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coaxing a ' woody' tone from my Sandberg


Smirfy

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Hi all,

I mainly lurk here and can generally find the answers to any question I may have by searching around. But this one eludes me.

I have a lovely Sandberg VS4 with the Sandberg branded P pickup, playing either into a Phil Jones Headphone amp or an RH 450 head into an Aguilar Gs112. I can' t find that woody P bass tone that I know and love. It is likely inexperience on my part, however any tips would be greatly appreciated. I have Dunlop flats, and am not averse to a pickup change if necessary. I know tone is in the fingers but players I'm feeling out over at the moment include George Porter Jr and Kevin Scott

Thanks for any help 😁👍

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Tape a little blue pill to the pickup...

 

But really, there's a good chance that the woodiness resides in the midrange. Rolling off the top end a little can reduce the 'metallic' sounding higher frequencies which you can find coming through, even with flats. 8khz down to even 3khz, depending on the sound of the bass should help. Rolling off the lows helps bring the 'wood' out, too. Below about 200hz is the 'smooth' bass and sub-bass, which give the sound a lot of depth and weight, but doesn't contain a huge amount of pitch information to our ears. A reduction anywhere around there should also help. If you need even more, pushing the mids should also help- my default starting point is a fairly wide boost centred at 800hz. Just happens to sit right for me most of the time, but 500-2khz is the right region, depending what you want to hear. A little goes a long way when it comes to EQ, and what I'd describe as a woody tone often doesn't sound so hot by itself, but really comes into its own in the mix.

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1 hour ago, Smirfy said:

Hi all,

I mainly lurk here and can generally find the answers to any question I may have by searching around. But this one eludes me.

I have a lovely Sandberg VS4 with the Sandberg branded P pickup, playing either into a Phil Jones Headphone amp or an RH 450 head into an Aguilar Gs112. I can' t find that woody P bass tone that I know and love. It is likely inexperience on my part, however any tips would be greatly appreciated. I have Dunlop flats, and am not averse to a pickup change if necessary. I know tone is in the fingers but players I'm feeling out over at the moment include George Porter Jr and Kevin Scott

Thanks for any help 😁👍

Play with a softer touch and just below the neck. I’ve recently tried la Bella flats for the first time and they’re fantastic. 

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Thank for the tips everyone. Dood, I can't really afford a cab change ATM, bit I'll bear it in mind. Re a pickup change, I wouldn't mind trying that, are you suggesting getting rid of the preamp and going all passive, or just swapping out the pup?.

Already got flats on, will try foam under the strings too.

 

Cheers all stay safe

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On 12/11/2020 at 20:00, Cuzzie said:

Creamery 58 P pickup

Quite simply the best Split coil pick up out there

I've taken a gamble ( or maybe not given your comment Cuzzie....) and ordered a 58 P. Handmade in the UK by a small independent company with a great reputation. About 6 weeks for delivery, I hope it's worth the wait!

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1 hour ago, Smirfy said:

I've taken a gamble ( or maybe not given your comment Cuzzie....) and ordered a 58 P. Handmade in the UK by a small independent company with a great reputation. About 6 weeks for delivery, I hope it's worth the wait!

YES

YES

 

aaaaaaand YES!!!!!!!

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1 hour ago, fretmeister said:

Go passive as well. Use 250k pots. 500k are likely to be too bright.

 

This might be a bridge too far...it would leave an open hole in the pickguard that may give my OCD a hard time lol! I have actually already emailed Sandberg to see if they can do me a  2 hole scratchplate...they don't show them in their webshop but they do a passive VS4 so I guess they are available.

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1 hour ago, Smirfy said:

This might be a bridge too far...it would leave an open hole in the pickguard that may give my OCD a hard time lol! I have actually already emailed Sandberg to see if they can do me a  2 hole scratchplate...they don't show them in their webshop but they do a passive VS4 so I guess they are available.

Alternatively, add a kill switch then all holes accounted for! 😃

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This is exactly why I tell people to try Sandberg basses before buying. Especially if they are going for the P or J-style models and expect them to sound like a classic P or a J.

Sandberg basses are superb instruments with excellent craftsmanship/QC and some of the best necks I've ever played but they will sound NOTHING like a classic, vintage P or J. Sandberg basses are designed for an bright 'modern' tone, and here's why:

1) An active eq will never get you that mid bump resonance when you roll of the highs like a passive tone control will. A lot of that 'woody' sound you're missing is right there in that mid bump. If you want the classic P-bass sound: Rip out the active electronics and go passive. It will leave an unused hole in your bass but you can move the jack output up front and leave the side hole unused instead. It will even LOOK more like a classic P-bass that way and the side hole will probably be easier to disguise (unless Sandberg can provide you with a 2 hole replacement control plate).

2) Sandberg use 500k pots. These are far too bright sounding for the classic P-bass sound. Replace the pots with 250k. Personally I prefer audio taper for both pots in P-basses but that's just a matter of personal preference. The stock tone cap is probably .047 uF which is fine (and what most Fender P-basses use) but if you want a slightly darker/fatter sound when you roll off the tone you might consider .068 uF. Early Fender P-basses had .100 uF but I personally think that gets too dark&muddy too fast on the tone knob and I generally like warm/dark sounding basses.

3) Sandberg pickups are voiced for a bright/modern tone. Pretty much any standard P-bass split coil will get you closer to a classic P-bass tone. But you really need to go passive and replace the pots too if you want that classic 'woody' P-bass tone.

 

You have already gotten some excellent advice in this thread and you are definitely moving in the right direction. Creamery pickups are superb and the '58 is an excellent choice!

I've got a passive VS4 myself with a Kloppmann PB63 which is also a great pickup. After I replaced the 500k pots with 250k it certainly delivers that classic P-bass tone/feel (only mine is slightly 'faster&tighter' but I think that might be because I got it custom made with an ebony board).

Finally, just to be clear: I'm not saying the bright tone in stock Sandberg basses is necessarily bad. I'm just saying they are a very poor choice if you're looking for a classic P/J tone. The way Sandberg are marketing their California series I think a lot of people expect them to sound like classic P/J-basses but they just won't. Not even close.

 

Good luck!

 

 

Edited by S.F.Sorrow
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Sound advice to always try before you buy, but as @S.F.Sorrow sorrow says, its a  superbly crafted instrument with resonant well made components, tailoring a sound with a minor change such as a pick up, or string change really is nothing, and the stock pick ups, preamps can be sold to offset cost, or even kept to restore To original if it is to be moved on. I’ll wager that many people have moved a bass on for these reasons, eve a poor set up that would otherwise have ben perfect for them!

Glad there is another in the Creamery camp!

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I ripped it all out of my TT4 Superlight, but replaced it with EMG J set (the original type) and a 3 band.

The Originals were designed to sound like trad J pickups but without the hum. They are a lot more restrained than the X versions or the dual coils.

Probably why Bobby Vega loves them so much.

 

Those, with some flats and it's perfect for my needs.

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I'm in a similar situation (except it's a VM5) as the OP @Smirfy  and decide to remove the preamp and replace the stock Sandberg large-pole Precision pickup with something more vintagey (I've gone for the Aguilar 5P-60CL).  One thing I'm not clear on...  the original Sandberg pickups use shielded wire, and the cavity itself is not shielded.  Assuming the replacement pickups don't use shielded wire, should the cavity be shielded as part of the replacement process?  I see that's what @PatrickJ  did here: https://www.basschat.co.uk/topic/436108-sandberg-california-ii-vs4-precision/  as he says,  "When I initially replaced the pickup it was quite noisy which ended up being a shielding issue."
 

 

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