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Deep, full and piano like pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Jared Lash, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I'm in talks with Chris Stambaugh about another custom bass. This one will be a six string multiscale (fan fret) and I'm looking for pickups (and possibly a preamp if I go active) to go in it.

    I want a modern tone, but not the mid-scooped sound that is exaggeratedly bassy and thin, jagged or "plinky" up high.

    I want full and rich all the way through with authority to the lows and sweet, harmonically rich highs.

    Any thoughts?
  2. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    In no particular order: SGD, Lane Poor, Villex, Delano, Q-tuner..... Q-tuners are probably the best for upper harmonics, though a tad bright for some tastes.
  3. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Thanks for the recommendations. Villex and Delano were the first I thought of as well but I haven't used either. Chris' first thoughts were Aeros or Q-tuners.

    I only know a little about Lane Poors and nothing about SGDs. I'll have to do a little research.

    Any other thoughts?
  4. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    I think the answer for your desired sound lies in the rest of the signal chain and variables, and the interactiveness of this whole system, as any pickup you may specify. I think new and/or clean, boiled strings will allow your sound to be "piano-like" as much as any pickup. Or let's put it this way, my Squier Jazz bass is going to sound a lot more "piano-like" right out of the box than your Stambaugh with old, dead, strings.

    I know you are asking about pickups, but my experience is that string condition has much more of an effect on the "piano-like" or "un-piano-like" nature of the sound of a bass than any specific pickup configuration I've heard/played/owned, and I've heard/played/owned many.
  5. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Of course strings play a huge role and I'll likely try a few, likely starting with Rotosounds, Hi-Beams, SITs and Blue Steels to see which work best for the tone I'm going for. And going a step further, action and setup will play a big part as well.

    That said, there are obviously pickups that will work much better for my application than others.
  6. Aero M series possibly. I KNOW they'll square you away as most eveything they do is custom. Very wide frequency response. Has Mr. Stambaugh ever used AERO?


    On my 5 string Valenti adn Lakland, they defintely deepened the B with a nicer high end shimmer. These are single coil J5 pups, so YMMV.
  7. fullrangebass


    May 7, 2005
    From all the pickups I've so far used (SD, DiMarzio, Aero, Q-tuners, Villex, Delano, Nordstand, to name a few) the ones that best fit the "Deep, full and piano like pickups" description, are Villex pickups. SGD come close to that. Q-tuners were "a tad bright for my taste" (as 12bass has already noted)
    Reuben Hernandez likes this.
  8. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Thanks guys. Those two (Aero and Villex) are pretty much the main two in contention for me right now. I've also heard that the Q-tuners are a bit bright but they are in consideration as well.

    Chris has definitely used Aeros, in fact they are his preferred pickup maker and he has a long relationship with Larry Pollack. The Villex are very intriguing as well.

    This bass may be passive, but if I go with active electronics I'd likely add either a Glockenklang or Pope pre as well.
  9. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    Villex "classic" pickups are amazing. They track the fundamental like very few other pickups that I've tried. The midrange is warm, natural and full. The treble is balanced and musical without being harsh or overstated.

    The Villex "NVT" system takes this to the next level. The overall voicing is a bit more assertive, plus you get 3 fully-passive tone controls which allow you to tailor the sound to your needs. At no time do any of these controls boost or cut any frequencies unnaturally - in all settings, the tone is organic and clear.

    Q-Tuners and SGD "sidewinders" are also very nice pickups, and have many similar tonal characteristics, but in my opinion the Villex "NVT" is the best all-passive system that money can buy.
  10. OldogNewTrick


    Dec 28, 2004
    Germany, EU
    well, you seem pretty much settled on those choices, but just maybe you should also consider the Delano Xtenders.

    They have a full range tone, but not with the polite (scooped) tone of soapbars. They have very expressive mids. Mine is combined with a Glockenklang 3-band pre, albeit in a fretless.

    Downside would be of course, that it's pretty hard to swap out against something else, should you not like their tone. True full range is not for everyone.....

    Don't forget to check out the sound samples at the bottom left of the page !
  11. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Full range is exactly what I want and I was looking at the Delanos, but you hit on exactly my reservation about them. They are far from a standar shape meaning there are no drop in replacements if I don't love them.

    But you've got my preferences right (I want modern and full range for piano like fingerstyle - NOT modern and heavily scooped for slap sounds) so I'll definitely have to keep the Delanos in the mix.

    Thanks for all the suggestions. Of course, I'm no closer to making a decision than I was before ;) , but I still appreciate the responses.
  12. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

  13. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    I find that its all about bass tightness, like the tone when unplugged needs to be super resonant.

    I like the sound of the bartolinis made for Roscoe basses. People say barts are too compressed-sounding, but its about how you set the tone. I also suggest a non-bart preamp with the bart pickups
  14. bearhart74

    bearhart74 Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2009
    I am seriously loving my barts with the Audere 3bz preamp in my Modulus Genesis 5 especially with EBS Northern Lights Ti strings.
  15. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I love the sound of piezos. Especially blended, they give such an "air" to the tone. But they are very far from what I'm looking for as they are much thinner and "delicate" than the deep and resonant tone I want.

    I'm looking to do a 36" B string and having all the design of this bass to go to making it deep and resonant so I definitely agree that the pickups will just transfer the unplugged tone.

    I definitely know that I DON'T want a Bart pre. To me, that's where the notion of Barts being woody and compressed comes primarily from.
  16. Mr. Pickles

    Mr. Pickles Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2006
    Dutchess County, NY
    I've also found the Bart pres and P'ups to have a rich, albeit compressed midrange. Def. not what you're looking for. The Delano Xtenders are interesting. Is there any reason they couldn't build them into a standard humbucker sized enclosure for you?

    Have you considered having a piezo in addition to magnetic p'ups? That might compliment the mags and get you into your stated tone zone.

    Villex is a genius. He developed a really flexible passive pickup system for the Chapman Stick which is mind-blowingly cool. Got to hand it to those crazy Soviet-era scientists.

    This sounds like a killer build! Good luck!
  17. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    I am also building a new fretless bass with one Delano Xtender pickup, so I will be able to review this as well when it is ready. I have high expectations for this pickup, and I will try to compare it with the Villex "NVT", SGD, Q-Tuner and other pickups in my arsenal. :)

    I've done some amateur analysis of this pickup, and I think they could probably build the same armature into a MM5 shell (MV shape, no tabs) as well. Unless I choose to dissect it (as well as my other Delano "MC 5 HE" pickup in the MM5 shape, which also sounds very nice) I don't have any way to prove this yet. However, I can guess that it appears to be a modified form of a "sidewinder" pickup, based on the magnetic fields that I can see. But the magnet structure is very large and it would probably not fit into a narrow soapbar.

    True, but this would definitely make for a unique custom bass! A fanned fret Stambaugh with a Delano Xtender would be quite something to see.

    If the Xtender doesn't work out, then you could probably get away with re-routing the body for a standard MM5 pickup, or a pair of soapbars (Bart P4 shape) in close proximity to each other. You may need to use a few pieces of wood to fill in the gap between the soapbars, but this could be a great excuse to build a pickup ramp...
  18. fullrangebass


    May 7, 2005
    The most "true to unplugged" tone I've heard from a pickup comes from Villex pickups (both Classic as well as NVT line)
  19. James Judson

    James Judson

    Jul 16, 2009
    I love my Carvin LB70 for its piano like tone. Don't know if its the J style pickups or the KOA wood. I have never experienced the piano tone in any bass till I found this one. I have several other basses that I love as well but for different reasons.
  20. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Very good points. I'll have to talk to Delano and see what they say about a more standard enclosure. Piezo is certainly something that could be added as an option. And I'm currently leaning towards Villex.

    Thanks, I'm sure Chris will do a bang up job on this bass.

    Color me VERY interested to hear your thoughts on the Delanos vs the Villex, SGDs, Q-tuners and others.

    And yeah, the thought has crossed my mind that if the Delanos are the right fit it would make for a cool looking custom.

    Everything I've read seems to agree with your thoughts on the Villex.

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