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New Pre-amp (john East) For My Zon Sonus!

Discussion in 'Bass Pickups & Electronics' started by DiMarco, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    The other awesome five string I own besides the Warwick Dolphin, my 1994 Zon Sonus 5, has custom wound (Zon specs) Bartolini pickups and a two band Bartolini pre-amp. The two stacked pots to control this beast are vol/vol and bass/treb.

    The old pre-amp however while sounding lovely - has a problem. When using this bass in combination with effect pedals (dis)engaging any pedal will come with a very loud pop. When playing live of course this is a problem, so I decided to upgrade my Zon.

    My considerations in selecting a pre-amp that is fit for what I need are these:

    • Be three band with a mid sweep function
    • Have a vol/bal stacked pot instead of vol/vol
    • Have a passive tone control as well for those times I want to be James Jamerson (the Zon does an excellent P-bass tone but sounds much brighter due to its carbon neck)
    I have previously owned a bass with a John East Marcus Retro1 pre in it which was really really good so I wound up checking John's current line of products thinking "hell this stuff is pricy, but we're talking Zon here not Squier". Only the best will do.

    Today the package arrived, see photo below.

    east.jpg

    In this thread I will post updates on building it into the Zon, and maybe add a video later on to show yous how it works and sounds. No soldering is required but I will have to drill some extra holes in my Zon bass.

    This here is the bass in question: View attachment 18203

    More soon!™
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  2. jester

    jester Moderator Moderator

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    Congrats on the new acquisition, it's always a nice touch for the builder to send a handwritten thank you note. Can't wait for clips/videos. :)
     
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  3. Nightmaresandconclusions

    Nightmaresandconclusions

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    You are going to love this pre. I put this into my Stage 1, Massive upgrade over the mec and any other pre I have ever owned.

    My tech had a mission getting it to fit into my Warwick as I wanted to keep the USB rechargeable battery. It was super tight but we got it in with no mods to the bass.

    Pricey but sometimes only the best will do. I have this with passive Delano dual coils in My stage 1 and it is the best combo/tone I have ever had.

    Rave! rave! rave!! hahaha
     
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  4. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    So here we have the Zon as it was this morning. Two not-so-elegant looking stacked pots controlling bass/treb and vol/vol.

    01---before.jpg


    First I spent some time checking if it was possible to use a 4 knob layout that Zon themselves frequently use.
    Of course the pre-amp parts in the cavity on the back had to fit to make this work. Luckily they did so this here was the layout we were going for.

    02---layout-knobs.jpg


    The old pre-amp and pots still sitting comfy...

    03---old-preamp-and-pots.jpg


    But not for long. I simply cut everything out without any hesitation.

    04---everything-removed.jpg


    I Used a simple piece of wood to determine where to drill the first hole. Measuring using the stick gave me the option to mark the spot on both sides of the bass.

    05---finding-the-middle-knob.jpg


    Lacquer crackled a little from drilling but the knobs will cover this up nicely. No biggie!

    06---holes-are-drilled.jpg


    And there we are. Knobs being knobby and wonderful. Awesomes!

    07---look-how-purdy.jpg


    The new pre takes up quite a lot more space then the old one. It has a controllable 'bass window' with an upper and lower frequency you can adjust.
    Also the treble frequency is controllable using the pots on the inside. Two trim pots manage the gain coming into the pre from the pickups.
    You can use a jumper to have the pre operate completely flat or have a slight 'smiley EQ' when the pots on the front of the bass are centered.
    LOTS of options here. I decided to leave everything at factory settings for now until I have used the Zon a couple of times at rehearsal or gigs.

    08---crammed-space.jpg


    Doesn't the bass look sexier then before?

    09---wow-sexy.jpg


    I think it does!

    Layout is now:
    • Front stacked knob: Volume, balance (bal works in reverse, one of the pickups has a very short wire and I had to reverse the order)
    • Top middle stacked knob: Treble, Bass. Pull for extra bright (bump up at 10khz)
    • Bottom middle stacked knob: Mid volume, mid freq
    • Rear knob: Passive tone. Works on top of the active tone stack. Pull for full passive mode
    10---srsly.jpg
     
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  5. jester

    jester Moderator Moderator

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    Nice work Marco. I would opt for something like a four in line layout but perhaps it was not feasible with your cavity/preamp. Also I learned the hard way that in order to not damage lacquer or a fancy top you have to drill from the outside in, using drill bits of increasing diameter. I wonder how that bass sounds now. :)
     
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  6. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Four in line wasn't an option, nor was a diamond shape layout like the one Warwick uses. All because of the two holes already in place.
    After googling up some images of other Zon basses this layout appears to be used quite often.
    I wanted the passive tone in the back so there wouldn't be a line of stacked pots and then one smaller knob underneath.

    Just played it through my Phil Jones combo and oh boy.... It can sound more Marcus Miller then the Marcus Miller signature does. Wow!
    Lots of tones to explore. Really nice I can now use the bridge pickup solo as I can dial in enough lows to make it still sound like a bass with that.
     
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  7. jester

    jester Moderator Moderator

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    Yes, looking at the pics more carefully it is clear it was not an option. Glad you like the new pre. And to think you haven't tweaked anything yet.
     
  8. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    This bass is now completely ridiculous. Recording some later on, maybe make it a review.
    Being a Sonus, its tone is ultra clean with a lot of punch.
    Adding a pre that can tame its clarity (which in some cases was too much) makes it a force to be reckoned with.
    Been switching between the Warwick and this Zon today between different amplifiers. Both are completely awesome but very different beasties.
    I love playing both these basses! But the slap tone on the Zon is out of this world and it clearly beats Warwick there. Exactly what I needed.
     
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  9. jester

    jester Moderator Moderator

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    Its pickup positioning, especially neck, should play a major role in good slap tone. But I would guess the neck pickup gets in the way while popping, is it something you can easily work around? (I 've had this kind of experience on one of my Corvettes, being an oldie and a bit weird, it has the neck J a bit closer to the neck, just enough to start being annoying)
     
  10. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    One inch between neck and pickup is already enough. One slaps at the end of the neck and pops directly behind it.

    Only bass where this is a problem so far is the Ric v63, and any of those shortscale Gibson SG model basses.
     
  11. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Jack output died earlier this week. Replaced it with a gold color one I had previously purchased for one of my Warwick basses but never used.

    So yesterday I took the Zon for a spin in the rehearsal room, along with the Dolphin Pro1. I ended up using the Dolphin all night because the new Zon pre clearly needed some tweaking. Today I:
    • Set the bass dial to the "boost only" mode as this makes it boost perfectly in center position. I never ever cut lows with an active pre.
    • Lowered the bottom and top frequencies of the bass dial. The standard bass "window" is set up for a 4 string. I haz low B. Window is now 30hz up to around 80hz. The rest can be done using the mid dial, which ranges from 100Hz - 2500Hz depending on how you set it.
    • Raised the treble shelving frequency to around 7kHz, the frequency at which the Zon's natural treble range seems to be. At this frequency the treble dial has its maximal effect on this particular bass. I can dial in some more freshness instead of harsh higher mids now.
    • Changed the pre jumper from flat response to pre-shape mode which gives it a gentle lift of +4dBs at 40Hz and 10kHz, The Zon can really use this as it hasn't got a lot of low or high end by itself and sounds rather middy. This gives the instrument some more oompfh at neutral EQ settings making it better usable when completely set neutral, offering me a better starting point to shape my tone from.
    This pre-amp is very flexible and really works great for me so far!
     
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  12. jester

    jester Moderator Moderator

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    Good stuff man.
     
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