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Al Krow

Onboard bass pre-amps - what turns your EQ on?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, TJ Spicer said:

Haha! 😂 Well, that’s actually one of the reasons you’re now in possession of a rather lovely BBNE2 😉 

The Sadowsky pre is my fave for the following reasons...

I was going to pick your brains on that very subject!

So the Yammy BBNE2 has got the most versatile active preamp for tone shaping of any of the basses I've had so far, and I've had fifteen or so pretty decent basses now. It does lack the passive by-pass available on my the rest of my current active / passive herd. 

Do you prefer the Sadowsky pre to the Nathan East? Please feel free to be honest and brutal!

Edited by Al Krow

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6 hours ago, BigRedX said:

I can't see the point in having an on-board pre-amp that just duplicated what you should be able to do better on your amp. The only on-baord pre-amp that I actually use on any of my basses is the ACG EQ1 as not only does it do something that I can't replicate elsewhere in the signal chain, but it also allows me to EQ each pickup individually.

It's an incredible preamp, although I've got the DFM version. Particularly well suited to fretless 😎
I wouldn't have anything else in my ACG fretless.

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1 minute ago, Al Krow said:

I was going to pick your brains on that very subject!

So the Yammy BBNE2 has got the most versatile active preamp for tone shaping of any of the basses I've had so far, and I've played a dozen or so now pretty decent basses, but it lacks the passive by-pass available on my the rest of my current active / passive herd. 

Do you prefer the Sadowsky pre to the Nathan East? Please feel free to be honest and brutal!

Absolutely. It was between the BBNE or finding a Sadowsky 5. I was big on Nathan East (still am, I’m a studio player fan all day long) so was collecting the lot (had a bb5000, TRB) etc. However, that wasn’t right for me.

I really should have gone for a Sadowsky 5. I have a UV70 and that’s coming up to 10 years with me, no other bass has managed that!

But, that doesn’t answer the question. Why is is better for me?

TONE CONTROL

I need the tone control to get the treble where I want it. I didint like the cut on the high end from the BBNE2, whereas with a tone control I could have moved where that treble control was affecting. I also felt without the para engaged the bass was overly middy and edgy for my liking. It was most highly emphasised to me in recording. I brought the BBNE, used it on 3 tracks of a 5 track EP. It never sounded right in that setting and tbh, I don’t like having to EQ massively before I’ve started. I used the Sadowsky for one of the tracks and it was the best sounding track on the EP by a mile - as noted by everyone including the mastering engineer.

For me the Sadowsky was a little more organic sounding and requires much less work. All I want to do is plug in, find the right amount of treble and cut for the gig and probably add some bottom end. The rest is about my hands and where I’m positioning them, as well as which pickup I’m favouring (always a little to the front, how much depends). The simplicity of the Sadowsky allows me to do that with tones of warm bottom end in a way the BBNE never could. 

I think it’s honestly the case that the BBNE2 could do too much for me. If I want a drastically different sound, I pick another bass. I didn’t get on with the TRB EQ either to be fair, so maybe Yamaha’s idea of EQ just isn’t for me... Give me a passive yammy any day and it’ll be a good gig  😉

 

 

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Posted (edited)

OK, to clarify things a bit before someone wants to put words to my mouth: It is fine to get THAT sound from any preamp or signal route someone happens to love.

Me, I am after components that can offer transparent sound. I am not totally satisfied with my MG's bartolini pre, although the pickups I do like. I changed the hi-Z parts (vol & blend) to their active counterparts and the sound changed. Even the NTMB behaves better now.

My wish would be an adjustable LPF, a parametric, and a tilt EQ. In this order. My Vigier Passions (series II) have a treble and a semi-parametric that I like. I could change that treble to an Alembic type filter circuitry. But before them I want buffered pickup outputs. It means that then lo-Z vol or blend or tone do not affect each other.

Edited by itu

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Posted (edited)

I’d agree that a passive tone control on an active bass is a really useful feature. The sadowsky was designed by Alex Aguilar so the OBP-1 or the stand alone (and rather chunky) DB924 do a similar thing to the Sadowsky albeit without the DI. I think the eq points are the same too. Not exactly sure what the difference in the Sado/Aguilar units is if any but I’m sure there’s a tweak here or there. 

Sometimes active basses can have too much control and what I’ve learned from chatting to players who go back to passive basses is that they get tired of tweaking and eventually end up with the classic p or j type bass and the more organic tones within. One good tone will see you through most gigs with a bit of judicious hand placement for good measure. 

Edited by krispn
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16 minutes ago, krispn said:

One good tone will see you through most gigs with a bit of judicious hand placement for good measure. 

I'd completely agree we don't want to be p*ssing about twiddling our knobs throughout a gig!

But I'd go just one further and say having the choice of two good tones + hand placement would get me through most gigs and being able to move quickly and easily between them is a bonus.

Anything more in terms of tonal variation i.e. dirt / filter / octave / modulation / synth and you're into pedal territory.

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Just now, AndyTravis said:

Er...(facetious post)

6F8A7B4B-CCDC-4882-BC51-3471D875D13E.jpeg

OMG Andy, I hope that's not permanent ink you were using there?

(facetious follow up).

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

OMG Andy, I hope that's not permanent ink you were using there?

(facetious follow up).

In all honesty, I found with the 2 bb1100s basses I had (active/passive) I did a bit of set and forget.

Given a couple of hours rehearsal, ear fatigue just meant I was making more changes, boosting frequencies and then ended up making matters worse.

so I’d shove it into passive mode, and leave it be.

I always buy active basses thinking I’m going to get something different to my previous experiences. And I never do.

Think the exception is a stingray, and even then I prefer the 2eq ones I’ve owned (a classic and a 94)

Each to their own - I’m not saying active Vs passive or anything. 

But after years and years of p*ssing about, passive suits me better.

Edited by AndyTravis
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I find that pickups and wood have a big impact on what preamp works well and even certain pickup/pre combinations work better than others. @Al Krow do you have a certain bass in mind you want to upgrade? Might help zoom in.

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2 minutes ago, HazBeen said:

I find that pickups and wood have a big impact on what preamp works well and even certain pickup/pre combinations work better than others. @Al Krow do you have a certain bass in mind you want to upgrade? Might help zoom in.

agree. I've written before about how a two band Glockenklang, and a Warwick Streamer Sg 1 are the most useless combination of things I've ever held in my hands. So it does matter. 

I love a buffered active blend. John East does them. My `Streamer has a John East designed ACG EQ-01 in it. 4 stacked pots though - I've had to learn the discipline of not fiddling. 

The original 2 band stingray preamp is an interesting design - no pots before the preamp and the volume pot controls the output amplifier of the preamp. Clever Leo.

Current fave bass is a Sadowsky metro Will Lee. I like that preamp very much. Simple, easy to use. Turn the thing off and boost what you need (if you need). 

 

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25 minutes ago, HazBeen said:

I find that pickups and wood have a big impact on what preamp works well and even certain pickup/pre combinations work better than others. @Al Krow do you have a certain bass in mind you want to upgrade? Might help zoom in.

The opposite in fact i.e. have the potential to mix and match. I appreciate that's not helpful!

Please do share your thoughts on what combinations, based on your experience, have worked well.

This thread is definitely not just about / for me and I'm sure that a lot of folk will be keen to learn from the wisdom of others on this topic.

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2 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

The opposite in fact i.e. have the potential to mix and match. I appreciate that's not helpful!

Please do share your thoughts on what combinations, based on your experience, have worked well.

This thread is definitely not just about / for me and I'm sure that a lot of folk will be keen to learn from the wisdom of others on this topic.

I've got two starting point questions...

You play a load of jazz basses in the shop... when you pick up the precision does it feel good not to have to think about the controls much cos it's only got two of them. 
If yes.... go for simplicity.

So you go and drop £150 on a fancy boutique pedal, and it doesn't work for you... well you can turn it off easily. You can't with preamps. It's a ballache if you're one of those who can fit them yourself or an expense if your tech is fitting them. So know what you're trying to achieve before you try and to achieve it. 

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Posted (edited)

Experiment with your stomp eq’s and find one set of eq points/settings which fits the bill or mimic some commercially available EQ’s thats way you can effectively try before you buy or just continue to use the Stomp eq’s once you find one that works for your set up. A good starting point might be mimic the Ibanez EQ points and compare them in good old fashioned A/B testing.

Sorted!

Edited by krispn
I had an idea and ran with it

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33 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

The opposite in fact i.e. have the potential to mix and match. I appreciate that's not helpful!

Please do share your thoughts on what combinations, based on your experience, have worked well.

This thread is definitely not just about / for me and I'm sure that a lot of folk will be keen to learn from the wisdom of others on this topic.

That would be a rather long (and time consuming) affair, so I will just give some basic thoughts for consideration.

A swamp ash body has a naturally scooped character. Sticking in an East J Retro (not the flat response one) into a Swamp Ash body will not work for most (unless an extremely scooped tone is your thing).

Mahogany has quite a pronounced mid heavy character so you would generally choose pickups and a pre that aren’t too mid heavy.

Alder has strong low mids, but still breathes (upper mids) so a 2 band EQ would probably work well enough.

The pickups either soften or strengthen the tonal qualities of the wood (depends on what you are trying to achieve) and the preamp completes the circle so to speak. As a result an OBP3 sounds excellent in one, horrible in another instrument. 

 

 

 

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Ironically, for someone that only plays active preamps, I virtually never adjust the levels, so I am not that fussy on what preamp I have, they all basically work reasonably well, and there is hardly anything in them. Even the really fancy ones only have a few quid of components in them.

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, HazBeen said:

That would be a rather long (and time consuming) affair, so I will just give some basic thoughts for consideration.

A swamp ash body has a naturally scooped character. Sticking in an East J Retro (not the flat response one) into a Swamp Ash body will not work for most (unless an extremely scooped tone is your thing).

Mahogany has quite a pronounced mid heavy character so you would generally choose pickups and a pre that aren’t too mid heavy.

Alder has strong low mids, but still breathes (upper mids) so a 2 band EQ would probably work well enough.

The pickups either soften or strengthen the tonal qualities of the wood (depends on what you are trying to achieve) and the preamp completes the circle so to speak. As a result an OBP3 sounds excellent in one, horrible in another instrument. 

And whilst not wanting to go down a tone-wood rabbit hole, that's actually a really interesting and neat summary - you give a lot more weight (excuse my mixed metaphors) to the woods than I would (wood?) have done.

I've always been a believer that type of wood has only a marginal impact on bass tone and its effect is swamped by:

1) pups

2) strings

3) EQ 

(very possibly in that order)

If we said that the above 3 account for 90% of bass tone, that would leave just 10% for the impact of the choice of wood.

(And while I'm on the subject please everyone steer very well clear of the 'Carlonea' wood that Warwick use in their cheaper mass-produced-in-China Rockbasses. It's just a fancy name for 'pine'!)

Edited by Al Krow

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, Woodinblack said:

Ironically, for someone that only plays active preamps, I virtually never adjust the levels, so I am not that fussy on what preamp I have, they all basically work reasonably well, and there is hardly anything in them. Even the really fancy ones only have a few quid of components in them.

Well you happen to play a lot of Ibanez SRs and they have a pretty darned good active 3 band EQ with adjustable mid centre points. So good, in fact, that I'm almost never tempted to play in passive mode on my Ibbys either.

Edited by Al Krow

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7 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

And whilst not wanting to go down a tone-wood rabbit hole, that's actually a really interesting and neat summary - you give a lot more weight (excuse my mixed metaphors) to the woods than I would (wood?) have done.

I've always been a believer that type of wood has only a marginal impact on bass tone and its effect is swamped by:

1) pups

2) strings

3) EQ 

(very possibly in that order)

If we said that the above 3 account for 90% of bass tone, that would leave just 10% for the impact of the choice of wood.

(And while I'm on the subject please everyone steer very well clear of the 'Carlonea' wood that Warwick in their cheaper mass produced in China Rockbasses. It's just a fancy name for 'pine'!)

If that were the case you would not see luthiers combine woods to achieve certain tonal charactaristics. Take the same pup, pre and strings but with different wood/combinations and you get different tones.

A pickup and pre basically just “translate” the vibration of string/wood, maybe adding some flavour. The pup and pre therefore are the dessert, with the main being the wood with a side of string.

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19 minutes ago, HazBeen said:

If that were the case you would not see luthiers combine woods to achieve certain tonal charactaristics. Take the same pup, pre and strings but with different wood/combinations and you get different tones.

A pickup and pre basically just “translate” the vibration of string/wood, maybe adding some flavour. The pup and pre therefore are the dessert, with the main being the wood with a side of string.

Nice hypothesis. I'm a long way from being convinced.

1. Choose a Fender P bass in different woods and tell me they sound considerably different to one another in a blind test?

2. Replace the P pup with a J on the same bass and tell me you can't hear a significant difference in a blind test?

3. Then swap the strings from round to flats (conclusion = 2) 

4. And finally swap from passive EQ with the tone dialled off to active with mids boosted and treble set back to neutral (conclusion again = 2)

 

 

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1 hour ago, HazBeen said:

If that were the case you would not see luthiers combine woods to achieve certain tonal charactaristics.

That probably works beautifully for acoustic guitar builders  ( Martin, Fylde, Taylor etc ) but i;m with Al K on this.  Once pickups and preamps and what not get involved,  most ot that wood tone becomes much less prevalent in the overall tone.  Yes there's an effect, but nowhere near those of an acoustic instrument

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My Spector 5 Forte had an OBP3 fitted from the factory. When I got it I thought it meh because it was a departure from my usual sound. I’d read stuff on TB about the SNC which is a clone of the Spector 18v. I ordered one and had it put in. It was ok, but lacked the uniqueness of the Aq, which I’d not appreciated at the time. So I’m getting the OBP3 put back in.

Damn you internet!

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@HazBeen is along the right tracks as wood makes a great deal of difference, even more so that’s the body wood the neck wood has a massive influence on tone.

@Al Krow there is actually nothing wrong with pine, many fine basses have been made using it, or indeed using basswood, which some peopl turn their nose up at. If the choice of wood has so little influence, why are you then tying to steer people away from pine? Surely it makes 10% or less difference to the sound so the rest of the components can shine through...

If wood isn’t important, why then even amongst the same type of wood style basses do some people describe the bass as being ‘dead’ in sound even with all other things like pick ups being the same?

The argument for blind test will of course be trotted out as justification for ignorance on the subject, but as reported here at Bass Bashes when other blind tests were done a whole heap of things on a blind test were not differentiated.

At Haz has said it’s too long to get into the whole Wood gambit....

 

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