Conflicted with the Nordstrand Big Singles
Currently I'm in a state of conflict over whether or not I want to keep the Nordstrand Big Singles in my Ibanez SR1200e. The main reason for this has to be the noise - I'm really sensitive to it to the extent that I never ever buy aftermarket pickups without some sort of noise cancelling aspect. The Big Singles have really bad noise when I move the blend pot on the bass to either end of the spectrum. This really limits the usable tones I can get, however the middle position does sound excellent. I'm primarily a guitar player and this is the only electric bass I have access to, so I really want to get it working right for me.
Also I don't think I'm taking advantage of what these pickups really offer tone wise. I'm a rather boring bass tone person in the sense that I really go for a heavily compressed synth-ish sort of tone with all the high end rolled off on the 3 band pre, the mids around 4-5, and the lows near max. On any sort of outboard gear I'll emphasize the low end even more. I'll sometimes turn off the active EQ and get a mid focused punch tone, but this is not what I typically go for with the EDM, Disco, Indie-tronic sort of stuff I mainly play bass on. With guitars I'm definitely more of the tone chaser but with bass I just want to hold that low end down like a total boss and the amp I use (Jeff Berlin signature) doesn't even have a tweeter/horn.
So I've had them for 6 months now and I can get a satisfying sound with them with the EQ set as I like and the pickups blended down the middle for max noise cancelling. However I'm wondering if there's something better out there for me. Before I abandon some totally awesome pickups, do you think I could benefit from some shielding? Just bought a square foot for copper shielding for a telecaster project but I definitely won't be using it all. If I can seriously tone down the noise, I will be happy.
If shielding won't be able to tone down the noise on these hot single coils, I'm aiming for a hum cancelling replacement - either a stack or a humbucker. I'm not knowledgeable regarding bass pickup sizes and what fits what, but I think its safe to assume that the Nordstrand Dual Coils would fit and perhaps give me more of the sound I prefer plus the noise cancelling. It would be a lot to spend but perhaps I'll offset the cost by selling my big singles to whomever offers me some good advice here. If anyone can recommend anything else that would be great, feel free to let me know. Open to any brand and just about any price.
Thanks to any and all in advance that choose to help me out. I'm not that knowledgeable regarding bass pickups. I'm also suspecting there is something wrong in my case, there could be a grounding issue or some other manner of defect going on and causing an extreme amount of noise. Anyone else find the noise on a solo'd big single just intolerable? At least in a studio recording context?
Simple- swap them for Big Splits. Noise no longer an issue and the tone is essentially the same.
Yeah, I guess I'd go for Big Splits. Shielding may help though, especially in the pickup cavities.
Big Splits, Fat Stacks or Dual Coils will drop right in. Big fan of Fat Stacks personally, because you can choose to have the hum canceling coil on or off. I understand the Splits sound similar. Sounds like since you aren't a 'cork sniffer' either would work for you.
Yep, Big slits.
Also send me your Big Singles :bassist:
Love them... They sound like this:
With good shielding and all the band on top, a little hum is something we had lived with since the beginning of time.
Thanks very much for the constructive responses.
After checking out that soundcloud clip, I can definitely re-state that I'm not really using the Big Singles as the are really meant to be used. I do get a sound that I dig for what I do but I never really deviate from my super jacked low end sound besides occasionally engaging the switch to turn off the Active EQ. Perhaps one of these days I'll start going after some more natural bass guitar tones, but I'll need to get in on a project that calls for that kind of sound. My current project is scoring an Indie movie so the noise is driving me nutty more so than anything else, necessity is the mother of invention (or just plain doing stuff) or so they say. I can ease any noise out with automation when I'm not actually playing, but I still manage to at least think I'm hearing it during softer plucks. Tone wise the jacked low end approach allows me to lay subtle yet ominous lines during scenes that are building the story/dramatic tension. The real Bug Singles sound would stand out a bit to much for this and distract from the movie stuff (IMO).
Shielding is a given for me, just need to get around to it. I'm going to shield the pickup cavities and solder ground wires to the shielding in each to prevent the shielding from doing a 60 cycle thing. If I have any leftover I'll cover the control cavity as well, although the priority is the pups. I'll give this a shot in the next few days, depending on how good the results are I'll either go in on a new pickup set or not.
Thanks for the reassurance on the pickup fit. I'd like to stick with nordstrand since i have been impressed by the quality and I'd like to keep to this caliber of pickups. Pickups are IMHO the most important part of any electric bass or standard guitar, so I'm not looking to jump off the high quality Nordstrand bandwagon. I was leaning heavily toward the Humbuckers, but with all the suggestions for the Big splits have me curious even though I'm interested in getting a more low end heavy tone. The stacks also struck me as a good noise cancelling fit and possibly a better tone fit than the humbuckers as they offer more versatility on the only bass I use. I'll look into some sound samples that the internets has to offer.
Low growl, you got dibs on my big singles if they get axed. I'm not going to pull the trigger on this anytime within the next few days, but most likely in the next 2 weeks if the shielding fails. Once they get successfully swapped, I'll send a PM or something like that if you are really interested. Can't guarantee anything solid until I pull the trigger on a new set, but dibs is dibs.
Actually I should mention that the presence of noise really does kinda force me to turn the highs all the way downs and the turn the mids down quite a bit also. Only way I've been able to keep the noise satisfactory enough with these, hopefully with the noise issue curtailed I'll be able to dial in some punch and presence. Not knocking the big singles on this, its just the nature of single coil stuff and the bigs are wound to be hotter than usual and thus more likely to pick up the noise, kinda like p90 guitar pickups vs standard single coils.
Anyone interested in the Big Singles may come across my first hand account on this thread and think they may be super noisey, but this is really just how I'm attuned personally. I've actually had nightmares about signal noise, compession artifacts, and unwanted digital distortion when I've been deep into a mastering project so I'm an especially effed up case with this.
Also to cope with noise I've opted for Mogami gold cables for the entire signal change and only connect exactly what I need in my signal chain. Also I use a DI type of device to get the sound grounded a bit before it goes to my computer's audio interface. For this I use a Neve Portico 5017 out from any pedals, but you can likely get a similar noise squashing effect from a good DI box. BTW the Neve Portico 5017 is amazing for Bass. If you can get it, it will be handy for recording and playing out live as it's portable and self contained.
My Big Singles have three wires. One is hot, one is ground for the coil, and one is ground for the copper shielding strip that lines the bottom of the pickup. Do you have that third one (gray wire, if I recall) connected to a good ground?
Also, if you're obsessive about shielding and you install that copper tape, put a dab of solder across each seam. The conductive adhesive isn't quite conductive enough by itself.
Thanks for the tip ctmullins. I haven't gotten around to it yet, going to hold off until its time to get new strings and when I have a bit more time since this will be a project I want to do very carefully. The dab of solder across the seams is something I never tried but sounds easy enough and seems like a good idea. Sometimes I wonder how well that tape stays together over time, but some solder would ensure its stable.
I think it's very likely that I'm dealing with some poor grounding. The Sr1200 I have is made in Indonesia and I have consistently found a lack of grounds for stuff in import guitars that I personally wouldn't have omitted if I built the circuit myself. Latest encounter was a tone pot in an import squire tele that wasn't connected to the main ground on the volume pot which is a big no-no for me. Also the metal of the switch on the tele wasn't grounded - not the biggest deal but it takes 2 minutes to do it. Nitpicky stuff perhaps but now that Tele is dead quiet with some noiseless pickups loaded.
On the sr1200 the noise when the blend pot is set to either pickup renders it unusable, hopefully I can resolve this to a degree in order to make use of more of the tones the bass has to offer. For now I only play this bass with the blend set in the middle. Fortunately this results in an amazing tone since the Big Singles are excellent pickups, but it would be nice to explore sounds a bit more. My guitars all have a **** ton of options due to wiring mods and such, it would be nice to at least have something to play around with on the bass, such as a usable punchy bridge only tone. As of now I only really ever use the active on or the active off switch and leave the EQ set to minimize noise. Still, despite these limitations I really really like my bass, looking forward to liking it more if the noise is fixable.
FYI, I'm pretty sure I read that one of the reasons Nordstrand and Ibanez decided against the Big Splits was because they don't work for the string spacing. Don't take it as gospel, but I'd double check before swapping those out.
And FWIW my 1200e was pretty quiet, there's a difference between single coil hum and a grounding/shielding issue.
Has anyone swapped the Big Splits into this bass? Any issues, or tips?
The more I play my stock bass, the more I like it. While the Singles aren't bad in terms of noise, there's just enough to motivate me toward the Splits.
I'm also interested in a Hipshot Extender and maybe lightweight tuners. I think stock tuners are Gotoh 720's, will have to research the right replacements.
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