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Best passive J style PU for a fretless?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by dabass, Jan 1, 2006.

  1. dabass

    dabass Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2005
    I'm changing PU's on my fretless. What's the concensus the best passive J style pickups?
  2. I have a fretless 4-string Stambaugh w/Bartolini J pickups; I'm not sure of the model, but the original owner told me they're specifically made for fretless. They do sound very nice, w/great output & lots of tonal variety. The bass is strung w/flats so although it has some mwah available, that's not really it's strong suit. I think it could do it w/rounds, but I'm going to keep flats on this one. Anyway, I don't go for best/worst on this question, but the Barts are nice. I'm waiting on a fretless 7 w/one Aero MM-style PU: I'll post a mini-review when I get it(waiting on the PU :( ).
  3. first off,,,why are you changing your pickups and what are they? the reason I ask is I want to know what it is about your sound that you don't like and what you are trying to head for...

    this helps heaps in determining a suitable replacement.
  4. dabass

    dabass Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2005
    The PU's are original Manne "stock" single coil PU's! The bass is a Manne 4 string w passive electronics. It's set with volume, volume tone. The sound is a bit "thin" with the bridge PU turned up, particularly on D and G strings. I would like a "fuller" tone on the bridge PU. I'm used to active basses and I think it's easier to just "dial in" the desired tone! It seems a little more work with a passive bass with more tweeking of my amp to get the tone I want!
  5. In your case, I'd probably take this approach:

    1) Given that you are more used to active basses and "dialing in" your tone, I'd start by investing in either an outboard preamp (Aguilar DB924, or Sadowsky) or an EQ-able stomp box (a Sans Amp, Sadowsky, or even a 7-band Graphic Eq). You could try a Behringer GEQ or DI, I've heard mixed reviews on these, but the price is worth an experiment, IMO. Or you could also go Boss.

    2) After you've had your play and still feel that you need a bit more of that "basic character" from your bridge pickup, you could try for a stacked humbucker in the J-position (Carvin, makes one, Nordstrand does, as well.)

    I hope this gives you some ideas.
  6. Bassroy


    Jan 2, 2004
    Round Rock, TX
    I agree on trying the outboard preamp. I had a MiM Jazz that I was about to change the pickups on, but waited after I plugged into a SansAmp RBI (into a SWR Bass 350). The RBI made a huge difference in the tone, and I due to that, I blew off the pickup change.

    One onboard preamp that I got to try was the Basslines Steve Bailey preamp. Supposedly it's tuned for fretless. All I know is that I loved the way the bass sounded with this installed.
  7. I've checked those out before...I'm a little bit sceptical only because, I think a good pre can sound good on a fretless or fretted...this business about "tuned especially for fretless" is just a little too much of a marketing hype thing, IMO....not that it won't sound GREAT...I bet it does...ahhhh, heck...you know what I mean :)
  8. dabass

    dabass Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2005
    I'm attempting to really just bring out the "natural" tone of the bass without any pre-amp. Just a nice "passive" tone! I think "many" fretless basses have a little "overkill" on there pre-amps.