What preamp is Alex Al using on his 75 fender jazz bass with emg pickup?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by johnbkim93, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. johnbkim93


    Jun 24, 2013

    I know he uses a 75 fender jazz bass with EMG pickups on. I'm wondering if the preamp on that bass is the original part or if its the EMG also. Does anyone know?

    I have a 99 fender american deluxe 5 with bartolini pickups and preamp on it. The tone and sound is great when I play it by itself, but when played with a band, it just gets lost. So I thought changing the pickups might help. So I was searching the EMG pickups and found out there are passive and active pickups.
    What are the passive and active pickups? I've never heard of the active pickups. Do I have to get the matching pre to the active pickup? or can I just get the EMG active pickup and use it with other preamp? I want to know how Alex Al used them, want to know if its possible to put EMG pickup and Bart preamp that I'm using together and want to know how you think its gonna work if anybody had used that combo.
  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Is he on Facebook or Twitter? He might tell you himself.
  3. johnbkim93


    Jun 24, 2013
    couldn't find him.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I don't know what your experience level is so please don't take offense by any of my questions.

    A 99 MIA JD5 with Bartolini preamp and single coils should absolutely crush in the mix. So if I were getting the results you are getting I would first try to figure out what I might be doing wrong.

    So... how are you setting your bass' gain and tone controls? Are you keeping them the same way live as you do at home? That is often a recipe for disaster.
    What are you using to amplify the bass live (is this a rig, in ears, etc.)? Describe how you have your amp set up physically if you use one; is the cabinet on a stand, do you have a tweeter control and have it wide open, any detail that can effect your ability to cut through should be considered. How are you setting the tonal controls on whatever you're using?

    I seriously doubt that this is a problem with your bass. It really takes effort to make a stock JD5 not cut through in the mix with proper amplification. With the change to Bartolinis the bass should be able to hit even harder, particularly if you have something like an NTMB preamp which allows you to dial in a massive overall boost internally.

    Here are some ways folks mess things up...
    Not turning your amp up first and dialing in tone before you've set your gig level.
    Cutting mids. At the bass, at the amp, wherever.
    Dialing in the same highs you listen to at lower volumes.
    Dialing in too much bottom.
    Not understanding the gain structure of your amp.

    Here's an example: if you set your highs too high it will make your bass sound loud but you likely won't have any body to the sound. That's bad when it comes to sitting in the mix.

    Start with the basics and I'd bet that we can figure this out. And the answer can be so simple many times people are amazed.

    I have two stock passive 1978 Fender Jazzes and they cut through ridiculously well. People swear they have preamps, even tell me I can't be telling the truth. I explain to them that I turn my amp up. Too easy.

    It really helps to understand what an onboard preamp does. Since most people don't run really long cables, the main benefit is having local tone controls and possibly sending a hotter than passive single to your amp for a better signal to noise ratio. So do you really need a preamp? IME most people don't... but they're unwilling to do the things that might make them unnecessary.

    I have a 1975 MIJ RI that's tricked out with a full Bart package, Hipshot Hardware, BadAss I bridge, etc (I bought it used that way). It too cuts through ridiculously well.
    My stock 1997 MIA JD5 does too.

    Because all of these basses cut through so well I had to learn how to control them. I keep their volume controls wide open. I lean towards technique vs. knob tweaks

    Way too often people thing the fix for a "problem" is an "upgrade" when an upgrade really wasn't needed, better knowledge of their gear was. The great thing about that is most knowledge can be attained for free.

    BTW there was no original preamp in 1975 Fender Jazzes. They were all passive. And anything that was done with basses like Marcus Miller's could've likely been achieved by leaning over to your amp and turning those knobs instead.

    It really helps to understand how all of this works together as a system: your bass, your amp, your cabinet, your effects and most important, the nut behind the wheel aka "you".
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2016
    Mr_O'B, ElMon, RichSnyder and 7 others like this.
  5. johnbkim93


    Jun 24, 2013
    At first, I used an ashdown bass amp for rehearsal. I tried the bass passive first and then active boosting mids. In that same setting, the sound came out pretty well when played alone or when I played some melodic bass lines in the middle of a song played with the band. However the problem was when I was just playing the rhythm groove. Bass just could not survive. Ashdown amp was not a very good amp to use to cut through but the problem of bass getting lost was too serious to just say 'its because of the amp was bad'. Ashdown amp was just a temporary expedient because our SWR amp was at somewhere else. So I tried it on the SWR and it was better than the ashdown, but it still wasn't there. It wasn't just my personal opinion that the bass feeling absent, but also of other band members too. I know its not right to compare it with Fodera, but another bassist here using Fodera didnt have any of those problems. Pau Perro fingerboard is whats on my bass and its first time for me using that fingerboard. So may be thats the problem but I doubt it.
    I heard that one of the characteristics of barts are that they are warm sounding. So thats why I'm guessing the changing pickups to more agreesive attacking ones might help.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2016
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    How specifically are you setting all of the tone controls?

    You certainly can compare your bass to a Fodera, they're not magic and many bassists sound exactly like they want on Fenders. Did you play the Fodera and it was fine or did he? If he played it, if possible have him play your bass.

    Your fingerboard is more than likely not your problem. Here's a stock Jazz with a Pau Ferro board.

    And Bartolinis can most definitely sound aggressive, especially in a Jazz. Especially with a Bartolini preamp.
  7. johnbkim93


    Jun 24, 2013
    I played his and it was fine. My ken smith was also more than fine.
    When all the tone settings were on flat with my fender, there was the problem and boosting the mid didn't work. Then I tried boosting a little bit of highs and it also did not work. I mean it was better I guess, but still wasn't there.
    Thanks for the Sharay Reed bass explanation. I always loved him but did not realize his was a pau perro fingerboard. I assumed it wasn't the pau perro that caused the problem.
    I've been playing bass for a long time in many gigs, concerts and etc. But this bass getting lost in a band was just a shock for me.
  8. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Mid-range is what cuts, that is why a Pbass always finds a great seat in the mix, they are middy by themselves. Modern electronics such as Bartolini, EMG etc. can do what every you want depending upon how you EQ them. Super Hifi sounds these electronics easily produce may not work very well in a mix....often the bass disappears. What sounds great solo is not the best in ensemble.

    If you are using a modern scooped sound, consider calming down the low end and top, and bringing up the mids. Many Bart pre's allow you to select 1K 500hz or 800hz as your mid frequency.

    The best way to tell what the hell is going on is record the next rehearsal or gig to determine what is the best curve to get what you looking to achieve. Remember, what you are hearing next to your amp is not what the audience hears ten feet in front of the band and beyond. Record yourself to make a determination of where you are sonically. Your eq may be great the way it is or you will hear the effects of adding more mid which help you cut.
  9. johnbkim93


    Jun 24, 2013
    When we rehearse, we rehearse in a classroom size room. we only plug in the vocals, keyboards in the mix and the guitar and bass comes just through their own amp. But even in that same settings, my ken smith worked and Fodera worked fine when I played. But my fender was lost. Trust me I tried passive, active, tried controlling EQs in many different ways. It was just not normal.
  10. johnbkim93


    Jun 24, 2013
    I tried that eq settings, tried both selections on mid and boosted.
  11. johnbkim93


    Jun 24, 2013
    So is it possible to install just the active EMG pickups with Barts pre? How do you think it would work? You said the active pickup needs battery. where do I put the battery?
  12. johnbkim93


    Jun 24, 2013
    wiring problem?
  13. johnbkim93


    Jun 24, 2013
    I see. Then is Alex Al using the active EMG Pickups with the supportive circuitry?
  14. johnbkim93


    Jun 24, 2013
    Wow Thanks with all the links!
    I totally agree with you. Thanks!
    staccatogrowl likes this.
  15. Dan Bass

    Dan Bass Inactive

    May 26, 2014
    Virginia Beach.
    That Bass with those pickups and preamp should be awesome, I think you're doing something wrong. Try some more mid range, mid range is a Bassist best friend, mid range will make you cut through anything. Go on YouTube and start looking up, setting your EQ for your Bass guitar so you can cut through the mix. Also active EMG pickups need the EMG preamp with it.:):bassist::bassist:
  16. Unfortunately there is always the possibility that your particular Jazz just doesn't sound good. Not all Fenders of the same model/year sound of he same. I think Fenders can vary from instrument to instrument more than many other brands.
  17. joeeg33

    joeeg33 Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Central New Jersey
    This is totally false. EMG's work perfectly fine with a Bart pre, or most other pres. Done it many times with great results. Also used EMG's with Aguilar, Sadowsky, and Audere to name a few. You just need the correct value Volume, and or Pan pot before the pre.
  18. I am pretty sure Alex Al uses EMG pickups with no preamp.... Just Volume Volume Tone.
  19. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Bergantino-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    Incorrect. Bobby Vega uses active EMG's w a simple vol/vol/tone setup, and I'd guess Al does as well.

    Active EMG's simply require a battery to function and can be used with or without a variety of onboard preamps.
  20. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Bucks County, PA
    It's also possible that OP is not a bartolini guy. I have yet to find a bartolini setup that I like and have heard this sentiment from other players here and there.