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Bartolini dual-coil soapbar windings: C, K, or CX?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Mar 28, 2002.

  1. I have an FBB custom neck-through five-string with a maple/bubinga neck and bubinga fingerboard, walnut back, and bubinga top. It's a very bass- and low-mid-heavy instrument when played acoustically, although the upper harmonics (3.5kHz and up) have a lot of presence as well. The pickups are Bartolini M55C dual-coil soapbars and the preamp is a Bartolini NTBT.

    When played fingerstyle through both my small (Eden CXM-110) and big (Aguilar GS-410) rigs, there's a certain clarity lacking in the sound. The tone is big and fat and warm and punchy and can bulldoze its way through heavy guitar (I've tried it out in some jams, it does do the trick) but the note definition isn't quite there with either cab because there's just so much low midrange present, even with the pickups on center detent and 250Hz scooped out on my WT-300. (Pickstyle, no such problems arise.) I would play around with the EQ even more, but I'm a believer in EQing to the room and not to the bass.

    I use stainless steel Fodera strings, which are actually pretty bright, so I don't think a string change would do the job. I'm thinking that the problem is the pickups; the M55Cs have the "deeper" winding and I'm thinking this may be too dark of a sound for a bass like this.

    Do the members of TB have any experience with the "brighter" K winding or the new-ish "brightest" CX winding? I still like the warm Bartolini sound, but I think that these might have the extra little bit of clarity I'm looking for.

    Or, should I try a different brand? I've played some nice basses with EMG-DCs and liked the sound--full bottom but with lots of clarity--but they were alder-bodied bolt-ons (G&L and Modulus), so I'm not sure if the sound would work with my instrument. I've never heard Duncans in the flesh before, and Lane Poors are pretty much impossible to come by.

    Any suggestions?

    (Crossposted to Luthiers' Table.)


    Dec 21, 2001
    Boise, ID
    i have 45cx soapbars in my rbass. they have a very focused sound. i think another difference it (so i've been told) the cx use a ceramic magnet instead of an alnico. here's an excerpt from dave king "Bill has a new ceramic magnet structure, known as "CX", which gives an extended range similar to the Lane Poor pickups. This pickup should fill the gap for those players who seek a true full range pickup with the low noise that the Bartolinis are renowned for". that's from his web site and bgra.net.
  3. geshel

    geshel Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2001
    I've got C's in my bass. I find plenty of "note definition" in the sense of, it's not muddy at all - the "this is a note, this here's another one" :) type of definition is totally there. However, for an aggressive sound with high-end bite to it, I have to boost the treble. I've found though, that the treble boost on the NTMB compliments the pickups very very well - I just jam it up and I'm good.

    Do you think it might have anything to do with your cabs? I think Eden and Aguilar have a pretty good amount of "woof" to them, maybe it's the combination of things that's not working so well.

    From what I've heard, the CX is more like a Lane Poor, and the EMG CS is an attempt in that direction too.
  4. I'm not looking for icepick treble; I'm just wanting a bit more even response. Everything in my signal chain is big and fat and punchy and warm (q.v.)

    Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. It's somewhat more drastic to change pickups but a lot cheaper.

    I find that Eden and Aguilar amps and cabs are really oriented toward J-style basses that have a lot of bottom and a lot of top that needs to be reproduced cleanly, but also need to have some low midrange girth added to them. Girth is definitely not lacking in my FBB. It's got bottom and low midrange to spare.

    I think I'm going to try the CX first before I go to an all-active setup.

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