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Sadowsky NYC pickup replacement suggestion?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Oskar Alex, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Hey guys! I'm in the process of buying an old Sadowsky NYC 5 string (ash body and maple neck) bass from a friend. It plays great, and I love the sound. The only thing I'm not 100% happy with is the fact that I'm getting a tad too much brightness when plugged in, and the sound feels slightly low on the low-end. It's equipped with two EMG 40J single-coil soapbars, which I understand are known for exactly that; "expensive" brightness and punch, while not delivering as much low end. I'd like to ask all you skilled and knowledgeble folks out there, what are my options in terms of exchanging these pickups for something a bit more versatile, and what do you recommend? What are some absolute no-no's when it comes to compatibility with wiring/pre-amps etc? Is it better to exchange the pre-amp at the same time for something else? Right now it's got the stock Sadowsky preamp installed. I've been toying with the idea of a humbucker/single-coil configuration, and I know Aguilar makes great stuff, so I've been peeking at their pickups. Thankful for any advice. Cheers!
  2. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    A big selling point of getting a Sadowsky is to have the Sadowsky sound, so I would definitely leave the stock preamp.
  3. Okay, then I'll make sure to leave it in and get some pickups that are compatible with the existing preamp. I guess what I'm looking for is an "earthier" tone which is not as "glittery". Does anyone have experience with the Aguilar pickups?
  4. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    If they are EMGs, you'll likely have to replace the Volume and blend pots with something suited for a passive pickup as well. What's currently in there for EMG would likely be 25k and if you go with passive pickups, you'd either want 250k or 500k pots.
    (I'd recommend the 500k, personally)

    Aguilar makes great stuff, but I don't hear a ton of people talking about their pickups. The Sadowsky preamp was initially designed by Aguilar, FYI. If there isn't a problem with that pre, I'd say keep it in there.

    Nordstrand gets a lot more attention and makes a lot of pickup configurations. I'd definitely suggest their pickups, I think quite a few people would agree. Also, Carey is a great guy. He's a member on here, too.
    If you can tell them what you want, they'll make it in a proper cover for you.
  5. Thanks for the reply rojo412!

    So, the EMG40J pickups I currently have are active, and should I replace them with passive ones I should also change my volume and blend pots to 500k ones?

    I've checked out Nordstrand as well, they seem to make great stuff! The other one that I was looking at was the Delano SBC 5 HE/S . Does anyone have any experience with those?

    The issue I have with the EMGs is that I feel they have a slightly "cheap" sound, if you understand what I mean. It doesn't sound bad, just a bit "saturated", like it's not letting through the true voice of the instrument. Is this a general part of the EMG "sound"? I've heard many people speak of their products like they're mostly aimed at metal/heavier music. Is there any truth behind this? I can imagine the sound I'm getting from the pickups would suit that style, but as I'm more of a soul/jazz player I'm looking for something a little more natural and relaxed.
  6. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    Yeah, I know what you are talking about. ...u either like the sound or hate it, not much in between. Alot of people dont like wootens sound because of his emg love but to each his own. Seems like you are definitely a single coil guy and nordstrand makes great pickups and I think they wind sadowskys pickups as well. Problem you probably have is your body is routed for soap bars instead of the longer and slimmer single coils but I think they make single coil style pickups to fit in that size routing cavity.
  7. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Yes, definitely do the pots if you go passive.

    As for Delanos, I had a set of the SBCs. They are fantastic pickups, but they are the same kind of "hi-fi, modern" voice that EMG is. Not exactly the same tone, but very clean, clear, lots of nuances that come through.

    From what you described, it sounds like you're after the more traditional, "organic" sounding passive pickups.
    Delanos are great and definitely sound different than EMG... but they are the same kind of vibe. Neither really sounds "organic", so I'd say it's probably not the best pick for what you're doing.
  8. Hey jamminology101, thanks for the reply!

    I'm glad to hear the EMG's have their own sound, that must be what I'm hearing and what I'm not liking, even though the ones I have are already single coil. The bass in itself is quite bright and 'high end' sounding, any clue what kind of sound I would get with two soapbar humbuckers? Would that help to 'darken' up the sound and make it slightly more vintage sounding, or should I stick to a single coil model in soapbar shape?
  9. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    With the soapbar size, you have a world of options.
    If you get dual-coils that can be split, you'd have even more options!
    But if you get dual coil pickups and use both, the sound will change a lot. I did that on a Modulus years back, went from P-magnet shaped to DC pickups and it was all kinds of different.

    Any humbucking pickup will darken the tone. Even noise-cancelling "single coil style" J pickups will be a little darker than pure single coil.
    But the earthier, natural, passive tone is probably going to be the change you crave.

    As for covers, you can get plain, empty covers that are 40-sized and you could put any pickups under there. I've always wanted to experiment with that...
  10. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    First thing I would do is call the Sadowsky shop and discuss the options with them. I am not familiar with the variations in soap bar footprint, and that will determine to some extent where you go and how you get there. Plus, you would get to talk to the nice folks there!

    That said, I would probably investigate retrofitting Nord Big Singles if possible to go for a traditional single coil vibe; but the current Sadowsky Soaps (which IIRC were semi recently redesigned) might be an alternative. As to the preamp, I would simply make sure a proper Sadowsky preamp is in there, replacing with the currently available unit if required.

    GL. Bet it's a great bass.
  11. Hi again guys! Thanks for the replies. I did as suggested and contacted the folks at Sadowsky. They had some EMG40 sized replacements which they suggested to me. I ended up buying a pair of their own, newer Sadowsky soapbars, which I think are passive humbuckers. Got them delivered to Sweden and installed them the same day, I can't tell you how happy I am! I still have that high definition/crystal clear/expensive sounding "crisp" that comes naturally with the bass, but not accentuated in the "cheap" flimsy way the EMGs did. I have way more natural bottom and warmth, which is exactly what I wanted. I will probably upload a clip or so in the future to show the difference. Thanks for the advice! :)