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Replacement pickup for SUB Ray5


glassmoon
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Hi all, 

I'm about to take delivery of a EBMM SUB Ray5 -  I got it as a working Joe's instrument, with a view to upgrading as and when I could.  I have heard great things about the bass, watched many videos, read many reviews, and all seem to indicate that the electronics are the weakest link. 

Having said that, money is tight and I'm looking for options that are good yet inexpensive. As much as one day I hope to be able to slot in a Nordstrand MM, for the next little while, I'm looking for advice and opinions. I see Kent Armstrong and at around the 60 quid Mark, I'm all ears. Are they good? Better than say the Bartolini M1 range or about the same? 

Your views are hugely welcome. 

Kind regards 

Julian 

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4 minutes ago, BassApprentice said:

Depends if you want a modern or vintage tone? Some UK based guys do custom pickups at very reasonable prices like Catwhisker or the Creamery. Also might be worth playing stock for a while and seeing what it does/doesn't do for you. 

 

I will definitely look into those two, and any others that I can find. Many thanks. The UK market is still very new to me (only been here 2 years), so this is all invaluable information. 

And yeah, I haven't even received it hahahaha

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I remember reading a Bass Player article from 1996, that said that sometimes using an EQ pedal is a way cheaper option than swapping out the electronics.... and I buy into that. I really do. I just want to get the most out of the instrument that I can. I am definitely not going to buy for buying's sake, but if, for example, the Kent Armstrong route is a good one, for under £60, and it bumps the sound into a new level of richness, then I am all for that. 

But I will play and A/B against my Nord kitted Ibanez first 

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IME there's nothing wrong about that pickup. I own 2 USA Stingray5s and I don't miss anything vital in the timbre those pickups produce. The endemic problem in SUBs is the preamp, which has no headroom, thus distorts on peaks when you play hard (or when boosting the EQ if you don't play too hard). IMHO it should do OK with a 20€ Artec preamp upgrade (a 20€ Artec preamp is WAY better than what comes stock). There's a cheaper/quicker thing to try (I'd do it if it were mine as those preamps are useless to me as they come), which is feeding it 18V, therefore gaining headroom. Most if not all onboard preamps admit a wide range of supply voltage, which instrument manufacturers usually decide based on how hot the pickups of choice are. And that preamp is crap, I wouldn't care if it blew away (highly unlikely, have successfully done it with some other crappy onboards I wasn't concerned about eventually screwing up).

Edited by andruca
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39 minutes ago, Steve Browning said:

I have a 4 string SUB and it was transformed by a Retrovibe Stinger pre-amp. I would strongly suggest you think about that as your first upgrade. I may even stick with the stock pickup as a result.

Interesting - I am unfamiliar - but let me Goo Gill the heck out it - many thanks Steve!

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I have for now. In truth, it is more likely to be pure snobbery that would make me change it. I had a pre-EB Stingray many moons ago and the combination of the stock pick-up and Retrovibe pre-amp get me a sound that is pretty much the same as my recollection of the sound of the original.

I was careful to get a pre-amp that set out to emulate the original 2 eq pre-amp and the Retrovibe nails it.

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1 minute ago, Steve Browning said:

I have for now. In truth, it is more likely to be pure snobbery that would make me change it. I had a pre-EB Stingray many moons ago and the combination of the stock pick-up and Retrovibe pre-amp get me a sound that is pretty much the same as my recollection of the sound of the original.

I was careful to get a pre-amp that set out to emulate the original 2 eq pre-amp and the Retrovibe nails it.

I think I will bite the bullet on the Retroglide - a nice Father's Day contribution means I can afford it (I need gigs!!!!!)
What pickup have you been looking at?  I would love a Nordstrand - my Ibanez sounds monstrous - but I just can spend that much - hence me looking at the Kent Armstrong.
Any thoughts would be great :) 

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I've looked at the usual suspects that have been mentioned. I've always been a big fan of Kent Armstrong pickups. I guess the only thing is the lack of visible pole pieces (how shallow is that?).

I am suspending thoughts of changing the pickup at the moment as I think the pre-amp change has done the job I wanted done on the sound. My guess is any pickup change would still lead to a pre-amp change whereas you may find a pre-amp swap may not lead to the need for another pickup.

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Just now, Steve Browning said:

I've looked at the usual suspects that have been mentioned. I've always been a big fan of Kent Armstrong pickups. I guess the only thing is the lack of visible pole pieces (how shallow is that?).

Oddly enough, that is kinda how I feel too - I've had a Lankland before and the poles would not have worked, but for a MM/EB bass, I think the poles add a certain authenticity - but it's all about the sound I guess..

1 minute ago, Steve Browning said:

I am suspending thoughts of changing the pickup at the moment as I think the pre-amp change has done the job I wanted done on the sound. My guess is any pickup change would still lead to a pre-amp change whereas you may find a pre-amp swap may not lead to the need for another pickup.

Y'know - that may well be the case - the preamp is a good start - roughly the same price (within a tenner) so nothing ventured I suppose!!!!

I bow to you sir, and say "thank you"

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  • 2 weeks later...
29 minutes ago, Vanheusen77 said:

I made this short comparison. The Seymour Duncan is available for 5 strings also.

 

Great video. Problem is the shape of the SD 5. That it is a rectangul and doesn't have the 2 bass lugs and 1 treble lug is just beyond my understanding. Were its a 5 string version of the 4, it wouldn't even be a competition I suspect...

Someone must've thought it a good idea though 

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On 23/06/2021 at 21:14, glassmoon said:

Great video. Problem is the shape of the SD 5. That it is a rectangul and doesn't have the 2 bass lugs and 1 treble lug is just beyond my understanding. Were its a 5 string version of the 4, it wouldn't even be a competition I suspect...

Someone must've thought it a good idea though 

That's because pre-2008 Stingray5s came with the old rectangular cover. I think the rectangular pickup was alnico in the early years, then it was ceramic (from 1993 on IIRC) 'til they started offering the Sterling5. Since then Stingrays, either 4 or 5 string are alnico and both 4 and 5 string Sterlings are ceramic. SD will probably issue a version with the 3 flanges, seems logical, there should be many people asking for those, I think the SBMM affordable line opened the door to a lot of upgrading culture.

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1 hour ago, Vanheusen77 said:

I can really recommend the Seymour Duncan for a more typical MM sound compared to the sub.

Yeah, the more I think about it, I'm just going to have to get a custom pick guard made to accommodate the larger (non-lugged) pickup. 

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