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Bartolini or Nordstrand?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by philly_28, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. philly_28


    Dec 5, 2012
    Longtime lurker, first-time poster. :)

    So, I have an Ibanez BTB 670. It's a 35'-scale neck-through design with a 5-piece maple-bubinga neck, ash body and walnut top. It has got a (pretty broad) rosewood fretboard. I have DR String Low Riders on it strung BEAD.

    I love the looks, the feel and playing of this bass. The problem with this one is the electronics. It has Bartolini Mk2 Pick-ups and a Bartolini Mk2 Pre-amp and the result is a weak and punchless sound. I have decided to upgrade both the pick-ups and the pre-amp. For the pre-amp I have pretty much settled on the Aguilar OBP-3.

    What I haven't decided yet are which pick-ups to get. I've narrowed down to 2 options. Bartolini and Nordstrand. From what I understand the woods used on this bass should give it a nice compromise between bright attack and warm tone. The aggressiveness of the ash is somewhat subdued by the walnut top and the rosewood fretboard adds a warm texture to the sound. I look pretty much for the same compromise electronic-wise. I want a high-output, punchy, warm and well-articulated sound. There should be some aggressiveness to it, but not too much. I haven't played bass long enough to be any good, but style-wise I want to be able to play metal and some jazz with this bass.

    First, I thought 2 Bartolinis (dual coil soapbars) from the Classic Bass Series wired in series coupled with the Aguilar should give me enough versatility to accomplish my prefered sound. But I've only read good things about the Nordstrand pick-ups and after reading up on them I got the impression that they might be a little more focused than the Bartolinis.

    So, what do you guys recommend. Bartolinis or Nordstrand, and if Nordstrand which configuration (dual coils, big singles, fat stacks)?

    One other thing, I don't like the sound of the EMG DCs at all. It's just too cold and sterile for my taste. So, if nothing else, which of the pick-ups mentioned above sounds the least like EMG DCs?
  2. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Depends on the sound you're going for. I'm a huge fan of the US Bartolini pickups and preamps however, they have been very slow to produce. I had planned to put MK5's in my Lakland but I got tired of waiting and installed Nordstands (Big Splits) instead. Maybe at some point, I may try the Barts, if I can get them. You can't go wrong with either. Nordie Big Splits or Big Singles will give you a Jazz bass on steroids sound. I've heard the Fat Stacks are great sounding as well albeit with a little lower output. The Barts are a little more refined sounding but can be deep and sparkly as well. Just depends on which pickups you choose. Many Bart pickups are dark (by design) sounding.
  3. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Gold Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    The Barts will be more even sounding. The OPB-3 will help bring out what you want to hear more of. The Nordies will be more 'snarly". Both will yield more punch. The Barts will have a really strong thick low end but the mids will be polite in comparison.

    The Big Splits have lots of snarl, you don't need Big Singles to get it. Beware of getting too much of a good thing. The dual coils by Nordstrand are a Fail in my opinion, others will disagree.

    The Barts have bar magnets so string spacing won't be an issue or special order. I'd start with the CB Series and see if that does it for you.
  4. hs123


    Aug 11, 2011
    Westminster CO
    I have the Nordstrand FatStacks on my 6, I went with Nordy because of the even distribution of sound even on the Low B. I also got the Nordy Pre 3a-4b and after two months of playing I have yet to run out of tonal capabilities, so far, I can make that bass sound like anything I want. The Barts have their own sound though.
  5. Handyman


    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    That pretty much sums it up. I've got some of the Bart CB series soapbars in my Carvin BB75, and love them. They've got quite a bit more top end than the normal Barts, which is a great thing in my opinion.

    The Nordies have their own, very, very different sound. Both are great, depending on the sound you're looking for.
  6. philly_28


    Dec 5, 2012
    Thank you for the responses. Very helpful. :)

    Still not entirely sure which way to go but I'm leaning more towards the Bartolinis now.
  7. Envincibal

    Envincibal Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Philly, PA
    I'll try to shed some light on this... I recently refinished one of my Pedulla Thunderbolt's and wanted to get something different out of it (it sounded really damn good as it was, but this was a 'backup' to my #1 t-bolt). I replaced the preamp with an Audere classic 4-band and installed Bart Classics with a 3-way switch to toggle between Series/Single/Parallel on the coils. The Barts sounded very nice, lots of clarity, but they were a bit polite. Ultimately, I replaced them with Delano soapbars (tons of mids!).

    My experience with the Nordy's are both with Dual Coils and Big Splits. The DC's I didn't like at all - way too polite (I play metal/hard rock and this is NOT the pickup I would use). The Big Splits however are pretty aggressive (these have been housed in another t-bolt matched up with an Audere preamp: 4 band + z-mode), and I've had no problem cutting through a Mesa guitar rig (thick as a brick too).

    I think I have some recordings of the Barts in the T-bolt, as well as the Delano's... I not so sure about the Big Splits though... PM me your email addy if you're interested.

    The Delano pickups are night and day compared to the EMGs (my favorite of the bunch).
  8. jg42


    Jul 12, 2012
    Really? I heard that they were "very close to EMG aggressiveness wise" from somebody here. How would you describe a difference?

    p.s. I have a bass with EMG DC40s, but haven't tried Delano yet. Out of my 3 basses - one with EMGs, the other with Big Singles and the 3rd is with Barts MK4CBCs - the EMG one is by far my favourite though.
  9. Envincibal

    Envincibal Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Philly, PA
    EMG's I've used in the past (be it in Spector basses, Euro/LX and USA made) had more top-end to them (some nice cripsness), whereas the Delano's are LOADED with mid (I would guess, purely guessing here, that its somewhere in the range of 500hz to 1khz where the bump is), and the top end is more subdued.

    The EMG's, while nice, also sounded a bit sterile to me after playing them for a bit (I'm talking about 2 weeks of using the bass, right after the honeymoon period)

    Delano's on the other hand, well, it wasn't a sound I was aiming for, but that bass is now my #1.
    these are the Delano's I have
  10. Modulus1906


    May 5, 2009
    Would loooove to hear clips of the Delanos with the Audere. Also, between the CB Barts and the Delanos, which would you say is fatter and warmer in the bridge position? Can the Audere growl and get fat?
  11. philly_28


    Dec 5, 2012
    Thank you for the insight.

    I have a question concerning those Delanos. Do they have blade magnets like the Bartolinis and EMGs or not?
  12. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    I would go for Nordstrand any time! :hyper: Go for some Nordy Dual Coil, parallel wired PUPS. You will not be disappointed :)
  13. awamori


    Dec 10, 2009
    IIRC the Delano's have blade magnets.

    Anyways I have a SBC 6 HE/S and a SBC 6 HE/S-4 installed in my modded BTB776PB. They are quite aggressive in the mids and quite rounded in the low end department.