave that particular instrument alone.
    Artman and Bill Murray like this.
  15. john_g

    john_g Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    I would leave it or sell it and get something closer to what you are thinking. Just about every time Ive modded something, I was disappointed. I have a nice Jazz bass right now that I was thinking of doing some pups and or preamp upgrades but it really has never given me the "improvement" I was seeking so im thinking I just might sell it instead.
    CryingBass likes this.
  16. CryingBass

    CryingBass Just a Fool Whose Intentions are Good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    ^ Right. Put a price to your time. Tweaking = Time = Dollars. IMHO
    Bill Murray likes this.
  17. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    I'm all for experimenting, but I think that if:
    1. You're already very pleased with how it sounds, and
    2. You can't define exactly what changes you want to make and why... ie. what is your end goal by tinkering with the electronics,
    Then you're just throwing money at a problem that doesn't even exist in the first place.
    XLunacy, JRA, kentiki and 3 others like this.
  18. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    IME upgrading is usually a real good way to wind up $600 in on a $300 bass, $2100 in on a $1400 bass or in your example $1600 in on a $1000 bass.

    IME the best pickup swaps are lateral.
    Bill Murray likes this.
  19. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
  20. Artman

    Artman a.k.a. Eddy Garcia Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2017
    Georgetown, TX
    That particular model already has great pickups and a great preamp. There is no reason to change them.

    If it was a Sub Series, then I would suggest a pickup swap, but your Ray 35 is already well equipped.

    If you want to change your tone from that particular bass, consider changing strings and/or technique, and it looks like you’re already working the fingers (technique) and eq.
    mcnach, MaxSpinrun and Bill Murray like this.