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Bartolini MK4CBC

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by PDGood, Feb 9, 2012.


  1. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    I have an Ibanez SR700 with Bart MK1s and several people have suggested upgrading to the MK4CBC. Problem is I have no idea what that would sound like. Are there any sound files of these pickups? And if not, are there any basses that come with these pu's that maybe I could find in a music store?

    I realize that sound files are not ideal because every bass is different, but it would at least give me some clue as to whether they might be better to my ears than the MK1s.

    Thanks.
    PD
     
  2. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Location:
    Halifax
    Well...I just spent a long evening re-doing my Ibanez SR700. I swapped the existing Bartolini MK-1 pickups for American-made Bartolini MK4CBC pickups. As well, I took out the existing pre-amp and controls (leaving in the jack and battery compartment) and replaced the whole thing with a new Audere Audio 3ZB preamp. The previous mid-range frequency switch is now the impedance selector switch for the Audere.

    The conversion was a bit of a head-scratcher at times due to the differences in jack configuration (a standard jack was pre-wired with the Audere), the pre-existing battery compartment on the Ibanez, and the conversion from two pickup screws on the MK-1s to three screws on the MK4s. (BTW, the Bartolini and BestBassGear websites are both incorrect about the screw configuration for these pickups.)

    I haven't finished tweaking the impedance trim pot settings for the pre-amp yet (that's tonight), but in response to this thread, I thought I should give my first impressions.

    Unfortunately I can't parse out what features of the difference are due to the new pickups and which are due to the new pre-amp since I did both at once. That said, the composite difference is breathtaking. The new sound is huge, open, and very flexible. With the two pickups blended, the sound is very rich, full, and modern. Bartolini says there's more air to the sound (compared to the MK-1s) and I'd say that's right. What surprised me most, I suppose, is that with the neck pickup soloed, there is a real bite to the sound that's surprisingly P-bass-like: not something I would have associated with this bass, but which is a welcome addition to the palate. The bridge pickup soloed has much more of a J-bass sound as well, but fuller and warmer--in short, without so much honk. As in my previous Audere installations, the pre-amp is silent, crystalline transparent, and *very* flexible.

    The SR700 has come to be my main go-to electric bass after 40 years as a Fender guy. It's lovely looking in blonde, balances beautifully, and plays like butter. Nonetheless, the pickup and preamp changes (>$400) have made it hugely better.
     
  3. Crater

    Crater

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Thanks for the post jmlee, that was very informative. I have a 5 string Ibby Soundgear with MK1s. I love the feel of the neck and the body is very balanced and comfortable, but the tone is just soooo 'vanilla' and bland. I'm anxious to ditch the "Phat EQ" preamp too.

    I'll probably go with an EMG preamp 'cause they're cheap. :)
     
  4. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Thanks, jmlee and I also appreciate the pm about your post.

    It's been quite awhile since I posted and I wound up taking the plunge and putting an MK4 in the neck position. I left the bridge MK1 since I was very happy with that sound, but in retrospect I should have changed both just because there is such a huge difference in output.

    Since I only changed the pickup and not the pre-amp, I can shed a little more light on the specific differences - to my ear at least.

    As I said, the first thing I noticed was a huge increase in volume. The second improvement was that the treble frequencies sounded smoother and more elegant. This was what I expected from reading other threads and exactly what I was hoping for. Mission accomplished.

    Other than those two things, I didn't notice any other significant change. I definitely consider the improvement to be worth the investment.

    The P bass comment made me smile. I have felt that way about the SRX basses from Ibanez - the neck pickup is a P type flavor and the neck/bridge together sounds like a J. Not exactly of course, but enough that they accomplish the same goals in the mix - P to blend in with the mix and J to push through with a more mid range sound.

    I've been happy with the 700, I just never have been able to fit its sound into the music that I play (mostly oldies covers and original music). It sustains foreeeeeever. That would be a good thing in some types of music, but I just constantly found myself trying to mute a string or just getting a tone that didn't fit. (Ya can't play Motown with tons of sustain). And even though I generally don't like flats, I had to try and tame it a bit and put some on this bass. Wow. Now I really love it. Imagine that tiny neck, light body and strings with no resistance. It's the easiest thing to play imaginable. And for what I do, it gets more use strung up this way.
     
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  6. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Location:
    St Louis Area
    Thanks for the ton of good info guys regarding the MK4's! PDGood, your post is of specific interest to me too. I just bought an SR-705 and can't put it down because it sounds so good & plays so well. I am very happy & content with the MK1's but can't help but wonder what the MK4's would bring to the table. I'm also very pleased with the existing preamp w/midswitch - I think it sounds great & I like the selected mid frequency points. I wouldn't be changing out the preamp.

    However, I had a bit of a small revelation with the MK1's - they were not "quite" as sweet on the top end as I initially thought. I believe other gear in the signal path (a deeply buried parameter setting in my favorite Zoom B3 patch) was adding some sweetness to the top end of the MK1's. Perhaps assisting the MK1's to sound a bit more like where the MK4's are naturally. The MK4's sound like a worthy upgrade based on what I'm reading here. This way I can run the Zoom B3 a little flatter on the tonal adjustment parameters and the MK1's can always be used to upgrade the CAP pickups in my SR-375 backup bass. Again, great info guys, thank you.
     
  7. tjlee87

    tjlee87

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2012
    Is the string volume balanced in MK4CBC? A and D strings are too quiet compared to E and G string on MK1 pickups.
     
  8. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Location:
    Halifax
    Funny thing, I thought my SR700 sounded great too initially. In fact, it sounded so good in gig recordings that I put away my jazz bass in favour of it.

    However...with the MK4CBCs in it, it's like a mask or muffle were taken off it. It's now much more open and articulate, and it can both be warmer with the pickups blended than before and more punchy/biting with the blend slid toward neck or bridge--and especially with the pickups soloed. The folks at Audere commented to me that the MK1s are made in various places without strong control over quality. But we know where the MK4CBCs are made, and that Bartolini puts strong effort into the U.S.-made pickups.

    BTW, after another day of playing and sorting things out, I think I can now better differentiate the effects of the pickup change and the preamp change. I love my Audere preamps and their clarity and range of expression is first rate. But...it's the change in pickups that's been the biggest effect. The change is really worth it and it turns the SR700 into an excellent performer: an instrument that sounds as good as it plays.
     
  9. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Location:
    Halifax
    I never found string volume imbalance to be a problem with the MK1s on my bass. As noted above, that may be a quality control issue. On my SR700, the strings seem well-balanced with the MK4CBCs, at least where 3- and 4-voice chords are concerned and in finger style. I slap very little and haven't yet tried pick playing after the changes. But YMMV.
     
  10. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    String balance is fine on both of the MK1 sets I've owned.
     
  11. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Location:
    St Louis Area
    Thank You for the further insight into the tone differences. It does sound like the US Bartolinis will be a noteworthy improvement worth serious consideration.

    +1

    Just chiming in to say that's not been an issue with my MK1 pickups either.
     
  12. xdanxx

    xdanxx

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    I upgraded to the american made bart MK4s and put in a bart ntmb in my SR500. Like previous posters said, im not sure what made the difference more the preamp or the pickups, but there is a definite difference.

    I always loved the feel of my SR, but the tone just felt like it was lacking. The Mk4s just sound more well rounded, warm, and less aggressive.
     
  13. TheBluePhoenix

    TheBluePhoenix

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    I recently bought a Soundgear 370 and I’m thinking of replacing the stock CAP pickups with Bartolinis. Can I just replace the pickups and leave the stock Ibanez EQ system? Is replacing the pickups pretty easy? Is it just a matter of removing the old pickups and soldering the wires to the Bartolinis or is it more complicated than that?
     
  14. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    I don't know the answer, but I do know that MK1 Barts have two screws and USA Barts have three. Not a big deal if you have to put in one more screw.
     
  15. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Location:
    Halifax
    It's really not any more complicated than that. Be sure that the Barts will fit in the cavity for the existing pickups. There's good dimensional information at BestBassGear and at Bartolini's amazingly old school website. Assuming you go to BestBassGear (and I recommend that heartily), be sure to order height adjustment screws since they don't come with the Bart pickups. You may want to have some high density foam to put under them to act as the spring that pushes the pickups up to the screw heads. The two screw/three screw thing is a bit of a nuisance. I recently replaced the EMG Hz pickups in my Ibanez SRA505 with an ostensibly matched set of neck/bridge U.S. BD5C Barts. One came with three screw holes, the other with two. Can't think why that would make any sense. None of them lined up with the EMG screwholes. There's not much problem getting the screws installed, depending on the wood in your instrument. The SRA has a mahogany back and maple top, so the screws could just be self-started (without pilot holes). I printed out the appropriate diagram from the Bartolini website, made sure it was scaled properly to the actual pickup, cut it out like a paper dolly, and used it to start the screw holes in the right places. If you decide to—or need to—drill pilot holes, then the trick is to not drill through the back of the instrument. I put masking tape around my drill bit to ensure that I don't drill too deep. The good news: the pickups sound great and much improved the sound of the instrument (to my ears). The bad news: it really doesn't compete with my SR700 with the new M4Ks and the Audere preamp. I think the preamp is going to go at some point as well. It's OK, but no better than OK.
     
  16. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Location:
    Upstate, South Carolina
    I'm selling a Lakland 4401 in the classifieds with MK4's in it. Great pickups. I may sell them separately if there is cash being waved in my face :)
     

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