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Best Bass Pickups and Bass Preamps

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Art1606, Oct 15, 2019.

  1. Art1606


    Oct 6, 2019
    What do you think is the best/better bass pickup and preamp?
    I have one bass with Nordstrand and another with Bartolini. The Nordstrand is definitely better I think. Thinking about upgrading the Bartolini with something else. Not sure which one to pick. The model with Bartolini is Ibanez SRSC805
    Here's the general and short list of pickup brands. Is this good idea to get matching preamp or there could be mix? Would be great to know what others think:
    Lakland Pickups
    Seymour Duncan
    Victor Wooten EMG Set
    The new Ibanez model comes with Aguilar, for example - SR2405W. It sounds great in videos:
    Zoobiedood likes this.
  2. mustBmtd

    mustBmtd Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2012
    Try being a little broader and not just the ones off the to of your head. There's Audere, Mike Pope, John East, Glockenlang, Delano, Bass Mods, Tone Monster. There's even more.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Hey I think I missed you when you joined. Welcome to TalkBass!!!!

    What kinds of sounds are you into? Just like amps, strings, or any other part of your signal chain, certain brands excel at "vintage" tones amd others concentrate their efforts on "uncolored" sound.

    Two things stand out to me. (Full disclosure I'm in a passive phase right now.)

    To me, a mid frequency sweep is a must. If you can't really dial in your mids, what's the point of a preamp? At the very least, a switch with a few mid frequency choices can help.

    That being said, the most transparent preamp I ever worked with was a Sadowsky. That sucker doesn't color your tone at all. It just boosts frequencies. The Vintage Tone Control (I think that's what it's called) is nice too.
    ELG60, RNG1 and Art1606 like this.
  4. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    The allure of sussing out a group consensus of what’s best is compelling, but flawed:

    • “Best” is subjective - different for different people
    • “Best” is contextual - different for different situations
    • You seem to be ignoring the rest of the package - instrument woods, strings, processing, amp, cabinet
    • You’re overgeneralizing - every one of those manufacturers makes a wide variety of pickups, with a wide variety of tones
    What is objective is the quality of the products made by those companies - they’re all pro-grade, so definitely value for money.

    You can mix and match pickup and preamp manufacturers, no problem. Pay attention to their documentation for details (such as using active EMG pickups with an Audere preamp).
  5. kcducttaper


    Jul 1, 2019
    As others have alluded to, it's kinda a personal preference thing. That and you haven't mentioned what model pickups/pre you've got. I'm assuming MK-1 pickups and the Ibanez preamp per the current Ibanez SRSC805 page.

    I have a 2009 Ibanez SR755 that came stock with Bartolini MK-1 pickups and Bartolink MK-1 preamp. It seems like the preamp is the weak link and the pickups are fairly decent, so I'm in the process of yanking the pre on that and sticking in an Aguilar OBP-3. To my ears, the Bartolini MK-1 preamp sounds fairly scooped. It has a warm woolly tone that is very smooth, but isn't terribly defined and can often be lost in a mix IMO. After 10 years of playing it, I ultimately wasn't satisfied with the tones I was getting any longer and decided to upgrade my preamp to something better. I chose the Aguilar because every Aguilar loaded bass I've heard sounded great. Aguilar doesn't make a mid sweep - only a mid selector, so I kinda wish I'd gone with something with a mid sweep like Fingers mentioned. Either way, you can't go wrong with any of the big name brand's mid to high end pre's. Just do some research and find one that has the features you want with a sound you like (youtube can be your friend here) and have at it!
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2019
    Art1606 likes this.
  6. gigetto


    Sep 25, 2019
    One of the most used for versatile bass is Delano HB splittable and Glockenlang 3 way in alternative Aguilar
    Art1606 likes this.
  7. Art1606


    Oct 6, 2019
    Hi, Thank you for welcoming me. I'm a beginner in all that and not great at terminology. In general, i'm looking for passive/active tone and something brighter than Bartollini MK1. Thank you, Art.
  8. Art1606


    Oct 6, 2019
    Thank you very much. Please let me and others know what is your experience with Aguilar preamp when you upgrade. This would be very interesting to know. Thanks, Art
  9. Art1606


    Oct 6, 2019
    Thank you. I have never heard of Delano HB or Glockenlang. I'm a beginner with all this. Thanks again, Art.
  10. onda'bass

    onda'bass Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2010
    Buffalo Ny
    Very subjective subject. My fav isn’t even on the list so....ymmv
  11. Art1606


    Oct 6, 2019
    I cannot edit my post for some reason. As i wrote, my list is short. You are more than welcome to add to my list. Thank you.
    onda'bass likes this.
  12. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    for preamps I like the John East j-retro and the Audere 4 band
    ELG60 and Art1606 like this.
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    tleebassist11, mikewalker and Art1606 like this.
  14. skyline_01

    skyline_01 Endorsing artist: Nordstrand Audio, Tsunami Cables Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    Lebanon, OH
    A nod for Nordstrand here. I outfitted my fretless Ray "hybrid" (SUB Ray body/guts, US fretless Stingray neck) with a new pickup and pre and it made a night and day difference. Yes, I am an endorser but they didn't influence this post. :laugh:

    I also had an Aguilar OBP-3 in a Lakland 55-01 I used to own. The MK-1 pre just seemed weak to me but the Aggie livened up the sound and made it a lot more usable for me. I sold the bass before I could upgrade the pickups, but I had wanted to go with Nordstrands in that size (Big Splits, Big Singles, Fat Stacks). It would have been a killer combo.
    Art1606 likes this.
  15. so far im using Barts, SD and Dmarzio's, all passive on 3 different basses..they all sound great imo..Guess i'll have to feed my "gas" and build more with these other pickups everyone has mentioned:smug:
    Art1606 likes this.
  16. claudel

    claudel Supporting Member

    My faves:


    Q-Tuner BL-4 & ACG/East EQ-01


    Rautia Multi-Coil - TBird size

    Sounds great passive. Might buy an ACG EQ02 if there's ever any more but it really doesn't need it.
    mikewalker and Art1606 like this.
  17. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    EMG - for what I do. If I were in a Rush cover band I would need something a lot different.
    Art1606 likes this.
  18. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Cool and interesting setup all the way around! Did you DIY the rack, or...?

    Still enjoying the BL-4s on one of my fretless fours. Finally got around to fitting some roundwounds on that bass, which answered a lot of questions for me, in a good way.
    ctmullins likes this.
  19. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    yeah, it's surprising how nice some of these 'almost-free' pickups actually are. I have a no-name passive "Mikro"-scale 'Stingray' that came out of a shop in Taiwan, and its no-name 'MM' pickup positively smokes a whole lot of expensive name brand pickups, in terms of tone, output level, and hum-resistance.
    kodiakblair and Art1606 like this.
  20. claudel

    claudel Supporting Member

    I bought that set of Q-Tuners to build a bass around when I only had the Warmoth neck on hand.

    Never wanted to change them out. I added the ACG-01 a year or so ago and it seems to work pretty well with the Q-Tuners.

    If I ever decide to go active on the Jr I might take the plunge and try to build one of your designs, but building things is difficult for me any more.

    Rack is homemade, mostly.

    If I'd had a clue what the hardware, screws, parts, patch panels, cabling and crocodile vyanide would wind up costing I'd have thought twice, but it was fun building it.
    Art1606 and Passinwind like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Feb 26, 2021

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