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Fretless pickup(s) recommendations

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by dmac1961, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. So I pulled an old fretless out of the closet (all in parts) and decided it needed a new lease on life. Years ago, I had done a bathtub route for the pickup cavity, to experiment with pickups, but it never happened. I'm in the process of planing the body down to put a new top on it, so I will have a clean slate as far as pickup(s) and their locations. Just want a good sounding, somewhat versatile instrument. I will likely stay passive. Other than P and J setups, I just don't know what configuration would be the most useful (no experience with soap bars and such). I do know I don't want a MM pickup, I had a fretless Stingray some years ago and it just didn't crank my tractor. Any recommendations?
  2. Fretless players don't hang out in this forum?
  3. CapnSev

    CapnSev Supporting Member

    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    You're going to get a bunch a differing opinions on everybody's favorite pickup. Mine is a Stingray, but you're not a fan I see.

    Right now I have a fretless Lakland jazz loaded with EMG JVX pickups and I really like them a lot, so that would be my recommendation.
  4. Personally, I tend to prefer 2 humbuckers in my fretless. Not necessarily M style but just something that is not noisy when solo'd.

    Right now, I have a Carvin fretless with the radiused RAD-HB humbuckers and they work great for me active or passive. Plenty of bark with the bridge soloed and plenty of thump with the neck, all while being dead quiet.
  5. younggun


    Jul 19, 2008
    San Antonio
    My fav is the Nordstrand big splits.
  6. Cool, three very different recommendations. I am familiar with the EMG's, just not a full jazz setup. Haven't used the Carvin either, but that sounds like the kind of variation I desire.
    The Norstrand's also look very nice, I'll have to look for some clips of those. So it sounds like the recommendation is two matching pups, that are quiet by nature of being humbuckers, or active or both. But having a j bass capability and signature.
  7. klaus486


    Jun 27, 2009
    portland or
    sales geek Portland Music co.
  8. MIMike


    Jan 1, 2013
    West MI

    I have the Dimarzio model J's in my fretless Jazz and like them a lot.
  9. Good to know about the Dimarzio's. I haven't set a budget for electronics yet, but by using hardware I have on hand, I hope to have a respectable amount to spend, although I haven't checked pricing yet on anything mentioned.
  10. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Fretless pickups? Well, I've never seen a pickup with frets, so pretty much anything you choose should be fine. (Ha ha.....)

    Seriously though, if the MM is not your thing I'm going to assume you like a rounder tone. Maybe less top end and more low mids. If that's the case, you can't go wrong with a JJ setup. I bet those Dimarzio's would sound great.
  11. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    If you're looking for a great warm, organic fretless tone, you can't go wrong with Villex pickups. The shapes vary but the great tone is the same.
  12. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    I really like the 123's because of the adjustable poles. I think every pickup should have adjustable poles to even out different string tension, gauge, and any other idiosyncrasy in bass construction.

    I wouldn't say they are the absolute best-sounding pickups in the world (my Smith soapbars are pretty good!), but they are nice and woody on my '97 CIJ Fender Jazz FL.

    $100 for the pair; but you need to specify if you have two pickups that are identical in size or two that are slightly different in size.
  13. bassplace

    bassplace Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    The EMG JV's are good. I have an ACG which sounds great but those pickups aren't an option. I'm about to try putting a fretless neck on a P bass with a Bill Lawrence P-46 which I hope will be good as well.
  14. Thanks for all the opinions, I have a lot of research to do, but plenty of time to do it. With the plethora of offerings, it's hard to know what they sound like, particularly a fretless. My personal FL experience has been with MM and Peavey, so it's kind of difficult to even know what a basic P would sound like in the FL realm. So I guess it will come down to listening to some clips, looking at the budget and then rolling the dice.
  15. sadowskyguy


    Dec 24, 2011
    Greenville NC
    I like bartolini for fretless, but that could be my pedulla gas rearing its ugly high gloss head.
  16. Lace Alumitones nice fat clean tone that is far from a Stingray tone. Wide range with natural earthy string tone and absolutely quiet due to their unique design. Not nasally like standard split coil "low noise" pickups can be.