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Q-tuner BL-4 - how do they sound?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Calciumis, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. i was gonna order someq-tuner bl-4s for a custom bass that i will be soon (hopefully) ordering, because i heard they were great.

    i have heard some sound clips and they dont seem to be all-that-good. they sound good, but nothing like people have been talking them up...

    so does anyone know whats so great about these pickups and why theyre worth the money? :confused:
  2. mrufino1

    mrufino1 Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2005
    Nutley, NJ
    If you don't like the way they sound in the clips you've heard why would you want them? They may be "good" in the sense that they are made well, but if they don't sound good to you then you are not going to like them no matter what they are made of. I personally am not a fan of any of the qtuner clips I've heard, but then they very much excite others, so to each their own as long as it works for them.
  3. ZolkoW


    May 8, 2006
    Hungary, EU
    there are some better clips on TB, try searching them.
    they sound very clear and linear. lots of presence. (I didn't like the "factory clips" at all, either)
  4. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    Perhaps it is worth starting by asking what sort of sound you are seeking. Also, what about the Q-tuner clips was unimpressive?

    When I recorded my BL-5 samples, the pickup went through the preamp of my then-stock WT-500, which lost some of the transparency. Sound cards also alter the sound somewhat. IMO, the Q-tuner is a wide-bandwidth pickup with comparatively extended harmonic response, is relatively noise-free, and has a healthy output level. If you want a clear, open, sound, the Q-tuner provides that. If you want dark/muted tones, it probably won't be the right pickup. I'm not saying that the pickup is thin, however... the bottom is definitely there.
  5. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    In my particular bass they are very dark and muted, especially in passive mode (which I never, ever use). Took me three tries on both pickups and preamps to realize that it's really just the nature of that bass. ;)
  6. i listened to those BL-5 clips with the comparison between the q-tuners and the barts. to be more definitive than before; the reason why i didnt like them to much is because they sounded 'impolite' . they picked up a lot of screech and fret sliding, whereas the barts were very clean sounding
  7. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    Well, I wouldn't describe them at polite sounding pickups. The Q-tuners do reproduce higher frequencies than most other pickups, and thus that increased openness comes with the high frequency sound of the fingers sliding along the windings of the strings. However, that can be addressed somewhat with EQ, technique, and choice of strings.

    Not sure I'd describe the Bartolinis as clean sounding so much as warm/muted, with a focus on the lower midrange. The word 'clean' seems to imply high fidelity to me, and I don't hear that in the Bartolinis. Rather, I hear an intentionally warm, dark, round, sort of sound. As I see it, Q-tuners are most suitable for those looking to have a relatively transparent reproduction of their instrument, one with minimal coloration which serves as a full-range starting point. From there, you can EQ as you like. That extended response up top is not something that you can add if it isn't there, but you can roll it off it you don't like it.
  8. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    The Q-Tuner description on the website is "ruthlessly accurate wideband sound." That's pretty much how I hear 'em. Those noises exist acoustically on most basses, and it's your choice where and if you want to filter them. ;)
  9. jscomposer


    Nov 25, 2009
    I was turned off by their cockamamie sound clips, too. :rollno: Got Dimarzios instead. Then finally pulled the trigger on Q-tuners (BS set).

    I wasn't blown away, mainly because my low-B isn't any clearer with them. Similar to my journey through various guitar pickups, I've discovered that clarity and articulation are primarily in EQ. Pickups that claim to be clearer than others are only marginally so. Far better to use pickups that have the tone and character you like, and just EQ the muddy regions.

    That said, I do find the adjustable pole pieces VERY useful for getting an even sound across all 5 strings.
  10. Bass Mayhem

    Bass Mayhem

    Dec 27, 2007
    I have Q-Tuners on my Jazz Bass; they are clear and well defined. One downside is strong magnet pull. They must be placed at larger distance from the string, making the good side of them not so representative. You can get a really shimmering strong tone out of them, but then you get the magnetic wobble...
  11. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    As I recall, those who have mentioned too much pull on the strings have all used the Jazz Q-tuners. Wonder if that particular design implementation might contribute somehow? I've not had any similar problems with my BL-5.
  12. TapyTap


    Apr 26, 2005
    The Q-tuner website indicates that one BS Q-tuner has two Neodymium bar magnets with a total weight of 25 grams. If you have two BS Qs on one bass, the total magnetic weight would be 50 grams. A single BL-5 Q also specs out with a total magnetic weight of 25 grams. Most people seem to place two BS Q-tuners on one bass, so, they would have a total magnetic weight of 50 grams vs. one single BL-5 on a bass having a total magnetic weight that is half that of the two BS scenario. Could it be that having a single Q-tuner lends itself to less string pull than a two Q-tuner setup. It would be interesting to know how two BLs compare with two BS Qs in the string pull department.
  13. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    I noticed significant string pull issues with my pair of BL-5 pickups. Actually, only the neck pickup in its typical location caused the issues, and it was most audible on the thicker (lower) strings. When I used the bridge pickup by itself, I did not notice the issues.

    I solved the problem by moving the pickups into a bass with a "turbo" pickup placement, with both pickups located closer to the bridge. The neck pickup was closer to the "sweet spot" (i.e. Music Man) location, and the bridge pickup was squeezed between the neck pickup and the bridge. The warbling issues went away.
  14. Miguel001


    May 29, 2007
    Hi there

    I ve been playing live for some years with this q tuner setup wired in series.

    Series wiring config gives them the low mids you miss when used alone.

    I also use 250K pots and roll off highs with the tone pot (custom capacitor affecting higher fq s than normal)

    If you overdrive that signal with a nice tube pre you get a cool bass tone

    Attached Files:

  15. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Ok, so does anyone knows what has happened to q-tuner at all? They're not available anymore. The produciton has moved and it says on their website, on hiatus it seems:

    "March 26th 2011. The shop section of Q-tuner.com will remain closed for a while. If everything proceeds according to plan, we'll reopen next year. In all probability, the current range of products will be replaced by the second generation Q-tuner"

    Can anyone tell what's going on? It's almost one year now. No news from anywhere.


    On another note, I wonder if anyone used Q-tuners on any fretless bass ? With flatwound strings? I just have got the imagination that since they pickup up high frequency harmonics they could be better at mimicking an acoustic upright somewhat better without resorting to have unders saddle pickups (piezo or whatever) I am looking for magnetic pickups that work closer to that scenario.

    FWIW, I've tried one bass with q-tuners on, and the only feeling I got that they sound like active ones (EMG, Barts etc) but without the batteries. And I happen to be one of these people who don't mind active pickups at all. Might switch to them because of environmental thing then , no batteries...:smug:
  16. MrBEAR

    MrBEAR In Memoriam

    You could check out KR Guitars, when they were available Kevin implemented the Q-Tuners on several fretless builds.

  17. TapyTap


    Apr 26, 2005
    Have you tried contacting Q-tuner.com?


    No batteries...but plenty of toxic chemicals nonetheless.
  18. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Yes, they replied with an answer before march 2011, i e they hadn't gone public with their hiatus yet. Then once again, but then, no reply. Seems like they are going to replace the whole series with new technology and that takes more time than expected.


    Well, no matter how long time it takes between I RECYCLE batteries, I have never ever thrown away any kind of pickup regardless of how crappy they were. And I'll bet it'll take quite a while with q-tuners. However, I don't know what toxic chemicals there is inside q-tuners apart from regular p-ups. Neodynium, and poles, is some kind of magnetic steel, iron, anyway. If there's anything TOXIC in there I doubt they would sell it, even.
  19. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    BTW KR guitars and basses seems gorgeous. And I listened to the videoclips, which one really shouldn't do. It's hard to pass judgement on sound via YT clips. However, fretless sounds fretless however, with high-end high-tech quality just like ... well any other high-tech bass.
  20. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    IMO, Q-tuners have a more natural, open, sound than EMG active pickups, and are not harsh or sterile like EMGs. The upper harmonic response is quite extended, where as EMGs are sort of bright/edgy in the lower treble, but with little true upper harmonic content.

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