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Transparent Pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by mcgraham, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. mcgraham


    Feb 21, 2004
    Coventry, UK
    Hey there,

    I currently have DiMarzio Model J's in my Geddy Lee J-bass, and it's a tone monster. They sit and cut at the right ratio and as Smash put it in his review, are smooth and filling in the track.
    However, I am finding more and more than I would prefer a more transparent set of pickups to achieve slightly more varied tone when shaped. As good as they sound, it's quite hard to disguise the sound of these pickups or change their sound radically as they are quite distinctive.

    So far my two possibles lie with Aero Type I's (put forward by Smash in his review) and a set of Bart's. I heard a clip of a certain pair very similar to that of the Basstasters MTD, extremely nice. Oddly enough however, I'm not entirely keen on Bart's in general. At first they always seem to sound great but after a while I have my fill of them. Don't ask why it just seems to happen *shrug*
    So, if you have any suggestions, clips or recommendations for a set of transparent J's, please feel free to share with me!

    Take care and God bless,

    Mark G
  2. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    q-tuner pickups. They are supposed to be acoustically transparent, and you can even order transparent covers!
  3. mcgraham


    Feb 21, 2004
    Coventry, UK
    I've read into them a little. I'm very intrigued by their use of neodymium magnets in their pickups, however I'm concerned, perhaps unduly, perhaps not, that the strength of these magnets would have an adverse effect on sustain.
    Either way, thank you for your input, they are on going on the shortlist!

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    To my ears the Bartolini's are pretty transparent and clear.
  5. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Barts always seemed to have a bit muted top end, but I only really played them in my P-bass.

    BTW, the strength of the magnets won't do too much on those Q-tuners. It just allows them to use lees mass on the magnet with the same strength. I am sure that excessive strin pull would not be a problem, especially for a bass (as opposed to guitar).
  6. bkief1


    Dec 25, 2005
    For clean/clear and transparent, the best of the lot are the Bill Lawrence J-45 and P-46 pickups. I use the P-46 on my DiPinto Galaxie and have played basses with the J-45. You'll hear the truest sound.
  7. mcgraham


    Feb 21, 2004
    Coventry, UK
    Thanks for the responses guys! I've not really heard a lot about Bill Lawrence, I've mostly heard him referred to as a tone master by guitarists. I'll be sure to look up some info on his pickups.

    Major metal I definitely think I've just had some bad run ins with Barts, as one of my most sought after tones is the MTD sound. Another one high up my list is Zon. So Barts are definitely on the list but I'm wary until I know exactly what I want.

    Trevorus thanks for the reassurance about Q-Tuners. I was under the impression the magnets were of similar mass to typical J pickup. I won't lie to you, the price is a bit of a turn off. They are definitely offering something radically different to what's out there, but I'm not sure sonically if it's worth the extra dough.
  8. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    Bartolini CB and CX series are more transparent than regular Barts. They don't have the "veiled" top end. Might be worth checking out.....
  9. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Did you check out my thread in the pickups faq with samples of a bunch of different pickups in a Geddy Lee bass?
    Bart J's definitely have a muting on the high end, it might be what you're looking for or not. the Barts in MTD's are custom built to Mike Tobias specs. In addition, the Bart J's are low output and work best with a preamp
  10. mcgraham


    Feb 21, 2004
    Coventry, UK
    Indeed I did David, that was where I heard the clip of the nice Barts, I found the 9J's to have a killer tone. You've done us a huge favour, saves us buying masses of pickups to find 'the pair'!
  11. No worries about sustain - you can set them up to sustain for days if you want. They do need to be set to the proper hieght from the strings - too far away and you lose dynamics, too close and they can go into a compressed/distortion. Once you've got the hieght set for the overall pickup you can fine-tune each string through the multitude of pole-pieces on each pup. I found this really helps to smooth out the sound across the strings.

    I've got 2 BXXL's in a Yami J-style and they are simply the best pickups available. Don't let the price throw you off - they're worth every penny and then some. They are the epitome of "boutique" as each pup is custom made to order. They don't have the economies of scale the larger companies have, but in exchange you get a pickup that's lovingly made taking over 8 hours just to do the windings, and they're done to a tolerance that is as close to perfect as is physically possible so they introduce absolutely nothing to the sound - they simply pass 100% of the strings vibrations through to the output jack. The silly buggers even use .999 silver wiring for the leads.

    I could go on for days but hope this helps. The biggest complaint I've heard about them is they are "too hi-fidelity." My rule of thumb is that it's far easier to take something out of a signal than to try and hear something that isn't there in the first place. I can tweak them to go, with a bit of gain, from a lovely growl [and I'm using old flatwounds] to a super-bright lead to a hollow acoustic tone. If I could figure a way to emulate the body fluctuations of a hollowbody I could even set them so you couldn't tell the difference between them and an upright acoustic.

    They are - quite simply - the best!
  12. mcgraham


    Feb 21, 2004
    Coventry, UK
    Wow Verne thats quite an endorsement! I'm glad that someone who uses Q-tuners can give me a bit more to go on. Good testimonial there to what they can do.

    I listened to the Aspie clip on the site however I don't feel it showcases what bass pickups should be capable of. If anyone hasn't downloaded it, it's a few minutes of harmonics. Very nice and very pure I must say, but I don't perform purely using harmonics.

    After a bit more deliberation the current set I'm thinking about is the Bart 9J's. I'd love to hear any clips that you may have of your Q-tuners Verne. I have to be honest, considering their price I'd like to hear a better sample of their capabilities than the Aspie clip before I shell out that sort of cash. Bearing in mind I can get a set of 9J's for less than just 1 Q-tuner the scales are indeed tipped in Bartolini's favour.

    Take care and God bless,

  13. Hi Mark,

    I posted a pretty comprehensive thread on my Q's when I first got them which includes this before and after clip [http://verneandru.com/WebApp/Downloads/Audio/Q-TunerPepsiChallange.mp3] that runs through some arpeggios with no FX. Nothing fancy, but I believe it does show a marked difference between the 2. Night and day as one poster noted.

    Doing clips - as I've discovered - is a rather thankless job. Everybody has a different idea of what they want to hear and it's impossible to please all the people all the time. Erno is quite taken with the way the Q's bring out the harmonics. Most bass players are interested in how the pups bring out the ultra lows and punchy growl [among other things]. As I tried to articulate above, Q's do both and let you dial in the tone you want, instead of colouring the sound in a particular way as most conventional pups do.

    If it's a money issue, there are certainly much cheaper alternatives. If you are interested in a pickup that will deliver the best tone on the planet, Q-Tuners are a bargain.

    Now that I've had a chance to play with them for a few months I've been thinking about doing another clip dialed in the way I like them with FX and stuff. I'll try to get at it but don't hold your breath.
  14. seakamp


    Jun 30, 2005
    Oh boy. Now you've got me started Verne. I am probably gonna have to swap the barts out of my modulus now!!! :hyper:
  15. Recording some clips is as good an excuse as I can find to procrastinate on a rainy Wednesday, so here goes. Part of this is against a drum track direct out of my Yamaha keyboard. The bass is going through my pedal board as such:

    bass->Ross compressor->delay->Pig EP-1 with Marv mode on->mixer->Quattro->Cubase SX

    All I've done in Cubase is add a limitor to the master and chop the stuff together. It's "my tone" at the moment and hope it helps augment the rather stale clips I did as an A/B. Hope you enjoy.

  16. mcgraham


    Feb 21, 2004
    Coventry, UK
    My apologies Verne, I hope I didn't come across as saying they are too expensive or not worth it. It's not an issue of money, as you say, they are of the highest standard and quality, and they are amazing pickups. Of that I have no doubt. However, just as with all gear, they may not be for me, and from just the Aspie clip I cannot reach a conclusion of whether they are for me or not. I'm sure you can appreciate as we're not talking mere pennies here, I am hesitant to purchase something I have not heard enough of.

    However... I've just downloaded your two clips, thank you very much for putting them up! There is a marked difference between the two sound bites in the first clip. I'm totally sold on them transferring only the sound of your bass, the flatwounds sound fantastic.

    Transparent pickups... we have a winner! Hands down. They're almost obscenely transparent. Now I need to worry if they're TOO transparent ;)

    Thanks a lot guys you've been a real help. I hope you've all learned something here just as I have, if you want unrivalled transparency, Q-tuners are the way!

    Take care and God bless,


    P.S. On a somewhat unrelated note, I plugged in some good headphones that I thought had just broken today to listen to the clips. Turns out there's nothing wrong with them... that would imply a new iPod is in order *sigh* more cash...

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