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Replace Mudbucker - Novak Bisonic, Fatbucker or something else ?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by hagstrom71, Jul 20, 2016.

  1. hagstrom71


    Aug 22, 2007
    Hey All,

    I'm looking to replace the single neck mudbucker in my 60s Epiphone Newport for something with a cleaner/brighter sound and that won't drive an amp so hard. Any suggestions from people who have done similar with a Newport or a Gibson EB bass are greatly appreciated.

    I have an old Dimarzio DP120 Model One in another short scale bass and have always liked the sound,
    but I don't want to cut up the body to fit one of those into the Newport.
    I use flatwounds and mainly play 60s-70s inspired pop rock stuff and am not sure which Novak fits my needs better?
    I'm looking at the Novak EB-BS Bisonic or the EB-AA fatbucker, both will supposedly fit an EBO style bass without modification. If anyone here has some experience with these or other drop-in replacements, please let me know your thoughts.

  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Cut up the body?? The Model One is supposed to be a direct drop-in replacement for a Gibson mudbucker.

    I have a Novak EB-BS, and it's really clear, but pickup location is a big factor here too - practically any pickup right by the neck is going to be pretty woofy.
  3. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    Maybe a passive bass cut is in order? I like a pickup right next to the neck and I pretty much always have one of these onboard, it's probably my most used control, it helps clean up distortion, cuts the mud pretty well, and still allows you to get that great woolly hollow sound of a far neck pickup.
    Three Must-Try Guitar Wiring Mods | Premier Guitar
    PaperbackRyder likes this.
  4. hagstrom71


    Aug 22, 2007
    Hey Todd,

    Thanks for the reply. The Dimarzio is meant to be a replacement, but it is slightly wider and requires some cutting to get it to fit.
    Not much, but I rather not do anything to the body if possible. I read about this here I believe, and measured to confirm that it is the case unfortunately.

    As far as the sound, the Dimarzio I have is in the neck position of a solidbody shortscale 60's hagstrom bass and is much clearer than the mudbucker in the newport.
    Not looking for a extra bright sound, just a little more clarity/attack and a cleaner sound.
    Sounds like the EB-BS you have might be the way to go.
    I'm not too familiar with the Bisonic sound. Can you guys point me to some typical bi-sonic sounding recordings or videos?
  5. davelowell2

    davelowell2 Uhh... FaFaFooey is BaBaBooey... Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2006
    Watching intently... Thinking of replacing my 90's Rivoli pickup... I emailed Curtis and he said EB-BS but I just haven't been convinced enough to pull the trigger...
  6. 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'll try to record mine in the next few days.
  7. I dropped a FatBucker into an old EB0 as the original mudbucker was a bit too woofy without a bridge pickup to help it out. It's a direct drop-in fit, no problems installing it.

    My impression is that it does not produce as good a tone for the (vintage/classic rock) type of music I play as a stock modern Gibson SG bass neck pickup. It does have more of a modern tone than the SG pickup. So... better than the mudbucker; not as good as the SG pup.

    Also, I had the original mudbucker cover so I did not spring for one of Curtis' covers. I wish I had though, because the poles on the Novak Fatbucker he sent did not line up correctly with the holes in the vintage cover. When I emailed Curtis about buying one of his covers after the fact with the hopes of getting a cover that fit he never responded.

    Curtis developed the Fatbucker in response to a request from a bass player (Andrew Altman). Andrew made a recording of the Fatbucker in his vintage EB0. I pasted the link to that recording, as well as a description of the Fatbucker off the Novak website, below. I still think the stock Gibson SG neck pickup is a better choice, unless you want a BiSonic.


    EB-AA FatBucker Replacement Pickup
    * NEW * EB-AA custom pickup gives a nice clean sound that is generally balanced across the frequency spectrum. Basically the opposite of the stock pickup. Humbucker Cover not included. Add cover for $10

    Andrew Altman or Railroad Earth asked me to come up with a pickup for his Vintage Gibson EB bass. "The general goal starting out was a nice clean sound that is generally balanced across the frequency spectrum. Basically the opposite of the stock pickup. Ha!?" He loves the look and feel of the bass, but the tone was just not working with the band. The basic specs of this pickup is it is wound with a very heavy gage wire and rod magnets. It gives a very full clear tone, and actually a humbucker unlike the original Mudbucker. It is designed to fit in the existing route no mods. You can hear the sound clip of it here
    EB-AA Sound Clip
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2016
  8. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    I've seen it said that Dimarzio Model Ones are somewhat variable between examples when it comes to dimensions. They appear to be made by pouring epoxy into some sort of mould, and the hookup cable can exit the pickup either out the back or the side of the unit. I would be tempted to shave some spare epoxy off the block on the back of the pickup, proceeding with maximum caution.

    I think the Epiphone Rivoli reissue pickups were wound by Gotoh, with a very low DC resistance; something like 1.2 kOhms. I've seen it mentioned that the E string is weak on those basses and can be corrected by extending the magnetic field of the pickup further under the area the E string travels. I do wonder if lower value pots would open the bass up a bit. I've seen somebody mod one with a microphone transformer to bump up the impedance to normal levels (weak E string intact).
  9. hagstrom71


    Aug 22, 2007
    Thanks for all the replies, this is some great info here.
    Axeman, when you say you prefer the 'stock modern Gibson SG bass neck pickup',
    I'm not sure what you are refering to.. is that the one I see on the allparts site?
    If not, please let me know where I can find one.
    Gibson Style Bass Humbucking Neck Pickup | Allparts.com

    Good point above the passive bass cut and possibly shaving epoxy off the dimarzio, unfortunately it is not with me,
    but I may try to get my friend who has it to at least take a look and see if it looks feasible.

    I'd love to hear from anyone who has the EB-BS pickup or even novak bisonic/darkstar pickup in the neck of any shortscale bass.
    As this is the sound I'm not familiar with, I did find the video below which is helpful..but would love to hear from anyone's experience.
  10. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    The neck pickup in the modern SG bass is a Thunderbird pickup in disguise! The coils are pushed slightly apart, and the pole-pieces (which do nothing) are screwed into a non-magnetic block. All for show.

    The Allparts pickup is a mystery, though the ceramic magnets are correct for the type. The pole-piece spacing looks wider than Gibson though.
  11. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    If that Allparts is the Artec version, then I had one of those at one time. Architecturally it's very similar to the original Gibson sidewinder mudbucker, but Artec had a nasty habit of mis-installing the magnets, which made it susceptible to hum. Not hard to fix, but it should come correct from the factory. At any rate, as a (mostly) faithful copy of the original, its tone is also a faithful copy. It is possible to modify it to four-conductor wiring, which then allows parallel and/or single-coil tone, which opens it up a good bit. And yes, its poles are Fender-spaced.
  12. hagstrom71


    Aug 22, 2007
    Is it possible to purchase this pickup seperately, and if so where?
    Just want to check out my options before going with the EB-BS which I am considering.

    Thanks for this heads up.. Sounds like the existing mudbucker I have already and should not purchase.
    I figured for $40 it probably wasn't going to be an improvement.
  13. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    I think the Darkstar will give you some hum since it's a single coil design, but Curtis also makes a Mudbucker looking pickup that I think you can have wound in a way that will give you the sound you want. I think the Dimarzio is a drop-in as well.
  14. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    The newer Epiphone mudbuckers, as on the new Epiphone EB style basses, are made with less wire than a "traditional" mudbucker and is a "thinner" sounding pickup overall. Maybe a dealer can get you one. Yes, go to a music store, try out a new Epiphone EB with the newer style pickup, and see what you think.
  15. ThePresident777


    Oct 6, 2013
    Everything about that bass (the strings, pick ups, pup placement, and scale) dictates a low fat sound. In my opinion, you should get a second bass to try ideas on.

    Barring that, trying new strings would be easy:

  16. mellowgerman

    mellowgerman Supporting Member

    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    I recorded the demo below of my Novak Bisonic a few years ago. Granted, it was more in the middle position, but I think it still does a good job demonstrating the rich, articulate tone of the pickup.
    As a player who has owned vintage Guild basses with the original Bisonic pickups, as well as several basses with Dark Star pickups, I will say that the Novak pickup came incredibly close to the tone of the Bisonic in my old 1966 Starfire bass. They are definitely worth every penny if you're looking for that kind of tone. If you listen to some demos of 60's Starfire basses with the neck position Hagstrom Bisonic pickup, that should give you as good an idea as any as to how the Novak bisonic would sound in that position.

  17. jsr914

    jsr914 Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    I recently put a Novak EB-BS in my 1967 Gibson EB2. It is cleaner in tone than the original mudbucker, but is an acquired taste - it is very similar to the tone of the original Guild / Bisonic pickups in my opinion. Sorry, no sound clips yet. It isn't bad by any means and it is growing on me, but I may just get the original pickup rewound and reinstalled. One coil went dead, which was the reason I replaced it.

    I noticed that Gotoh released a new (to me anyway) Gibson humbucker replacement. Now, looking closer it appears to be the same Allparts ones you guys mentioned above:

    PU-0416-010 Gotoh Chrome Humbucker Gibson/Epiphone® Bass Neck Pickup

    Might be worth the $30 to see if it sounds any good. Good luck with the hunt.
  18. PeaveyPlayer

    PeaveyPlayer Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2014
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    I'm also looking for a budbucker to add to my Atitude bass

    Somthing really WOOFY and dark for reggae
  19. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    It cannot be done easily. Gibson will not sell the pickup separately, so your best bet is to find somebody with an SG bass who has upgraded the neck pickup and won't miss the stock pickup.

    The EB-BS pickup will be tonally different to any of the alternatives mentioned in this thread, short of fitting a Bi-Sonic or Darkstar pickup.
  20. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Threw this together just now - excuse the muffs - first half is neck pickup, second half is bridge pickup for comparison:


    Signal chain is bass->Presonus Inspire->GarageBand No Effects track. So it's totally dry and uncompressed.

    The bass is my Tele build - 32" scale, walnut body with bolt-on walnut neck, Novak EB-BS right up against the neck (polepieces right about where the 22nd fret would be), Hammon DarkStar DS-3N in the bridge (really middle) position, D'Addario XL round wounds.

    Those two pickups are, intentionally, very similar in design, yet you can hear the difference that pickup position makes.

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2016
    Evanforbass, dmt and PawleeP like this.
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