Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Testing out pickup configurations.... (warning: slightly crazy)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sheepdog, Feb 23, 2004.


  1. sheepdog

    sheepdog

    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    Crazy idea, but buy an SX Ash body bass.

    Route out an area from the neck to the bridge (pickup depth) and wide enough for whatever pickup I choose.

    Get 1 P pickup, 1 J set, 1 musicman, maybe even a single coil P

    test them out in different combinations and different spots.

    My only question is how to do a quick connect cable to swap out pickups. I want just a basic volume control...no tone, no preamps, all passive.

    also, will double sided tape be enough to hold them in place and give an idea of sound? or will I need to screw them in place?


    crazy thought, but it would be interesting to hear the results

    :bag:
     
  2. BruceWane

    BruceWane

    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    I did that once, except a little differently....I built a "throwaway" body out of scraps I had laying around with a huge rout like you're talking about. I used a small wooden wedge to hold the pickups in place. I wasn't trying different pickups though, just finding the best placement for the EMG 40-P5 & 40-J that I was going to use.

    EMG's have a plug on the pickup that allows you to easily exchange them, although they haven't always had this feature; if you buy some used ones that are a little older, they won't have it.
     
  3. You could try it similar to the way someone told me Leo Fender did it when he was trying to place his pups. Take the neck off your SX and bolt it to the top of a board, place the bridge in the appropriate place (so that the scale is proper and its at a reasonable height above the board). You want to be able to string it up such that when you fasten a pickup to the big board its a similar distance from the strings as when its in a normal bass. Doing it this way means you have virtually no restrictions on where you wanna place the pups and how fine your movements can be.

    As for a quick connect? I'm thinking something like some speaker connectors I've seen, it has two sets of flat tangs, one wider, the other thinner, with a corresponding little input/grabber bit. I have no idea what they're called but they just slot into each other and its all sweet, pretty easy and quick to do a changeover. Of course you could fine tune your soldering technique and get real quick at it, not that I can talk, my soldering jobs wouldn't even pass as dog's breakfast.

    Josh D
     
  4. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    And I thought I was the only crazy one. My initial plan was to get a low line Ibanez and route out the whole area from pups to pots so that I could slide a piece of plywood mounted with pups and electronics in place, screw down and go for it.

    But I was looking toward more complex active electronics and it'd be real nice to have all that space around that plywood for soldering.

    I might just go ahead and route for the appropriate pup configuration then make a pickgaurd cover to fit - since all the cheap Ibes are PJs.

    Haven't decided for sure yet but hate to totally tash one bass although, since I'm not alone, may do okay on ebay selling the thing afterwards as a test lab bass.

    Not to knock Leo, but I'd want something I could play cause if I've learned anything from transplanting basses, you really have to play a bass over some time to determine if you're really going to like the sound.
     
  5. A9X

    A9X

    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    The SX's have pickguards don't they? So why not route out the bathtub between neck and bridge, fiddle with p/u position and configuration over time, and once you've settled on it, make up a new 'guard from a blank? I beleive you can get the blanks from Allparts or Stewmac, but they're usually only PVC sheet, so any plastics supply place will sell you some for a dollar or two and you just have to shape it to fit which is easy enough. Then it doesn't matter whats under the 'guard, ie a big hole or sloppy routing, as you won't see it. I did this on a cheap Ibez some years ago and it worked fine. Hell, in the spare space between the p/u's you can even mount a preamp.

    If you don't like standard J's, try the Dimarzios.
     
  6. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    They're various connectors you can purchase but what I've done in the past is simply run a pigtail to the desired pot/terminal and wirenut the the pup wire to that. Just pull off the wire nut when you go to swap. You can get a box of small wirenuts at Home Depot for a couple bucs.

    And you'll want the pups to be secure, I'd screw them in for sure. You don't want them flopping into the strings, breaking wires loose, or damaging the pups. The bass needs to be playable and properly setup (pup height and all) for the test lab to really be of use.
     
  7. i've been considering something like this for a while to. i'm going to be building a bass in the summer. but i don't know where i want the p'ups to go.

    i'm going for a MM+J config, and i'm gonna do the same as you, just have a big route from the board to the bridge and find the best positions.

    something like this will be a good learning experience to. because you can see for yourself how much difference things like angled pickups make ect.

    Tom

    BTW. for fixing them down i was planning on velcro. stick a load down in the route. and some on the bottom of the p'ups, so you can quickly and repeatedly change the placement of the p'ups. and it'll hold them well enough
     
  8. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    Guess this post motivated me cause I got around to routing the bass today and just ended up cutting out a rectangle. I'll try it that way and see how it goes. It's a lot easier to make sawdust from wood than wood from sawdust.

    Will probably assemble it tonight. Have an MTD MM pup and some Duncan Lightn'n rod Jazz for starters. Couple of Bart premaps laying about so will see what transpires.


    =============
    Fat Tuesday folks - lots of heavy breathing going on in Nawlins tonight.
     
  9. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    For anybody that's into swapping electronics instead of just pups around, I'd recommend shielding the bottom of the control bay so you don't have to jack with ground wires to the pots. I'd recommend that regardless if you pull the guts. Fewer wires the less to do, the less to go wrong. And if you're new to soldering, ground wires to the pots is the more challenging and potentially more damaging soldering tasks.
     
  10. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    Got the first trial done on the bass. MM man pup from an MTD and just kept it simple with a Bart NTBT with a concentric tone and volume and that was it. Had that preamp sitting around and never installed it so I wanted to make sure it worked. Haven't played it to music yet but it does put out a nice burpy tone through bass and treble adjustments. This could turn out to be kind of fun.

    I think the velco thing may be worth some exploration. I installed it in the typical MM bridge position and I'm wondering what it would sound like moved around. I think I'd like more bass out of it so moving it up some would be heading in the right direction. I'm not sure how you'd go about getting a good pickup height setting using the velcro though.

    Pretty cool.
     
  11. for me this experiment is just to find a placement for the pickups on the bass i build and a practical way to find out how much pickup placement effects tone. obviously i'm going to try and get them as close as possible with the route, but it's only to give me a rough idea, so pickup height isn't going to be all that important.

    look forward to hearing how your experiment goes. BTW, is the bart NTBT a jazz pickup?

    Tom
     
  12. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    I think pup placement might produce some suprising results - hopefully some sweet spots. You might want to use the same strings you plan on using. Strings won't change the character of the bass but they can have a dramatic affect on sound sometimes.

    My purpose is primarily more to try different pup configs and manufacturers out in order to determine what combinations I want in a permanent bass in order to route the bodies accordingly. The NTBT is a 2 band preamp. Have a couple of Bart 3 bands but was wanting to keep it simple to expedite the process at the time.

    Time to fire up and see how it does to music.
     
  13. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    Didn't play the bass for long cause some were sleeping so couldn't get any volume. But enough to tell that sufficient bass won't be an issue. I never have been able to tell how a bass will play to music by playing it solo.

    Volume and/or tone seemed a little off on the 1st and 2nd strings which may have been real or imagined cause I noticed once the strings were in place there was no way to center all of the poles with the stock Ibanez bridge. So I threw on a Schaller roller bridge which I should have done to begin with for a project bass like this. A series of fiascos insued thereafter and burnt up time so I still haven't been able to test with some volume. But I've done a setup on it and it's good to go for tomorrow.
     
  14. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    This is kind of become my thread it seems but for those reading through it I have an update.

    First off a real plus (at least in my book) that I hadn't mentioned was that routing the pup area out made a noticeable reduction in the weight of the bass.

    I've ran a Duncan lightnin rod J pup (which is an active pup) with the passive MTD MM and I think I actually liked the single MTD better. Then pulled the MM and stuck in the bridge pup from the Lightnin rod set, running a pair of Js. Still think the MTD solo had it best.

    But started thinking back to routing all the way to the pots and mounting pups and electronics into a blank that could just be slipped in below the strings and screwed in place. Then it occurred to me that if I did that, instead of having a bunch of basses, I could have a bunch of these mounted electronics and just a couple basses. I could make a portable case to store and transport the electronics.

    Talk about a flexible bass set up, and I'd make room for some other basses I have interest in.
     
  15. sheepdog

    sheepdog

    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    thanks for taking over, this is the sort of info I was looking for.
     
  16. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    Was wondering what happened to you but figured you probably got the information you were looking for early on. The project for me just kept going so I thought I'd throw what was going on out there and maybe get some ideas/direction from others. Once I so got so far a new thread seemed appropriate so I broke it off to a new one "Is This Insane Or Just Too Obvious". I kept remember whether Hambones pic was in this one or that but that's real close to what I had in mind - check it out, the pic enlarges from double clicking.

    After reading another thread I started thinking about seperating the electronics outboard so yesterday I took the onboard NTBT and wired it for an outboard, which further increases versatility and I really don't need the convenience of onboard controls anyway.

    For what it's, you really need the pups at the proper height to really hear what they sound like. You might be able to get an idea of the sweetspot from moving then around otherwise and listening to them relatively, assuming they'd sound best in that spot when properly mounted - but there may be some hidden variables you don't know about. If you put an 1/8" piece of wood the shape of your routing and screwed down the 4 corners, you could screw all the holes in it for pups you wanted and when it gets trashed, just replace it with another then you're not messing up the bass wood itself.

    Enjoy