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Nordstrand Big Split or Series DC???

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by lowfreqgeek, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. In general, I prefer single coils and series-wired split coils (Pbass) over a parallel humbucker arrangement. I'm working on a Warmoth Gecko with one pickup in a "special" location (not quite P, not quite MM) and I'm trying to figure out if I should go for a Big Split or a series-wound DC in that location.

    The *best* way to sum up the vibe I'm after is Anthony Jackson's sound on Steve Khan's The Suitcase. It's bright and articulate, but deep and punchy, with a lot of bite. Here is Carribean Fire Dance.

    I realize that a lot more goes into a particular tone than just pickups, but I'm trying to get a close vibe. To me, AJ's tone sounds like series wiring, vs. parallel. It doesn't have that mid-range dip. I had a set of parallel DCs and they were good, but not quite what I wanted - too "scooped". In my experience, pickups wound for parallel wiring are too dark in series for my taste. A split-coil, on the other hand, should have overall less windings than a series-wound dual coil and should have a little cleaner top end, even if they aren't as hot. In theory, anyway. Perhaps the series-wound DCs are still bright up top and big down low?

    If anyone has some examples of the Big Split and/or Series-DC in the basic "Pbass position", I'd love to hear them. I'd like to decide what I'm doing really soon.
  2. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    I've got the "wound for parallel" DCs in my Skyline 55-01. I did the parallel wound because I'm planning on going passive and I wanted to get a hotter pickup.

    I'm hoping that it's the non-true bypass of the NTMB-L preamp, but I'm afraid it's what you're describing: darker than I'd like. I'm ordering some 500 KOhm pots to do the passive conversion that I've been planning on for years.

    Just to throw a monkey wrench into everything, I'm totally digging the SGD pickup in my Ibanez Artcore. I've got it on a series/single/parallel coil switch and they all sound good to me. If the Nordstrands don't work out I'm going to a pair of SGD's. Which really disappoints me because the Nordstrands set me back around $300, IIRC. I think $190 for the pair of SGD's. http://www.sgd-lutherie.com/pages/ND3-BC5.html

    I love coil switches, but given the choices laid out I'd probably recommend the Big Splits.
  3. The parallel wind wired in series will give you a hotter output, but it will be somewhat muted in the top, which is what I don't like. My G&L L2500 suffers the same problem - sounds very good (though not what I'm looking for) in parallel, but very hot and dark in series. I bypassed one coil in each pickup with a .1uf cap and it sounds relatively bright, but also has hum as it's no longer "humbucking". The single-coil mode on my MFD pickups sounds great, but also suffers from hum. Same with my Nordstrand MM4.2; sounds bright and scooped in parallel, warm and too dark in series, and great in single coil - with hum.

    But perhaps the "wound for series" DCs will be just right? Then again, a Big Split costs a little less and I *think* will get me there.

    Also considering an SGD, but not real sure which one to go with. In general, I like Alnico magnets, but it's very pickup dependent - not a hard and fast rule. Haven't tried Neos.
  4. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    The clip you provided sounds nice. I am thinking it's fairly close to the sound that a Big Split would give you. It has a lot of the aggressive, growly nature that I heard in mine.

    Then again, the SGD "ND3" humbucker would sound really nice in this position too.
  5. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'm pretty familiar with the MFD pickups - I had a L-1000 for about 15 years and a L-2500 for about five. I like that pickup a lot. The Nordstrand DCs don't remind me of the MFD. I'm trying not to slam the Nordstrands because I may have just made a wrong product choice and I haven't explored all my options with them yet, but at the moment I'm not a big fan.

    The SGD in my Artcore is running passive but has a really articulate top end without being harsh up there at all. Series mode gives me all of the low end I could possibly want. Parallel is very smooth and even and single coil doesn't suffer from too much hum - the pickup is well shielded internally before epoxy.

    Aside from not having disposable cash at the moment, the only thing that is keeping me from switching to SGD for the 55-01 is that I want to see pole pieces on that bass - it's a more traditional looking instrument and no exposed pole-pieces look more modern to me. Dorky, I know. For an exotic wood Warmoth that wouldn't be an issue for me.

    Anyway, I'm probably going to order the 500K pots for the 55-01 today and hopefully start doing the passive conversion on it next week. Hopefully getting the (non-true) bypassed preamp out of there, adding coil switches and using brighter 500K pots will give the Nordstrands a new lease on life for me.

    But as it stands today I'd recommend SGD ND3 for your project. I just love that pickup.

    Best of luck.

  6. I really think my ideal tone could be achieved with one coil of an MFD in the right position. Unfortunately, that means hum, and quite a bit of it.

    I'm getting a set of L2500 MFDs that I will play around with. I may sacrifice one to see if I can separate the coils and then use one as a "dummy coil" and actively mix the hum from that coil, a la Alembic. Unfortunately, the poles on the MFD are too narrow for this particular bass I'm working on. 18mm at the bridge is about max for those pickups, IMO.

    Have you tried wiring a single DC directly to the output jack? If it's close to what you want, then the 500k pots might get you there. If it's still far off, then the pots won't help. I really *want* to like the DCs since I really like every other Nordy pickup I've used (been quite a few), but I didn't care for the DCs from day one - and I really tried.

    I suppose for $100, I could try the ND3 and if it's not what I want, sell it and move on to the Big Split. I'm also thinking about dropping a pickup into my Turner Electroline Fretless 5 (it's currently piezo only), and the ND3 might be just the ticket there.
  7. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    The spacing was why the L-2500 had to go. It was a very nice bass otherwise. The 55-01 suits me better anyway.

    I'm booked up solid for the week and the 55-01 is seeing a lot of use, which is why next week is the thing. The pots are going to happen anyway, no reason not to pick them up.

    I have a broken four string MFD pickup in my basement. I hadn't put it in anything and it hit the floor one day. Those little wires sure are thin! Anyway, if there's anything you'd like to know about it, I can probably get you pictures pretty easily.

    I think you'd like the SGD. David is a pleasure to work with. His pickup is nice enough that I doubt you'd sell it even if it didn't stay in the bass you're planning for it. I'm figuring out how to put a pair into my Noguera five string fretless.

    We seem to have different applications, but use similar tools to do the job. I'm more of a fingerstyle, garage rock kind of guy.

  8. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    I'm resurrecting this since I'm interested in a similar design. Lowfreqgeek, what did you end up with? How did it work?


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