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coaxing a ' woody' tone from my Sandberg


Smirfy

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Sandberg have always had quite a bright, modern sound, even their P and J shaped models. The pickup voicings, preamp settings and tone pots all scream bright and modern to me. I like them, in general they're excellent instruments. I suspect that ultimately, you may be chasing a sound that just isn't in your bass as it stands. You can try a number of things like playing closer to the neck, using string mutes, rolling off the treble etc etc but unless that characteristic low-mid honk is there, it won't even really nail the tradtional P sound or the softer, woodier P sounds you seem to want. 

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2 hours ago, wateroftyne said:

Can you hear it acoustically when you stick your ear on the top horn?

If not, a word of advice: don't look for it. It's not there.

If you can hear it, crack on with all the above suggestions.

I think that's the crux. I'm not especially worried about the woodiness of a bass's tone, I think it goes back to my childhood of playing woody sounding instruments (fiddle, acoustic guitar), and longing for that glorious distorted loud and visceral tone that only the electric instrument can give you. But having said this, I've owned three or four Precisions that were decidedly woody, and the woodiness was 100% in the wood (seems obvious but I think that some of the suggestions about suggest you can get it otherwise), almost as if the instrument were semi-acoustic. The one that I remember as being most woody was a '73, ash but very lightweight, and stripped. This is N=1 of course, but I always felt the woodiness was the result of the weight, the lack of varnish BUT ALSO something about the wood itself, because I've owned other lightweight stripped instruments that didn't sound woody at all. Unlike WoT I don't use my ears, i use my chin. I plant it hard on the upper horn, and know within seconds whether I'm going to like a bass's tone. That particular bass almost had my fillings out! But importantly, in all the tinkering I've done with Fender and Fender style basses in the last 15 years, I've never come across a bass that started out not sounding woody but that became so as the result of changing any of the metal components. A change of neck can shift the core tone a bit, but everything else just brings out different aspects of the core tone itself, and if that core tone isn't woody....... 

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I’ve got a Sandberg TT fitted with labella LTF’s , and I play reggae and heavy dub on mine , the pre amp allows me to dial in a perfect tone, I even have to back off the bass because it’s too much , I do have to back off the treble on the amp but I do that with all my basses , it can do really bright if I use only the bridge pup , but generally I wouldn’t say it’s over bright 🙂

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On 20/11/2020 at 16:29, jrixn1 said:

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. 

An update.  My Aguilar pickup arrived today and I put it in, and removed the Sandberg preamp.  It's loads better now.   Whether it's woody or not, who knows, but I am getting the classic P bass tone which I wasn't before.   I use Dunlop flats too btw, good choice.  I didn't shield the cavity as it turns out it's already shielded.

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On 20/11/2020 at 16:34, wateroftyne said:

Can you hear it acoustically when you stick your ear on the top horn?

If not, a word of advice: don't look for it. It's not there.

If you can hear it, crack on with all the above suggestions.

This conjours up a picture - bass guitar, ear + superglue = taxi to A&E 😁

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12 hours ago, jrixn1 said:

An update.  My Aguilar pickup arrived today and I put it in, and removed the Sandberg preamp.  It's loads better now.   Whether it's woody or not, who knows, but I am getting the classic P bass tone which I wasn't before.   I use Dunlop flats too btw, good choice.  I didn't shield the cavity as it turns out it's already shielded.

That's encouraging. I have my pits cap and other bits and pieces. Just waiting for the pup now, then I'll get to work! Yep 'woody' is obv a very subjective term, but if I can get close to that classic P tone I'll be a happy chap!

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On 20/11/2020 at 16:34, wateroftyne said:

Can you hear it acoustically when you stick your ear on the top horn?

If not, a word of advice: don't look for it. It's not there.

If you can hear it, crack on with all the above suggestions.

That's really interesting - I just tried that with a heavy, I think Northern Ash, body and I all I get is smash and spearkle at the top and a deep bass no mids.

I just A/B'd a geezer butler P-pickup vs a Warman Ceramic in it and the difference in the recordings was pretty clear - the geezer had that 70's tight thing, the ceramic was more hi-fi but brash and much more low end. With both you could really hear the zing from the body come through - but there is very little mid wood.

I think you're right - you can filter stuff out with the pickups  but you can't really add it in.

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On 24/11/2020 at 12:27, Beedster said:

Lovely tone, playing and track, might be wrong but on my device it sounds to me like there’s a bit of something other than pure bass signal in there? 

His bass has a damping contraption near the bridge.

I have 5 Sandbergs (all passive) and they all sound like traditional basses rather than the active models with big pole pickups.

I have 3 Umbos, a TT4 passive and a VS4 that I made passive (with an EMG Geezer Butler and the included passive harness) and a Stellartone to fill the spare hole in the control plate.

I've had to work a bit to get a classic P tone out of the VS4 but I'm happy with it now. However all my Umbos can get the P vibe if I just use the neck pickup and the TT4 can too, surprisingly.

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30 minutes ago, Beedster said:

Yep, I know, that’s not what I’m hearing, definitely some PP on there. No problem, sounds great, but I don’t buy the pure P-Bass tone thing here

Yeah I'm not sure. To me it sounds like his other Noble videos which, they say, are recorded into the Noble pre and then into the recording interface. Not a million miles away from the Ian Allinson and Tim Lefebvre videos too.

Great sound though.

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3 minutes ago, Opticaleye said:

Yeah I'm not sure. To me it sounds like his other Noble videos which, they say, are recorded into the Noble pre and then into the recording interface. Not a million miles away from the Ian Allinson and Tim Lefebvre videos too.

Great sound though.

Noble would of course say that :) 

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  • 7 months later...

This is a common problem with the VS4. I’ve owned 3 over the years, 2 had the problem and 1 was great. The problem is the large pole pickup, for some reason they loose body and become very bright.

The best fix is to just replace the pickups, I’ve put some Lindy Fralins in and it works fine with the pre-amp. Equally, replace the pickup and replace 2 pots to get the Passive P Bass sound.

it would be interesting to find out why this happens to the pickups, demagnetised?

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On 12/11/2020 at 19:31, fretmeister said:

I love Sandberg but those pickups are horrible.

 

Aguilar 60s wind replacement and a 250 pot set will do it.

I have to agree. The VS4 is really well made and plays really well - but I can't get on with the pickups - too harsh and metallic. I've tried several string sets, lowered the pups a bit, but I'm now considering a pickup and pots swap - the Aguilar is a good shout. 

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