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Thread: '86 Sabre with extremely low output

  1. #1

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    '86 Sabre with extremely low output

    So, some time back I acquired another Sabre: Beautiful transparent red body with poly finished maple neck. A combination I've always wanted. However, while the natural unamplified sound of this bass is really nice, the electric output does not meet my expectations. The level is much lower than any of my other MM/EBMMs, and even when levelled to the same loudness this bass sounds noticably thinner and lifeless.

    I am fully aware that there are some differences in volume from instrument to instrument, but all of my MMs and EBMMs are at least in the same ballpark. Those differences can always be levelled with small adjustments of the volume pot on the instruments, and there are generally no major differences in how full and alive the instrument sounds.

    Naturally, I expected a problem with the preamp and I took this '86 and my '87 Sabre as "known good" example to a luthier. He didn't find any problem with the preamp and stated "there's no difference, except that one is much lower in volume and there's not a lot I can do about that". But luckily, our guitar player, who is a studied sound electronics engineer, offered to measure and compare the preamps of my basses at his office. He came to the conclusion: The two preamps are working the same, but the pickup output of the '86 is considerably lower! And this is for both pickups.

    With that information, I did another check (which didn't occur to me before), and ran both basses without a battery thus eliminating amplification. And indeed, the '86 has much output. I didn't have a proper level meter, but it's somewhere between 10dB and 15dB difference, even with the pickups moved as close as possible to the strings.

    Now my question is: What could be the reason that the pickup output of that particular bass is so low and thin? And how could that happen to both pickups?

    I know that you fully cannot diagnose my bass without actually having it in fron of you, but I've already tried to work with a technician and am running out of ideas. So, suggestions are welcome. Thanks!


    And because no pic, no bass, here she is:

    Have bass. Will play.
    Looking for Sessions in Switzerland. Area: Züri/Winti/Rappi


    Music Man Collection Essentials
    MarkBass F1, SansAmp RBI, MarkBass Standard 104HR; MoMark (T1M/42S/MVV)@500, NY604; Minimark
    Holding down the bottom end for Redsteam

  2. #2

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    Firstly what a beautiful bass - where do you find these things, Oli!! That colour will probably mean an alder body also - mellow and smooth!

    Quote Originally Posted by oli@bass View Post
    the pickup output of the '86 is considerably lower! And this is for both pickups.

    With that information, I did another check (which didn't occur to me before), and ran both basses without a battery thus eliminating amplification. And indeed, the '86 has much output. I didn't have a proper level meter, but it's somewhere between 10dB and 15dB difference, even with the pickups moved as close as possible to the strings.
    Perhaps the pick ups got de-magnetised somehow - I always worry (not sure whether unnnecessarily) about leaving my basses propped up against a speaker cabinet but maybe this has been left like that for years on end in the past? You never know with old instruments and that's over 25 years old so who knows? Just a thought. Not sure whether the pick ups could be re-built and perhaps re-wound? At least now you know the source of the fault maybe a luthier could advise (or maybe EBMM could suggest a fix).
    2018 SR5HHS Cruz Teal - roasted/ebony
    2018 SR4HHS Aqua sparkle - roasted/ebony
    2016 SR4H 40th Anni Old Smoothie - Chocolate burst - maple
    2014 Neptune Blue Classic Sabre - roasted/maple, mahogany body
    2010 SR4 classic coral red/birdseye/maple with Flatwounds
    2008 Bongo 5HHp lava pearl/RW
    2007 SR4HH Blue Dawn LE/RW
    2003 SR5H Natural/maple
    2003 SR4H Natural/RW
    2003 US Sub 5H White/RW
    1993 SR4 Fretless Sunburst - birdseye maple/Pau Ferro
    1993 SR4 blueburst - flamed maple/maple

  3. #3

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    Oli, sorry I can't help you out with advice but what a stunning instrument! Trans Red... loving it!

    86 Sabre Nat
    87 TR
    87 Sun
    87 SR5 proto Peach
    88 Peach
    88 Sabre Peach
    88 Sabre Sun
    89 Blub
    89 SR5 Peach
    89 Sun
    89 SR5 TR
    90 Blub
    90 V Sun
    90 TR
    90 SR5 TR
    92 Sun
    92 V Sun
    94 Sterl Sun
    98 Sher G MHS
    00 SR5 Mtl Flake G MHS
    02 Gun Silv MHS
    03 SR5 Wh
    07 TR
    09 25th 5 HSS
    09 Class Surf G
    09 Class Fiesta Red MHS
    10 Class SR5 Blk x2
    16 Big Al 5 SSS Vint Tob PDN MHS
    17 Old Sm Choc B x2
    17 30th SR5 RW
    17 30th SR5 M
    18 SR5S Vint Tob
    18 SR5S Aqua Sp

  4. #4

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    Wow! You're a lucky man, that's one stunning bass! I hope you figure out what's wrong with it
    TERAMAZE
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  5. #5

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    I had the same problem with my '88 SR4 FL. Volume was not comparable to my newer basses. The solution for me was, I bought a Markbass Compressore. The compressor solved the lower output of the "older" pickups! Thank you Craig Young, it was his suggestion that solved that situation. Try a compressor, see what results you get....... BTW, beautiful bass.
    There is a bass currently at the GC here locally, color looks very similar - they call it "Lipstick Red" but that is a solid color and I see yours is trans.
    Last edited by J Romano; 05-02-2012 at 09:46 PM.
    2012 Bongo 4Hp Sapphire Black
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    DigiTech B200

  6. #6

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    `

    I sent an alnico SR5 to SLO cuz some of the poles had distinctly
    low output. They remagnetized them and all is well. Contact CS.

    Mine was in warrantee, so I don't know the cost for this service.



    `
    S.U.B. SL4 - SR4p FL [x3] - SR4HH FL [Moses neck]
    SL4p FL [x2] - SL4HS FL - SL4HS FL [Moses neck]
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    "Too many basses is never enuf"

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  7. #7

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    Thanks everybody for your input. I'll contact EBMM CS about this. Hopefully this Sabre can be restored!
    Have bass. Will play.
    Looking for Sessions in Switzerland. Area: Züri/Winti/Rappi


    Music Man Collection Essentials
    MarkBass F1, SansAmp RBI, MarkBass Standard 104HR; MoMark (T1M/42S/MVV)@500, NY604; Minimark
    Holding down the bottom end for Redsteam

  8. #8

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    I have one of these that works great... had it for over 20 years! I'm wondering what you mean by lower output though... I'm not a bass technician, but I play a good bit... just not sure what kind of problem yours is having. I literally have this exact bass... red, maple neck, same year etc...

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