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Pickups Similar to Bartolini MK1 for Warmoth Build

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by davegardner0, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. davegardner0


    Mar 27, 2016
    Hi All,
    Guitar player here venturing into the world of bass. :)

    I'm currently thinking about building a bass for my wife (avid bass player, classic rock with a more modern tone) using Warmoth parts. She currently plays an Ibanez SR700 and she loves the sound, plus a CIJ Fender Mustang which she likes the scale length of, but not so much the tone. So the idea is to build a lighter, short-scale Soundgear-style bass using the Warmoth SSB G4 body/neck.
    Warmoth Custom Guitar Parts - SSB J-Style Body

    I've done this sort of work before so I feel comfortable with most aspects of the build. However when it comes to the electronics my head is spinning! PAF's, strat pickups, passive controls, etc. I understand but there seem to be a million choices of active bass pickups and preamps. The Ibanez bass she plays has the Bartolini MK-1 pickups and an active 3-band preamp. Like I said earlier she really likes the sound and the preamp's functions. However I don't really see these pickups available for sale separately. Plus I think the preamp is just made by Ibanez.

    So what else out there has a similar sound to the MK1's? (or where can I buy them?) Ideally I'd like to use one of the pickup types with a rout available from Warmoth, but I could probably do a custom rout if need be. I'm not opposed to buying used, especially if it saves some money. I'd like the quality level to be at least like the MK1's.

    She plays mostly classic rock so what she likes on the Soundgear bass is using the pickups and preamp to dial in a modern classic rock tone, not slap/funk/etc.

  2. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
  3. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Hello Dave. Welcome to TalkBass. Though I am unfamiliar with the sound of Bartolini MK1 pickups, I do see some for sale now.

    There is a pair right here in the Classifieds. And on that big auction site, there is a pair that includes the preamp from an Ibanez bass.

    Also, you can ask Bartolini which of their current models sounds most like their former MK1:

    US Builder Sales & Support
    T. J. Wagner
    Hours: 9 AM to 3 PM EST (M-F)
    Phone: (386) 517-6823
    [email protected]

    Good luck with the build!


    wintremute and Callused Finger like this.
  4. mmbongo

    mmbongo Regular Human Bartender Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Yeah should be easy to find a set of MK1's because most people replace them. They are not a Bartolini pickup, they are a Korean made G&B pickup with the Bart name on them. They are used only in 'cheap' overseas made basses. If you want a real USA Bart in that size you want MK5's. Or Delano and Aguilar also make that size.
  5. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Re: MkI's, 'real Barts'-
    It's all what sounds good in a particular bass and situation.
    Some think only 'real Fenders' are valid, but everyone is entitled to an opinion.
    There have been many happy Bart MkI owners commenting on TB-
    It's like which P pickup is the best or works good for a particular setting.
  6. davegardner0


    Mar 27, 2016
    wow thank you all for the quick feedback. Those white MK1s look like a great deal, will they work for a 4-string? I was hoping the MK1's be a frequently replaced item, and thus easy to find used.

    If I buy the pickups without a preamp, can I get any preamp to use with them? Is that how that works? What about using them as passive pickups?

    Now that I know how to get them, what do you all think about the sound quality of these pickups vs. 'real Barts' or other similar pickups? It looks like a big price jump, what does that buy you? Do these pickups all use the same size hole in the bass so I could upgrade later?
  7. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Most MkI's are passive, and rails inside, so will work with 4,5, or 6 strings as long as the magnetic field matches the o'all string width.
    There are many treads on TB discussing the MkI's, and all sorts of opinions. Comparing the same pickups in basses of different mat'ls and with different EQ's is very hard to do.
    Many just dis-connected the OEM EQ in their bass, and liked the pickups run passive.
    You could also 'uprade' beyond a MkI preamp (which doesn't get much love here) to an Aguilar OBP3PPK 3 band for lots of flexibility.
    An EMG BQS may work, but lots of Barts are known for relatively low output (partly why their preamps usually have a gain pot),
    whereas EMG pickups are usually relatively hot, and overdrive some preamps, so, matched with Barts, there may not be enough signal strength there.
  8. Crater


    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
  9. ex-tension


    Jun 11, 2009
    Yes, rails but split rails because they're split coil design. So, it's not suitable for any number of strings. MK1-4 model is for 4 string basses and MK1-5 model is for 5 string bases.
    You may be mixing up MK1s with MK4 or MK5 model.

    Replacement for Bartolini MK-1 Pickups
  10. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    OP only mentioned MkI's, took that to mean for a four string in context of the post.
    It's true that if if pickups for a 5-string were wanted, a 4-string model wouldn't work.
    Only pickups with the magnetic field config for the desired # of strings will work.

    NO confusion between MkI, Mk4, and Mk5's.
  11. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    In my SR700 I replaced the MK1's with the equivalent-sized, US Bartolini pickups: MK4CBC's that I got from BestBassGear.com. I also changed out the preamp for an Audere. The result was a 10-fold improvement in sound, still with that Bart sound but with tremendously improved articulation, punch, and warmth. That's a great way to go. If you'd like more details, just PM me.
  12. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    i'd wait until i had my body in hand , so i could measure for specific pup sizes ... !

    my Warmoths have mostly Bart soap bars in them ... duals or splits ... a couple different sizes .. !!

    measure before shopping .. ! it's less frustrating than finding really cool pups at a great price , that just won't fit !??!
  13. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada

    If Warmoth offers a route to fit Bartolini BC sized pickups, why would they not fit?
  14. davegardner0


    Mar 27, 2016
    To clarify this is all for a 4-string bass. It sounds unclear to me whether or not the 4- and 5-string versions of the MK1's are the same and/or interchangeable. From looking at photos on the web the casing seems to be the same size, if nothing else. If I'm looking at used pickups, how do I tell if they are the -4 or -5?

    This is really good info! Thanks! (PM Sent)

    I'm thinking of ordering the BC rout from Warmoth which should either fit or be slightly too narrow. I'm pretty confident in my router skills if I need to open up the hole before finishing the body.
  15. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    There should be a model # designation for 5 strings.
    Split coil pickups have the split centered for 4 or 6 strings so it is not under a string.
    Split coils for 5 or 7 strings have an offset gap between coils.
  16. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    I just took a look on Best Bass Gear
    BC Soapbar : Length = 3.95"(100.33mm) Width = 1.26"(32.00mm)
    MK Soapbar : Length = 4.24"(107.57mm) Width = 1.33"(33.66mm)

    Hmm, I guess they're not the same size. I figured they would be.
  17. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Just checked Bart's site-
    the Mk4's and Mk5's are dual-coils, so will fit 4 and 5 strings, but Mk5's are shown for 5 strings...?
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
  18. ex-tension


    Jun 11, 2009
    All 'MK size' pickups (including Korean MK1, American MK4, MK5, MK6) have the same size. But they're different internally.

    Four string MK1s have a sticker saying "MK1-4"
    Five string MK1s have a sticker saying "MK1-5"
    Do a Google image search with 'bartolini mk1' and you'll see.
    Besides, the seller will know from which bass the used pickups are from.

    Also, you might find this interesting:
    Replacement for Bartolini MK-1 Pickups
  19. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Apr 21, 2021

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