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Cort Curbow 6 fretless conversion - bridge PU suggestions?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by kerryg, May 9, 2010.


  1. kerryg

    kerryg Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2007
    Vancouver BC, Canada
    Hi folks. I scored a Cort Curbow 6 on eBay for $220 and I'm in the process of turning it into a "budget boutique fretless". The first part, defretting, went very well. I've now strung it with TI Jazz Rounds and pulled it out on three gigs in the last two weeks and it really exceeded expectations - it didn't sound all that out of place next to my Nordy VJ5 and it even crowded out my Roscoe 6'er (bearing in mind the counterbalancing "wow factor" of the "fretless 6" thing tended to outweigh any sonic deficiencies).

    Up next is electronics. First priority: routing and installing a bridge pickup.

    I'm looking for suggestions that balance these factors:

    1) accommodates the narrow spacing of the CC - 17mm
    2) works well with the CC's 15.75" radius
    3) solid passive tone (I intend to install a new pre, but with a passive bypass)

    Since the bass is an ongoing experiment in "budget boutique fretless" I don't want to spend more than the price of the bass on a custom narrow-spacing 6-string bass pickup.

    Here's some ideas I've played with:

    A 5-string pickup without pole pieces (say one of the many blade-style Barts). Ideal might be a pull from a higher-end 5-string like a Lakland or Roscoe.
    A Q-Tuner of the right width, although that's pricier than I'd hoped.

    I'll try to get some pix up later. All suggestions gratefully received - thanks!

    [PS: next after that will be "what kind of pickup might suit the existing 'sweet spot' pickup rout?"]
     
  2. kerryg

    kerryg Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2007
    Vancouver BC, Canada
    Got some measurements and parameters - string spacing is 78mm at the bridge. The "sweet spot" pickup seems to be 102mm x 38mm (EMG40 style?). The pickup says BARTOLINI across the cover; no mention of "MK1".

    [I wonder if the 6-string Cort Curbows actually shipped with US Barts? Maybe there weren't any 6-string MK1s and that was part of the discontinuation.]

    Now to find a roughly 102mm wide J pickup that can accommodate a 78mm spaced 6-string with a 16" radius.
     
  3. r_cc_c

    r_cc_c

    Jan 16, 2007
    I used to own a Cort Curbow 6 for a very short period of time. The bridge actually sink into the body. Unless you find one with the exact same size, it is not going to be pretty.
    As I remember, the bridge was really solid. May be too solid for fretless, but is is not bad at all.

    The pickup I had was a Bartolini.

    Thanks
    Rick
     
  4. kerryg

    kerryg Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2007
    Vancouver BC, Canada
    Phase I is complete and I've been gigging the bass with the original electronics. At this point the bass plays amazingly. has plenty of great "mwah", and sounds pretty mediocre. It's missing some midrange punch which I have a feeling an added bridge pickup will fill in nicely. I've already contacted the guys at Norstrand and they reckon they should be able to do me a tight-spacing 6-string Big Single I can rout a space for.
     
  5. r_cc_c

    r_cc_c

    Jan 16, 2007
    I guess I miss read your posting. Bridge PU will be cool!
    Looks like you are going to carve out a cavity for the pickup.
    Do you plan to repaint the bass?
    The luthite material is yellowish color.
     
  6. kerryg

    kerryg Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2007
    Vancouver BC, Canada
    From what I've read, it seems like Luthite carves like Plaster of Paris. I'll rout as neatly as possible (seems like a good excuse to buy a Dremel Trio when they come out in September - not all GAS is bass-related :D). Then I'll just paint the inside of the cavity black and copper shield it. If I have any touchups I reckon I can probably find some nail polish that matches.

    I did two sets on that bass (and one on my Nordy VJ5) on last night's gig. I'll post a soundclip ASAP.
     
  7. kerryg

    kerryg Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2007
    Vancouver BC, Canada
    for future experimenters. I wound up going with SDG pickups which have added all the midrange and detail I could have asked for. Luthier Paul iverson did the pickup install. The CC made a wicked fretless, and nobody can believe my "poor man's boutique fretless 6-er". I don't have any soundclips to post yet but IMO this bass definitely hit the mark I was hoping for.
     
  8. Isn't the fret/fingerboard on those basses phenolic? I would love to do a defret to a 5 or 6 CC but wondered about the defretting process(I've done a couple, one poorly & one decently). Just kinda curious how that part of your project went.
     
  9. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    You have nothing to screw into with luthite. There is a piece of wood under the pickup.
    If you don't do the same you won't be able to attach the bridge PU.
     
  10. kerryg

    kerryg Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2007
    Vancouver BC, Canada
    defretting the CC was a breeze. Heat a few secons, pull gently - literally couldn't be easier. The surface is ebonol and it's hard as nails, you can't really pull up splinters like with wood. I tested the resulting gaps with feeler gauges, filled them with some white polystyrene strips of the appropriate thickness from a model railroad shop, got a headlight refinishing kit from our local auto parts place and finished the FB with that.

    As for the pickup, I didn't feel remotely like routing luthite (that stuff smells like shoe polish soaked in gasoline, Paul said it really stank up the shop and gave them headaches) so I took it to a pro to do. I don't know what Paul backed the P/U with. I just know the SGD pickup sounds great.
     

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