upgrading a bronco pickup on the cheap

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by pcake, Jan 24, 2023.

  1. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    my new amp makes me bronco pickup sound pretty bad. i could play the bronco only unplugged or through the rumble 40 or i could change the pickup.

    some of the old thread recommendations have increased in price or disappeared, and if i replace this pickup, it's gonna be for under $50. i'd prefer low to moderate output - nothing hot, no hum, vintage rather than modern tone - more old motowny. but i'll settle for no hum and good bass tone. bonus points for a drop-in fit, but not necessary.

    i was looking at these, but i haven't a clue as they give minimal info
    https://www.amazon.com/FLEOR-Alnico-Humbucker-Single-Coil-Sized-Pickup/dp/B09YCMC289/ available in 4 colors in 6-7k and 9-10k (and higher, but i want lower output)

    for $12.50, it'll at the very least kill the hum. i believe this one will be a drop-in.

    anyone own these or have any cheaper hum-cancelling pickup suggestions for a bronco?
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I haven't tried yet myself (mean to on my Musicmaster when I get the pieces all back together), but yeah, those stat single-coil sized double blade humbuckers are the ticket. I guess the ones with the lowest resistance would have the most vintage sound?
    pcake likes this.
  3. kevrex


    Aug 16, 2015
    i haven't used that specific pickup, but i put a fleor in the neck position of an indio tele, and it sounded clearer than the stock ceramic pickup to my ear. not an enormous difference, but noticeable to me. not a bad pickup at all for the price.
    pcake likes this.
  4. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    that's what i'm guessing, too, but i'm not sure why i'm guessing that LOL
  5. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I've never quite understood the relationship between resistance, over/under wrapping, and how "hot" a pickup is. <geeky pickup theory> hehe
    pcake likes this.
  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Many places have a Strat rails type humbucker pickup for cheap, for example GFS. This will get you better tone and humbucking, which is the major reason to upgrade a Bronco pickup. Also, since the pickup has the same footprint, you don't need to do any routing or other modifications, just unsolder old wire off, resolder new wire on. Pick a standard or neck version for a clear tone, and a bridge or overwound version for more mids and drive.
  7. I have the Bronco bass as a fun, hobby, Frankenstein experimental instrument. I've tried a variety of PUPs in it. The dual blade from Musicilly didn't suit me, nor did a lipstick or a full size Epiphone T-Bird humbucking PUP (can't use the regular pickguard for that). My experience is that you have to spend more than $50 to get a decent tone upgrade. Wizard has one for $85. Aero has a really good one at $135. I found the wiring info less than clear on the dual blade single pickup size unit that came from Amazon. I also found it to be weak on the E string so I flipped it around 180 degrees and that was better.
    I'm just having fun with it all. Results are subjective, of course. You get what you pay for when it comes to pickups.
    Gabbs likes this.
  8. Alivefor5

    Alivefor5 Supporting Member

    Jul 17, 2006
    I used one from Guitar Fetish (GFS mentioned above). I got a Strat dual rail style. They have 3 levels of hot and two colors. I got the low level and it's fine. It's even across the strings and it's humbucking. Ignore all their crap about plug in harnesses, it comes with wires you can use.
    pcake likes this.
  9. macmanlou

    macmanlou Don't push it. Just let it fall. Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Washington, DC Area
    The Lace Sensor Gold sounds great in a short scale bass. It's a single coil, but virtually hum-free. Birdsong uses them in several of their basses. $80

    Lace Sensor Gold - Single Coil Pickup
    Mvilmany and Slater like this.
  10. definenredefine

    definenredefine Nobody likes a drummer... Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2022
    North Carolina
    I don't know much about direct replacements for bronco pickups, but I submit that this may be an interesting bass in which to try a goldfoil pickup...

    Vintage Foil Pickups

    Of course, you would have to mod the pickguard, but hey, could be a fun project!
    pcake likes this.
  11. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    those are interesting, but i don't see any hum-cancelling strat-sized ones. i'll have to try one in another instrument!

    my husband has modded many of my basses and pickguards - he says he enjoys doing it.
    macmanlou likes this.
  12. PennyroyalWe


    Sep 2, 2018
    I have dropped one of those “hot rails” knock off pickups into my bronco before. Sounded really good, IMO. Very much like a p bass, especially when paired with some tapewound strings.

    Let me look around, I might even still have it. If I do, I’ll give it to you for free if you pay postage.

    EDIT: Alas, it seems I got rid of all my strat sized pickups :(
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2023
    pcake likes this.
  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Supporting Member

    May 26, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    You want cheap? How about free? The pickup is fine. Leave it alone.

    I own basses that should sound much better, based on price. They do not. The stock Broncos I have sound just like almost any other bass, if I manipulate my rig such that they do (nothing beyond basic e.q. and gain adjustments).

    Worry more about the fret leveling and dress, the nut slots, and a high quality pair of strings. Then learn how to set up a pickup, choose strings, control your amp, and control your technique to get what you want.

    There is nothing wrong with the Bronco’s stock pickup. You just need to learn how to manipulate it to get what you want.
  14. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    I used the Musiclily dual rail in my Bronco. It was a big improvement over the stock pickup in clarity, power, and string-to-string evenness. But it inexplicably sounded "cheap", in a way that's hard to explain. Something in the top end just wasn't right. I did need to file the pickguard opening a bit to install.

    For my daughter's Bronco, I went with the GFS Li' Killer middle position, and it provided all of the above improvements without sounding "cheap". Zero modification. I strongly recommend it.
    Lil Killer White Humbucker, Fits Strats® - 3 Versions Av
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2023
    PennyroyalWe likes this.
  15. I'm with you on that. The modern tones are fine, but not a preference at all. I play bass. I want some bass in my bass LOL.

    Anyway, a possible inexpensive way to get what you want may be with a "loading capacitor" or "loading cap". Lots of info in the forum if you look up those terms.

    Here's a quote that @micguy posted yesterday which sums it up. Very knowledgeable guy. Maybe he'll pop in with additional info. Pickup choice for a Precision.. post #49.:

    I wouldn't change the pickup - I'd wire it in parallel, and then use a loading cap (value determined by listening) to load it down to a "vintage" sound that I like. I'd also have at least one switch on the thing, so I could access a more extended ("modern") sound on the same bass. Swapping pickups is a crapshoot unless you already know what pickup you like - the way I do it, I can always get a sound I like by finding the right capacitor value.

    Usually get two or three caps for under $1 if you shop around. (Don't know about shipping LOL). Get a couple of alligator leads, too. You could whip thru testing alot of different value caps in an hour.

    Just wanted to throw that out for consideration.
  16. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    The point I probably should have made earlier is, if you look at how most P pickups are made, they are almost all made with a similar magnetic circuit (just alnico magnets), and wire wrapped around it. Although people get excited by different insulations on the wire or bobbins, the only things that determine what you hear are the magnets and the wire - the other parts just serve to hold those things in their place. Given that, and the fact that almost all P pickups are wound with #42 wire, the things that change the response of a P pickup are the number of turns of wire, and how the wire is wound - scatter wound, or laid side by side neatly. The number of turns affects the inductance (which is more important than the DC resistance sonically), and the winding pattern affects the interwinding capacitance.

    The inductance, the interwinding capacitance, and the capacitance of the cable plugged into your bass determine the resonant frequency of the system. Raise the number of turns or wind things more neatly, the resonance goes down in frequency. Scatter wind or lower the number of turns, the resonant frequency goes up. If you don't like what you hear, you can lower the resonant frequency with a capacitor, but you cant' raise it. So...my strategy starts with raising it, so you can have a range that goes up and down from where you started.

    Wiring a P pickup in parallel (you have to be a bit bold and de-solder things at the bobbin on the pickup itself) lowers the inductance by a factor of 4. It also raises the interwinding capacitance by the same factor. But.... your cable hasn't changed, so the pickup is now more lightly loaded, and the resonance goes up. If you don't do anything it'll sound "thin", but we're going to do something. That something is a loading capacitor.

    A loading capacitor is placed across the pickup, not at the output of the bass. This makes the load more consistent w.r.t. the volume control - your volume control will be more of a volume control, and less of a tome control. There is no magic in the capacitor value - there is no value at which the thing will catch fire - try anything, use what you like. As a start, try an 1800 pF capacitor - that usually puts the sound about where it was wired in series. Want a brighter sound? use a smaller value capacitor. Want a darker sound? Use a bigger value capacitor.

    Doing all of this (and having an assortment of capacitors on hand) gets you the same sonic variability that you get from changing the number of turns on the winding - you can change from a "hotter" sounding pickup to a "vintage" sounding one by changing the loading capacitor value with a switch. The cool thing is that comes without a change in volume - you don't have to readjust gains, you just have different sounds on tap. On one of my basses, I have taken that to the next logical step - I have two tone controls, each of which uses a different loading capacitor in its circuit - essentially I have two P basses, with different "pickups" (emulated with different loading capacitors), and each has a tone circuit with values optimized for that "pickup". I can dial up two different sounds, and with the flick of a switch, I go from one to the other. One of those sounds is pretty much what you'd have in a vintage P. The other, as it's brighter (has more high frequency extension), is more what you'd have in an active bass - so I have a vintage/modern switch, a bass with a vintage sounding mode, and an active sounding mode (but it's passive).
  17. @micguy

    Thank you for chiming in and the great info. I discovered loading caps a few months ago and got alot of info from you and others in here. Put it in my notes for future reference, but haven't gone back to tinkering yet. Backlog of circuit notes, actually LOL.

    As such, I don't have the practical experience like you (and others) do. So, did I guess correctly in suggesting trying loading caps first before changing pickups?

    @pcake Just before pressing the Post Reply, I looked at the specs and see the Bronco has a single coil pickup. Are you getting hum now?
  18. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    fig likes this.
  19. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    the pickup is very noisy. it's a single coil and it sounds it - unfortunately the noise is much more obvious through the mesa/phil jones than it was on the rumble, which was acceptable if not ideal. dialing in a good sound on the mesa was quick and easy on all 15 of my basses except the bronco.

    the bronco has been perfectly set up for me, and it's wearing my favorite d'addarios but it's also worn la bellas, and i tried other brands on my previous bronco. i have the technique that works for me and my preferred styles (been playing guitar since 1968, bass since 1993), and i won't own a bass that i need to change technique for when my technique works for every other bass i've played, ands i've played literally hundreds of them.

    with all due respect, you made some assumptions about my experience that don't seem like a good fit.

    at the very least, i don't want single coil hum and i don't want to use a noise gate.

    and i enjoy adding different bass voices to my existing basses. my husband did all the routing and i put a couple of fender jazz bass pickups in an ibanez mikro that's so cool! and i put a fender pure vintage pickup in my mini precision. there are mustang pickups in one of my ibanez GSR100 basses, too. the joy of finding the best voice to me for each bass is really satisfying.
  20. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    Yes, stock Broncos are noisy. The older one I bought had zero shielding, while my daughter’s newer one had some conductive paint. The GFS dual blade humbucker I used eliminated the noise.