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Those who have changed PUPs and pre-amp ... was the change noticeable?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tercesyrev, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. tercesyrev

    tercesyrev Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2006
    Chicago, IL
    Considering gutting my bass and upgrading pick ups and preamp. I have an Ibby with the Bartolini BH-2 pups and Ibby active pre-amp. Sounds pretty good, modern ... but restricted.

    Not asking what do I replace them with but rather did you notice a big enough change in tone and presence to warrant the expenditure?

    Let me know...
    mark beem likes this.
  2. Do you have the new SR670/870?
  3. tercesyrev

    tercesyrev Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2006
    Chicago, IL
    Nope ... just asking a generic question and hoping for feedback if the modifications are worth it.
  4. toomanyslurpees


    Jan 21, 2009
    I think the answer will always be ‘it depends’ it was worth it to me, might it have been worth it to the next guy? Maybe? Only way to find out is to try it... Reversability of mods always seems like a good plan
    SirMjac28 likes this.
  5. tercesyrev

    tercesyrev Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2006
    Chicago, IL
    Ah yes... but I'd rather not spend the $$$ to "experiment". I'm asking if there is a noticeable change. Good point though ... Editing the title.
  6. toomanyslurpees


    Jan 21, 2009
    Ah... yes... still stuck in the it depends loop... I made my 3eq Stingray a 2 eq because to me I think it’s very different and the 2eq is everything I like about the Stingray without everything I didn’t like in my 3eq stingray.. so worth it! Though some people don’t find a significant difference between those two preamps. Maybe try some basses and find out what’s in them when you hear something you like..
  7. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I changed the pup on a MIM P to a Curtis Novak pup and it made a huge change but replacing the pup and electronics on a MIM Jazz their wasn't much of a difference at all
    rufus.K likes this.
  8. Merc Montclair

    Merc Montclair Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2015
    Austin, TX
    It made a huge difference with the only two I've modded, the last one especially. It was pretty good sounding before. The improvement was exponential. As always YMMV.
  9. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Long Island, NY.
    I'm in the depends camp. I've been toying with the idea of putting some new pups in my Jazz so I've been checking out comparison videos online. In some cases, the change in tone was very noticeable. In others, the change was either minuscule or nonexistent.

    There is one particular video that demos like 8 or 9 different sets in the same bass. Each pup sounds different and yet it always sounds like a jazz bass. So is the difference worth it? Again, that just depends.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  10. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    moonbass-de and TonyP- like this.
  11. jonathanhughes

    jonathanhughes Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    It really depends on what you're swapping in and out. If you're replacing one pickup that's supposed to sound like a vintage Jazz Bass pickup with another one that's supposed to sound like a vintage Jazz Bass pickup, even someone with great ears might not be able to tell the difference. If you're replacing something that's supposed to sound like a vintage Jazz Bass pickup with something that's very mid scooped, or just totally different sounding (like a Dimarzio Model J), then the difference should be pretty obvious.
  12. Low84

    Low84 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Pickups -- aside from the times I've switched to EMGs, not a massive difference.

    Preamp -- yes, HUGE difference every time.
    Groove Doctor and craig0316 like this.
  13. How much of a change really depends on what parts you’re switching from and if you’re choosing new parts for the same tone or something different. I’d say you get more bang for your buck with pickup swaps though. And you can take a bass from vintage to modern with a pickup swap. If you’re putting a vintage style pickup in a bass that already has one you’ll likely hear less of a change. One improvement that is common when upgrading an high quality eq is reduced high frequency noise/hiss when boosting treble.But if you usually run everything flat like I do pickups are much more important I think. Some eqs are more interesting than others though. Like the Darkglass tone capsule in my dingwall is more of a three band low/low mid/high mid where most are lows mids and highs if they are a 3 band which I find a little less useful because I typically don’t like the way they’d sound with the treble boosted. There is a lot that goes into it also that people often overlook. Different pots sound different some don’t work well with certain pickups either. My understanding is it has to do with the resistance the pot has. To this day one the best sounding jazz basses I’ve heard in person was a Mexican jazz with Duncan quarter pounders and all the pots were removed and it just had on on/off toggle. Changing the wiring from parallel to series can also make a pretty drastic change.
    Fun Size Nick and rufus.K like this.
  14. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    With a few Jazz pickup changes, yes, the difference was notable and what I was looking for...

    A 2000 MIM Jazz 5 that I made fretless - went from stock single-coils to Nord humcanceling models. Big difference. Made the bridge pup usable for that you-know-who sound.

    A 2014 AM STD Jazz 5 and an American Elite - changed our pups in both basses to Nord vintage single-coil 70s wind and Nord preamps. Definitely an appreciable difference. Not big, but appreciable.

    Mike Lull P5. Changed pup from the custom SD pups to the Nord (see a pattern here?) NP5 Vintage pups. This has been the most noticeable pup change I’ve ever experienced. The SD was nice and polite, knew its place in the mix. I wanted grindy hi-mid Precision growl. And boy, I have it now. Not only is the tone what I’m looking for, but the B string sounds way better and like a Pbass B string should. Also, the high notes still sound like the P bass, too. For my tastes, in Precision bass tones, it’s a serious improvement.

    So as always and like it or not....

    It depends.....

  15. I got good results by changing out the stock pickup and preamp for a Basslines array on an import MTD Artist like this one below. I don't usually spend money to upgrade inexpensive basses, but I had the pickup already.

    The stock guts (Mighty Mite?) weren't too impressive. The little bass plays amazingly well.....now it sounds good, too. So yeah, substantial improvement in my case.

  16. Pickups definitely sound "different" but not necessarily "better". The classic pickups like 50's and 60's P and J basses were not particularly "good" pickups. There is nothing magic about them or anything expensive about the components or how they were made - but the sound they produce is what we are used to hearing on so many recordings and so now you get to pay big bucks for a vintage pickup or a new pickup built to sound like a vintage pickup.

    Back in the 80's I ran the repair dept at a large music store - people brought in their 60's and 70's Fenders and gibsons and had me put in new EMGs and Dimarzio and Seymour Duncan pickups. And all those people were delighted with the improvement. But today all those instruments are worth much less (and people would now say they sound much worse) with those "better" pickups than if they had been left with stock pickups. Point being that what we value or consider "good" is a moving target that is always changing.

    Anyway ... it's fun to put in a new pickup and then notice a difference ... but it's also fun to do a blind compare of a bass with a cheap pickup to a bass with an expensive pickup and you just might prefer the sound of the cheap one. It's best if you have a really clear idea what the sound is you are after - and what it is about that sound that your pickup is preventing you from achieving. Then you can choose a pickup that delivers that elusive thing.
  17. BioDriver

    BioDriver A Cinderella story

    Aug 29, 2008
    Austin, TX
    In all three times I'd done it, yes:

    Yamaha RBX260 - swapped out the super crappy P pup for EMG PJs and it sounded much better
    Ibanez SR885 - Seeing as it only came with one pickup and no preamp....
    Warwick Thumb BO - Seeing as the MEC preamp wasn't working....
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  18. If the pickups in your Ibanez are actual "USA" Bartolinis, you might be satisfied by making only a pre-amp swap from the Ibby pre to something like a Bartolini NTMB three band preamp. Heck, even if they are the "designed by" Bartolinis you might find the preamp alone to be the change you're looking for. I find that Ibanez preamps sound pretty good though.
    wmmj and MordBass like this.
  19. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    I had a stock Lakland Skyline 55-01. I replaced the pickups with US Bartolini dual coils and swapped the stock pre for a Lakland LH3 (same as in their US made basses). The change was incredible!

    Groove Doctor and wmmj like this.
  20. 98F8315E-CB41-42D9-88CE-95300E36746D. It made a huge difference to me ......
    ajkula66, 2tonic, Lowendtech and 2 others like this.

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