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Bartolini Differences?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by guitarjam6, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. guitarjam6


    Feb 19, 2006
    I have an Ibanez SR900 with the korean Bartolinis and I'm considering putting the the USA ones in. These seem to be the only other pickups I can put in there easily. Is it worth $200? Anyone try something in their Ibanez? I was also considering getting an OBP-3 Aguilar preamp. Any recommendations on doing pickups or preamp first?

    I just got a new amp rig so I think pickups would actually make a difference now. I was going to get an MXR Octave Deluxe and MXR envelope filter... but pickups may be more worth it.

    Playing through an SM-900 and Goliath Sr. now.

  2. jibreel

    jibreel Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    TONS of info in the pickups forum
  3. Just to clarify, you want to replace your Korean made Barts with a set of the same model but US made, or are they a different model? Either way I'd replace the pre first then decide if the pickups should be swapped too.
  4. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Nuther vote for change the preamp first. Base your decision for what pre on the things center freq choices for treble and bass, and mids if a 3 band that doesnt have mid sweep control. Bass center freqs dont vary as much. But if its down to that, would go with the one whose bass center freq was lower. For treble it has to have choice of 6khx or very very close to that for me to like it. The ones whose treble center is at aound 2khz or 4khz area wont cut it for me. But thatd be ok for those into more of a vintage tone. I also dont like those that put the treble center way up at around 8khz or even 7khz.
  5. SnakeKappele


    Sep 20, 2010
    I replaced the Bartolini MK1 pickups on my two Cort basses with Bartolini MK4s and was very happy with the results. I also upgraded to electronics to Bartolini NTMBs. I put the M4s in one before replacing the pre-amp and it was still worth it. To me, it sounded fuller and more balanced.
  6. guitarjam6


    Feb 19, 2006
    THank you for clarifying snake.. .I meant, replace the MK1's with the US made MK4's. I was thinking Mk4's with the OBP-3 Pre, I haven't heard that particular combo, but like the sounds of each individually.

    The SM-900 sounds incredibly dynamic, so it seems the electronics on the guitar and my hands are the only limiting factors. The preamp on the bass now gets VERY noisy in the last 15-20% of turning the volume up now. I just want a pre I can crank that stays clean the whole way up. OR... is the noise coming from the pickups, and would USA made Mk4's have less noise in them?
  7. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Replacing the preamp first is the most effective way to alter the over all tone of the bass and will also allow for increased versatility rather than just swapping the pickups.
  8. SnakeKappele


    Sep 20, 2010
    Does the noise go away or decrease when you touch the strings? Is it a hiss like white noise or more like a buzzing? Does the noise change as you move the bass around (think of the strings like an antenna and try for a "better" signal) ?

    I'm thinking it could be RF noise. Ibanez uses conductive paint for RF shielding and it isn't the best.
  9. ex-tension


    Jun 11, 2009
    Another (and the cheapest) option is taking out the MK1 preamp and wiring the pickups in passive configuration.

    Do you always (or most of time) play with that rig on the photo? If so, you already have 2 preamps/EQs (SansAmp and SWR) on your signal path. My opinion is that you wouldn't need another preamp/toneshaping circuit.

    But sometimes if you use your bass to plugin direct to the mixing board or using very long cable to connect to your amp, etc you would need an active bass.
  10. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    I have Bart pups and a 5.4 A/P preamp in my bass. Makes ALL the difference if you ask me. Do the preamp first - and get a Bart. I had one, swapped in an Aguilar OBP-3 and went back to Bart. The Aguilar sounded like someone put a blanket over my bass. The Bart is much better - IMO.
  11. guitarjam6


    Feb 19, 2006
    I just noticed the Bartolini has a selectable 250, 500, or 800hz mid point. Bestbassgear has the preamp listed with an active/passive pull on the vol, and selectable mid pull on the mid knob... I'm assuming you can only select between 2 of the 3 frequencies. The lows on the Bart is centered at 30hz and the Aguilar is 40. My cab goes to 55... so I don't think that would matter too much. Either way... that sounds like a better idea with an NTMB... specially if I'm using MK4's. And the barts come pre-wired too!

    The noise is more of a white noise, than a buzz, and it doesn't change when I touch the strings. I'm familiar with the noise you're describing and that's not it. I just think it's a dirty/cheap pre.

    If I go passive, I'd need to get some 250k audio taper pots right? I've got a few Sprague .47uF caps layin around for a tone pot.

    I just got that rig last night, well had the Sansamp, just got the head and cab. I'll be using it at all my gigs. I haven't really used the Sansamp much in the 5 hours I've played on it. I like it live for ease of use when dealing with a bad room. Hopefully I won't need it with the SM-900.
  12. Samsound


    Sep 28, 2010
    I have a similar issue with my SR405. Pickups are the cheaper EXF, and pre is the Style Sweeper. Picks up lots of high end noise (almost sounds digital). I've decided to replace both, but am doing the Duncan 3-band pre first. I'll record some before/afters. It won't be indicative of what your kit will do, but it'll at least give you some idea of how much (or little) a preamp change alone can alter the sound.
  13. Unless you are planning on major tone shaping with the pre, do the pups first, and I would also say go bart on the pre too. To be honest a pre replacement set flat you should see no appreciable difference, now if you start boosting or cutting then you will see some differences between the aggie and the bart pre.

    That's my 2 cents.
  14. ex-tension


    Jun 11, 2009
    Yes you're gonna need some 250k pots (vol/vol/tone or vol/bal/tone) but audio taper is not a must. Some people prefer linear taper. There are discussions about the taper for vol and tone pots, search for them if you like.

    If you're thinking about using your SR900 passive for a while check out my post (#8) in this thread:

    If you're gonna use your amp all the time, as I said before, you wouldn't really need a preamp on your bass. Especially if you're gonna keep it flat. If you don't take your amp to a gig or a recording session you still would take your SansAmp as a preamp. So, the onboard preamp is not a priority. But, IMO, replacing MK1 pickups with MK4s would make a big differance.
  15. guitarjam6


    Feb 19, 2006
    So it would be safe to assume that the MK4's in a passive configuration would be "better" than the MK1's in passive? Does anyone have experience with both of those used passive?

    Can anyone specifically state what they thought was better about the MK4 relative to the MK1? Are they more dynamic? more even volumed from E to G? Have less noise? Thicker low end? Just looking for specifics before I drop 2 bills on something.
  16. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Not true! There are other pickups in the Bart size out there.
  17. SnakeKappele


    Sep 20, 2010
    I never played the MK1s passive since the original pre-amps in my Corts had no passive switch.

    Whenever I played my Corts with MK1s I felt the string volume balance was off. The A and G strings seemed quieter. It didn't feel right when I played and didn't sound right when I listened to recordings I made. After i put the MK4s in, everything was fine. Now as for the sound, there are all kinds of ambiguous terms people use that leave me asking "what?" I can tell you it seemed more alive with nice harmonics.

    Bartolini says:
    Classic Bass Series, Dual Coil Humbucker.
    "Classic Bass" CB series bass pickups feature an extended and more resonant frequency range. They have far more "air" and definition at the top without sacrificing lows and low mids. They are cast in epoxy to remove unwanted feedback and microphonics.
  18. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    The Classic Bass series is like Bart's old Hi-A pickups. They have a brighter top end than the Original series, which usually featured a deep bridge and bright neck pickup.
    Preventer likes this.
  19. SnakeKappele


    Sep 20, 2010
    I forgot to mention a huge plus to the Bartolini MK4 pickups: they are 4 wire pickups.

    A positive and negative wire for each coil is available for wiring. This means you can control 4 single coil pickups! I used 2 DP3T toggle switches (one per pickup) to let me select humbucker wired in series (more volume, bass, and midrange), humbucker wired in parallel (less volume, bass, and midrange and more treble), or single coil on each pickup.

    For an example: a P-Bass pickup is wired in series and J-Bass pickups are wired in parallel. So if you set the neck pickup to series and don't use the bridge pickup - P-Bas sound. If you select single coil on each pickup - J-Bass sound. If you select series for the Neck and single for the bridge - P/J bass sound. And that is just the start of the fun!

    I did this on my swamp ash Cort absolutely love the flexibility! I've got the switches for the other Cort and will upgrade it soon.


    Preventer likes this.
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