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what the heck does a MM passive sound like?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by theleteri, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. theleteri


    Aug 9, 2008
    I am building a bass (ordering bits and sticking them all together) and am getting the neck and body from Warmoth. The neck i have all figured out and have even ordered it... It is a maple neck with maple fretboard, pearl block inlays, tele headstock, vintage tint and will have gold tuners... sexy as hell!

    I have also figured out the body as well... Daphne blue dinky J, custom painted pickguard, no control plate with chrome hardware... but i am having a heck of a time figuring out what pickup configuration to use! I dont like the j-bass sound... it is too tight and confined for me. p-bass sounds pretty sweet but it is a little open, besides i have a bass with a pj setup and i can always solo the p pickup. I love the idea and look of the mm pickup but hate the sound of mm basses because of the active electronics.

    What does a mm style pickup sound like with passive electronics in the sweet spot? I would think it would have some good bass tone and have a medium tightness to it... just what i am looking for. has anyone done this? and please dont try to sell me on active... i just dont dig the sound.

    I am looking at the nordstrand mm4.2. nordstrand said that it will work fine passive.
  2. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    A Passive MM is a bit limited but really quite useful anyway. After all part of the music man concept is the active EQ to give you tonal range. But, that said, I can tell you that I have an OLP Stingray copy. The way it was originally wired was passive Vol/vol with a volume on each coil and then a tone.

    This arrangement was hands down THE worst piece of crap I ever played! First off it puts the two coils in parallel which makes the tone thin. And then you find the knobs all interact like MAD. So you dial away for ever trying to get that MM tone out and when you turn this is adjusts that and you chase your tail. BUT, IF You persevere at it you CAN find that right spot where the bass just comes to life and stomps everything in it's path!

    Well, that had to change. So using the Fender Jazz series/parallel wiring diagram as a base, I wired the MM as if each coil were a separate jazz pickup. Series/parallel was push-pull on volume. And blend was used to eliminate the interactions. OH MAN! THIS is about as good as it gets! Series gives you the bass tone. Parallel gives you some edge if you need it. Knobs are much more controlled and less interactive. The bass simply kills!

    How good is it? Well the bass is still wired passive and the active preamp for it has been laying here on the table next to me for months! Yeah, I'd like a little EQ available right on the bass, but point is I really don't NEED it with the new wiring.

    However, building a bass you need to know that to get the MM sound you have to mount the pickup EXACTLY in the spot between the bridge and neck that is on a Stingray. That spot emphasizes certain harmonics that give the bass it's characteristic MM "cutting through the mix" quality. Some of what you think may be active electronics sound may be that! It's not for everybody. But let me tell you when it works it WORKS! Check out the 'Ray threads here and you'll see that they are quite unique but do have a huge fan bass. I"m not a super fan. Sometimes I REALLY like mine. Other times I want something different in tone. Only you can decide what you think.
  3. I like the way my OLP 5er sounds stock. Very aggressive. But you can EQ in more bass amp-side. I really liked the tone I got from it with Rotosound flats.
  4. Just had to respond to the post by bassbenj. First, real MM pups are wired parallel from the factory. Next, changing from VVT to VBT does nothing to reduce 'interactions-' parallel is parallel. A blend pot is nothing more than two volumes stacked together with one knob controlling them both.
    My understanding is that proper MM pickups have rather unique electrical values. And that much of the tone comes from the preamp.
  5. theleteri


    Aug 9, 2008
    that is what i was thinking... i dont like the tinny highs that mm's, warwicks and other active basses have with their active eq's. even turning the treble on the bass and the amp down does not get rid of it. that is what i am trying to avoid. I will be wiring only one volume knob and probably not even a tone knob. The pickup will be in series with its self since it seems parallel does thin the tone out.
  6. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    I have a passive mm humbucker in my mtd kingston heir which I really like. It sounds like a jazz bass pickup in the bridge position but louder and punchier. Definitely not nasally though.
  7. With a MM passive i would place the pup a bit far away from a regular J bridge pup, and wired in series. And the pup should be winded about 11k.
    You cant go treble with that...

    MM sounds trebly cause is wired parallel, and winded 3k, and all the sound comes from de preamp....
  8. milo


    Jul 22, 2004

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