Man O’ War is the latest series of bass pickups from Lace Music Products.
The company has been designing pickups since the late '70s. You’re probably familiar with their Lace Sensor pickups found on the iconic Plus series Fender guitars and basses, as well as a few of Eric Clapton’s signature Stratocasters.
There are no exposed magnetic pole pieces on the Man O’ War pickups, and they pack a hot, punchy output into a battery-free passive setup.
I checked out the MM4 4-string bass humbucker pickup and a set of P/J pickups. My “test dummies” were an OLP MM bass and a Fender California Series Precision Bass Special.
The first thing I want to point out is the CD included with printable PDFs of the wiring schematics. This is an absolute game changer. No longer do I have to feel like I’m in a low-budget, made-for-TV movie trying to decide if it’s the green or red wire that defuses the bomb.
The next step was mounting the pickups. I will tip my hat again to the Lace crew for building direct replacements. Absolutely no pickguard mods were needed. Everything fit nice and snug. Lace included some foam and mounting screws, but I chose to keep the original hardware in there.
Along with the great schematics, the pickups were clearly labeled, dated and stamped "Made in the USA." The MM4 is a split-coil design. This means you can wire it up as one humbucker or similar to a Jazz Bass, where you can dial in more or less of the top or bottom pickup or crank them both to act at one humbucker.
After soldering them in, I used 7/64” as a starting point for pickup heights. Like the description says, they’re hot! I set them just a little lower to keep things even with my other basses. The biggest difference was the stock OLP pickup to the Lace MM4. It went from a noisy, cheap bass to a throaty funk machine. The P/J set took my P-bass from more of a classic P-bass sound to an aggressive sound. If your P-bass needs a little more hair on it, this is the pickup.
In each clip below, I start off with the tone rolled back, playing fingerstyle. Then I crank everything up and use a pick to show the more aggressive side of the pickups.
Street Price: MM4 $109.99 P/J set $154.99
You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, but Billy Voight is a gear reviewer, bassist and guitarist from Pennsylvania. He has Hartke bass amps and Walden acoustic guitars to thank for supplying some of the finest gear on his musical journey. Need Billy's help in creating noise for your next project? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.