New Zen Blades

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Goatee220, Aug 26, 2019.


  1. Goatee220

    Goatee220 Bassist/Photographer/Goalie Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    Spring City, PA
    I had a set of Nordstrand Zen Blades and pre-amp installed in my Yamaha TRB 1004. My tech even added mini-toggles to switch them from series to parallel. This thing is now a tone beast! I'll make a video and do a full review hopefully one day this week.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    Zen Blades are great.

    Q: was there some reason your tech installed 6 string Zen Blades on your 4 string bass? Don’t think I’ve seen that before.
     
  3. JCooper

    JCooper

    Oct 21, 2009
    Denver
    yeah, why?
     
    Goatee220 likes this.
  4. Goatee220

    Goatee220 Bassist/Photographer/Goalie Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    Spring City, PA
    The pickup cavities were that size - so I emailed Nordstrand about making covers that size for a 4 string and they said they didn't/wouldn't but said since they were blades, it'd be ok to put the 6 string pickups in.
     
    BlueTalon, bucephylus and JCooper like this.
  5. 5StringPocket

    5StringPocket Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Texas
    I have a similar situation. My Ibanez SRMS805 is a 5-string with P4 size Bartolinis. I have a pair of P4 size Zen Blades on order to try.
     
    JonnyVega13, TonyP- and Goatee220 like this.
  6. Goatee220

    Goatee220 Bassist/Photographer/Goalie Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    Spring City, PA
    Despite that they're gigantic - they sound great!
     
    TonyP- likes this.
  7. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    being oversized doesn't really have a downside, but it would if they were single-coils, because they'd be picking up more noise where there were no strings
    I thought the sidewinder style layout would be the answer to single-coil sound in a humbucker, but I've read that the Big Split is more aggressive than the Z.B..

    Is there a wide variance between series & parallel?
     
  8. Goatee220

    Goatee220 Bassist/Photographer/Goalie Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    Spring City, PA
    There is - one is significantly punchier than the other.
     
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  9. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    I have Zen Blades in a 2 and a half basses at present (one is under construction, so in a few days it'll be 3). They are definitely more single coil than humbucker in character, though not as bright as say, a Jazz bass pickup. Think of 'em as the P90's of the bass world, that also (bonus) don't hum. The thing I really like about them is they neatly avoid the "magnetic valley" issue that a lot of in line hum cancelling pickups have - try bending a note high on your D string with an inline hum cancelling J , and you'll understand what I mean. This one is in the single coil/original P bass pickup location (1/5th of the way from bridge to nut). It's single coilish in character, but definitely smooth at the same time.

    Oh,and...Nordstrand is a pleasure to do business with - they'll gladly answer your questions, accommodate requests for reasonable variations, and they are reasonably fast as well - a couple weeks is typical. Woody.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  10. TheMaynorD

    TheMaynorD Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 28, 2013
    Oklahoma City
    Thinking of putting these in my warwick thumb 6 with a series/ parallel switch. How are the lows on the zens? My current setup of aguilar dcbs has somewhat muted lows IMO. Want that deep low end while maintaining the clarity and growl of the thumb.
     
  11. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    Depends entirely on where they're located, like most every pickup. The bass I pictured a couple posts back, though some of the PA's I play through, will shake your dentures loose.
     
    Manuel Cantu likes this.
  12. TheMaynorD

    TheMaynorD Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 28, 2013
    Oklahoma City
    Standard thumb placement with essentialy dual angled bridge pups.
     

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  13. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    Bass guitar pickups generally don't have a lower limit to their frequency response - they're rather flat devices. The one exception I know of is the Lace Alumitones - they have a transformer built in that does limit their low end. For more typical pickups, the bass is absolutely flat electrically, in the upper midrange there is usually a peak, and then they roll off. How much bass you perceive in a pickup depends on:

    1) Where it is on the instrument. On your Warwick, as it's fairly close to the bridge, you're not going to get a lot of low end out of any pickup without some electrical help. It may be enough for you, but it won't be as much as you'll get from a pickup closer to the neck.

    2) How high the upper mids and treble are - the higher they are, the more that take attention way from the low end, and make it seem less abundant. There is also a non-linearity in magnetic pickups, which creates harmonics due to the string having a fair amount of excursion relative to the distance from the pole pieces, which creates some extra mids that can detract from the sensation of how much low end is there. The real truth is that the sensation of bass is largely psychoacoustic - a bass guitar pickup's absolute amount of low end is dictated by its nominal sensitivity and where it is on the instrument.
     
  14. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    My SR1800E sounds really bright & folks have complained that the Big Singles have no low-end. However, if I CUT the highs the low comes through just fine. It's there, it's just being "covered up" by the high-mids.
     
  15. JonnyVega13

    JonnyVega13

    Mar 2, 2021
    I'm actually considering between the Zen blades or EMGs, and wanted to know how you like them in your 805, as that's the bass I have as well. I've also added a Darkglass preamp to mine, and love what they've done for my tone, but the Bartolini's are WAY too dark for my liking. Thanks for your help!
     
  16. 5StringPocket

    5StringPocket Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Texas
    Love them in my SRMS805. I've had EMG's in a bass before and didn't care for them. Highs were too harsh and something about the timbre just didn't work for me. The Zen Blades have a well balanced tone with excellent clarity but aren't brittle. They do a decent job of capturing a J bass vibe compared to other humbuckers I've tried but aren't as colored, which provides a good canvas for effects and eq. I really like them with the Dark Glass pre which can give them plenty of balls and edge. Going from Barts to the Zen Blades replaces the darkness with clarity but doesn't go too far the other direction.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
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  17. JonnyVega13

    JonnyVega13

    Mar 2, 2021
    Thank you so much
     
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  18. JonnyVega13

    JonnyVega13

    Mar 2, 2021
    I've got one more question before I commit to this change, if you don't mind! I playing very aggressive, and in the djent/prog metal genre. How would you say the Zen Blades hold up to tunings as low as A and G on the low B? Is there still a sense of clarity, or does it muddle? Again, thank you for your help and knowledge You've been extremely helpful already!!
     
  19. 5StringPocket

    5StringPocket Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Texas
    I don’t think the frequency response of the pickups will be limited. It’s more a function of the bass, setup, and player.
     
    JonnyVega13 likes this.
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