Ibanez sounds way better with Bartolini than Norstrand. Yay or nay?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by phillipkregg, Nov 19, 2017.

  1. phillipkregg

    phillipkregg Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Ok, I'm probably going to be unpopular here, but I gave it my best. I tried several Ibanez basses with the new Norstrand pickups but I just don't see the appeal.

    To my ears, the Nordstrands are just "loud". It's like taking your amp and diming out all the EQ knobs. The mids are super mids, the lows are just "low-mids" and the highs are just "high-mids". Seems like these pickups are just trying to be in-your-face as much as possible.

    The Barts, on the other hand, are very subtle and have a warm, punchy tone that is distinct without being in your face. To me, even the MK1 pickups sound better than the US Nordstrand big singles.

    Maybe I'm crazy, who knows. What do you think?
    DanGR, bassomane, MichaelT and 9 others like this.
  2. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    IMHO a Ibanez with Nordstrands sounds much better than a Ibanez with Bartolinis.
    dkelley, sonojono, dukeorock and 13 others like this.
  3. Dean N

    Dean N

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Lots of luthiers, and players, prefer Barts. I love them. To be fair, I like Nords too, but have never owned a bass with them.

    Not all Ibby's have the same pickup types, or placement. SR, SRX, Talman... older models... have different pup positions. This is a huge factor too. You might like some instruments with Bart humbuckers, and others with a Nord P/J set...

    Different strokes. Good thing we don't all like the same thing.. we'd all be playing a P bass with tort and flats.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017
  4. I much prefer the Bartolini system for much the same reason as well; they have nice brilliant highs (with SS rounds of course), and very deep lows with just the right amount midrange. Also for some reason unknown to me - the Nordstrand system didn't sound very good through my effects pedals namely my B3K OD; there was almost zero grit! My chorus pedal didn't sound very good either - not like with the Bart system.
  5. BigLoopDuke


    Jan 2, 2007
    DSM, IA
    I'm a fan of Barts too. The set in my BTB846 sound so deep and dimensional.
    FingerDub and phillipkregg like this.
  6. Bassworship1

    Bassworship1 Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2013
    It's according to what Bartolini's you have in them. To me the best bass Ibanez makes in the Prestige 5005 that has the USA Custom Barts. It will hang with any bass I've owned. Ive owned 9-10 Ibanez Premium basses with the Nordstrand big singles and some with upgraded Nordstrand DC pickups. It's hard to beat the Prestige Barts.
  7. jonnybass1


    Dec 9, 2011
    Brampton, On
    I had a sr1205 that I used fora few years. It had the Nordstrand big singles. I found that they sounded amazing...on passive mode. On the active mode I agree they did just sound loud. I always used that bass on passive it made a huge difference.
  8. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    My SR1800E stays in passive mode so much that I consider just taking the battery out.
    Over the years I've tried many Ibáñez with Bartolini's & finally just stopped paying attention to them as soon as I see they have Bartolinis.
    I don't mean just the cheap ones either, some nice BTB models.

    To me, even Ibáñez's own PFR (Passive Full Range) pickups in the SRX (SR eXtreme) sound better than Bartolini's, as well as their relatively new PowerSpan pickups.
    However, even the local Ibáñez dealer has said that the SRX sold poorly when they were new. To me they're the best kept secret.

    Anyway, when I first heard my SR1800E my jaw hit the floor, figuratively. I just knew I needed to buy it.
    but my tastes are generally totally contradictory to the general public, & it's just a happy mistake/accident

    The benefit is that I won't be GASsing for a Prestige model.

    Contrary to this however, I've determined that if I want a good double-locking vibrato guitar from Ibáñez, I'd have to buy MIJ:

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
  9. BioDriver

    BioDriver A Cinderella story

    Aug 29, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Nordstrand > *, IMHO.
    kobass, BigBobbyBass, smeet and 2 others like this.
  10. The MK1's don't sound that great to me, but the Barts in their prestige models are really nice. I would the Prestige barts sound better than the Big Singles. However, I like the NSD pickups in the SR65X's better than any pickup in any Ibanez, ever. I agree that the Big Singles are just aggressive, especially when combined with the woods that are used. Some of it may be the pre, since it is an Ibanez design, but they seem to have too much high mid for my taste, and not near enough lows. The SR5000 prestige models are the best, IMO.
    phillipkregg and Roberto Nunez like this.
  11. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    I am ok with both Bart MK 1 and Nordy CND tone, but the best go to BTB705DX with EMG pup .
    phillipkregg likes this.
  12. BioDriver

    BioDriver A Cinderella story

    Aug 29, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Fat Stacks would be less aggressive and sound like butter.
  13. mysteryclock

    mysteryclock Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Franklin, TN
    I thought MK1 pickups were kind of clanky too, so I replaced the ones I had with MK4CBCs and got much better results.

    I will say, the only thing I didn't like about the SR1800 I tried was the pickup choice. Not that Nordstrands as a group are bad, but the Big Singles are, well, single coils. And as a result, they were noisy as hell in the music store I tried them in...which probably means they'd be that noisy or more on stage. I really wish they'd picked Big Splits or Fat Stacks instead.
    lesliegl, jmlee and Roberto Nunez like this.
  14. NOVAX


    Feb 7, 2009
  15. Sumaru


    May 16, 2013
    Have to say i agree. Had an SR505 (barts) and used it on a song I wrote and got the greatest tone from it: Monkey Business

    I traded that one in for an SR1206E, (Nordy big singles) and while a better build, I don't feel it has the same mojo at all.
    DanGR, twc1313 and phillipkregg like this.
  16. Hevy T

    Hevy T Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2011
    Lethbridge, AB Canada
    I have both a SR 600 with the Barts, and a SR 655 with the CND pickups and I love both of them! I think its partially the swamp ash bodies! Because, I had a couple different SR 500's with the mahogany bodies and never really cared for them. They just seemed a little dead to me in comparison
  17. I choose Ibanez own Powerspan pickups over both Bartolinis and Nordstrands. Of the latter ones I think both of them got their place. I prefer the Nordstrands for more agressive, distorted tones, albeit I have never owned a bass with those pickups, only played it in a store.
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I disclose nothing
    Ibanez sounds way better with Bartolini than Norstrand. Yay or nay?

    I am not a fan of barts so nay for me.
    dralionux likes this.
  19. I do find at least the Prestige basses with Bartolinis sound better than the Nordstrands. Not all Barts are the same, mind, but their signature sound and sweet midrange is what does it for me. It's perhaps a more subtle, refined tone than the Nordstrands give. I like the Nordstrands in isolation but I prefer the tone that Barts impart overall.
    jazzalta77 likes this.
  20. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    I had a SR3006 with US custom Barts and they did nothing for me, I ended up replacing them. I had Nords in a non-Ibanez bass and found them smooth and articulate. I do have US Barts in another bass and love them, so I would consider it a bass-by-bass call rather than just all pickups by Brand X are harsh.
    MichaelT and REV like this.
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