Friday, December 26, 2014

Can The Blue Input Captain Micro-Transformer Be Used As An Electric Bass Guitar Pickup?

Even though the last time I saw it being done was back in 1989, can the blue input captain micro-transformer be used as an electric bass guitar pickup?

By: Ringo Bones

Blue input captain micro-transformers, as they are known by their “trade-name” here in Cebu, Philippines, are usually more synonymous with tweaking the AN214 integrated circuit audio amplifier than being used in the musical performance field. But those fortunate enough – and old enough – to had experienced this “black-art” back around 1989 to 1992, can the blue input captain micro-transformers be used – if they even work at all – as an electric bass guitar pickup?

Even though I’ve only seen it actually done less than five times as a “secret electric bass guitar tweak” back in 1989, using some balanced-unbalanced blue-color-coded microphone transformers intended for impedance matching of either balanced and unbalanced microphones to be used in ether balanced or unbalanced circuits – as they are properly known – does indeed work as an electric bass guitar pickup. Even though orientation to optimize for the loudest bass signal is about as tricky as fixing a P-90 type electric guitar pickup with faded polarity and terminal indicators, it did manage to generate a very strong bass signal with a bit too much sub-sonic / infrasound harmonics that it necessitated the placing of a 0.1-microfarad 50-volt Mylar capacitor in series with its output terminals in order to filter out the excess sub-sonic / infrasonic garbage from overloading the cones of your electric bass amplifier’s loudspeaker. Note that those tiny red dots on the bobbin of the blue input captain micro-transformers are polarity indicators.

The resulting tone – using a late 1970s early 1980s Japanese made Fender bass copy – is reminiscent that of the hair metal band Poison’s bass player Bobby Dall’s tone during the Flesh and Blood and Swallow This Live period of the band. Even though this “characterless 1980s era synthesizer keyboard like bass tones” is not going to be of everyone’s taste, it does make an interesting tweak to one’s “auxiliary electric bass guitar” to those wanting to sound like Poison’s bass player Bobby Dall during the hair metal band’s Flesh and Blood and Swallow This Live period or those currently working in a Poison tribute band wanting for some more “tonal authenticity”.


  1. I have "vague" memories about blue input captain micro-transformers being used as an electric bass guitar pickups back in 1995. Sadly, it doesn't sound as good as a 1989 era Alembic electric bass guitar playing Operation Mindcrime era Queensr├┐che songs. Though I still rate Poison's Bobby Dall as one of the best bassists out there.

  2. I would definitely like to hear a working example of blue input captain micro-transformers being used as electric bass guitar pickups playing Poison's Flesh and Blood or Unskinny Bop.

  3. Sadly, I too was forced to sell my blue input captain micro-transformer modified late 1970s era Japanese made Fender bass guitar replica when former US President George W. Bush ruined the global economy with his malfeasance riddled global War on Terror.

  4. I have "hazy" memories about my grandfather setting up a DIY blue input captain electric bass guitar pickups back in 1989. What I remembered most is that these types of pickups only produce adequate volumes on thick strings with lots of metal - i.e. electric bass guitar strings with high nickel-iron content and strong magnetic interaction. Smaller-gauged electric guitar strings produces a "softer" squeak through blue input captain electric bass guitar pickups. I wonder if newer circa 2013 Ernie Ball Cobalt Electric Guitar Strings will play louder through them.