This has been an eventful week. Actually it started around the middle of last week, and it's been going on since then. On Saturday I got a demo of some new Villex pickups. These were brand new for me, I'd never seen or heard them before. The demo instrument was a 70's Fender Jazz Bass, stock except for the new pickup system. In a nutshell, these pickups are passive, but when you're listening to them you'll swear you're hearing actives. The frequency range is greatly extended compared to the stock Fender pickups (the Villex pups go down to 18 Hz for those 9- and 11-string basses, and they go way up beyond active-land), and the dynamic range is also greatly extended. Other than that, they're remarkably faithful to the vintage J sound that we all know and love. Cosmetically, they're drop-in replacement for the stock Fender pickups. Electronically, they're somewhat unusual, there's a midrange control that works off a second coil embedded into each pickup, which when left on zero yields a real nice slappy sound, and when cranked to full generates an incredibly fat sounding midrange that's perfect for walking and jazzy stuff (I'm guessing the boost is centered somewhere around the 400 Hz range, maybe slightly lower). The sound? Beatiful! Completely amazing. If I'd been blindfolded, I would have sworn up and down that I was listening to an active system. But, these pickups are completely passive! For those of you who like the sound of actives but don't like the concept of batteries in your bass, these Villex pickups may be just the ticket. To my ear, they sound GREAT! (with a capital G). I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to replace the stock pickups in my J bass with a pair of these Villex J-pups. In fact, I'm going to do that very thing shortly, to "my" J bass (which actually belongs to a buddy of mine, but that's a long story, it's been in my possession for almost ten years and I haven't heard hide nor hair from the owner in just about that long, so for all practical purposes it's "my" J-bass). Of course I'll keep the old pickups around just in case. But really, these Villex pups are remarkably faithful to the vintage character of the J sound, other than the extended ranges and the midrange tweakability. You can easily dial up a "classic" J-bass sound with these pups. I'm not affiliated with Villex in any way, the only thing I really know about him is that he's been around a while, he has several patents related to pickup technology, and several major manufacturers are currently using his ideas. But, it's very likely that I'll be seeing him in the very near future, so if any of you are seriously interested you can drop me an e-mail and I'll do what I can to hook you up. Seriously though, I've been playing the bass for a long time, maybe forty years, and there hasn't been a whole lot new under the sun during that time. Every once in a while though, something new does come along, and that makes me sit up and take notice. This is one of those times. Passive pups that sound truly spectacular. That's gotta be something new, 'cause I've never heard anything like these Villex-es. Clearly Mr. Villex knows a bit about physics, 'cause without revealing his trade secrets, let's just say his design is "very clever", and he's worked wonders with the frequency range and dynamic range of his pickups. There are some big names in the industry that are currently very interested in these pickups, and from what I gather the only reason they're not being mass marketed is that Mr. Villex winds, houses, and tests each pickup by hand (ie he can't make them fast enough to satisfy a large commercial market). At the moment, my understanding is that the J-bass pups are the only ones that can be had "quickly", but rumor also has it that Mr. Villex can build just about any kind of pup that might be needed, and since I play mostly five-strings these days, I'll surely be taking him up on that capability. But I do fours too (once in a while), and I'm really looking forward to trying a set of the Villex P-pups shortly, and I'm also thinking seriously about ordering up a set of Villex soapbars for my Yamaha beater-bass. If any of you have any experience with Villex pickups, good or bad, I'd love to hear about it.