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Uneven volume between strings caused by pick ups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Esquillama, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. Hi guys/gals.
    I have recently picked up my first fretless bass. It's a Kapok 5 string. I noticed that the B and E strings weren't as loud as the rest, so I had a new preamp put in, but now the B is still softer than the rest. Could this be a result of the pick ups? Do I need to change out the pick ups? I just had the preamp put in, the control cavity shielded, and a locking input jack installed.
    I don't have a lot of experience with the electronics of my basses, I have a "guy" who takes care of all of that for me at a local music store.
    It's not an active bass if that makes any difference.

    Thanks in advance for any information you can offer.
  2. Pat Harris

    Pat Harris Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2006
    Austin, TX
    It could be the pickups, it could be the setup, it could be a number of variables.

    Do the B and E strings appear to be softer when playing completely unplugged and without amplification?
    ctmullins likes this.
  3. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Torrance, CA
    That doesn't quite seem to make sense. If it has a preamp than it is active.

    How are you evaluating the response? Through an amp? With a level meter? What is the rest of your signal chain?

    - John
    96tbird likes this.
  4. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    Lower the treble side of your pickups until all strings have even volume. It's important to find the sweet spot for your pickups. It's almost always lower than you think.
    96tbird likes this.
  5. Zant


    Jan 1, 2017
    You might try that,I bought the same bass and installed a cheep pre and gave it a paint job min works great here is a pic IMG_20170409_170405505.
  6. Zant


    Jan 1, 2017
    By the way I had to adjust my pickup hight,mine were in pretty tight I had to work at raiseing mine but when I got it right it made a huge difference good luck with it you will like it when you get it rite
  7. When one side is different than the other, it is almost always due to the angle (tilt) of the pickups. In your case, it sounds as though they are closer to the smaller strings, than the larger strings. Raise the bass side, or lower the treble side till you get an evenness. For individual string differences after that, look to the string saddles. If you are adjusting one too far beyond the plane of the others, then look at adjusting the gauge of that string.

    By the way, is your fretboard radiused? Are your pickups?
  8. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Both those things can't be true at the same time.

    Find a new guy. He sold you hardware that didn't fix your problem instead of doing basic setup that probably would have.

    Normal preamps don't control individual string volume.

    No you didn't.
    96tbird likes this.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Yeah, no kidding, anyone that sells you a preamp because output is uneven should be taken out back....

    Pickup height. Adjust using your ears. To further even it out you can raise or lower individual strings a bit. As long as it doesn’t affect playability too much, it’s not imperative for the strings to follow the neck radius perfectly. Trade offs may be required when setting up a bass for best action, playability and sonic performance.
    Linnin likes this.
  10. Ok. A few responses to your comments.
    1.) I replaced the electronics that came with the bass(passive) with a preamp that I had put in another bass(active). The website said it would also work with passive basses(which it does). So, maybe I should have said I replaced the electronics instead of calling it a preamp. I understand what a preamp does. I just used that term because that's what I bought, although it is actually being used as electronic controls for the passive bass.
    2.)He didn't sell me the preamp, I brought it in and asked him to install it. He did an intonation on the neck/strings/saddles and that part of it is working/feeling/playing fine.
    3.)I actually did have a locking jack installed. I have them on all of my 5 string basses. I'll post a picture later after I get home so you can see it. They are similar to the ones that come standard on Conklin basses.
    If it's the term input jack that you're referring to, then let me correct myself and say that I had a locking output jack installed. Many people (me included, obviously) erroneously call it an input jack when we actually mean output jack.
    Thanks for calling my attention to that point.

    I appreciate everyone's feedback. I'm going to be trying out some suggestions when I get home today. I'm not ready to gig with the fretless yet, but I want it to be ready when I am.
  11. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    You're still not getting it.
    A bass either has a preamp or it doesn't.
    If there's a battery inside it isn't a passive instrument.

    Part of initial instrument setup is adjusting the pickups so they're the right distance from the strings and there's even output. Not just from string to string but the balance between pickups on an instrument with more than one.

    This doesn't get talked about much because it never changes unless you swap out the pickups, so most people do it on day one and then never think about it again.
    Same with nut slot height. Part of initial setup, then you don't have to check it until something breaks or wears out years down the road.
  12. Maybe I wasn't clear, for that I apologize. I'm trying to explain as best I can.
    There is no battery in this particular bass, although I do have a battery in my other bass with the same electronics in it.
    The parts are for an active instrument, but they are working in my passive bass without a battery. They are merely controlling bass, treble, volume, and pick up selection.

    I didn't ask him to test the pick ups for even sound, that's on me. I'll be trying some of the suggestions made here, I have always appreciated the people here at TalkBass and the knowledge I've come to acquire through my many years interacting with folks on this forum.
  13. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The bass/treble EQ section from an active system won't work without a battery.
    It is literally impossible unless you've just scavenged the pots and added capacitors to somehow make a two band cut-only circuit like Reverend uses on their guitars.
    Which still wouldn't work very well because the pots would be the wrong values.
  14. 794891FB-894D-42CC-A8B1-2C490B4FFD7B.
    Well, I guess I don’t understand how it works, but it’s installed and the bass makes sound that can be affected by the controls onboard and there is no battery.
    Here’s a picture of the locking jack I had installed.
  15. 67B50E4B-1C3E-4B4E-926A-5C0B5C2154BD.

    Well, well, well.
    I guess this is all I needed to do to get at the truth. You’re 100% correct lz4005, there’s definitely a battery in there. I guess my passive bass is now an active bass after all.

    Point made sir. Thank you for your candor.
    ctmullins likes this.
  16. OK. I’m callin’ this one.

    Everyone...thank you all for your time. You are free to go.
    JRA and ctmullins like this.

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