55-01 new pups - Bart MK5 or Nordstrand?
I'm about to make a move on new pickups for my Lakland 55-01. I have already replaced the preamp with a Demeter BEQP-1 which sounds clean and full, and clearly shows the deficiencies in the stock MK-1s. Incidentally mine has the Tyler mod, with switchable EQ center points on all three bands.
The heart of the post: All you 55-01 modders out there, which was your personal favorite between Bartolini MK5CBCs, Nordstrand Big Singles, Big Splits, and DC5s?
I'm not sure which ones will best match with the Demeter. Tonewise I do enjoy the Bartolini organic, full, natural sound. I also dig some of the things I'm hearing on youtube clips with Nordstrands, that modern warm sound with a bright top. The DC5s seem amazing for their chameleon ability, though I wonder if the giant single coil thing would be more appropriate and also cost-effective (them DC5s ain't cheap! Though ultimately money is no object, tone is utmost.)
The styles I'm playing are mostly funk/r&b/soul and blues, with some jazz sometimes. I would like to be able to extract an aggressive rock sound as well. I'm thinking the Nords would have a more aggressive sound when pushed, while the Barts would tend to want to stay clean?
It seems difficult to find good sound clips for direct comparison on the web. Sure wish the old Basstasters site was still being updated! Here's a couple of youtubes that I've found that seem pertinent though:
Big Singles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YziXggTfWM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjCJ9gavUP4 (love the Carey Nordstrand comments in this one!)
DC5s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AmDZ93UMKg (love the variety of good sounds after he upgrades)
I really like the warm yet clear sound of the Big Singles. I notice that even among the different basses I still hear that characteristic coming through. The only thing that concerns me is single coil hum if I solo a pickup, but I notice that I have hard time finding builders using Big Splits, they seem to mostly use Big Singles and DC5s. Is there a reason the Splits aren't use more? Or am I just not finding them, perhaps.
So, I think from the DC5 video I have a pretty idea of how those might behave compared to Big Singles. Also from what I gather, the Big Splits are 90% of the Singles' tone, but silent when soloed. The mystery for me personally is the Bart MK5s. I'm gathering that these should be in the same personality realm as the MK-1s, but without the harsh highs, and with much improved midrange presence and a tighter bottom end? (the MK-1s are sooo loose in the booty! Such a hyped sound overall to my ears.) Would the Barts be more of a meat-and-potatoes classic supportive tone, as compared to the rather modern-sounding Nords? Or are they closer to each other than that?
Mostly looking for poll votes but as always any replies are appreciated. Apologize for my lengthiness, but I seem to suck at terse posts. Cheers all! :bassist:
Off the poll, I chose the MK5's as that is what I put in mine. Having said that, I've found there is nothing wrong with the MK1's. Replace the preamp (preferably a US Bart 5.2AP) and that will make a world of difference. I also tried the Nordie Big Splits. I did not like them matched to the Bart preamp. In addition, the output was so high I had to turn the gain trim all the way down on the Bart pre. I ended up putting the MK1's back in. Sounds great now. The MK5's weren't bad, just a little more subdued for my taste.
From that list, I voted for MK5's. I have them in my 5501 now. I had Big Splits first but they were way too bright and not middy/bottomy enough. Those would be phenomenal if you want a huge Jazz bass sound, but I want more of a MusicMan type of midrange focused sound...or as close to Geddy's Wal sound as possible and as far away from Geddy's Jazz sound as I can get, which the Big Splits nail...but that's not what I wanted.
That being said, I've got a set of SGD Neo's on order right now to replace the MK5's which have a cleaner, fuller midrange.
I voted big splits, for the same reason mmbongo explained. I like a bright bass tone, you can always EQ more low end and bump your mids. Its hard to overcome a dark sounding pickup with EQ.
I have a set of Reed James NEO MK sized pickups in a custom build. They are absolutely outstanding pickups. I have a hard time recommending SGD's until if/when he gets caught up.
I'm like DWBass about keeping stock pups and upgrade pre. I had the same bass with a setup like that. It smoked with just a Bart pre upgrade. I didn't keep long because I prefer 34" over 35".
Also, I've played a jazz bass with Demeter pre and Bart Pups. Sound real good to me, fat & warm....might not be as aggressive as you want. Dislike....it didn't have active/passive option with the pre.
Nordstrand big singles...
Big splits if you want noiseless when pickups solo'd. DC's are great but I recall switching out the DC's for either for BSingles or BSplits more than once. Bartolini what ones? I don't know there codes as well. If you want a passive option I think you are out of luck with the barts.
Speaking as a Lakland endorser, and as someone who has done the Mod with both the Nordy Duals and the Barts....
It's a matter of taste. To my ear, the Barts have more texture and more midrange information so to speak without actually being more midrange-y than the Nordys. A good example would be the difference between a Bergantino NV610 and one of the newer (far superior IMHO) Ampeg 810e's... it's not more midrang-y nor is the Ampeg scooped, there's just more there to hear.
The Nordy's have more "force" and have a more articulate top end.
I stayed with the Barts and voted same.
Need no cavity modification.
Although I voted for the MK5's as others have who put them in their 5501, shortly after I did that another Talkbasser put Lakland / Hanson replacements in theirs. I think there might even be a clip of them somewhere on TB. There are various threads about pickup replacement and although I've not used the Demeter preamp, its seems like it is extremely versatile. There is also a pic out there of the Lakland version which looks like the Chisonics in the decade only longer to accomodate. I think they are available both single coil and humbucking. Another advantage to the Bartolinis I thought was the various wiring possibilities. I love using the two middle coils. MMBONGO turned me on to the wiring sheet and it has great combinations. You can split each pickup individually with two switches or the single / outer coil options which I did that is just one switch. Good luck and let us know what you decide!
I put the MK5CBC pickups and the NTMB 5.2AP preamp in my 55-01 and it made it a completely different animal. I love it.
Here are some old posts from when I did those upgrades:
Here's one about the shielding I did at the time:
I switched out a bart NTMB 5.2 pre for a Aguilar OBP-3, which I really like. I also tried Nordy Big Singles in there, but I found that the magnetic pull from those pups made my low B all warbly and I couldn't get as low an action as I could with the original MK-1's, which have blade pole pieces and a lot less magnetic pull. I did like the overall sound of the Nordy's, but I couldn't deal with the impact they had on the sound and action so I put back in the MK-1's, which remain in there now and I'm quite happy with the sound of the bass.
From my research, Big Splits are better for passive. My 55-01 had a Bart NTMB and sounded very good with the stock Barts. I'd search for testimonials on a good match for Demeter preamps in case there's something out there better than what you've listed as options. W/o experience having a Demeter preamp, I'd say Barts.
Here are some more sound clips for reference:
This link should show the differences between the MK1 and MK4. I'd presume that the MK5 is the same as the MK4 but made for a 5 string). The MK4 is significantly louder and has a big rich bottom end but is very thin up top. The MK1 is more "transparent" sounding for lack of a better word, but is more balanced top to bottom.
I'm trying to find a Nordstrand equipped Ibanez to add to the comparison, but haven't been able to locate an owner with one in this area yet.
I read in the former Roscoe forum that Nordstrands are not a good match with the Demeter pre. Its good for opening up dark sounding pickups but can make brighter pickups sound "tinny". I think that quote was from Carey Nordstrom himself. I happen to own a Roscoe with Barts and the Demeter pre and it sounds amazing. I also have a Pedulla with Bart Classic series (same pickups, different size shell) that sounds great also.
the People have spoken, and the Barts have emerged as the crowd individual favorite. Interestingly the Nords still pull slightly more than 50% of the votes when their shares are aggregated.
Well, I'm going with the Barts. Thanks all for the informed responses, you've helped very much with my decision. :bassist: Major reasonings are 1) coil tapping options, 2) noiselessness, 3) pair dark pickpus with a bright preamp, rather than bright+bright, 4) pursue a supportive and full bass tone over a bright soloist's tone, for the gigs I'm playing.
This is intended as my meat-and-potatoes P/J chameleon workhorse bass. The coil tapping will give my more colors to play with than the Big Singles, making it more versatile with different styles and bands. My Warwick Thumb 5 NT stays in the fleet and is finally allowed to be itself instead of trying to cover the working bassist duties (we all know that sound is great but not right for everything). For a bright sparkly solo instrument, I have an Ibanez SR1300PM that will be the next candidate for electronics shenanigans, so maybe I'll go that way with that bass (I imagine the mahogany core sounding nice with the Nordstrand character.. anybody heard their P/J sets?).
Now that I'm sitting here with my shopping cart loaded, I do have another question regarding the coil switching installation - I would like to go with the option of a single switch that selects outer single coils / inner single coils / dual humbucking, series mode. I may also try the option of dual series/parallel/single coil switches, but I'm not sure how interested I am in parallel mode.
This matches the second option on this document, correct? http://www.bestbassgear.com/wiring-d...-dual-coil.pdf
Are these the right switches? http://www.bestbassgear.com/pots.htm#switches (the 3-position on-on-on). I do notice the Bartolini document specifies an on-off-on for the option in question. Also, if I buy two of these now, will they also work if down the road I experiment with dual switches for series/parallel/single-coil instead?
I forgot I made soundclips when I had Big Splits and MK5's in mine!
You can tell which is which by the filenames:
I just checked out the Big Splits with the Nordy three band pre. I have to say it would turn your Lakland into an aggressive tone machine. The Nordies did NOT play well with the Demeter. In this case I think its more the Demeter.
The Aguilar also works very well with the Nordy pickups.
Thanks, you can hear the difference pretty well in these clips!
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