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Thread: Music Man bass pickup wirings

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    Music Man bass pickup wirings

    Hello,

    I'm trying to replicate, with a Nordstrand MM pickup, the different wirings from some Music Man basses, with "parallel", "single" and "series" combinations.

    I know very well the tone/volume variations when switching guitar humbuckers from series to parallel, but I'm little confused here: passing from the (standard MM) parallel to series wiring gives a huge level increase, impossible to use without reset the volume pot to about half volume (to "5" in my case as I'm using 250k linear pots). At this point, maybe due to the pot resistance introduced (about 125k) the series tone is very similar to the parallel: only the very high end is a little more dull, but the "body" is not much different from parallel.
    I remember some years ago I made a series/parallel test with a common split P-bass pickup and I was unimpressed (parallel = less volume and no more) and I kept in that case the original wiring untouched.

    So, my question is: did you have the same experiences?

    More: searching the net I've found incomplete (non-factory) schematics from MM Sterling and discovered that what they call "series" wiring is not a passive one: the coils are separatley buffered and mixed, so it is more a "buffered parallel", in opposite to the real, passive parallel wiring (as used in the original Stingray model).


    Any observation welcome, thanks
    m.p.

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    Not sure what you are looking for. I have detailed information about CLF Research's era (1976-1980). From tooling through production including notes Leo made about eventual revisions. But I am not sure how any of it applies to what you are looking for.

    Sting Ray's had different pickups than Sabre's. They had unique to each other preamps as well.

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    You may find this of interest ;-)
    freestompboxes.org ? Login
    cheers
    bajaman

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bajaman View Post
    You may find this of interest ;-)
    freestompboxes.org ? Login
    cheers
    bajaman
    Why did you post the freestompboxes login page?

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    Last edited by big_teee; 08-07-2016 at 09:03 AM.
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    Also not sure what you're looking for.

    You say you have a Norstrand MM pickup, and when you switch it from parallel to series mode, you get a huge volume increase- and after compensating for the volume change, the tone difference is insignificant.
    You also say you've had similar results with a split-P pickup; switching from series to parallel decreased volume but had insignificant effect on tone.

    I'm guessing that in both cases, you used a 250K linear volume pot.

    I can only say that I've used a DiMarzio Model-P with a series/parallel switch, and there definitely was a tone difference between the settings.

    Just going by intuition, I would suggest trying a 500K audio taper volume pot.
    The higher value could "open up" the high end so that you hear the brightness in parallel mode.
    With audio taper, you wouldn't have to turn the knob so far to compensate the volume.

    Is this the (partial) wiring diagram you're working with?
    http://nordstrandpickups.com/wp-cont...up-Diagram.pdfI

    Edit: Yikes, maybe I'm totally confused.
    I have no experience with MM basses or pickups.
    Were these pickups designed specifically to be used with a pre-amp?
    Are they hot enough to be used passively?
    Are you using them passively?
    Mention of split PBass pickup and 250K volume pot made me assume "passive".

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    Last edited by rjb; 08-07-2016 at 06:33 AM.

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    I posted the freestompboxes.org login page because I started a 20 page thread about the Music Man bass pickup preamp. If you are a member (free to join) there is lots of info there for all to see ;-)

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    i recently fitted two MM pickups in a jazz bass

    and used a 3 switch plate as used on teh fender VI to series parallel each pickup, and the last remaining to split both pickups to give a quasi jazz bass tone.
    i have used the bass live and it sounds great, and there are so many tones available

    series coils sound full and direct
    parallel coils sound bright and funky
    split, somewhere between the two

    yes there are volume differences, but you accommodate that with your technique

    whilst i am not sure what you are after, i hope the above info helps somewhat,

    the bass i have is passive, and if you are worried about the differences in volume, then i suggest you use a compressor to even it all out

    i personally like the fact that there are volume differences and i can use it to my advantage

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    Edit: Yikes, maybe I'm totally confused.
    I have no experience with MM basses or pickups.
    Were these pickups designed specifically to be used with a pre-amp?
    Are they hot enough to be used passively?
    Are you using them passively?
    Mention of split PBass pickup and 250K volume pot made me assume "passive".
    Yes, made to be used with the preamp (that page linked talks about one model, Leo made 3 different Sting Ray Bass and 2 different Sabre bass preamps)

    They are very low powered. Like 2K. Wound with 42 poly. To get a significantly higher wind count, you have to start messing with the original coil design, which alters the sound.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Shine View Post
    Yes, made to be used with the preamp...

    They are very low powered. Like 2K. Wound with 42 poly. To get a significantly higher wind count, you have to start messing with the original coil design, which alters the sound.
    Quote Originally Posted by mr fab View Post
    i recently fitted two MM pickups in a jazz bass
    |
    the bass i have is passive,
    1) Jim & mr fab: You guys are talking about the same pickups, yes?

    2) mr fab: That sounds like a nice setup. Could you elaborate on volume & tone control values you used?

    Edit:
    3) m.c.: You are using one pickup with a passive circuit, yes?

    Just trying to sort this out,
    -rb

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    Last edited by rjb; 08-08-2016 at 05:39 AM.

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    Changing from parallel to series should increase the volume substantially, with the exact effect dependent on the load the pickups are looking into. Into an infinite load, the increase is about 6 db. If there is a capacitive load such as a cable, the the series connection has a lower resonant frequency. How that sounds depends on where the resonance was with parallel connection.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco Pancaldi View Post
    Hello,

    I'm trying to replicate, with a Nordstrand MM pickup, the different wirings from some Music Man basses, with "parallel", "single" and "series" combinations.

    I know very well the tone/volume variations when switching guitar humbuckers from series to parallel, but I'm little confused here: passing from the (standard MM) parallel to series wiring gives a huge level increase, impossible to use without reset the volume pot to about half volume (to "5" in my case as I'm using 250k linear pots). At this point, maybe due to the pot resistance introduced (about 125k) the series tone is very similar to the parallel: only the very high end is a little more dull, but the "body" is not much different from parallel.
    I remember some years ago I made a series/parallel test with a common split P-bass pickup and I was unimpressed (parallel = less volume and no more) and I kept in that case the original wiring untouched.

    So, my question is: did you have the same experiences?

    More: searching the net I've found incomplete (non-factory) schematics from MM Sterling and discovered that what they call "series" wiring is not a passive one: the coils are separatley buffered and mixed, so it is more a "buffered parallel", in opposite to the real, passive parallel wiring (as used in the original Stingray model).


    Any observation welcome, thanks
    m.p.

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    1) Jim & mr fab: You guys are talking about the same pickups, yes?
    I don't know. I am talking about Music Man Sting Ray Bass pickups made between 1976-1980. Ernie Ball continued the 1977-80 configuration into the 90's at least. I am not sure about current models or alternate versions/aftermarket things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Sulzer View Post
    Changing from parallel to series should increase the volume substantially, with the exact effect dependent on the load the pickups are looking into. Into an infinite load, the increase is about 6 db. If there is a capacitive load such as a cable, the the series connection has a lower resonant frequency. How that sounds depends on where the resonance was with parallel connection.
    That's what I was gonna say- with twice the verbiage and half the lucidity.

    EDIT:
    But the question I'm trying to reconcile (for myself) is:
    If the pickup impedance is as low as Jim implies, what circuit topology and passive component values are mr fab using to get useful tone changes in the various switch positions?

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    Last edited by rjb; 08-09-2016 at 01:48 AM.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Real MM pickups were always in parallel. Never in series.

    Keep in mind that the pickup was never used passive, but always with the preamp, which had quite a bit of gain, and was matched to the 2k impedance of the pickup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    1) Jim & mr fab: You guys are talking about the same pickups, yes?

    2) mr fab: That sounds like a nice setup. Could you elaborate on volume & tone control values you used?

    -rb

    the pickups i used were alnico v MM replicas. i dont recall the DCR of the pickup... as for pots, from memory, i used 500k pots, wired with 2 volumes and one tone. each pickup goes to one slide switch for the series parallel switching, and then i have the third switch to cut one coil on both pickups so that single runs single.[ATTACH=CONFIG]


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    Last edited by mr fab; 08-09-2016 at 05:52 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    That's what I was gonna say- with twice the verbiage and half the lucidity.

    EDIT:
    But the question I'm trying to reconcile (for myself) is:
    If the pickup impedance is as low as Jim implies, what circuit topology and passive component values are mr fab using to get useful tone changes in the various switch positions?
    ok i just measured the dcr of the pickups... they are both 7.5k with both coils in series (ie half that per coil)... which means they would measure 1.9k in parallel, but i must say they sound really good in all configs, but i do prefer the sound of both coils in series

    david is correct, the original MM guitars and bases had their pickups wired in parallel, i have a 78 musicman sabre guitar and its pickups are wired in parallel, and that that preamp is a monster. i think these guitars were not popular, because of shifting trends in music at the time...ie spandex, big hair and superstrats with FR's

    the volume difference between settings is not as large as you may think, its just that series mode sound much fuller.. more like a gibson bass

    i love the tones i get from it and it sounds amazing through the 300W bass amp i built

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    I own P2, the second phase of prototyping for the Sabre guitars. Not sure if it has a never released S1 preamp, or the production S2 as it is covered in epoxy. Otherwise it is the Sabre pickups and controls. It is very bright. There is one selection that sounds good, the rest are way too bright or thin. I should get a regular Sabre and compare. If it sounds way different, I likely have the S1 preamp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Shine View Post
    I own P2, the second phase of prototyping for the Sabre guitars. Not sure if it has a never released S1 preamp, or the production S2 as it is covered in epoxy. Otherwise it is the Sabre pickups and controls. It is very bright. There is one selection that sounds good, the rest are way too bright or thin. I should get a regular Sabre and compare. If it sounds way different, I likely have the S1 preamp.
    Hmm.
    Judging by mr fab's experience, they may be more useful as passive pickups- despite original design intent.

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    Yeah, I am not about to screw around with a prototype built by Leo and George. Leo likely soldered it himself.

    With that in mind, I have often thought about making alternate preamps that sound better to upgrade the guitars. I have all the original silkscreen art for the PC Boards. I could use the stock design and alter the values.

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    i recall seeing somewhere in the internet world, that someone makes replica sabre guitar and bass preamps without the goop

    yes the guitar is kinda bright... more like a tele on steroids, but the bass and treble controls are really useful, ie treble down and bass up....more gibson like tones, bass down, and treble to taste more fender like. as i said the bright switch makes it overly bright. but overall i think it represents leos next evolution of the fender guitar.

    i have thought many times to alter the bright switch, so that it is useable in some way.... possibly using it to switch the pickups in series

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    Last edited by mr fab; 08-10-2016 at 02:33 AM.

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    now that i think about it, i recall i had a charvel superstrat with a lawrence L500 in the bridge, and i installed a parallel series push pull on that to get single coil like tones, and i never felt that the pickup was weak or overly thin when in single coil mode. that pickup balanced well with the stock singles in the guitar

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    There were multiple Sabre Bass preamps. In theory, there should be multiple Sabre guitar preamps as well as Leo ordered a thousand S1 preamp PC Boards, but went with the S2 in production. I do not have any evidence of JDF assembling the S1's outside of a handful of test pieces, so I don't believe they were ever used. The other issue is that was also happening in the same timeframe the epoxy was stopped. Any S1's that could have possibly gone out would be in the epoxy period, undetectable.

    The biggest misconception with that company is they used like 2-3 preamps across the line. In reality there were 7. Most changes occurred in the epoxy coated era.

    I have been thinking about it and my prototype doesn't have the production wiring..it was never made with the CRL switch. It has mini switches like a Sabre Bass. I guess I should look at it closely and see what the hell they were experimenting with.

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    thats interesting, i never knew that. my brother has an original 78 or 79 sabre bass. maybe i should have a look at the guts of that one too.

    i think leo did a great job with the preamp design, except for that bright switch which is just too trebly

    at one end of the spectrum, its all fender and at the other end its closer to a warm and fat gibson .....never too trebly and never muddy

    when i get a chance i will take a pic of the board in my sabre and post just for your reference.

    the sabre guitars, like the stingrays also came in two versions, 12 inch and 7 inch inch radius necks (Sabre I and Sabre II respectively)

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    Sabre Basses actually launched in 1979, but the factory built up a pre-production inventory during 1978 (No idea why they didn't launch sooner, the parts were ready in October 78, the catalog Bass was built in December 78, that was the first). I wont have any info on that, but the guitar, if it was made before January 1, 1979, I will have detailed info on it, so if you want it, post or PM me the serial number.

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    thanks jim
    i'll get the info from my brother and let you know

    as i recall it has a pickup selector switch, bright switch, phase switch, volume, bass and treble controls. maple neck and walnut coloured body

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    Cool! Just a FYI, I am not yet offering the log info publicly as it takes a lot of effort to gather all the info. One day I will sort it out and do so. I can tell you the model, color, the day it was assembled, purchase order, invoice, in some eras the initials of the final assembler, any repair history during the CLF Research era, and if repaired, if it was sold it will often have the music store name (CLFR did not deal with sales, so the rest do not feature the info as they were sold to Music Man, which was a different business entity completely).

    Otherwise, I have files for all of the early years, the materials invoices, where they got stuff, art for PC boards, revisions, and if anybody cared, how much toilet paper they bought...lol. I even have the steno pad maintained during setup to produce the instruments in early 76 with daily to do lists in preparing for production. The only stuff I will not share is PC board art. I have no intention of giving away the materials to build them. But the other stuff, if anyone has MM questions, I can help.

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    thanks jim

    what was your role in the days you were there?

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    I was never there. When BBE bought the company, they cleared out a storage room that had a lot of junk in it including old, irrelevant files, to make room for production. A smart guy in the complex salvaged it from the dumpster. I ended up with the bulk of it. I also ended up with some other misc items, like P2, and some other prototypical items.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Shine View Post
    There were multiple Sabre Bass preamps. In theory, there should be multiple Sabre guitar preamps as well as Leo ordered a thousand S1 preamp PC Boards, but went with the S2 in production. I do not have any evidence of JDF assembling the S1's outside of a handful of test pieces, so I don't believe they were ever used. The other issue is that was also happening in the same timeframe the epoxy was stopped. Any S1's that could have possibly gone out would be in the epoxy period, undetectable.

    The biggest misconception with that company is they used like 2-3 preamps across the line. In reality there were 7. Most changes occurred in the epoxy coated era.

    I have been thinking about it and my prototype doesn't have the production wiring..it was never made with the CRL switch. It has mini switches like a Sabre Bass. I guess I should look at it closely and see what the hell they were experimenting with.
    The Sabre bass preamp I examined was basically the same circuit as the Stingray, but with the treble boost switch. Leo was going deaf, so his instruments got brighter and brighter!

    I make Stingray preamps

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    There were two Sabre Bass preamps, and Three different Sting Ray Bass in the 70's. Leo may have been going deaf, but he didn't design those things alone. Tom Walker, the real head of Music Man, sat side by side with Leo while designing those preamps.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Shine View Post
    There were two Sabre Bass preamps, and Three different Sting Ray Bass in the 70's. Leo may have been going deaf, but he didn't design those things alone. Tom Walker, the real head of Music Man, sat side by side with Leo while designing those preamps.
    Leo was a partner in Music Man, and in fact suggested the name, since he didn't like Tri-Sonix, or I guess Musitek, Inc. Tom Walker was in charge of Music Man amps, not the instruments. Leo Fender and Forrest White (CLF Research) made the guitars and basses.


    But Tom Walker largely designed the preamp. Leo designed the pickup. I had read a quote from Tom saying that Leo would sit there, strumming the strings, with the amp very loud, and tweaking the preamp until he got what he wanted.

    You can see a transition in Leo's pickup designs back from the days of Fender. The final one, the G&L MFD is the brightest pickup he designed.

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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    Leo was a partner because he fronted the money to start it up. He wanted nothing to do with the business anymore. They dragged him into it. He had absolutely no input on what Music Man was doing. He disliked how it was run. He sold Music Man instruments produced in his CLF Research shop and sold them for a slim mark up. He lost millions of dollars in the Music Man deal. G&L was an attempt to salvage his investment. By '87 he realized he was getting too old and he would never turn a profit again. He had his accountant prepare to sell the company, but nobody wanted it. He died owning it.

    And to expand on the Music Man fiasco. By '78, Tom was running the show. Leo forced Forrest to sell Tom enough of his shares to give him majority control. Leo was named "president", but it was honorary by Leo's own demand. They felt it was a good marketing tool and Leo wanted no dealings with the business side of things. It was basically a replica of the old Fender setup. But rather than Fender Sales being owned by Don Randal, Music Man was owned by Tom, Leo, and Forrest. The same setup happened later as Dale Hyatt owned G&L Sales..which was separate from the manufacturing side, owned by Leo.

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    its a shame Leo went out like that. He was a genius. I guess everybody loses the battle with father time. The Sabre was a great bass and it should have been more popular. I think it was too ahead of its time. The Sabre preamp schematic has been on the web for awhile now. I've built them for various basses including the bright switch and the sound is fantastic.

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    couldnt agree more paul, i have put a series resistor with the cap on the bright switch to tame it a little, but this is on the guitar (sabre 11). it can produce so many useable tones, except when the bright switch is engaged, and hence resistor

    as a guitarist, that preamp will drive an amp hard ad get some really cool tones....

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    you can change the bright switch capacitor to make it less shrilly. the schematic says its a 1n8 but you can try out different caps like 3n3, 4n7, 6n8. the 1n8 cap is way too bright

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