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Is your SG bass too muddy? Solution thread. Add your input.

#1 User is offline   Lungimsam 

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 03:01 PM

I have been in pursuit of clarity and definition and power in my muddy, boomy, and lifeless SG bass. Pickup adjustments have not helped at all.
There have been a few scattered threads where I discussed mods, so I thought I would encapsulate my mods under this better title so that others can benefit from de-mudding their SG basses if they are having the same problems I am having.

Here is what I have done, in sum, so far. Please feel free to add your experiences and mods if you have tried to tweak your sound so others can benefit from our experiences.

1. I have changed the cap to a .05 - not much help.

2. Changed the 3 pots to 1MEG - not much help. However; it really widened the audio sweep of the tone knob. The original Gibson pot had almost no recognizeable sweep.

3. I have just had temporarily installed (no routing) a Fender pbass pickup into the empty neck pickup pocket as a trial (rewired pole-pieces to act like blades because of the different string spacing).
It definitely has eliminated the lack of power problem I was having with the SG neck pickup. It is very responsive and powerful sounding now. Not like a dead rubber band anymore. When the original SG pickup was in the bass, I had to turn up the amps alot to get the bass on a par with the Pbasses, and it still sounded like a rubberband. So that issue is solved.

It has also brightened it up alot! Much more clarity and definition now. The bass sounds like it can breathe now instead of sounding muffled.

The only thing is that it is still boomy, but that can be EQ'ed out at the amp, by turning down the low end. I guess it is boomy because of the SG's pickup position being at the neck position, rather than in the middle, like a Pbass.
Seems to be a worthwhile mod. Only trouble is that there is a big drop out of volume on the low E string because the pole pieces don't reach over that far to be under that string. I would have to route it in order to spread the pickup wide enough apart to get the pole piece over enough to be under the string. But then, it won't fit under the cover.
So I was thinking that maybe a Fender Mustang pickup would fit in there. The string spacing is narrower, I believe, on Mustangs than the Pbasses. So that pickup might fit in there and still be able to line up under the strings correctly. I will have to check that out. I don't want to have to route the wood.

I have not tried a hipshot bridge yet, as others have recommended. I have heard they change the clarity and tone.

#2 User is offline   Kelvinator 

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 10:17 AM

A while back I bought a Squire Vintage Modified P bass for a project bass. It came with the the muddiest neck pup imaginable; this thing made an EBO with dead strings and the tone turned down sound bright in comparison! I took the pickup apart and silicon-glued a EMG Select Series passive humbucker onto the cover, then soldered the base plate & cover back together. (I did have to clip the mounting ears off the EMG to fit it in, but the Gibson cover is much wider than the Fender.) Anyway, the bass now sounds very good and of course much much brighter. I don't know if an EMG would sound better than the TB+ plus that's in the SG, but it would be fairly easy to try without hurting anything. Select Series pups are cheap (Less than $30 @ Stew-Mac) and you shouldn't have a string spacing problem.

$260.00 Fender Squire Vintage Modified P Bass: EMG HB neck pup under cover, added EMG HB mid-position, Hipshot bridge, 2 Vol controls, wide open tone:

I've been very happy with the sound of my SG, even using just the neck pup, but I use .045 -.105 DR Low Rider round-wounds. I've tried using Flats on it and just didn't like the sound at all - very dull and thuddy with almost no harmonics (IMHO). With round-wounds I can get just about any sound I want just by pup selection and adjusting the tone on the bass or EQ on the amp. Highs are easy to cut, but impossible to add if the strings won't produce them in the first place. I can get some great sounds out of the SG, but it will never sound like a P bass - and I wouldn't want it to.....

#3 User is offline   bassballs 

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 07:48 AM

View PostKelvinator, on 07 January 2012 - 10:17 AM, said:

I've been very happy with the sound of my SG, even using just the neck pup, but I use .045 -.105 DR Low Rider round-wounds. I've tried using Flats on it and just didn't like the sound at all - very dull and thuddy with almost no harmonics (IMHO). With round-wounds I can get just about any sound I want just by pup selection and adjusting the tone on the bass or EQ on the amp. Highs are easy to cut, but impossible to add if the strings won't produce them in the first place. I can get some great sounds out of the SG, but it will never sound like a P bass - and I wouldn't want it to.....


I am also very happy with the sound of my 2010 SG Bass, I use Labella flats extra light gauge. I also have a 1968 EB-2 with the original mudbucker pickup and I was kind of disapointed that the SG was so bright so I put flats on it and turns the tone down to 3 to get the muddy sound I like from the neck pickup. I am also very happy with the bridge pickup sound especially when I want the overdriven valve distortion, it has a very sharp attack that really can make my amp growl. You can hear the SG Bass on all of these tunes (some is in danish but you can hear the SG Bass sound [rolleyes] Link to some tracks played on my SG Bass this is just some recordings we did in our rehersal room so it is not a pro recording [blush]

The output of my SG is very hot, It plays just as loud as my Tobias Growler with 18volt electronics so I can switch between the two basses without change of settings on the amp. I use a Gallien Krueger 800RB amp all tonecontrols set to 12 o'clock and a Tech21 VT Bass Deluxe to get the overdriven valve sound.
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#4 User is offline   Kelvinator 

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 09:28 AM

View Postbassballs, on 08 January 2012 - 07:48 AM, said:

I am also very happy with the sound of my 2010 SG Bass, I use Labella flats extra light gauge. I also have a 1968 EB-2 with the original mudbucker pickup and I was kind of disapointed that the SG was so bright so I put flats on it and turns the tone down to 3 to get the muddy sound I like from the neck pickup. I am also very happy with the bridge pickup sound especially when I want the overdriven valve distortion, it has a very sharp attack that really can make my amp growl. You can hear the SG Bass on all of these tunes (some is in danish but you can hear the SG Bass sound [rolleyes] Link to some tracks played on my SG Bass this is just some recordings we did in our rehersal room so it is not a pro recording [blush]

The output of my SG is very hot, It plays just as loud as my Tobias Growler with 18volt electronics so I can switch between the two basses without change of settings on the amp. I use a Gallien Krueger 800RB amp all tonecontrols set to 12 o'clock and a Tech21 VT Bass Deluxe to get the overdriven valve sound.



Hey Bassballs - that SG sounds good in Danish too! Great overdriven sound. [thumbup]

#5 User is offline   69tele 

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 07:53 AM

I'm happy with the low down deep tone on my stock SG bass, if I need bright I just switch to my jazz bass.
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#6 User is offline   Lungimsam 

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 07:14 PM

Dark Star and Dimarzio One trials to come.

#7 User is offline   Bassilisk 

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 09:50 PM

View PostLungimsam, on 15 January 2012 - 07:14 PM, said:

Dark Star and Dimarzio One trials to come.


I would suggest that, unless you are totally in love with the SG as a bass (playability, comfort, weight) you're in for a series of fixes that will not be inexpensive and will totally change the character of what the bass is designed to do. Once you do that whatever value there is will diminish.

If you've already dropped a P pickup in, the Model One will not be a huge departure. I did that to my '76 EB3. Eventually I put the origial mudbucker back because that was how it was supposed to sound, and it did that admirably. It never sounded as good as my P or J basses, but they never sounded like it did when I restored it.

The DS will be similar - a much broader frequency response for sure. Nothing like what it does now.

Personally, I would sell this one and just get a bass that's exactly how you want it to be without reducing the value of the one you have with more mods, never mind the expenditure of buying extra pickups etc. Clearly it's not doing what you want. I would just get something that does. Not every instrument suits every need. To use an extreme example - an EB3 will never be a Rickenbacker, not matter what.

My 2 cents.
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#8 User is offline   Lungimsam 

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 11:01 PM

Check this out. The Curtis Novak EB-AA FatBucker pup. Designed by Novak and a bassist who was having the same probs out of his neck pup as I am having with mine. I think I will put this pup in my bass since I have actually heard it and sounds like it solves the problem. Sounds wide open.



#9 User is offline   Lungimsam 

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 11:09 PM

Here is the link at the Novak site:

http://curtisnovak.c...ups/EB-AA.shtml

#10 User is offline   Grog 

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 03:51 PM

Is the SG bass pickup cavity as deep as one of the original EB-0/EB-3 cavities? You might need to get it routed out a bit............. I can measure one of mine if need be...........

#11 User is offline   Kelvinator 

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 11:46 AM

View PostLungimsam, on 15 January 2012 - 07:14 PM, said:

Dark Star and Dimarzio One trials to come.



Here are some more options for you: custom made or rewind. This guy will build or rewind a pup for you and takes into consideration all aspects of your instrument and the sound you want out of it.

http://www.skguitar..../sk/pickups.htm

You have to read his no BS rules - entertaining! In fact everything he's written here is blunt, to the point, and makes a lot of sense.

#12 User is offline   Lungimsam 

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:22 PM

View PostGrog, on 16 January 2012 - 03:51 PM, said:

Is the SG bass pickup cavity as deep as one of the original EB-0/EB-3 cavities? You might need to get it routed out a bit............. I can measure one of mine if need be...........

Don't know if the cavity is as deep, but the Novac pup is definitely much deeper than the SG Bass Pup. So, if you have the free time and its not too much trouble, measurements would be useful for the depth.

#13 User is offline   Lungimsam 

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:24 PM

View PostKelvinator, on 19 January 2012 - 11:46 AM, said:

Here are some more options for you: custom made or rewind. This guy will build or rewind a pup for you and takes into consideration all aspects of your instrument and the sound you want out of it.

http://www.skguitar..../sk/pickups.htm

You have to read his no BS rules - entertaining! In fact everything he's written here is blunt, to the point, and makes a lot of sense.

Thanks for the link. Definitely sounds like a direct and to the point guy.

#14 User is offline   Lungimsam 

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:26 PM

View PostBassilisk, on 15 January 2012 - 09:50 PM, said:

I would suggest that, unless you are totally in love with the SG as a bass (playability, comfort, weight) you're in for a series of fixes that will not be inexpensive and will totally change the character of what the bass is designed to do. Once you do that whatever value there is will diminish.

If you've already dropped a P pickup in, the Model One will not be a huge departure. I did that to my '76 EB3. Eventually I put the origial mudbucker back because that was how it was supposed to sound, and it did that admirably. It never sounded as good as my P or J basses, but they never sounded like it did when I restored it.

The DS will be similar - a much broader frequency response for sure. Nothing like what it does now.

Personally, I would sell this one and just get a bass that's exactly how you want it to be without reducing the value of the one you have with more mods, never mind the expenditure of buying extra pickups etc. Clearly it's not doing what you want. I would just get something that does. Not every instrument suits every need. To use an extreme example - an EB3 will never be a Rickenbacker, not matter what.

My 2 cents.

Thanks for the Dimarzio and Dark Star reviews and the advice. I appreciate your thoughts.

#15 User is offline   Grog 

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 01:51 PM

View PostLungimsam, on 01 March 2012 - 03:22 PM, said:

Don't know if the cavity is as deep, but the Novac pup is definitely much deeper than the SG Bass Pup. So, if you have the free time and its not too much trouble, measurements would be useful for the depth.


The depth is .850, a piece of foam was under the pickup also.

Posted Image

#16 User is offline   Lungimsam 

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 10:11 AM

Thanks Grog! I appreciate it alot. Nice pic, too!
Is that original, or a refin? It looks great. No checking a all.

Getting the Novak FatBucker put in this week, and the pup is a direct drop in replacement for EB basses. Mine is an SG, and the SG pup is not as tall as the Mud and Fatbuckers.

Novak:

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SG Bass Pup:
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#17 User is offline   Kelvinator 

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 11:01 AM

View PostLungimsam, on 04 March 2012 - 10:11 AM, said:

Thanks Grog! I appreciate it alot. Nice pic, too!

Getting the Novak FatBucker put in this week, and the pup is a direct drop in replacement for EB basses. Mine is an SG, and the SG pup is not as tall as the Mud and Fatbuckers.



I hope that does the trick - let us know how she sounds!

#18 User is offline   martinh 

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:27 PM

One very cheap mod that may help is to put a series capacitor in line with the pickup. The is the way that Rickenbackers get the very bright tone of their bridge pickup, they have a 0.47 uFd capacitor in series with the pickup. That value might be a bit low (e.g too much bass cut) for what you're looking for, but maybe a 1uF in series would be a start. It will appear to cut the output a little, but in my experience the EB's are pretty hot to begin with.

#19 User is offline   herb nice 

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:59 PM

Hey Lungimsam, how did that Novak mudbucker work out for you? Did you have to remove any wood? I sometimes dream of putting something more mudbucker-like in the neck to get me closer to the clash's guns of brixton... Rumour is that's an old epiphone rivoli on the record.

As for the mud topic, I replaced my sg bass bridge PU with an SGD lutherie custom job, which dropped right in. My bass sounds so much better, it is unbelievable. Dave took a while to wind it up, but it was definitely worth the wait. I wired it up with a series/parallel switch, which i stuffed in the cavity, as it tends to stay on the warmer of the two settings.

I used to have to keep the stock bridge PU rolled back under 7 or it would eat the signal, and overdrive or blend in a bit of fuzz to get a nice wooly tone with any sort of bite. Now i just crank the knobs to 10,9,10 and it sounds f'n sweet clean. It has a crapload more presence, way ballsier and growlier than before- notes are more defined. Mostly playing fingerstyle with old TI flats. Oddly, I find I have less presence with this setup when I play with a pick.

I gigged the sg bass on friday, kicked on my beautiful blended fuzz at the beginning of a song and then kicked it back off immediately after the intro as I was loving the clean tone so much- the fuzz wasn't needed to make things right any more. On the recording, I can hardly even notice the difference. :)

#20 User is offline   Kelvinator 

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 02:50 PM

View Postherb nice, on 25 March 2012 - 01:59 PM, said:

Hey Lungimsam, how did that Novak mudbucker work out for you? Did you have to remove any wood? I sometimes dream of putting something more mudbucker-like in the neck to get me closer to the clash's guns of brixton... Rumour is that's an old epiphone rivoli on the record.

As for the mud topic, I replaced my sg bass bridge PU with an SGD lutherie custom job, which dropped right in. My bass sounds so much better, it is unbelievable. Dave took a while to wind it up, but it was definitely worth the wait. I wired it up with a series/parallel switch, which i stuffed in the cavity, as it tends to stay on the warmer of the two settings.

I used to have to keep the stock bridge PU rolled back under 7 or it would eat the signal, and overdrive or blend in a bit of fuzz to get a nice wooly tone with any sort of bite. Now i just crank the knobs to 10,9,10 and it sounds f'n sweet clean. It has a crapload more presence, way ballsier and growlier than before- notes are more defined. Mostly playing fingerstyle with old TI flats. Oddly, I find I have less presence with this setup when I play with a pick.

I gigged the sg bass on friday, kicked on my beautiful blended fuzz at the beginning of a song and then kicked it back off immediately after the intro as I was loving the clean tone so much- the fuzz wasn't needed to make things right any more. On the recording, I can hardly even notice the difference. :)


Do you have a link or contact info for the luthier who wound your pup for you?

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