Fralin vs Van Zandt - I want the Fender sound.

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by rubo, Apr 8, 2004.

  1. rubo


    Aug 25, 2003
    Hi, I'm new to bass playing, and own an Elrick NJS-4 with Bart X4 Jazz pups & Bart NTMB pre-amp. I borrowed my friend's Fender 1968 P-Bass - all stock. That thing can sing, it has that Fender growl, hard to explain in words. So I'm looking for the Exact sound. I absolutely love how my Elrick feels and plays - can't compare to Fender at all, but the sound is not there. Since reading few posts her I found out that Mr. Fralin makes replica of the vintage Fender pups & Van Zandt makes similar stuff as well. Van Zandt - they have no contact info and the only website I found is this one: - are these discontinued?

    Has anyone used Van Zandt stuff and how does it compare to Fralin.

    I've noticed thta my Elrick has more warmer sound then the P-Bass, so if I could get that vintage Fender sound but add slight warmth it will be perfect.

    I found this gentlemen selling Van Zandt for $85 each.

    So if anyone maybe wants to buy these first and compare it to others, I'll gladly will wait rather then jumping on it. Since I can't afford to buy both Fralin & Zandt.

    What about Fralin single coil vs Fralin split jazz pups, how do they differ in sound?

    Also, I haven't tried any vintage Fender J-Basses - which one growls more P or J?


    P.S. I do realize that maybe it's the age of the bass that can truly give me that sound, but I want to get as close as possible.
  2. rubo


    Aug 25, 2003
  3. I can't comment on the specific pickups you ask about, but i will mention that alot of factors imparts that sound your looking for.
    Fender basses have 34" scales, use specific woods, pickups places at exact spots, low mass bridges, etc. And to deviate much from that formula will result in a different sounding instrument. Pickups made to copy the fender sound will help alittle bit, but if you want the exact growl or vibe you'll have to look at other components besides just the pickup.
    i suspect the age thing is important here as well. some of the older fender basses have mojo that can't be replicated
    Lastly, I've heard great things about Fralin pickups, guess you could call/email him and ask specifics given the nature of your bass, and what vibe your going for
    good luck
  4. rubo


    Aug 25, 2003
    Yes I know that every detail will change the tone on some level, but as I mentioned before I want to get as close I can, I know I won't get exact results. Mine is made from ash body maple neck and wenge fingerboard - very similar to that 68 P-Bass.

  5. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Isn't your bass a J? Others will argue, but you will have a hard time getting a P sound from a J. The pickups are completely different and in a different position. I don't think changing the type of J pickup will make much difference.
  6. rubo


    Aug 25, 2003
    Yes it's J, but I'm trying to get more of a overall Fender sound rather then exact P-Bass sound.

  7. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    I've recently routed several basses to accept any pup configuration (except a 3 coil Sterling MM = 1 3/8" deep) and have been swapping pups in and out. In addition I've converted all my onboard preamps to outboard so I can isolate the affect they have as well.

    I'd say that pups are definitely the primary element in a sound. But the basses inherent tone will flavor them for a fact - and you can tell it. But pups have an inherent sound just as a bass does and will follow those pups no matter what bass you stick them in - and you can tell it.

    So summarily, I'd say you're on the right track. The Vans you can probably kiss off cause I've never seen any for sale but used Fralins show up on ebay on a regular basis so I'd go that route. Just start someplace and keep going to you get it right.

    Also, you may even get a variation you can tell from the same brand and model of pup.

    For what its worth, I've got a pair of Fender Lace Sensor Jazz that I just had on ebay with a set of Duncans and EMGs and the guy chose the EMGS. They were listed at $60 + actual shipping and I'll take that. Or if you've got some other pups a trade may be in order. The Sensors have the Fender sound but they have a relatively low ouput - not hot at all. Always buying, selling, and trading pups since I'm no longer limited by the bass. YEE HAW - SHO NUFF FILL GUD!
  8. rubo


    Aug 25, 2003
    Well I'm leaning towards Vans more, simple because no one heard these. I know Mike Lull uses them in some of him basses,so I emailed him to find out more. And I did find few Vans for sale - new old stock I guess at $85 each. Fralins, I would have to wait for a month for them to make it custom for me. So I'll probably go with Vans and if I don't like it, I'll sell off my Barts & Vans to get Fralins.

  9. Cool, Let us know how they sound. I've never heard of them untilll now. So Im kinda curious.
  10. rubo


    Aug 25, 2003
    To follow up on teh Van Zandt, I found out that his son now runs the company and they still make the pickups based on old designs & sell it direct for $90 each. Takes about one week to make. The company info is:

    Van Zandt Pick Ups
    205 Robinson Rd
    Combine, Texas 75159
    (972) 476-8844

    Just in case soemone needs their info.

  11. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Good work and helpful/useful post!
  12. warnan


    Mar 1, 2004
    i played a van zandt jazz bass last month and it sounds awesome. i believe the bass is made in Japan. Japanese made van zandt bass and seymour duncan bass they are all very well made bass for their domestic market.
  13. I have a USA Fender Deluxe Pbass one that some sweat are something got in the pickup and it quit on me. So I put some Bartolini 8Cs in it and played one gig and was very un happy just wasnt my sound. I didnt have much money left so I took a chance and put some Steward MacDonald Golden Age pbass pickups in it and they were right on sounded like a vintage P should. The guys in my band were very please I use a 1967 P bass at church and they sound pretty close, I have A B them together. I think I payed $45.00 plus shipping. Just something to check into.