Firstly, I apologize if this topic has been covered already. I tried doing a search, but came out with little since, well, I seem to be rather awful at picking the proper search terms. Anyway, here's the question: Many folks replace the pickups in their basses to EMG, Bartolini, Duncan, Fralin, etc. to improve the bass's tone right? Many folks may also switch out the preamp for an Aguilar, Demeter, Sadowsky, etc. I hear sometimes that in many cases the stock pickups on a bass are fine, but could benefit from a different preamp. Or I sometimes hear that a particular stock preamp may be a poor match with the stock pickups. For example, I've heard people say that the MEC pickups in Warwicks are killer when mated to a different preamp than the Warwick stock one, hence one may not need to replace everything. In a nutshell, sometimes juse replacing ONE of the two elements (pickups OR preamp) is what will really bring out the beauty in the bass. There are many who say, for example, that replacing the pickups may only have a marginal effect on your bass's sound, but a preamp is what makes a bigger difference. So my question is this: Are there any hints to keep in mind as to whether it's the preamp in the bass that's fine and that it could work better with different pickups, or vice versa (where the pickups are fine, but a different preamp is what will do the trick?) While I would think something like this might help those with the general query and different basses, I'll give the skinny on my bass: It's a Samick Fairlane 6, alder body, maple neck, rosewood board. The pickups are stock soapbars and the preamp is blend, volume, bass, treble. I'm able to coax nice warm, fat, vintagey tones from the bass, but no matter what I do, I can't really get more modern, hi-fi tones. My housemate has a Yamaha BB fiver with dual stock soapbars, 2 band active EQ (stock preamp), same woods (alder body, maple neck, rosewood board) and I'm able to coax a nice modern hi-fi tone out of that one. Oh yeah, amp is an Ashdown MagC210 combo.