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Whats involved in adding a passive switch ?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Drop1, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. Drop1


    Mar 28, 2019
    So adding a passive switch to an ibanez sr? Also considering a Bart 5.4 pre. I'm assuming the passive switch wouldn't be much different with it but I'm asking now so I don't have headaches later.
    Monterey Bay-ss likes this.
  2. It's just a DPDT switch which could be done with a push/pull pot to save having to drill a new hole for the control:
    ctmullins likes this.
  3. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Most of the SR series basses I've seen use a board-mounted preamp, so just adding a switch or changing a pot won't be possible. You'd definitely want to explore a new preamp for that. And each company will likely have an available diagram for how to wire it up.
    I'd highly recommend a Nordstrand or Aguilar preamp over a Bart, but that's speaking from my personal experiences.
    Jazz Ad likes this.
  4. Monterey Bay-ss

    Monterey Bay-ss Supporting Member

    I was just pondering adding a passive option to my Ibanez ATK myself, since I rarely use the B/M/T knobs. Thanks in advance to those who have informed opinions to share.
  5. Monterey Bay-ss likes this.
  6. Drop1


    Mar 28, 2019
    Im not really sure which pre I should be looking at. I was attracted to the Bart because if the variable mid selection switch that I dont want to lose.

    My onboard pre sounds muddy. It doesnt matter how little you engage it. Of course I knew this when purchasing and had the intent to change it.

    What is it that you dislike about the Bart from your experience?
  7. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    In my experiences with Bart stuff, it's always been muddy with their preamps. The controls don't behave as predictably as I'd like, shaping the tone was never where I needed it to be, it was just always lacking to me. And there was always a muddiness that bothered me. It was like the preamp was choking off the signal in a way that was very disappointing.
    Countless folks may have tried to convince me otherwise or that their experiences were different. But after well over a dozen basses where I switched it out, the results were always the same for me: Getting rid of Bart cleared up every issue I wasn't happy with.
    One of my most memorable experiences with that was removing an NTMB from a Flea Bass that @rogerbmiller has and replacing it with an East. Talk about a HUGE difference! He may be able to elaborate further with a long term review.

    When you say you want the variable mid, do you mean a sweeping parametric mid knob or a variable frequency switch?
    - If you want the sweep, it's less common and typically more expensive. East preamps have FANTASTIC mid control like that, but new are into the $350 range. EMG has it in the BQC/BQS preamps, but I've found that those really work best with the EMG pickups.
    Recently, I saw some cheaper ebay preamps with that function as well, which could be worth trying for the fact that it sounded decent in the demo and was VERY inexpensive. But I always worry about reliability with that.
    - Nordstrand, Aguilar, and quite a few others have a switchable mid frequency where you can actually tune it to different peaks using different capacitors. I've dealt with Nordy the most and theirs is a great preamp in general. The Nordy usually works with 400/1000 hz on a push/pull or 2 way switch. But I recently found out that you can set it up for a 3-way switch to have 3 different frequencies, though one of them has to be 1000 hz. They can set you up with the required capacitors to do what you'd want, but you may have to source your own 3-way switch.

    The long and short is, I've never liked the way Bart shapes my tone. You can buy - what I would describe as - a much better preamp for less money and be very happy.

    Out of curiosity, which SR is it? And what kind of configuration do you have in it?
    rogerbmiller likes this.
  8. Drop1


    Mar 28, 2019
    Sr800. Volume, balance, bass, mid, treble, 3 position mid switch.
  9. Monterey Bay-ss

    Monterey Bay-ss Supporting Member

  10. I think it's a common thing for Ibanez to boost the output with the pre-amp a little on their active basses w/o an active/passive switch.
    It was definitely the case with my SR eXtreme (SRX) & a BTB300.

    The SR1800E is quite different, however.
    If all the knobs on the EQ are centered, switching from active to passive sounds the same, unless I'm plugged into a low Impedance jack, like the Effects Return.
  11. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003

    I thought I would indeed chime in here to elaborate on my experience with Bart. I should preface by saying that prior to having any experience with them, I had heard and read nothing but great things from other players on this forum and over the years. That said, in my own personal experience I have found them to be the most disappointing and objectively under-performing electronics I have ever experienced, with some exceptions. To give some details:

    My experience with Barts have been almost exclusively with high end basses, and more specifically Modulus basses as follows:

    1) A Modulus Flea V J with Bart PUPs and NTMB (this is the bass that Rojo modded to great effect which he describes)
    2) A second Modulus Flea V J with Bart Pups and Aggie OBP1
    3) A Modulus Flea V with LP H pickup and Bart 3B preamp
    4) A Modulus Flea V Jazzman with Bart PUPS Aggie OBP3
    5) A Moudlus Flea V Jazzman fretless with Bart Pups and bart 2B pre

    Now to provide details in order of the basses above:

    1) This bass was pretty much unusable prior to replacing the Bart preamp. The bass had a nice enough sound in my living room through my GK 110 combo as long as you didn't use too much of the midrange. If you pushed the midrange too far past center detent, the sound was harsh and cacophonous. But in every live setting I simply could not hear the bass. I had the same issues with the unusable midrange but I couldn't get it to cut through. Furthermore, the treble and bass controls were ineffective unless dimed. I tinkered with trim pots, played with every possible setting and nothing made the bass any better. I had it in rehearsal rooms playing through insanely big and loud rigs and I couldn't gut through the bad. The G string was literally inaudible. It was ridiculous.

    I was going to punt the bass but Rojo convinced me to try swapping the preamp. So we put in an East U retro and it was night and day. The bass is much better now and does not suffer from low output to say the least. That said, I still don't love the sound of the pickups and replacing them is something I would like to do at some point. They just don't have much response. Like they are made deliberately to be overly tame and fuzzy thus lacking in punch and clarity. But with the power of the East preamp, the combination is workable and musical. That Bart preamp was certainly the liability. The pickups are now a matter of personal preference.

    2) This bass works ok. The Aggie preamp provides the punch it needs, but again the pickups are tame and generally lacking in punch and clarity. And without the preamp dimed, and the PTC all the way open, it lacks the level of definition and punch I prefer. I believe this bass would be much better with different pickups.

    3) This bass has lots of booty and great response and clarity in the LP pickup. The problem is that the Bart 3B preamp is harsh and I find the mid range control to be unusable. With the mid in the center detent, the bass sounds OK, but with any boosting, the mids are harsh and like the NTMB they overdrive the signal if used too far above the flat setting. This bass is definitely a candidate for a new preamp.

    4) This bass is a lot like #2 above but with the Aggie OBP3, the mids are more useable and I can get a little more punch out of this bass than I can the others. I have had generally good experience with this bass in live settings but I need to use more treble than I normally would to cut through the mix. Overall, this bass is ok as is.

    5) Surprisingly, this bass is the best out of the box. Not sure what Bart preamp model is being used, but the simpler Bart 2B preamp is pretty good with the Bart pups. Again, I think the mid range is the weakest link and my not having it, the preamp doesn't "choke" the sound.

    So overall, I would say that the Barts PUPs are made to sound "warm" but this translates into a lack of punch and clarity at least for my needs, ears and taste. Paired with Bart preamps, with the one exception, it is a pretty ineffective combination. Paired with other preamps, the PUPs are more useful. But my experiences have led me to AVOID any run of the mill bass that comes with Barts.

    I tolerate Barts in Modulus basses because Modulus basses play great and are worth modding since. I am trying to live with the Bart PUPs I have because work is expensive in NYC and I don't want to drive myself crazy with modding all these basses. But I think some further PUP changes are in the future.

    This is just my experience, YMMV.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
  12. Drop1


    Mar 28, 2019
    I thank you for your time. You're descriptions fit with my research. They seem to have a slightly muffled sound. It's been described as a veil soften the sound. Defienitly not what I'm after.

    Clear, tight and punchy is what I want. I have been going back and forth between Aguilar and Nord pre amps. Maybe I should take a look at east as well.

    I'm really digging the emg active pre from research, sweepable mids would be great but I dont know what rmg active pickups sound.

    I love my bass. The feel, the looks the playa ability. That's why I bought it. I knew it needed electronics and am ok putting as much cash into it as needed to get it where I want. It's worth it to me. If I can get the electronics right I would prefer this bass over others costing several thousand dollars. It was never about saving money. The body design and neck profile sold me the moment i saw it having played many Ibanez basses. She a beautiful piece and I really want the sound to go with that. I may just buy 2 pre amps and 2 sets of pickups. Something similar to singles and something like double stacks and try put multiple set ups and just sell the leftovers. I'm hoping to get it sounding fantastic and based on what I hear playing acoustic I think my goals are easily reachable.
    rogerbmiller likes this.
  13. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    I am glad my post was useful. I do have a 6th Modulus that just came in- a Genesis 5 string. It arrived the night before I left for a week long vacation so I got about 2 minutes of playtime on it. That said my initial impression of the Barts (pre and PUPs I believe) was very positive. I will dig in on the bass and follow up later in case my review can be of any use.

    And interesting that you mention EMG. I had often wondered why they are so much prevalent than they used to be but I recently reconnected with them in a big way and was quickly reminded of how much I love them and how great they are. They have great depth, punch, clarity, response and evenness. So much so that this may be why they had fallen somewhat out of favor. They are much more of a hi-fi sounding pickup whereas the current aesthetic with everyone playing Fenders is to have a more traditional tone. But then Bobby Vega puts them in his Fenders so I think they can do that too.

    And FWIW the BQC is a great preamp. Much like the Ibanez vari-mid it gives great sweepable mid controls and gets you close to that "hyper-active" sound of a Wal or Alembic if you want it. This is similar to the East units too. Very cool.

    Good luck!
  14. Drop1


    Mar 28, 2019
    I very much like the wall sound. Also that clean hi fi sound. I'm not into vintage sound. I'm also looking for ways to push sound forward, not hone in on the past. Maybe I should be looking harder at the emg stuff.
    rogerbmiller likes this.

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