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Nordstrand Pickups / Pickup positioning

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Ezmar, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    So I'm considering a custom build, (As I've mentioned various other places), and I'm planning on Nordstrand Big Singles in a J config. I'm still deliberating over 60s or 70s spacing, leaning towards 70s, if that doesn't compromise the versatility much, making it more of a one trick pony than 60s spacing.

    I was thinking about how jazz setups, with the oppositely wound pups, cancel the hum, along with common frequencies, creating a scooped sound when the pickups are both full on. For some reason I assumed that further spacing would create more scoop, since the trebly bridge pup is more trebly, widening the gap. But then I considered that pickups that were closer together would have more cancellation, since they would sound more similar.

    So which is it? Does a 70s J sound more or less "Scooped" than 60s? And in terms of sound, I'm planning on having switchable active/passive with a Nordy pre, hoping to use passive most of the time unless I end up really digging the active sound. I've heard a lot about the Nordstrands' Aggressiveness, and I'm wondering if that's going to reduce the versatility of the bass in any way. It's going to be fretless, and I don't want to not be able to get a nice mellow fretless sound, if I so desire. In terms of classic J bass sounds, I have that covered with my current bass, a 2005 MIA Fender with Fralins, sounds and plays fantastic. But I digress. Anyone with Experience with Nordstrands is very welcome to chime in.

    Or anyone with opinions on my proposed setup at all:
    Nordstrand Preamp with Switch for Active/Passive
    Nordstrand Big Singles
    70s Jazz pickup spacing


  2. Bochafish


    Jul 26, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    I previously owned a passive fender p5 with a nordy single installed. I know this is very limited in helping, but I wished the person would have routed it closer to the bridge. I wasn't getting enough of that bridge jazz pickup zip as I wanted.
  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
    I have a pair of Big Singles in one of my fretlesses, although it's a semi-hollow design with tapewounds, so it's not a direct comparison. It sounds really thick and juicy, though!

    But that's my point, really: the strings you choose will have a huge effect on the resultant tone. The Nordys are a quality product, so you can fine-tune the sound from there through string selection.
  4. mystic38


    Dec 4, 2012
    Mystic CT
    I have an Ibanez SR1200 with Nordstrand big singles and i would make the following comments.
    In my opinion I would not get too hung up on active/passive as an active "sound" either doesn't or shouldn't be heard.. As although some onboard designs add gain, predominantly they are simply a multi band EQ. On my bass, with the EQ set to flat, selecting bypass (passive mode) it sounds identical. So to me an onboard EQ is simply there to add additional sound sculpting, or to save a walk to the amp...not be a "sound" in its own right.
    What is different however is the way in which a passive EQ (aka tone control) works. A passive tone control using a bypass capacitor giving a fixed roll-off amount and the knob varies the cutoff frequency... An active EQ treble knob has a fixed frequency and the amount of roll off varies...

    okay..the only conclusion to that ramble above would be the recommendation that if you are going to the trouble of having a passive bypass, ensure to include a passive tone circuit.:)

    Tonally, although i have not had the SR1200 more than a couple of weeks so far it does not seem that the Nordstrands will get you that mellow sound you are considering.. the growl isnt something that smooths out much..they are aggressive pups and not the best choice imo for "double bass" type emulations....
  5. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    Thanks, that was some really useful information. My idea for the electronics, if it's feasible (which I think it should be), is to essentially have a Jazz bass setup, where I have the passive controls, Volume/volume/tone, that in passive mode would function identically to a J bass. Then I'd have the active circuit that would enable the active EQ, and I'd have those tonal options available to use, but not to rely on. Either way, I'd want to have it wired to ensure that I had a fully functional passive J bass, since I'm familiar with how to use that to affect my tone, and because I like the tones I can get with it. I'm not sure how the Passive controls would work in active mode, although ideally they'd function identically. I'm no electrician, though, so I don't know what all the nuances are.

    Also, if anyone has experience with the Nordstrand preamp, is there the capability of having a stacked Mid pot, where the mid frequency can be adjusted with a knob, or is it only selectable by hard wiring capacitors into the circuit? Not that it's imperative that I have a sweepable mid frequency, or that I necessarily want one, I just think that it's an interesting sound to boost the mids all the way and sweep the frequency, ala a Wah pedal. This bass is intended to be an experimentation instrument, for me to explore new musical territory and come up with new Ideas, so the more options I have at my disposal without compromising a great sound and feel, the better.
  6. maurilio

    maurilio Musician - Owner Mo's Shop & MBD - Tech Nordstrand

    May 25, 2003
    Redlands, CA
    the passive tone ctrl can be wired either always on or bypassed in active. Typically always on.
    The mids can not be wired as a semi parametric ctrl, only preset freq via switch. (it might happen in the future, tho).

    I'm a big fan of '70 spacing and with BigSingles, which are a J in steroid, I like it even more, but that's me, of course.
  7. mystic38


    Dec 4, 2012
    Mystic CT
    I dont think you lose much if anything by not having a parametric mid.. the two frequencies on the SR1200 are 250Hz and 500Hz.. which musically achieve two different tonal variations.. umm something like growl & punch?..lol

    Anyway, these do add a lot and interestingly the selectable mids on my new streamliner are 200, 500 & 2.5k so that validates to some degree the selection of mid frequencies on this preamp..

    I would take a look at your amp to see what controls you have there, but failing anything else i would pick 200 or 300 for low mf and 500 or 600 for the high mids..

    To follow up on Mo's post, if you are using the Nord preamp, i would certainly consider the "kitchen sink" implementation with active/passive, plus passive tone, and two band selectable mids show here..

  8. I have a Cliff Bordwell custom ball bass with 2 big singles and an Audere pre.

    As for hum - I wouldn't worry, a good custom builder will ensure proper shielding and no hum. Mine is blissfully quiet.

    As for spacing, I can't comment as I have no comparison point.

    VVT Passive bypass: I'm sure it can be done.

    I'm slightly puzzled as to your strategy for a custom bass. I have Fenders so I asked for a custom bass to sound very different from Fender!

  9. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    That's partially the idea behind using the Big Singles over a traditional single coil. I like the way the JJ setup sounds, so I figure that configuration will get me a sound I like.

    So what you guys are saying about the mid pot is that I could have different frequencies selectable? Not parametric, but say, 2 different options? Not sure if I'd care enough to go for that, one mid control would probably be plenty.

    How do different mid frequencies work? Like what would be the difference between adjustable high mids and low mids? My amp that I keep at home (college student) has a 10 band graphic EQ, so I suppose I could fiddle with that and see what it did.
  10. mystic38


    Dec 4, 2012
    Mystic CT
    the nord (and other) preamps allow for selectable mid frequencies..
    play with the 10 band eq to get a feel for the frequency bands and what they do.. i wouldnt go back to a single mid freq.


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