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New PUPs for FRETLESS 5-string Steinberger Spirit?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Ukiah Bass, Feb 27, 2008.


  1. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Hello all- I just bought a 5-string Steinberger Spirit that was converted into fretless. It has a maple body/neck and a rosewood fretboard. PUPs are passive EMG Select soapbars. I'm looking for suggestions for upgrading pickups and controls. My goal is to get tone that's close to an upright. I use a David Eden amp and cabs.

    I did an upgrade like this before on a 4-string Steinberger Spirit by installing active EMG HB and HBCS pickups and the BTC Control System. My goal there was to approximate tone of the original graphite Steinberger -- and it's pretty close.

    Regarding tone requirements for the 5-string, I suspect that EMG is not the right choice but would welcome suggestions. I've read tons of past posts on this but didn't see anything quite like this so recommendations are very welcome. Thanks for your interest in this project.
     
  2. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    OK, I've been reading tons of posts on pickups and asking advice elsewhere. Looks like I will be using Bartolini pups and the Bartolini 3-band preamp/tone control module Harness HR-3.4. Can any of you Bartolini experts suggest the right Bartolini pups for this bass? Thank you!
     
  3. Michael Vee

    Michael Vee Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    Ukiah:

    Bartolini, AFAIK, does not make bass pickups for the standard guitar humbucker casings, which is what you'd need if you want a drop-in replacement that does not require routing.

    So the question is, do you want drop-in replacements, or do you not mind having a pro route your bass's body? If you are okay with routing (it will be well over $150 if you have it professionally done), the sky's the limit.

    My advice, based on my owning and playing Spirits since 2002, is to not go that route (so to speak!)

    If you haven't read my posts (and it sounds like you might have), do a Talkbass search on MichaelVee and Spirit and you will see a number of posts I've made in the past few years about my experiences in modding the Spirit basses' electronics. There's a lot of hands-on information there.

    The Audere preamp works great in my Spirit XZ-25F fretless.

    If you really wanted to get crazy, you could get a luthier to modify the bridge of the bass to incorporate piezo pickup elements, and then mod the electronics to allow blending in the piezo outputs. I know of at least one bassist with a Spirit fretless who's had this done, and he was favorably impressed. He, too, was looking for that elusive uprightesque tone.
     
  4. m.oreilly

    m.oreilly

    Jul 5, 2006
    Ukiah, CA
    yep, piezo bridge, and a "clear" mag pup (i wonder if mr villex has something...). oh, and greatings from another ukiahanite :)
     
  5. fullrangebass

    fullrangebass

    May 7, 2005
    Europe
    I am waiting for my fretless in April and I will place Villex pickups
     
  6. Michael Vee

    Michael Vee Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    I'm not familiar with Villex pickups. Do they make the guitar humbucker size that fit the Spirits without routing?

    Edit: I just checked the Villex website. They have a guitar pickup that will work, but the bass pickups are all Precision/Jazz/Music Man standard models.

    The Villex guitar pickups might be worth an inquiry. The website says they go for $238 a set. Pricy.
     
  7. grace & groove

    grace & groove

    Nov 30, 2005
    philly
    Self-Appointed Ambassador to the Dragonfly
    Aren't they custom pickups? I guess he could just fit them like that.
     
  8. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    Q-tuners, FTW.

    Richest harmonics of any pickup. I'm dying to find the right bass for these pickups.

    That's where I'd go with this. They make a regular 'bucker housing one.
     
  9. m.oreilly

    m.oreilly

    Jul 5, 2006
    Ukiah, CA
    thing with the 'tuners is that unless you drop them in the body (away from strings), you loose a big chunk of your muah/upright-ish vibrato, because of that big magnetic pull. i tried to like them, but they didn't work for me. i think villex will do custom jobs. you can give him a ring :)
     
  10. greenboy

    greenboy

    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Odd that other Q-Tuner users I talk to never mention this as even a subtle issue.
     
  11. I don't experience this.
     
  12. fullrangebass

    fullrangebass

    May 7, 2005
    Europe
    That was my experience with Q-tuners too (on a fretted bass and on a guitar): too much pull causing loss of tone and/or sustain (away or close). Just did not work out for me, and I was trying for more than a month to fine-tune the pickups. In fact I got so frustrated that I gave them all for free to friend of mine. Dingwall pickups are using neo magnets too, but never experience such a problem (I own 19 Dingwalls and I have used another 6 sets of Dingwall pickups). I am fretless free till April. Maybe at that time I will compare Dingwall pickups to Villex pickups on my new fretless
     
  13. m.oreilly

    m.oreilly

    Jul 5, 2006
    Ukiah, CA
    what gauge of string do you use? i tend to have real low action and use the funkmasters. with the alembics, i get a sweet clear big wide open sound, sustain for days. the q's just sorta made it sound like a pbass with flats (nothing wrong with that),which i didn't want at the time.
     
  14. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    Me neither.

    Alex
     
  15. L-1329

    L-1329

    Aug 8, 2004
    My advice is that it would be a great idea, and is just what I did to my Spirit. The Barts make a great choice for several key reasons. First being that they are blade poles and the string spacing of the five string Spirit is so tight I can't think of any non blade pups that would work. Second, the tone of the Bart CBC pups mixes amazingly well with the tone of the little Spirit. Mine now has a set of BC5CBC's with the Bart 4.6 three band harness, and it's never sounded better either live or in recordings. The BC pups are the closest size, are not too wide and allow a route that doesn't overpenetrate into the control cavity. A couple small new black P/G material surrounds and it looks fantastic and completely stock. If I never did these mods I might not still have the bass actually.
     
  16. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    They pull that much, huh? That's a surprise. Neodymium magnets are no joke... just try pulling a stack of them apart!

    I'm not getting any string pull issues with my pickups though, but I think I'm using smaller magnets than they use, and I have a higher inductance magnetic circuit. I keep my pickups very close to the strings.
     
  17. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    I have successfully modified my 5 string Steinberger Spirit fretless.

    New strings are Status Graphite black nylon tapewounds.

    I installed passive pickups: a Bartolini 72M45C-B on the neck and a Bartolini 72M45C-T on the bridge. These pickups have an EMG 40 shape so only minor routing was required to slightly lengthen both ends of each pickup cavity. The Bartolini pickups are dual coil humbuckers that provide a deep tone. I was going for a woody, upright sound so this seemed like the right selection.

    I also installed an active Bartolini 3.4 Preamp. A single 9-volt battery compartment was routed into the back to power the preamp.

    The preamp allows quite a bit of flexibilty in dialing in tone. I got my wood tone with this configuration. I was surprised to find the bass can also sound like Jaco. Startled me when that sound jumped out!

    Moral of this story: think outside the box with Steinberger Spirits. In addition to their useful form factor, you can really stretch their tone in a lot of directions depending on electronics and strings. Here are some pics:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
  18. L-1329

    L-1329

    Aug 8, 2004
    Awesome! That little thing is going to rawk.:bassist:
     
  19. mellowgerman

    mellowgerman Supporting Member

    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    I would say, hold out for a while. fred hammon is developing a 5string darkstar which should be out soon. it would surely be worth the wait!
     
  20. capbass

    capbass

    Jan 26, 2007
    glad i caught this thread. been considering doing the exact same thing on my XZ series Spirit thats been kicking around in my closet for 10 years.
     

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