Selecting pickups for custom instrument

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by nonconformist, Jun 19, 2020.

  1. Nordstrand BigRig x 2

    3 vote(s)
  2. Nordstrand BigRig x 3

    1 vote(s)
  3. G&L MFD M-series

    0 vote(s)
  4. G&L MFD L-series

    1 vote(s)
  5. Rautia Multicoil

    2 vote(s)
  6. Other (do tell!)

    0 vote(s)
  1. nonconformist

    nonconformist Guest

    Mar 1, 2008
    Hey TB -

    I'm in the specifications stage for a custom instrument with one of the esteemed luthiers in our midst. I'm very excited - it's my first time going this route after years on the sidelines. I've got most of the bass figured out; here's where it stands:

    34", four string fretted with 1.60" nut width, zero fret
    single-cut body
    1 piece Mahogany core
    Birdseye maple top and back, with black walnut veneer
    3-5 piece maple neck (modern oval, 0.810" thickness at 1st fret)
    Pau ferro fingerboard

    Preamp is destined to be a John EAST Uni 4K, likely with toggles as appropriate. The preamp has two independent inputs, which means going beyond two pickups will require them to combine into one channel.

    I'm aiming for some aggressive rock tones, and skewing modern and hi-fi. I'm stumped on the pickups. I've included a poll with the options - feel free to select one or more that you fancy and explain why below.

    On the demos and recordings, I think these BigRigs are the bees knees. I was thinking about going crazy and dropping in three, like Dingwall. I'd wire two up in parallel and put them through a toggle to isolate or combine. The third would be centerline in the Precision sweet spot, with its own toggle for series, parallel and single coil of the two coils. I'm pretty excited about this option, assuming there are no technical hurdles with the EAST preamp. Bartolini soapbar shape makes replacement easy in the long run.

    G&L MFD
    What an incredible, innovative pickup. I worry that the L-series is simply too hot, even with the input gain trims on the EAST, and would fall back on the M-series to play nice with a powerful preamp. Granted, would make passive mode lovely... Problem: proprietary routing means no easy replacement if I'm not in love.

    Rautia Multicoils
    Rather unknown outside of his Aria pickup recreations, these are true multicoil pickups hand made in Finland. There are some neat tones to be had, and each can be wired in numerous ways to have maximum tonal flexibility. Easily manufactured in MM or soapbar shape for later changes. Not cheap!!!
    cataract likes this.
  2. Never heard of them but go all out and get the Rautia Multicoils . They look cool, fit your application and you’ll have something uncommon to discuss when showing off your new bass.

    I’m sure they sound awesome. I think you’ll be happy with the John East preamp. I have an original Retro J in a Fretless Jazz with Di Marzio Model Js, GHS Tapewounds and love it.
    nonconformist likes this.
  3. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Birmingham AL
    Those Rautia pickups look amazing!
    I have a custom spaced Proto Guitars MM/J hybrid in one of my basses and it’s the most gnarly sounding bass I’ve ever played. Clean, crisp, and loud.
    Stingray Hybrid Bass Pickup — PROTO GUITARS
    nonconformist likes this.
  4. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    Since you're looking at Rautia Multicoils you might consider Sims Super Quads also.
    nonconformist likes this.
  5. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Hello. Anyone interested in these pickups might like to see the product page. In addition to MM size, they are available in two soapbar sizes and in a Thunderbird size.

    Using ceramic magnets for the Thunderbird pickups is... interesting. :whistle: I would have to hear it. :D

    The only multi-coil bass pickups I have are a custom J set made for me by Sentell. Here is my review of them:

    Sidewinders, Multi-coils and other hard to find pickups
    cataract and nonconformist like this.
  6. nonconformist

    nonconformist Guest

    Mar 1, 2008
    Someone had pointed me in their direction. VERY techy, but neat solution.
  7. nonconformist

    nonconformist Guest

    Mar 1, 2008
    He's got a lot of interesting stuff. Response via email was really solid at first, but the past week I'm at a lot of dead ends. Speaking with a few actual users, they described the sound as "scooped." When mids are what I'm aiming for, that is the last adjective I needed to hear.
  8. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    From those listed, I’d go with BigRigs or Rautias. For two reasons: I never did bond with G&L pickups (tho I suspect they’d be killer in single coil mode), and the other two come in more generic shapes so you could audition a few different pickups... that would be a must for me. I voted for 3 BigRigs, but simply because that’s where my mind is these days - I’m sure two would be plenty (and possibly look better too).

    If Rautias, maybe try get the East/ACG Filter preamp, for Wal-type sounds?

    I’d also seriously consider Big Splits or even Big Singles, my sense is they’re the most aggressive Nord pickups. It’s imo easier to dial down aggressiveness than EQ-it in.