Looking for options for 6 string Jazz sized pickups and 2 band preamp for Carvin LB76

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Omega Monkey, Apr 24, 2020.

  1. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Hey everyone, I'm doing my own independent research on this stuff and trying to gather information, but I figured I'd put an inquiry out there to the crowd and see what comes back as well.

    I have an early/mid 90s Carvin LB76 6 string (fretted). It's got a quilted maple top and ebony board. I'm not 100% sure on the body, I think it's maple too. I bought it not quite 3 years ago. It was basically pristine, and still is. The ebony FB is from when you could still get just straight BLACK ebony, and the original owner wisely got it with no inlays or even a headstock logo (and just a glossy natural finish).

    I've gotten the string gauge and setup where I like them, but I'm still not thrilled with the sound. With EQ-ing I can get some great stuff out of it, and the 50/50 tone of the 2 J style pickups (Carvin H50Ns) is nice, but the individual pickups don't give me what I want by themselves. I use the bridge reasonably often, but almost never the neck. It's kind "neutral" bordering on brittle I guess. So getting the sound more how I like it takes some EQ massaging, especially of the mids and highs.

    So as near as I can tell, the bass uses 2 Jazz bridge sized pickups, both about 3 3/4" long. The bass has a 9V 2 band active preamp. For amplification, I use either my Genz ShuttleMax 9.2 (or sometimes my GBE 750) or Trace AH 600-12. Both of these are hybrid heads with tube preamps which can get some nice overdriven sounds, and that is definitely something I need to have. My main cabs are a pair of Genz Uber Quads (12 with 2 8s and a tweeter in each one), SWR Goliath III 4x10, Genz 410T XB, and Genz STL 210T.

    Style-wise and tone-wise I'm all over the map. I like everything from Marcus Miller to John Pattitucci to Stanley to Jaco to Squire, Geezer, Geddy, Justin Chancellor, etc... So I want to be able to do funky, jazzy, heavy, and vintage more or less (not all at the same time necessarily). I love Ken Smiths, Alembics, and Modulus, but I also love a good Japanese P copy from the 70s/80s, etc...

    So what I'm looking for is a set of great pickups that will be drop in replacements for my bass, and a 2 band preamp that can run on 9 volts (the current battery just sits in the control cavity, not interested in any routing for 1 or 2 battery compartments in the back). I don't really like a ton of low mids in my sound, because it gets too congested and muddy sounding, so a little scoop is fine, but I don't want Fieldy either. I want a platform that I can convincingly reach out to a bunch of different touchstone tones. They don't have to be exact (honestly, I can already get passable Squire type stuff with my current setup). "Good enough for the best cover band in the region" would be cool. Super bonus if the preamp has a push pull for a passive tone. I rarely use the active EQ I have now (mostly the treble), so if someone wants to sell me on making it a fully passive bass, that's fine too (I guess I would just do volume/blend/tone/tone in that case). Mainly overall I want a "sweeter" high end/upper mids, and overall big and punchy and full and defined. I love the MusicMan sound and if I had to pick a single bass sound forever, that would be one of the finalists for sure.

    So yeah, TL, DR:

    Set of jazz (bridge) sized pickups, leaning towards stacked humbuckers. 3.75" wide or thereabouts for both (once I get candidates I can call up companies and confirm what I need and eliminate stuff that won't fit precisely). Side tabs, not end tabs.

    2 band preamp, volume/blend/bass/treble. Bonus points for push pull passive tone as well (or at least a push pull to go to passive "wide open").

    Target budget, maybe $400 or less? Is that doable? Could maybe go up to $500 if I was getting something I was really happy with. For instance the Bartolini 69J1 L/LN set is $230, and the Aguilar OBP 2 is $140, and I think I'd have a good chance of being perfectly happy with those, and in the absence of better information that might be what I end up doing. $500 starts to approach a sort of ridiculous proportion of what I paid for the bass in the first place, so I'm reluctant to dump a bunch of money into it that I would almost certainly never get back. But, if it's going to bring the sound of the bass up to par with how it looks and feels to the extent I would be likely to keep the bass forever, I wouldn't worry too much about the exact dollar figure in terms of "investment". It's more about "budget" I guess. I could also try the newer Carvin/Kiesel H50A pickups which have apparently been revoiced. And they're 70 bucks each, which is certainly tempting, so if anyone has experiences with those I'd love to hear them.

    I'm not looking to buy right this minute, but hopefully later this year.

    Hopefully that's not too much information, but I wanted to try to cover the basic questions people are likely to ask.

  2. clarke46


    Oct 16, 2005
    I also have an early '90s LB76, but mine is fretless. From the looking I've done, the Bartolini 69j L/LN is a direct drop in. The other option I have seen talked about is the Wilde J45, you just need to order 2 bridge length pickups. I started asking Nordstrand about the sensing width of the 5-string J-blade pickup, but I never followed through with getting them the measurements needed.

    I am also considering the Kiesel H50A pickups. They don't have any information about the J99A single coils online, but many people have raved about them, so that's an option.
    Omega Monkey likes this.
  3. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    What’s the string spacing (edge to edge) across the bridge pickup?
  4. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Yeah, those Bartolinis look like at any rate they should work. The Carvin pickups I guess they just have some unusual design approaches or something (or at least did back in the 90s). My Bolt T also has sort of a unique sound, although not the same character as the LB76.

    I'm kind of shying away from singles just for noise purposes, but if they sound really fantastic I would consider them. Especially for 70 bucks each. But I do think taking it outside the Carvin/Kiesel world would probably help with resale value, as pickups seem to be one thing they've had a weakness in over the years. The build and materials quality is excellent.

    The other thing I worry about is the pickup placement, and if it's just in a weird spot that might not yield "typical" bass sounds. But I'm hoping the pickup and preamp change will get me at least 90% of the way to where I want to be.

    It's actually an adjustable width hipshot bridge, although I can't really see the possibility for much adjustment from what it is now. The saddles are basically touching, and there's not much neck left outside the B and C strings, so I could maybe get another 1/4" total across all 6 strings. But it looks damn close to 3" as it's set up now. I could maybe get them 1/8" closer if necessary.
  5. Toptube


    Feb 9, 2009
    Kiesel's most recent jazz pickup are the JVA. They are standard in the JB and Thanos basses. There are several good videos showing off the tone of the JB basses. and Ben Jones just put up a couple of covers, using his Thanos.

    IMO, JVA are even better than the J99a, their previous Jazz pickup which was standard in the SB4000/5000.

    This is the most recent video I know of, showing off the H50a stacked humbucker jazz pickups:

    Thanos with JVA standard

    Last edited: Apr 26, 2020
    Omega Monkey likes this.
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