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Is there a primer for soapbar pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Scott Baiowulf, Oct 29, 2018.

  1. Scott Baiowulf

    Scott Baiowulf

    Apr 7, 2017
    At this point I feel like I know pretty much everything I need to know about jazz, p-bass, and MM pickups but know absolutely nothing about soapbars. It's the only type of pickup I've never played and I'm building a warmoth bass soon so I thought I should look into them.
  2. Nothing changes really.
    Inside those casings are just regular pickups, the same as a j-type or p-type.

    I like the Nordstrand's staggered pole pieces sound, because it's unique:

    There's also blade pickups in a soapbar size:


    The latest that I've seen is a sidewinder inside a soapbar:

    Zen Blade 4
  3. Scott Baiowulf

    Scott Baiowulf

    Apr 7, 2017
    Haven't heard of the sidewinder before. How do those Nordstrands sound by themselves? I'm putting a p-bass pickup in the neck position and deciding between a passive MM or soapbar for the bridge. I always play my jazz with both pickups on 100% and always found the single jazz in a PJ to be lacking.
    gebass6 and Killed_by_Death like this.
  4. Why not dual split-coil pickups?
    It's the best of both worlds, a cross between a single-coil & a humbucker.

    You can get can split-coil pickups in a soapbar shape:

    Big Split 4
  5. Scott Baiowulf

    Scott Baiowulf

    Apr 7, 2017
    I was planning to do this build with the jazzmaster style body and they only have p and j options for the neck route. The idea was to use the EMG GZR I have for the neck position and something completely different that can hang on its own for the bridge position.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  6. If you put a Big Split in the bridge you'll probably later remove the GZR & replace it with a NP4.


    Scott Baiowulf likes this.
  7. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Soapbar is just a shape. Inside can be anything. Many are dual-coils (side-by-side coils), but many are not. The only generalization that can be made about soapbars is that they’re shaped like a bar of soap.
  8. I think these are closer to a bar of soap:
    Is there soap out there that's in a skinny bar?
  9. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    What others have said is true. J pickups started out as single coil, then some folks started doing dual coils either stacked or side by side. But that small housing was limiting.

    So enter the soap bar size. There are two popular soap bar sizes. The Bartolini and the EMG40. I recently bought a bass that had two J pickups in both the bridge and neck positions. They were wired humbucking in series. They sounded good, but something was just not sitting right for my taste and I decided to go with Nordstrand's "Big Singles". They are basically a single coil jazz bass pickup that uses offset pole pieces and a more windings. They sound great. They are much lighter too.

    If you want to do dual coil, some are splittable so you can do series, parallel, or single coil switching. In general, I think soaps are more versatile. You can do everything from a regular J bass pickup inside a huge cover to dual coils.

    I'm putting Zen Blades in my current build. They are the blade "sidewinder" pickups shown above. Here's what a set of Big Singles in an EMG40 size cover looks like. Basically these are single coil jazz pickups in a great big housing.

    ctmullins and Scott Baiowulf like this.
  10. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    Any insight on the benefits of staggered pole pieces?

  11. He shows earlier in the video how the coil is about 30% fatter than a "regular" single-coil.
    saabfender and Scott Baiowulf like this.
  12. Scott Baiowulf

    Scott Baiowulf

    Apr 7, 2017
    Well now I'm thinking about scrapping my idea and doing a jazz body with a couple of big singles. I should have known that coming to TalkBass was going to end up with me getting ideas that cost more than what I was planning.
  13. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    It's hard to go wrong with any Nordstrand pickup. Everything Carey does is top notch. When I selected the pickups for my custom build I reached out to Carey and got his recommendation based on what I wanted. Good dude!
    Low84 and Scott Baiowulf like this.
  14. Scott Baiowulf

    Scott Baiowulf

    Apr 7, 2017
    That’s good to know, I might have to email him and let him know what sound I’m going for and get a recommendation.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  15. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    You can also use the form on their website. I hit Carey up on Facebook.
    Scott Baiowulf likes this.
  16. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    What is underneath the cover could be a P, reverse P, MM, dual coil, side by side split coil single, stacked single, any and all winds that'd fit the packaging.

    Start with the unfamiliar things like dual coil humbuckers and go from there.

    Next set of humbucking packaged pickups I'll install are reverse P Barts bc I have everything else covered and I don't have anything P-esque that I like.
    Scott Baiowulf likes this.
  17. Aaron Houts

    Aaron Houts

    Jan 10, 2014
    Flo Rida
    I keep coming back to the idea of adding a Big Split to my Fender AmPro P5.
  18. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    For your consideration, here's a Mike Lull PJ4 with Nordstrand P/DC pickups,
    Demoed by TB's own @RocketMusic
    RobertUI and Scott Baiowulf like this.
  19. nilorius


    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    Bartolini make some great soupbar pickups.
    dedpool1052 and Scott Baiowulf like this.
  20. Low84

    Low84 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    ... and even if you can't get in touch with Carey directly, the guys he has working for him are super-sharp knowledgable when it comes to listening to potential customers and recommending products. Adrian Smith, in particular, is a fantastic guy and a wealth of Nordy info.
    Scott Baiowulf likes this.

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