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Big Singles: w/ or w/o Bart preamp?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Lobster11, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I just installed a set of Nordstrand Big Singles in a Karl Hoyt custom bass that I picked up here on TB some time ago. (I didn't care for the Kent Armstrongs humbuckers that came installed -- they sounded very "honky" to me.) The bass already had a 2-band Bartolini preamp installed, so I just swapped the pups and left the preamp in line. Now I'm trying to decide whether to yank the Bart and go passive, so I thought I'd seek opinions from folks who have experience with Bart preamps, Big Singles, or (ideally) both.

    I generally love the tone of the BS's; they're very much what I was looking for. However, it seems to me that the preamp might be adding something to the tone that I don't like. Specifically, I was expecting and would prefer a more raw, nasty, edgy tone -- at least for this bass at this time -- but I get the sense that the preamp is kind of "rounding off the edges" instead. I did some searching around TB and found that many folks describe something very much like this as the "Bart sound," using words like "smooth" and "buttery," etc. I might be hallucinating (wouldn't be the first time), but I feel as if I can almost hear separately what the pups are trying to do and what the preamp is doing, and that the latter is what I'd like to eliminate.

    So, here are my questions:

    First, does this analysis seem plausible? Have others had similar experiences with these pups and/or this preamp? Most important, does it sound like pulling the preamp will make me happier given what I've said above?

    Second, how can I most easily re-wire things temporarily to test out the passive setup? I think all the pots are wrong for a passive setup, so I was wondering if I could just wire the pups together directly to the hot and ground of the output jack? Of course this would mean no on-board controls, even volume, but that would be fine for an experiment if it would work. (I'm up for doing the mods myself, but my knowledge of electronics is limited.)

    Third, if I do decide to yank the preamp, what would be the best way to reconfigure the bass? It already has a four-knob setup, so I was thinking maybe V/V/T/T, but I'd be eager to hear other suggestions. (Bonus question for extra credit: Would I use 250k pots all-around?)

    Thanks in advance for your input.
  2. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I don't know about the preamp, though I do suspect that the pre is adding warmth and rounding things off.

    Unless the pre has an active/passive switch you wouldn't be able to test the passive route without somehow either bypassing the pre or rewiring it with passive controls.

    If you do decide to go passive you might consider going V/V/T and using the fourth hole for a parallel/series switch.

    Here's a wiring diagram that should work for you: Series/Parallel
  3. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Thanks for confirming my suspicion about the preamp: That's really the most important question.

    My plan for testing the passive setup was indeed to bypass the preamp entirely. The question -- given my limited knowledge of electronics -- is whether this can be accomplished by simply wiring the pups directly to the jack, or whether there is some other better way.

    I thought about adding a series/parallel switch, but it turns out Nordstrand winds the Big Singles somewhat differently for parallel versus serial applications. This particular set is designed for parallel, so I'm not sure how good they would sound in series. Besides, they are so huge-sounding that I fear putting a pair in series might create a tear in the space-time continuum, or at least blow out the windows. But it's a good idea, so I'll ask Stew at Nordstrand about it.
  4. maurilio

    maurilio Musician - Owner Mo's Shop & MBD - Tech Nordstrand Commercial User

    May 25, 2003
    Redlands, CA
    for testing, wire the pups directly to the jack.
    You'll love the big single in passive mode. The bart pre adds thickness to the sound...
    Generally we wire the pups with 250k pots, so VVTT all 250k is a good combination.
    I would not wire them in series, first you don't have separate vol and the sound would get too thick and probably muddy.... but you can test it...

  5. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    That's very helpful -- thanks Maurilio!
  6. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Audio Mike Lull Custom Guitars Gallien Krueger amplification Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups Darkglass Electronics
    I have and use both.

    However not ideally in the same bass.
    I have the Bart 2 band in 3 other basses (that don't have the big singles. I think the big singles sounds great without a pre and wanted the bass for that reason.

    So I can't say what it sounds like with but without sounds good to my ear. To add to that I can't see how the bart 2 band would sound bad (but to be honest I have not heard it).
  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Thanks for the feedback, Basswave. Just to be clear, though, let me emphasize that I don't at all mean to say that the Bart preamp sounds "bad" -- only that it might be wrong for what I want out of this particular bass with these particular pickups. In fact, I'm now thinking it would be awesome in my Carvin LB70....

    New bonus question: Anybody know of any reason why I couldn't put the Bart in a Carvin?
  8. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
  9. markkoelsch


    Sep 6, 2008
    Have any of you tried the Bart Jazz sized pickup in a Carvin 6 string? I am leaning that way, and was curious. Mine has the volume, blend, bass, and treble arrangment. I am thinking the bart pickups and preamp. Just curious if anyone else has done it.


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