First off, I do not "endorse" Bartolini pickups, but having tried lots of aftermarket pups I prefer the barts to pretty much everything else. There's a reason pretty much 90% of all basses with a street price of over $2,000.00 come with Bartolinis standard.
There is a lot of misconception about Barts out there, and I'm going to try and clear some of this up all in one spot.
Bartolini's website is very confusing, not terribly informative, and only tells half the story. whenever I hear about people installing Barts and not being happy with them... it's often because they weren't easily able to determine which was the best series for their needs, or pehaps wired them in a different fashion than would work best. SHAPES:
First off when looking at Barts, you must understand that the shapes.... are just the shapes. The website gives very accurate drawings and dimensions.... but what it doesn't make clear is that there are virtually dozens of totally different types of configurations available within those shells. SERIES:
All Barts are available in either "Classic Bass" or "Original Series" The Originals were the most common up until a few years ago and were found on USA Roscoe, some MTD, Lakland and others. These are very sweet, midrange-y pups, with a sweet but subdued treble extension and thick syrupy bass. The Classic Series is the more modern sounding of the two, and has become increasingly popular with many many manufacturers... including the Roscoe Standard series and others. These have a dramatically increased treble extension, cleaner, deeper and more present low-bass and less "fuzzy" in the midrange. Every size and shape of pickup is available in either series. Choosing between these two is often where people make their first mistake DEEP / BRIGHT:
Within both CB and Original Series, many sizes / shapes are available in either "Deep" or "Bright" configurations. "Deep" is described as being a smooth tone with lots of lows and low mids, and "Bright" is described as being brighter, smooth tone with more hi mids than the originals. Not all shapes have this option, but nearly all the J-Bass models do. I Have used the Classic Bass "Brights" in a J-bass and found them to be VERY similar to the Dimarzio Ultrajazz / Sadowsky type of tone. SOAPBARS / MULTIPLE COILS:
Nearly all of the large soapbar shapes are available in multiple configurations. Nearly every size is available as Dual Coil (single / single), Dual Coil Split "P", Dual Coil Split "reverse P", Quad-Coil (with switching available for all of the above configurations) and Quad Coil (4 singles in line). See WIRING below for more info. WIRING:
All two-pickup sets, as well as each soapbar with more than one coil can be wired Series / or Parallel, and instructions are included for providing switching back and forth. Parallel is described as having half the output of Series, 50% more treble but less mids.
. This is one of the most important aspects of your pickup upgrade. The same set of pickups will sound RADICALLY different depending on whether they're wired one way or the other. COIL-SWITCHING:
This is an option for any pair of dual coil pickups, or singles and pairs of quad coil pickups. There are TONS of different configurations available, and the website does not easily lead one to the wiring guides.... and are only shipped with the purchase of a preamp, the instructions are NOT sent with a pickups-only order. They are provided below. CUSTOM PICKUPS:
Bartolini provides custom shapes and coil configurations to OEM builders. Builders like MTD, Zon, Brubaker and others use pickups not available to the public. Bartolini will make custom shapes and configurations for anyone, but be prepared to pony up some serious cash, or buy a couple dozen of them! LINKS: Classic Bass and Original Series Size / Shape Guides Installation Instructions index Active / Passive wiring instructions Wiring instructions for Series / Parallel and multiple coil switching options Model Naming Guide Helpful Site Map
Lastly: Bartolini Pickups are distributed exclusively by TJ WAGNER Inc. They have no website. You can call them weekdays and ask for Tom. Tom is the Master and Guru of all that is Bartolini. There is no one more qualified to guide to your perfect Bart. However, be warned. As smart as he is... Tom is all business. Have all of your points ready when you call and keep it brief. (386) 517-6823
*** All of the above is true to my knowledge. Verifiable corrections welcome! ***