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I need help Designing My Gecko 6!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CoolGuy1030, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. CoolGuy1030


    Jun 27, 2009
    So I'm brewing up a design for my new Gecko 6 String from Warmoth, and I need help deciding on a few things... So far I know its going to have:

    Solid Swamp-Ash Body with a blue satin finish
    Routing for two pickups
    Black Hipshot A - String-thru body bridge
    Black Hipshot Tuners
    Maple Neck with Maple fretboard
    Stainless steel frets
    White Graphtech TUSQ Nut

    But what I need help deciding is, what kind of pickups and electronics configuration should I use?
    I know I want the pickups to be active, but if the could go passive that would be nice too, and I know I want two pickups and I know I like EMG and bartolini pickups and the vollume/bass/treble configuration with a rotary switch but I know too little about electronic configurations to know if this set up would work with either of the two pickups.

    Also, I can't decide whether I want a Clear satin Nitro finish on the neck, a tru-oil finish or just natural. I'm most concerned with which option would produce the slickest neck but aging and wear-and-tear are factors, too; and I'm sure the latter two would be much cheaper.

    tl;dr: what kind of pickup configuration and neck finish should i get and why?
  2. I don't think you want active pickups but rather, an active preamp. There actually VERY few active pups for bass out there. I've never heard of active pickups that can go passive.
  3. If you want the option of going passive, EMG's can't do it (I assume you're talking about the "normal" USA EMG's and not Selects).
  4. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    For a neck finish, I would recommend a clear satin nitro finish. It is fairly smooth and slick, and doesn't feel sticky. If you have Warmoth apply the finish when you order the neck, the warranty extends to 2 years. I wouldn't recommend using Tru-Oil unless you're really good at it.

    There are a lot of great pickups out there. EMG and Bartolini are not your only options. I'll list a few that I've worked with:

    EMG makes active pickups with varying coil configurations. They usually have a very crisp treble response. It's usually a bit too "brittle" sounding for my taste, but others love them.

    SGD makes some great passive pickups which have great fundamentals, lots of usable midrange character, and a nice treble response. The original "ND3" series has Neo magnets and have a lot of tonal similarities to EMG, but with a more natural (tame) high end. The new "S4" sidewinder series was built to sound like the Lane Poor pickups, which have an extended flat frequency response.

    Seymour Duncan's active pickups have good fundamentals but seem to be lacking in the midrange. They work well for heavier rock or aggressive playing, but lack most of the nuances and dynamics. In most cases, they really do emphasize the sound of the frets over the strings and wood. I imagine they would sound good with a bit of tube distortion.

    Bartolini makes several different pickup types. Their "Classic Bass" pickups have a really interesting upper-midrange hump with a bit of treble roll-off in the high end. It's not a very natural sound, but it is distinctive and cuts through a mix nicely. The "Deep Tone" pickups are a bit more subdued in the upper midrange but still have a lot of warmth and growl.

    Nordstrand's pickups vary: there's the "DC" dual coil series, which sounds cleaner and more modern; the "Fat Stacks" which try to emulate a very aggressive single coil sound; and the "Big Singles" and "Big Splits" which give more of a vintage tone with lots of lower mids and less treble.

    Delano "SBC" pickups have a very clear upper midrange with similar characteristics to the Bartolini, but more crisp and "open" sounding, and a bit less resonant. Fundamentals are strong, but can be somewhat masked by the high end. If you're looking for maximum detail, these are probably the pickups to try, but they don't do warm vintage tones very well. The neck pickup feels a bit "weaker" in the lower midrange, since they try to balance it to match the bridge pickup's tone.

    In most cases, a good set of passive pickups should not need an active pre-amp, unless you really need to *boost* bass or treble EQ. I haven't found that to be necessary for any of my Geckos. I also think that having a pre-amp can compress or limit the tone somewhat, so I prefer a fully passive setup, but your needs may vary. You can always try things without a pre-amp at first, and see if you really need it.

    Gecko 6-string basses can be routed either with "EMG 45" pickup routes (4.5" by 1.5") or "Bart P4" pickup routes (4.65" x 1.25"). Choosing the shape can affect which pickups you may use in this bass, since EMG only makes pickups in the former, and a few manufacturers such as Delano only make pickups in the latter. Bartolini, Seymour Duncan and SGD make pickups in either of these shapes, for compatibility. Nordstrand's 6-strings pickups usually have the "Bart P4" shape, but you might be able to place a custom order for the "EMG 45" shape.

    Let's talk about tone. What kind of sound do you want this bass to produce? A maple neck is probably going to give it a "bright" acoustic tone; do you want to enhance that, or do you want to roll that off a bit and bring out the warmer midrange?
  5. CoolGuy1030


    Jun 27, 2009
    Wow thanks for your time tubby! I think I want my bass to have a nice, growly mid-rangy sound, but still be able to sound nice and clean; really the more flexibility, the better. If I can sound like a P-bass, a MM stingray, or Jazz bass with the same set of pickups, I'll be happy.

    With those goals in mind, I think your description of SGD ND3's sound good, as well as the Nordstrand DC's and Big Split's; Do you think any of these would work well for what I'm going for?
  6. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    The exact tone you'll get really depends on the pickup placement. You won't be able to get the exact vibe of a P-bass with the locations of the Gecko 6 pickup routes, since the neck heel extends into the body; but it'll still be very useful.

    I highly recommend the SGD ND3 pickups. I think you'll find them to be more versatile than Nordstrand for varying styles of music, and they'll respond well to different fingering technique.

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