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Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by RaszBasz, Dec 20, 2010.
Any experiences with this? Is the sound dull?
I just added them in my MIJ '62 reissue a little while ago and I think they are fine. Some ppl complain that they suck, but I think they are good enough for me and I am usually fussy. No noise!
I've got 'em. I wouldn't go so far as to say they suck, but if you are really looking for something close to real coil single coil tone, you'll have to look at the noiseless versions by the usual boutique pickup makers. (get out wallet). On the other hand, the Fender pickups are priced right and do produce the joy of being able to single a Jazz pickup without hum rising up.
I don't think that any of the pickup makers make splits or stacks that sound much better than the noiseless. None sound like real singles to my ears yet any of these will sound close enough in a mix or a band setting. If noise is not an issue, just get true singles. If not than many splits or stacks will get you 85% there in my opinion.
I've got some in my MIM fretless Fender Jazz. Compared to the original "same size" pickups, the Fender Noiseless are GREAT. I couldn't compare with other J bass pickups aside from the stock pickups of a 60's reissue I had a while ago... and the noiseless are way better. I actually like the fact that they are noiseless. I don't think they sound dull at all.
Sorry, but the (for example) dimarzio area J pickups are both clearer and stronger than the fender noiseless. they're a side-by-side design, so still dead-quiet.
Stack pickups like the noiseless have an inherently weaker sound due to the two coils canceling each other a little. That's why fender uses a preamp with a significant volume and treble boost to compensate.
Having owned the original Noiseless (now dubbed Vintage Noiseless I believe), Samarium Cobalt Noiseless, Nordstrand, and Fralin noise canceling jazz pickups, here is how I would rank them, not just in terms of single coil tone, but in terms of real-world usable tone on stage and in the studio:
1. Fralin - this is my favorite by a wide margin. It sounds brilliant passive or active and has lots of single coil mojo without the noise.
2. Fender Vintage Noiseless - I had these on an American Dlx Jazz bass and the stock preamp could not be bypassed, but I always liked the sound of this setup. They don't compare to single coils but they sit very well in a mix and have plenty of funk.
3. Nordstrand - these are really good sounding pickups but sound more hi-fi to my ears. They're not for the purist but they do have a powerful, cutting sound. If I was worried about cutting through a dense mix in large ensemble, I would probably go back to these with a preamp.
4. Fender Samarium Cobalt Noiseless - I thought I liked this when I first heard them but the more I played them the more difficult they became. They just don't sound like a jazz bass should IMO. There was a low-mid emphasis that made my stage tone less punchy and distinguishable (I don't want to call them muddy because they had plenty of top end, but the low end wasn't warm and punchy).
It took me a long time to come to terms with the extra cost of the Fralins but once I pulled the trigger I've never looked back.
"Stronger and clearer" are subjective terms. Some may call the same pickups hot and brittle. My point is that most (not all) pickup manufacturers offer a good hum free alternative to a single coil jazz. I personally prefer singles but then again I rarely play a jazz favoring any one pickup. I've recently realised that most pickups are much more similar in sound than I used to think. Pickup height, new strings, pickup placement, and finger touch have a bigger impact on the sound than body woods or pickup topologies (splits, side by side, stacked). I'm not saying that there isn't a difference between these. All I'm saying is that the differences are smaller than most perceive. This is just my opinion being an audio engineer and having owned dozens of basses and worked on all of them.
Agreed, if you want top of the line, you'll have to pay an arm and a leg for them but if your looking for ecomonical ways fender pick ups are awesome, alittle buzz, (which you can expect) plus i like the tone out of the fenders alot too. May be its just me.
Great post. I have the Fralins in my 2003 Jazz four, and the Nordstrands in my 2008 Jazz V. I agree with your descriptions, and also prefer the Fralins for their more gritty vintage vibe. The Nordstrands do have a modern edge, which, as you say, really cuts through a band mix, and I like them for that reason.
I've never owned a bass with the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless, but I've played a few, and heard others use them on stage. I've always thought they sounded real close to a conventional passive Jazz, both solo and in a band mix. Or, perhaps I just like the low mids you mention.
Edit: Forgot to mention I have tried the Fender Noiseless a couple of times on the MIM Deluxe Active Jazz. I have not been impressed. They do sound somewhat dull to me, and least on their own. But a friend of mine has the Deluxe Active J, and on stage they sounded fine, very J-bass like. Of course, he couldn't help but sound great -- he was using my rig!
I think a nice compromise is the reverse wound Duncan 1/4 pounders. They're a true single coil pu, but a little hotter and a little less noisy.
I know this question is a little subjective but since you've tried them and can compare: How close are the Fralins Splits to Vintage? Do they get to 85% , 95% of the sound?
How are they differ? (thinner, brighter...?)
I'm trying to decide between Fralin Vintage abd Splits. I love the Vintage sound so I'm leaning towards the Single Coil but the Hum does get under my skin at times!
I could be willing to sacrifice some sound as long as it's not too much, although "not too much" is difficult to quantify.
Again, I know this is subjective, but your input would be greatly appreciated.
This is a tough one to answer. I've played a fair amount of vintage jazz basses and there is so much more to their magic than just the pickups. It's also worth noting that age affects a pickup's tone as well. Just because a pickup is wound to vintage specs doesn't mean it's wound to emulate 40 years of aging...but that's another thread entirely.
So a better question would be how a noise canceling pickup measures up to its single coil equivalent. In my opinion, the Fralin sounds very very very good. They are just a little fatter with a slightly subdued treble when compared to single coils but the difference is subtle. It's not something that can be quantified with a percentage but I can say they make my ears quite happy and I'm not easy to please.
This is what I was trying to ask, Fralin Split vs Fralin SC?
I realise that NC won't sound exactly like SC but in the few I've heard (not Fralins) the NC were significantly thinner....in those cases I'd prefer the hum!
If the difference in sound is subtle, the Split just might be what I'm looking for. Hum cancelling with sound that's very, very close to SC!
I haven't compared the noiseless Fralins directly to Fralin single coils, but I've A/B'd them against the stock singles in my Fender Jazz V and a G&L JB. The G&L had different strings, but I use the same Fender strings on my four with the Fralins and the five. To my ears, the Fralins are very close to pure singles. They lose some "air" and "sparkle" in the highs, and maybe a very slight amount of single coil "bark," but that's about it. If you typically turn down the treble, as I do, I think they're functionally just about identical to single coils.
In another thread on this, a very knowledgeable TB'er said the noiseless Fralins had a spike around 1khz, which he didn't like. Could be. I do notice my G&L JB with singles sounds a little smoother, and maybe that's why, but it could be strings or other factors. Regardless, the Fralins sound darned close to single coils IMO.
I'm debating going noiseless on the G&L, but so far I'm digging the "vintage alnico" singles with Chromes, which provide a nice vintage vibe.
nordstrand makes all three types, and their website comparisons are instructive. the stacks are going to be weaker, so they recommend using them with a preamp. their "splits" are as strong as the single-coils, just maybe not quite as transparent. (they're sort of like a P-bass pickup stuffed into a J housing, after all.)
I currently have Fender SCNs in my ESP J bass clone(Alder/RW combo). It sounds very vintage: Not too dark or too bright but with much more punch and clarity than the stock pups did and obviously. Not totally noiseless, but far less hum and buzz that before. Although it sounds pretty good eventually I'm going to install an Active preamp with a bypass. I'm doing it mainly I like the projection of a Active preamp, and I just miss the convenience of having an eq on the instrument itself. I agree that while stacked and side-by-side hum-cancelling pickups do sound different, its not necessarily a bad thing IMO. It just gives players more options to choose a sound that works best for them. Good for bass players...