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Author Topic: Onboard PreAmp or Pickups...which one first?  (Read 2165 times)

Offline Kevykev388

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Onboard PreAmp or Pickups...which one first?
« on: December 06, 2011, 09:43:34 AM »
Wusup Guys I have a 5string Carlo Robelli Bass that I absolutely love. I picked it up from a pawn shop a few years ago for $75 in like new condition. It's passive/active (main volume knob pull out or push in). Anyway, I love the many sounds it can dial up but I'm looking to enhance it a bit. I don't have the money NOR the desire to purchase another bass simply because this one feels so good in my hands lol. I've tried the Ibanez, and fender jazz and etc. and although they sound a lot better....they don't feel the same to me! My question is.....which is more effective of the sound....getting different pickups (EMG or Barts) or an Aquilar onboard preamp (2band)?!?!?! Need all the help I can!
Keys, bass, drums, trombone, I sing a lil bit too lol

Offline mjl422

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Re: Onboard PreAmp or Pickups...which one first?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2011, 10:31:48 AM »
I would change the preamp first.  Also, I would recommend a 3-band pre over a 2-band (just my personal opinion). 

Also, if you are thinking about EMG pickups, go with an EMG pre and swap them out at the same time.  Emg pickups ( the high-end ones) are active.  So, the volume and blend pots have to rated at a certain resistance in order to get maximum peformance out of them.

Offline floaded27

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Re: Onboard PreAmp or Pickups...which one first?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2011, 08:57:50 PM »
if you cant do both, do the pre-amp first. The preamp will do more justice with the old pickups. New pickups wouldnt benefit much with the old pre. Also like mjl422 suggested, I'd go with the 3 band over the 2. you get more versatility. if you dont have enough holes for the knobs you can either get stacked controls or have a skilled guy drill a hole (stacked controls is simpler and less hassle).

yeah, i hate the passive EMGs and the high end ones are active, which dont work with every pre config, so its best to go with an EMG pre, which ends up being a 2 for one shot, which is probably more money than u wish to spend.

but a pre will cost less than a set of pickups, and have more effect than the pickups if changed alone, so the new pre is probably the way to go.
For my God... let "Golden Axe" prevail.

Offline Kevykev388

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Re: Onboard PreAmp or Pickups...which one first?
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2011, 10:14:11 PM »
Wooow preciate the facts fellas!! I was already thinking 3band cuz I wanna be able to adjust the miss along with my bass n treble. I'm shooting for Aguilar preamp 3band. A biddy of mine has an ibanez btb, an older model with ibanez pickups instead of Bart's. He threw in the Aguilar 3band and that bass will sing something pretty
Keys, bass, drums, trombone, I sing a lil bit too lol

Offline SavnBass

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Re: Onboard PreAmp or Pickups...which one first?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2011, 07:22:35 AM »
if you cant do both, do the pre-amp first. The preamp will do more justice with the old pickups. New pickups wouldnt benefit much with the old pre. Also like mjl422 suggested, I'd go with the 3 band over the 2. you get more versatility. if you dont have enough holes for the knobs you can either get stacked controls or have a skilled guy drill a hole (stacked controls is simpler and less hassle).

yeah, i hate the passive EMGs and the high end ones are active, which dont work with every pre config, so its best to go with an EMG pre, which ends up being a 2 for one shot, which is probably more money than u wish to spend.

but a pre will cost less than a set of pickups, and have more effect than the pickups if changed alone, so the new pre is probably the way to go.


This ... also you might want to hit the TallkBass classifieds .. I have bought and sold a lot of stuff there ... Also you might get some good info in the pickups & electronics section if you don't know a lot about options and such.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Offline Musicman_00

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Re: Onboard PreAmp or Pickups...which one first?
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2011, 11:52:47 AM »
Change the preamp 1st. Then if your not happy do the pickups. I put a Bassmods 3 band in my SR 305 with the cheapo Ibanez pups and it sings doc.
"Music is a language. The bigger your vocabulary, the more options you have to choose from."

Offline 6stringapprentice

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Re: Onboard PreAmp or Pickups...which one first?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2011, 01:20:21 PM »
I would recommend a pickup swap first. Here's why

Since your bass has a active/passive switch, when you are in passive mode you can hear exactly what your pickups sound like. If you are not thrilled with the tone of your bass in passive then adding a preamp may not help the situation. Most preamps advertise as being transparent, meaning they won't change the sound of your pickups. There are some preamps that have a signature sound like sadowsky, the only problem with this is that you really don't know if the color of the preamp will suit your taste unless you try it with your particular bass, pickups and strings. This is one reason why preamps like aguilar, bartolini, and audere are popular because they, more or less, keep the true sound of your pickups while giving you a useful 2 or three band eq.

Now it is possible that you will be able to eq a good tone into your bass with an after market preamp, but IMO it is better to start with a source of quality than to try to fix it down stream. Good strings into good pickups let you use your preamp for a variety of tonal options instead of using it to eq a decent sound into a set of pickups that you aren't to thrilled about.
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Offline floaded27

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Re: Onboard PreAmp or Pickups...which one first?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2011, 01:56:28 PM »
6string, ur actually right. i didnt think about that, nor did i notice the comment about the passive/active switch. it would make sense to play it in passive, that way you could determine what exactly is the weakest link.

i guess i was going from my experience with my 5 string MTD. when i bought it, i guess it was the original single MM pickup still in it, but it was said to have a 2 band Bartolini pre in it (i probably verified, but i cant seem to recall). Playing it in passive was ok, but it was a lot of treble and no tone control (thought it was inherent of the single MM pickup setup). The 2 band didnt give me much EQ options at all. So when i got the chance i knew it was preamp first (wanted to do both, but money was limited). Put the 3 band Aguilar in (had to have 2 holes drilled) and it was night and day. theres even tone knob or something that gives me options in passive mode.

Now with my MTD 6 string i had both the pickups and pre replaced at the same time. That joint in passive mode now sounds way better than the old pre and pickups. switch to active and even better. So both options do make a ton of difference.
For my God... let "Golden Axe" prevail.

Offline Musicman_00

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Re: Onboard PreAmp or Pickups...which one first?
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2011, 03:26:49 PM »
I stand corrected 6string. That is a good point that I did not think about.
"Music is a language. The bigger your vocabulary, the more options you have to choose from."
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