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New Pickups for Spector Euro 5LX: To EMG or not to EMG?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by jmlee, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. jmlee

    jmlee Supporting Member

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    Hi all:

    I recently acquired a Spector Euro 5LX in a somewhat complicated trade. While I had expected the bass to have the EMG 40TW switching coil pickups, it instead has the EMG 40DC pickups and the TonePump circuit. It really is a lovely bass in terms of construction and playability, so I decided to go forward with the trade in any case and then make up my mind where I wanted to go with the pickups/preamp.

    Well, the 40DC/TonePump combo really isn't doing it for me, either in terms of basic pickup character or in terms of onboard tonal flexibility. It's not bad. Not at all. But in a bass this good I'd prefer to have just what I want.

    My options at this point (as I see them) are as follows. Since all of this would have to be sight-unseen really, your collective advice would be valuable.

    Approach 1:

    EMG 40TWX pickups with push-pull coil switching on the two volumes and an EMG BQC control system with stacked bass/treble and stacked mid gain/mid frequency on the other pots. That's four control holes in all--what I have at present;

    Approach 2:

    Passive pickups with my preferred Audere pre-amp. I'll note up front here that I have an Ibanez SR700 into which I put U.S. Bartolini pickups and an Audere Pro-Z preamp. The results are very gratifying for me. The Audere is beautifully transparent, and highly flexible tonally. If I take this route, I will stick with Audere, so let's not take that one up. The pickup choice is important though. I'm looking at one of the following:
    (i) Bartolini M45CBC Classic Bass pickups in the EMG40 case
    (ii) Nordstrand Dual Coil Soapbars DC4 in the EMG40 case: parallel or series?

    Which way would you folks think I should go? You know my feelings on the Barts (I love 'em), but I'm wary of doing anything that won't meld well with the Spector and (short of the B string) I have that sound already in the Ibanez.

    Over to you...if you have practical experience with the pickups in question, especially in Spectors, that would be fabulous.
  2. levis76

    levis76 Supporting Member

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    PM sent.
  3. mmbongo

    mmbongo Supporting Member

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    As the owner of two pretty high end USA Spectors, I must say that the best thing I did to them was yank out the EMG's and replace them with passive pickups with active preamp.

    My NS-5MM has a single MM humbucker at the bridge. It came with the EMG with an Aguilar OBP-3. I must say it did sound phenomenal...until I started using pedals. The active EMG made all of my dirt pedals sound exactly the same...just a thin, shrill sputtery useless pile of spit. Replaced the EMG with a Bartolini, kept the Aguilar. To my shock, the Bart kept all the clarity of the EMG while adding some 'air' to the sound. And since it's a passive pickup, it sounds phenomenal through my pedals.

    My NS-2J came with EMG J pickups and a TonePump preamp. Sounded a bit thin and shrill, and of course useless with pedals. Installed DiMarzio Area J's and a Bartolini preamp. It's now a little fatter with some nice crunch, and sounds great with pedals. I think I want to put SGD Jazzbuckers in it though. Those things are incredible.

    I know Spector loves EMG's, but I didn't care for them. I think they use them because that's all they ever have used and they just don't want to have to deal with having different pickups in the shop. They do use Aguilar pickups in the Coda basses though.

    Speaking of which, check out the Aguilar soapbars. I think they come in the size you need. SGD can also make them, and of course Barts sound great.
  4. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

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    I bet if you just replace the Tonepump with a decent preamp those HZ's would sound 100% better.

    I love all sorts of EMG setups, but my beautiful Czech Zebop was the most lifeless sounding bass ever.

    OTOH, my cheap Korean Legend w/HZ's and EMG pre sounds very good. Go figure.
  5. jmlee

    jmlee Supporting Member

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    Not HZs...40DCs, active pickups. Yeah, I've thought of just replacing the preamp as an intermediate solution.
  6. ddhm

    ddhm Supporting Member

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    My Euro 6 had the Tonepump... hated it. I dropped in a Demeter and LOVE it! Yeah, I know that the Demeters aren't that popular. This is me not caring what is popular. A new pre is certainly in order. Start there and save your bucks :) Get the p'ups if you want them later.

    I'll admit, I thought about going to the TWX in my Spector while I was gassing here and there. I've not done it yet but I think that they will be in my next bass.
  7. tylerwylie

    tylerwylie Supporting Member

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    EMG TWX pickups are some of their best sounding pickups. The DC's have lots of highs and lows, the TWX's treble content is a bit tame, though they have a nice character and having single and dual coil sounds is available with the push/pull pot is nice too. I really like how they sound with an Aguilar OBP-3 preamp.
  8. gpx1200

    gpx1200

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    I just put an agular obp3 in my euro lx4 and I love it. it still has the spector growl to it but it's deeper and less raspy than the tone pump unless you switch the mid to 800hz and turn it up and theirs the raspy mids back.
    at first I changed it just for the mid control and to add a blend instead of 2 volumes(hated that) but the aggie tone is an added bonus, I was planning on putting an emg bqc in my zebop but now I think it's getting another aggie along with a 35px and a twx but my rebop5 will only get new pickups and a blend knob so I will still have one tone pump equipt spector
  9. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

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    Even better then.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    +1 for replacing the pre. BQC rules.
  11. TraceElliot1234

    TraceElliot1234

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    I just bought a Spector USA Bolt On 5. It has the EMG40TWs running into the 9v Obp3. Seems like the Obp3 is squashing the signal. I have top of the line Musicman Basses and they blow the Spector out of the water. I do like the sound of the 40TWs though. Im wondering if pulling the Aggie and adding a Bqc will help make the sound more transparent and not so squashed sounding.Also,I was reading on the EmgTWX40 installation instructions that the magnet used is Alnico...is this true...or a typo?
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    I'm not familiar with the Aggie, but I can only tell a very hint of compression with the BQC when I'm playing at my absolute hardest.
  13. cyclopsbookworm

    cyclopsbookworm Mutant Werewolf Supporting Member

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    I can vouch for the Nordstrand DCs. I put a set in my NS2000. They are very open and versatile. I use the Nordstrand 3b4a preamp. At first I was worried I couldn't get the Spector/EMG sound (which I love in certain situations), but turns out it's easy enough to eq in the EMG sound when I wanted to (active, T/B flat, low mid boost +8, Bridge PU 100%, neck PU 70%). That said, my favorite setting on them is just to run them pure passive. They really excel as passive pickups.

    The only thing to watch for is string spacing. Nordy DCs are designed for 19mm spacing. So they don't match up 100% on my upper strings, but they still deliver despite that. They'll make a custom set for your string spacing tho.
  14. peledog

    peledog Supporting Member

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    EMG and TonePump work for me.

    I like passive Fender pickups and Aguilar passive pups. I had a P bass with a DiMarzio in it - a long time ago and that was cool.

    For the last 4 years, the EMG/TonePump combo definitely helped with that 'tone in my head'.
  15. mmbongo

    mmbongo Supporting Member

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    My NS-5 had a similar setup. The problem is not the Aguilar. Not with mine, anyway. Barts opened mine up wide.
  16. jmlee

    jmlee Supporting Member

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    I should have updated this thread I suppose. I replaced the Tone Pump over Christmas (leaving the 40DCs in place) with a BQC system at 18V (tight fit) and added gold knobs for a little extra bling. To my ears it is a tremendous improvement, with the variable frequency mid and active blend being significant assets. The pickups are still inherently a bit sizzly for my tastes and some CSX pickups may be in my future, but for now, I'm a much happier puppy.
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Right on. The sizzly aspect can be tamed somewhat with the treble control, though. I generally run it halfway between the center detent and all the way off, and sometimes I run it all the way off. With the BQC I've managed to get a very good replica of the frequency response of my Precision, albeit with the super clean EMG twist.
  18. tylerwylie

    tylerwylie Supporting Member

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    A great EMG pickup combination is the DC / DCX in the bridge and a P or PX in the neck. Can cop the chunky split coil tone.
  19. jmlee

    jmlee Supporting Member

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    Gotcha, Jimmy. I've been running the treble pretty much exactly how you describe it. The bass really speaks in our large rehearsal space. Will have a chance to try it live at the end of the month: one of my rare non-upright gigs.
  20. Hugh Jass

    Hugh Jass

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    Nice. Running this setup in my Rebop. Agree with JimmyM, I typically never run my treble past centre. I don't find my bass all that sizzly but the BQC has adjustable knee frequencies for the treble. I forget which one I selected but you could always try fiddling with that.

    One funny thing I've discovered is that the mid sweep cuts mids in the selected frequencies below centre and boosts selected frequencies past centre. Makes perfect sense but confused me a bit at first.

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