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Ibanez SR400QM - To pimp or not to pimp


Patster1969
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I have a 2012 (I think) Ibanez SR400 but find that tonally, it seems to be slightly limited.  I love playing it, as it's a very easy bass to play and I love the look of it but am now weighing up upgrading the bass or upgrading the pups/electronics in order to have a bit more tonal variety. 

I have seen the switchable Sims SuperQuad pick-up and these look great but if I bought these and then paid someone to install them (as it looks like a job well above my limited skill), this is likely to cost way more than the bass was brand new.

However, could I either upgrade the pick-ups (currently CAP EXF-N2 pickups, paired with active three-band EQ) and get more tonal range and not spend a fortune, upgrade the pre-amp/electronics or bite the bullet and buy a new bass that gives me more variety (P/J mix or something like that - I'm a bit of a blasphemer as I'm not a bit fan of the Precision Fender look)?  I don't really want to buy a new bass and have the 400 sitting there gathering dust, so it would be a one in/one out.

Any help/suggestions would be gratefully received.

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1 hour ago, Patster1969 said:

I love playing it, as it's a very easy bass to play and I love the look of it

For me, this alone would be reason enough to experiment with upgrades rather than buying a whole new bass. The sky is the limit when it comes to replacement pickups and guts, and the available tonal variety is pretty big. What are you looking for in terms of a core tone? Do you like a clean uncoloured hi-fi sound, or something a bit warmer, or grittier? When you say you want 'tonal variety', does that mean that you'd like to be able to coil tapping options from your new pickups? Single/series/parallel switching? Do you want a 3 band eq again, maybe with sweepable mids? 

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I think 99% of people here have probably gone through the dilemma you're having now. 

 

I've got an old beater P-Bass that I've modded way over it's value, but that was largely down to these mods being necessary - when I acquired it there was a bridge saddle being missing, the knobs were sheared off and half the pickup wasn't really functioning - so I can see the desire to bring things up to spec.  You have a bass that you enjoy from a playability perspective but it's pushing ten years old (and possibly has a resale value of c.£200); as you've said, putting new Simms pickups in it and/or adding a pre-amp will cost more than the instrument itself is worth.

 

Personally, I'd go and try a few basses, see what ticks your boxes, if any.  If you find something within a £600 budget, sell on the Ibanez and add the £400 and throw that at something new.  There's a ton of great basses out there for well under £600 (a Sterling by MM 4HH will leave you enough change from that for a hard case and a fish supper).

 

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43 minutes ago, Rich said:

For me, this alone would be reason enough to experiment with upgrades rather than buying a whole new bass. The sky is the limit when it comes to replacement pickups and guts, and the available tonal variety is pretty big. What are you looking for in terms of a core tone? Do you like a clean uncoloured hi-fi sound, or something a bit warmer, or grittier? When you say you want 'tonal variety', does that mean that you'd like to be able to coil tapping options from your new pickups? Single/series/parallel switching? Do you want a 3 band eq again, maybe with sweepable mids? 

That's the million $ question really and I'm not sure whether I'm looking for something that isn't obtainable, as I have any idea in my head that the tone I want isn't achieveable with the Ibanez in it's current form which could well be complete rubbish on my part/my hearing playing tricks on me.

Having not played a great many different basses (and this one was bought through ebay several years ago without me trying it particularly because I liked the look of it), it could well be me/my technique/amp settings that is causing my doubt about the tone, and by changing any of these could allow a variation in a sound that I like.   

Certainly, I don't have any experience with your question about single/series/parallel switching, so can't even comment on that sensibly, although Nancy's point about going and trying a few different options could well answer some of these questions for me.

Thanks Rich 

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Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, NancyJohnson said:

I think 99% of people here have probably gone through the dilemma you're having now. 

 

I've got an old beater P-Bass that I've modded way over it's value, but that was largely down to these mods being necessary - when I acquired it there was a bridge saddle being missing, the knobs were sheared off and half the pickup wasn't really functioning - so I can see the desire to bring things up to spec.  You have a bass that you enjoy from a playability perspective but it's pushing ten years old (and possibly has a resale value of c.£200); as you've said, putting new Simms pickups in it and/or adding a pre-amp will cost more than the instrument itself is worth.

 

Personally, I'd go and try a few basses, see what ticks your boxes, if any.  If you find something within a £600 budget, sell on the Ibanez and add the £400 and throw that at something new.  There's a ton of great basses out there for well under £600 (a Sterling by MM 4HH will leave you enough change from that for a hard case and a fish supper).

 

That's a comfort knowing that I'm not alone in trying to reach this magic tone - are we all mad I wonder? There's certainly nothing on this bass that I 'need' to change in terms of what you have had to do to your P-Bass, as it hasn't really had a particularly hard life but as I said to Rich, am I looking for something that isn't obtainable but my head/ears are telling me that I need to find.

Good point about setting a sensible budget at £600 and trying a few in that price point, as I could probably easily bust through that if I changed pups & pre-amp (for example) - if I went down the Sims route, it would be way over that. For some reason, I have it in my head that I have to spend way more than that to potentially get the tone in my head that I want but this isn't really the case.

Thanks Nancy

Edited by Patster1969
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1 minute ago, Patster1969 said:

That's a comfort knowing that I'm not alone in trying to reach this magic tone - are we all mad I wonder? There's certainly nothing on this bass that I 'need' to change in terms of what you have had to do to your P-Bass, as it hasn't really had a particularly hard life but as I said to Rich, am I looking for something that isn't obtainable but my head/ears are telling me that I need to find.

Good point about setting a sensible budget at £600 and trying a few in that price point, as I could probably easily bust through that if I changed pups & pre-amp (for example) - if I went down the Sims route, it would be way over that. For some reason, I have it in my head that I have to spend way more than that to potentially get the tone in my head that I want but this isn't really the case.

Thanks Nancy

 

Luckily, I've got a few basses that - along with piles of outboard kit - are more than capable of delivering an approximation of the tone in my head, the rest is all about what the basses look like, if that makes sense.  I dread to think what my profit and loss account would look like if I added up everything I've spent over the last 30+ years.  My wife (I'm a guy, BTW!) always says 'never look back, always trade up', so whenever I start querying kit or wondering whether it's fit for purpose, then you've kind of made the decision to move along.

 

Try some different stuff.  Consider secondhand too.  Also, consider some emulation to get want you want (I'm a sucker for Tech 21 outboard gear); the discovery of what a Bass Driver DI could do could have saved me thousands on amps!

 

 

 

 

 

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I had an SR300 which had the same pickups as yours, wasn't happy in a can't put my finger on why sort of way. Sold it and got a 92 Fujigen SR800 for about 50 euro more than I sold the SR300 for. Night and day difference: you can feel more bass in your chest when unplugged, the pups cover so much ground I'm still discovering new tones six months in, it balances like a samurai sword on my knee and the overall feel of quality is in a different league. 

 

So in short I'd keep an eye out for a bargain MIJ Ibanez SR, they come up cheap all the time.

 

Edit typo.

Edited by DubDelay
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I likes an Ibby... i have 2x GSR200's and an SR600

 

Me? I'd have this SR750 for £250 silly money before its gone...

Then sell the SR400QM on at leisure via FB, Gumtree, eBay etc. wherever, prolly for more than ya pay for the SR750...

Quids In and Sorted with an Ibby Upgrade and Nordys

Or keep both as the SR750 is possibly less than the cost of a pair of pickups, and possible pre and fitting.

Edited by PaulThePlug
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22 minutes ago, PaulThePlug said:

I likes an Ibby... i have 2x GSR200's and an SR600

 

Me? I'd have this SR750 for £250 silly money before its gone...

 

Then sell the SR400QM on at leisure via FB, Gumtree, eBay etc. wherever, prolly for more than ya pay for the SR750...

Quids In and Sorted with an Ibby Upgrade and Nordys

Or keep both as the SR750 is possibly less than the cost of a pair of pickups, and possible pre and fitting.

 

This man talks sense, that's a great deal :)

The pickups aren't "real" Nordstrands but CND's (Carey Nordstrand Design) specially made under license for Ibanez, but they're very cool. 

Edited by LeftyJ
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44 minutes ago, PaulThePlug said:

I likes an Ibby... i have 2x GSR200's and an SR600

 

Me? I'd have this SR750 for £250 silly money before its gone...

Then sell the SR400QM on at leisure via FB, Gumtree, eBay etc. wherever, prolly for more than ya pay for the SR750...

Quids In and Sorted with an Ibby Upgrade and Nordys

Or keep both as the SR750 is possibly less than the cost of a pair of pickups, and possible pre and fitting.

Good call, I will have a look at that 👍

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I considered doing the same with an SR300 I had.  After extensive looking, all the pickups and eqs I found, that would fit, were more than what I bought the bass for.

 

In the end I gave up and sold the SR300.

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If I hadn't simply decided to sell my TRBX, which has similar style pickups, I would have been looking at seeing if replacing them with fat single coil pickups would have given me a sound with more meat to feed into the preamp. I'm still wondering if that would have been simply a daft idea, so if anyone wants to tell me..... 

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