J Pick-Up Suggestions and Pre-amp sug.

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ebladeboi123, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. ebladeboi123


    Jul 11, 2005
    Oberlin, Oh
    Well, i've just started my own custom warmoth project. Ordered it today, and well i have to play a MIM jazz graphited out until i get it. Conviently i went with J pick ups. So, i figure, i can get J pickups now, throw them in my MIM J, get some decent tone, and then bam throw them into my warmoth. And then throw the P/J Set of EMG's i have into my jazz (yes i know i'll be drilling into the body, big deal, did it on my p-bass). Ok anyway to get to the point. I need a pick up that has balls. The pick up has to achieve a real nice "growl" if you will, and have some bite to it. Looking for something similar to Geddy Lee. So far, it looks as though the Nordstrand's are leading the way, i've tried EMG's and they just don't seem to do it for me (P/J wise any way). The NJ4SE looks to be what i'll be going with currently. But i have some questions. It is active right? And then, does it come with pre-amp an such. Or does that need to be added.
    is where i would probably buy- best price i've seen, but feel free to inform me of cheaper, or other models that will give me what i want.
    So, if i need a pre-amp, i was thinking a Bartolini, possibly a 3 band EQ?
    Bass/Treble Stack
    Volume/Volume Stack
    and mid freq push pin?
    Are stacks just essentially knobs on top of knobs? On my warmoth i'll only be getting 3 holes, so i have to make the most of them. But are the Bartolini's any good? Or is aguilar the only way to go, i don't really wana spendmore than the aguilars cost. So the J and U Retro's are pretty much outta the question.

    So just so you guys can see what type of bass it'll be here i go...
    Body= Swamp ash bottom w/ Quilt Maple top
    Dinky P style
    Color= Emerald Green Dye with Black back
    Neck = AAA Birdseye maple w/ Ebony fretboard
    Pick ups = *Possibly* Nordstrand NJ4SE
    Pre-amp= *Possibly* Bartolini?

    Basically thats all, thanks in advance guys.
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I guess I'm not 100% clear on whether you're looking for J or P/J pickups...

    BestBassGear.com is a great place to ship , Brian these is very reliable and a great guy too.

    One thing to consider. In a standard J cavity, space can be limited and without extra routing I'm certain you can't get a bart 3 band preamp in there.

    Yes, stacks are just two knobs on one pot shaft.

    The barts are perfectly good, as are the aguilars. There are some tonal differences, which really just come down to personal preference. If you do a search you'll find lots of comparitive threads.

    As to the pickups themselves, have you looked at the various J pickup review threads stickied in the pickups FAQ? There's also a link to a thread where I posted a bunch of sound clips of 10 or so different J pickups in a Geddy Lee Jazz Bass.

    And, the NJ4SE's are NOT active. An active pickup has the preamp onboard the pickup itself.
  3. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    With what you're spending in total, the difference between pre-amps looks pretty small. Don't go for less thean your ideal and spoil a great bass for the sake of a few $$! The thing is you're going to have to think about is what will fit in your Dinky P control cavity. You having a front or rear rout? If the latter you should have plenty of room for whatever you want. FWIW, I think the J-Retro is an amazing pre and a U-Retro (same circuitry) would go in your bass with only three stacked knobs to install. The J-Retro works really well with the (passive, as DMW says) NJ4SEs - I have this setup in one of my basses :D The Nordies will give you the sound you describe; at least, they growl pretty well in my J bass, especially when I dig in a bit, of course! This has an alder body (with quilt maple top).

    You're going to end up with a nice intrument. I have another J (fretless) with a swamp ash body (again, maple top) in Emerald Green. It's a beaut. I have EMGs in this as I really like them in a fretless. But your choices look good to me, even though I personally went for Status Graphite necks in both mine. What do you mean by your MIM being "graphited out"? And what hardware, especially bridge, are you thinking of going for? I'm a BAII man myself all the way.

    Have fun getting it all together!
  4. ebladeboi123


    Jul 11, 2005
    Oberlin, Oh
    Ok so here's what damage i've done so far. I looked at this way. The nordies were 230, i want to expirment a lil before my new bass comes, so i called warmoth, ordered my bass, switch the routing of pickups to Jazz, and now i can expirement for 8-10 weeks. So i went with the....
    Dimarzio's Ultra Jazz i think, whatever got 5 in Smash's test.
    Bartolini Jazz pick ups (brighter ones)
    I also went with the stacked Bartolini pre-amp for now. I figure, if i like it, yay, if i don't i'll let it stay in the MIM jazz bass, and get the J-retro (didn't have 300 for just pre-amp right now :( ).
    And as for "graphited out" i meant Nut, Tree, and Saddles. I'm getting some sorta of Gotoh bridge for my Warmoth project, and it's got the rear cavity. I have a pair of EMG's that were in my old p-bass (Drilled it out for P/J combo), and they were nice, but just weren't getting it done. Anyway, lets hope the bartolini Pre-amp is nice enough for now, eventually i think i'll get a U-retro, but currently the funds don't permit. And to the person above me, do you have pics of your fretless, I really wana see how the color could/should turn out. Thanks...
  5. My suggestions to keep it simple

    Fender Custom Shop 60's Jazz Single Coils, and if you can fit it, an Aguilar Preamp. Aguilars are a bit more "aggressive" sounding then the Bartolini's due to the choosen frequencies used to boost/cut. (Aguilar is boost only)

    I've tried Lindy Fralin's, there being returned,
    (VERY HIGH QUALITY, but a bit smooth by way of comparison)
    I've tried Nordstrands NJ4's, there also being returned.
    (Nice Bass, Nice Treble and Uppermids, but no low-mid growl)

    Out of all of them, the Fender Custom Shop 60' have that sizzling, low-mid growly sound I think your looking for. I'm just running them passive, but if you want to add the pre, go for the Aguilar!

    Again, just in my VERY recent experimentations and my opinions.

    (yes, i can't type)
  6. oh yeah, and I HATE J-RETRO's. Mike Lull agree's with me that they sound like garbage. The freqencies choosen are all off, the mids/lows, treble. Everything is way off and sound like poopy
  7. those were his exact words...

    well not "poopy" but w/ the frequencies being all thrown off.
    He pointed that aspect of it out to me... I just knew I didn't like it.
  8. Carey


    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    Wow, I have to take exception to the assertion that my NJ4's don't have any "low mid growl". It's been my experience that they have plenty, and that's one of the more personally important aspects that I try to design into my pickups.
    I had a CS 62 reissue here for some work a while ago and I compared that bass (which if I'm not mistaken, came with CS60's pickups) with my 1980 Tokai (with my NJ4's) and the Tokai had much more growl than the Fender. Now, it is possible that the strings were part of the picture. The DR Sunbeam's have a lot of midrange and midrange texture. But, still, I felt that my pickups covered more bases than the CS 60's, and they especially covered the Jaco low mid thing - to my ear, through my amp, with my strings.
    Believe me, I listen very critically to other pickups every change I get. I compare them to my pickups all the time. I have other people listen to them, and I take all comments very seriously. I have not yet heard from any one that they lack "low mid growl".
    I'm stumped!
  9. What about Duncan Quarter Pounders??? Have you considered them before???

  10. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Let's see maple top on a Swamp Ash back ... recipe for extremely bright bass. Do not put a BA on that bass unless you just like is over the top zingy ... and you'll be putting in darker barts and a pre to keep them tamed just to get the high end under control.

    Been there with an SA body. I love the Axe but I ran through 3 sets of pup's, a few of sets of strings (settled on D'Addario Half Rounds) and finally a pre to get things uner control. I do like the bass a lot. One of the best J's I've ever touched but that BA complicated life when I was putting it together.

    I do like BA bridges and have them on other J's. The combo of Swamp Ash and BA ridge was just over the top though and the maple top should get brighter yet. I'd be looking for a different bridge. One with much more tame bridge pieces.
  11. ebladeboi123


    Jul 11, 2005
    Oberlin, Oh
    Ok, so like i said, i'm going through expiriment phase right now. I'm seeing what i like. I realized the SA was going to give me a very bright bass, which was what i wanted. I want that bright sound, but I don't want the "brightness" to be over the top. What do you reconmmend in that case? And what is BA?

    EDIT: Its a gotoh 201 to be exact. Planning on putt'n graphite saddles in it eventually.
  12. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Wow! Lots of interesting stuff in this thread now!

    Nordstrand pickups - no low mid growl? Not in my experience. I have the NJ4SEs rather than the NJ4, though. But they do that growl pretty darn good for me. I'm not surprised that Carey decided to respond to this!

    J-Retro "poopy" and "frequencies thrown off"? It does contour the sound slightly when flat - it's designed to - is this what this comment means? One of the things I like about the J-Retro is the way the EQ frequencies work, they're really very well thought out. For instance, the treble cut is at a different frequency to the treble boost to deepen the sound when treble is rolled off (and the pull bright boost is at a different frequency again, ideal for slap). The bass frequency boost gets lower as boost is increased, adding to the oomph that this control provides. And the mid boost and cut is sweepable, so I don't see how this can fit with the "thrown off" comment.

    I think if you're going to describe something as "poopy" or "garbage" I think you should at least try harder to justify your comments, rather than condemn it in such vague terms. Your earlier post about pickups did this, even if we disagree about Nordie pickups. But your J-Retro post was a bit harsh! :eek: The idea of posting here is surely to share useful info and experiences with other bassists, who can then compare people's views when thinking about their options. So "I didn't like the J-Retro because I felt it completely altered the basic tone of my instrument" might be okay. "The J-Retro is garbage" doesn't actually tell anybody very much, as far as I can see.

    Swamp Ash can be described as bright (Warmoth say it's a "very musical wood offering a very nice balance of brightness and warmth with a lot of 'pop'"). I tend to think of "bright" as just a way of saying that the natural high frequency harmonics of the vibrating string are all present and relatively less attenuated. This would also go for the Badass bridge (and, I might add, EMG pickups, which many people call bright). It doesn't necessarily mean lacking in low end or overly harsh (not that you implied either of these in your post, 4mal, just adding my view to what you pointed out from your own experience). And it also goes for graphite necks! A swamp ash body with graphite neck, EMGs and a Badass bridge! How bright should that sound? Well, here's a sound clip of my fretless. Not too bright for me (but it might be for some people). And here's the pic, as requested. Sorry it's not a great photo, BTW.

    Yes, the extra thickness of the BA baseplate can mean the neck needs shimming to get the action where you want it. I'm not worried by it, but I understand some people may prefer not to get into this.

    And... that's it. Sorry for the long post, but as I said, lots of interesting stuff in this thread!
  13. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    yup, I have to wholeheartedly disagree with the 'no low mid growl' statement also
  14. ebladeboi123


    Jul 11, 2005
    Oberlin, Oh
    I'm glad I went with the Swamp Ash, that tone is almost exactly what I want, I'm sure with pick ups of my choice, I can get a little bit of a "darker" tone out it. Does the U and J retro require that you have that nasty plate across? If so, meh, but I'm fairly sure its just because you have a jazz body. Did you have that made at Warmoth, or where was it made?
  15. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    It's a Warmoth swamp ash body, quilt maple top, emerald dye finish. There's no J-retro on it, it's got EMG Js with the std V/V/T wiring harness. I actually like the look of Js with control plate and no pickguard, a la Jaco, but that's just a personal visual thing. J-Retro comes on a control plate, U-Retro is the same preamp with no control plate. The Nordie/J-Retro combination is on the fretted sister of the green bass - sorry, no soundclip yet but believe me it's pretty awesome! [​IMG]
  16. ebladeboi123


    Jul 11, 2005
    Oberlin, Oh
    wow, try to get a sound clip of the fretted sister ;) . Definatly considering gett'n a U-retro now. We'll see how i like the Bartolini, and go from there ;) . 8-10 more weeks :( mines going to be very similar to your emerald green one, only I'm going to go with some black parts, i've never really dug the gold stuff, just me.