Pickups for Stream Bass

Well, the Stream 1004 on order was supposed to ship last week, but is now pushed to January. If I knew which boat had the container I would drive down to Long Beach and get it myself.

So I am on the horns of a dilemma. On my stream 204, do I

1- stick with the ESP entry level humbuckers

2- upgrade to EMG P4 and J4 pickups, which is what the 1004 has

3- upgrade to EMG TWX pickups, which would give a lot of tonal options as they can switch between humbucker or single coil Jazz mode

4- remember my GB4 which failed? I could put the Duncan pickups it has in and get that sound finally

5- eff it and buy a 1005 which is in stock


We can see you’re dying to get it, @Wombat-metal . . . :slight_smile:

After delays, and after pining away for it, it’s tempting to say “eff it” and just get something because it’s in stock and you can.

BUT . . . fwiw, I would seriously say to hold out for EXACTLY what you want . . . you’ll always be haunted if you don’t. :wink:

Cheers and hope your dream bass gets here soon!



6 - cancel and buy one of these?

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Yeah, I looked there. I don’t want to put it on a credit card with interest. It will be a couple weeks before I get the cash. Perhaps waiting two weeks isn’t a bad thing.

This and the Surveyor had two shipping dates in September which were missed. Two more in October, and three in November. Now January. It’s getting tiresome


It’s the way of our pandemic world now and going to get much worse before it gets better sadly.

I had to go all the way to Japan for my next one :wink:

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I’m unsatisfied with my active hardware too I miss my Hamer…

Have you considered passive? Would it be +/- I just learned that for how frequently I play I’m bound to sukk these 9ers every 4 days. I don’t have that kind of budget!

Is there a hack?

Ebm7: sukk them ‘dry’ (9v’s)

Here’s the plan. I’ve ordered an EMG 35P4X and 35JX pickups, along with a BTC EQ. This is the same setup as an ESP E-II Stream, and I like PJs.

Tomorrow I will decide if I want to just outright cancel the 1004, or cancel it and order a GB4, which is in stock. And that along with the EMG gear is still less than the 1004, which will show up used someday.


Instead of getting new pups why don’t you just invest in a good preamp pedal? I never really understood the urge to swap out pups myself so I am just curious. If I want a certain tone I get much more use out of my external preamp and for passive I can boost the signal.

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Yeah - frankly, bass tone itself is really an overrated issue, in my experience. There’s so many ways to change it later that don’t involve modifying the bass. Preamps and EQ if playing live, or even more in the DAW. I happen to love the tone on my current basses, but I quit worrying about this a long time ago, to the point that even looks are more important to me than the dry tone of the bass, because that dry tone never makes it to anyone’s ears.


@howard , that makes total sense, if you have quality basses like your yammies, or @Wombat-metal’s streams.

However, the pups in something like my P-clone is another matter entirely, especially as I was going for the SH sound. Ditto in my Peavey JJ, which sounds good, but is noisy AF. Im putting in split coil pups in it tonight.

Thats my long winded way of saying that I don’t see the value in pup swaps in mid to higher tier basses, but they make a lot of difference in the… ekhm… Bottom end.

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Pre amp pedal? And then no more 9ers?

Yeah, true, it assumes that the pickups are actually at a certain minimum quality bar for things like noise.

But even lacklustre tone, or slightly different tone than you were looking for in the pickups is fixable to a greater extent than people realize. And output level is the easiest thing to fix of all of course.

Active basses are great for this themselves as well. Having an EQ on the bass is really nice. As long as it is 3-band, anyway. 2-band are more of a blunt instrument. But you can get a lot of tonal variance with a 3-band EQ, even before more serious EQ work.

I’ll thow in that I really like a passive bass with individual tone pots per pickup as well.

I have a three band amp with a mid level sweep on my pedal board; all my pedal board consists of is a tuner, a compressor, and an EQ. I will be adding a synth pedal but I don’t see expanding it greatly.

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Sorry I don’t understand what you mean.

I do think the core tone of the pickup that is coming out of the bass (pickups and strings) does matter, at least to me. EQ can boost or cut various parts of that core tone, but cannot change the core tone that is the fundamental base. Sure, you can get close, but for my ears at least, it doesn’t do it all. All that said, I really do like finding that fundamental tone color from the a bass then dialing in things, so I may overcomplicate it, but its fun for me.


You can absolutely get great tonal improvements by upgrading things like pickups; I’m just saying it’s pretty surprising how much you can do without doing that :slight_smile:

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Lol sorry I was pretty tired and I think I just started calling them 9ers without telling anyone… Ahem…

If I get a pre amp pedal for my bass, I would no longer require 9v batteries for the pickups?

Or did I misunderstand?


That depends on your bass. Some basses that require batteries have active pickups. Most don’t, most have passive pickups and an active preamp. Some of the basses with passive pickups and an active preamp have a switch that allows them to become purely passive; in that case you can do without the battery.

But if your bass doesn’t have an active/passive switch, or it has active pickups, you will always need the battery.

The external preamp pedal has nothing to do with this. It’s a nice way to modify the tone of your bass in a pedal.

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What @howard said! My point was that you could also invest in an external preamp if you want to enhance your tone. For example Sadowsky, Darkglass or Tech21 preamps are really nice. The reason I mention Sadowsky is that they actually sell the preamp that is normally built into a Sadowsky bass. The big pro of having something external is that you can use it for other/future basses too.

Yeah, if you run your bass straight into an amp or DI it also makes more sense to invest in better pups/electronics. That said my son has a P bass that was about 80-90 euros and to my ears the picks-ups are even fine on that. I’m not arguing about what is best. I’m just interested to hear why people upgrade pups and you already gave a good explanation why you would do it.


I have done quite a bit of pickup upgrading, all on Fender products (and my ESP LTD Frank Bello bass).
In general, I find the ‘stock’ Fender pickups rather lacking.
I will say the P pickup that came with the Vintera (MIM) was decent.

The only Fender pickups that I like are the Custom Shop higher end ones you can buy (I put the 60s jazz in my Squier with great great results.

I swapped the EMG Bello bass passive pickups with the Bello active set. The passives it came with lacked a lot of ‘ooomph’ for me and were hard to dial into anything. The actives are a lot better.

I have also put in the Les Claypool EMG gold pickups, but this was primarily for cosmetic reasons on a red/gold mod I did. I am not crazy about them yet as I don’t like the string/pickup bridge combo at the moment so trying different strings first.

I have put EMG Geezers in an Aerodyne PJ to get, well, that Geezer tone.

I put a set of SIMs SuperQuads in a very cheap Ray4 - I really wanted to test these pickups out and ultimately have them end up in a custom build. So I got a second hand Ray4 and modded it to a ‘testbed’ bass for pickups and preamps. I like the SIMs a lot and decided to leave them there until I figure out the custom build.

I have found that I really like Fralin pickups, and they are amazing to work with and just great guys there. If you discuss with them the tone you are looking for, they can help you dial in the pickup options.
To date…

  1. P 5% overwound pickup in my Fender HMT which is a P/Piezo combo bass (replaced a really wimpy Lace pickup that came with it originally).
  2. P/J set in another Aerodyne, which is now the bass I pick up the most and use for lesson work, etc.
  3. Split coil jazz set in my Squier fretless - I love these and will be getting another set for a Aerodyne J I have.

Pickups I have not touched:
Lakland 55-02, Gretch Hollowbody, Hofner Ignition, MM Stingray Special, Fender CS '61 P.
Why? - They all sound exactly like they should to me as is and/or bought them for the tone they had vs. the bass it was to mod.