Visit to Nordstrand's shop...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jacochops, Nov 27, 2003.

  1. jacochops


    Jul 2, 2000
    Suzhou, China
    Okay...this is going to come off like I'm trying to do the cheap "Cal Worthington" thing, (So. Cal. TBers get that one), but it's not. All hype aside, here's the deal...
    I went to Carey's shop this morning to check out my new SC4 which is due for completion in early/mid December with the koa top and birdseye maple board, and take him to lunch at a killer Italian sandwich shop in town. The bass looks great, and I got a chance to see all of the "in progress" basses. Every one has its own individual identity and vibe...a very sweet batch on the way!
    Anyway, I played a bass that was sold by Adrian Garcia at that was being set up by Carey....a box elder burl-topped 5 with a pao ferro (I think) board. Now, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool 4 string player, but this 5 was absolutely the best 5 I'd ever played! It played great, yes, but the TONE!! Oh, man the tone was SICK!!! He put these pickups in it that he calls "Fat Stacks". IMHO, they're like F Bass pickups, but with more string "meat", for lack of a better description. I said within 20 seconds of playing the bass, "I NEED these in my new bass; change my order"!! So, lo and behold, I'm adding them to my order, and after checking out the piles of pickups he's making and shipping out to his dealers, I asked about the hum-cancelling J pickups he's making. He asks, "Do you want to try a set?" I look at my watch, knowing I have a chilled bottle of bubbly and a hot wife at home, I said the only thing a bass-addict would say..."Why, yes... I have time!!" A few clicks later, and an education about what makes his pickups tick, I have a new set of Nordstrand hum-cancelling J-pickups installed into my SC4 fretless. We plugged it into his new reference amp, and.....BOOM!!!!! I had Dimarzio Model Js in there which worked fine, but this was a whole new universe!! Fat tone, but HOT, and VERY even!! Many notes and a hell of a chubby later, I was freaking out about how much of a difference his pickups made.
    Needless to say, I've been a proponent of Carey's work for years, but this whole Fat Stack thing is on a whole new planet...really. I A/B'd 2 of his basses, and the Fat Stacks are really the best pickups I've ever heard. No sh*t. This is not intended to be an's not. I simply am floored about how good those pickups sound. There really is something about 'em....fat, focused, punchy, full of fundamental, just greasy!!
    If a mod wants to shelve this thread, I'm sorry it sounds like an ad...I'm just an owner of a couple of Nordstrands that is about as fired up about them as I can be!!!
    YMMV...(but if it does, I really don't know what planet you're from!!!)
  2. Hman


    Jan 8, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    Hey Jacochops..glad you like my bass! :D ;)
  3. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I'm really looking forward to getting a set of fat stacks for my Nordstrand SC6. They should be here real soon!
  4. Oh, you're probably right SMASH, but give him a break. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you visit a custom shop, particularly when it's your bass being made there, and the luthier is very hospitable and takes time to talk to you. Plus, the acoustic are probably better in a shop than in a home with carpeting, furniture and draperies.
  5. dragonbass

    dragonbass Commercial User

    Feb 17, 2003
    Owner/Builder of LoPrinzi Basses.........................................EX-Sadowsky Guitars Builder
    I agree with Jacochops...........

    Having a set of DiMarzio Ultra Jazz in my Nordstrand NJ4 Deluxe... I didn't like the tone I was gettng from them so I swapped them for a set of Nordstrand Hum-Cancelling J's and what a difference! Higher output, Clearer highs, and Deeper lows.


    I had the chance to A/B the Dimarzio's and the Nordstrands (not the Fat Stacks just the J's)on the same bass, with the same strings, through the same amp, in the same house, and hands down the Nordstrands are the Winner.
  6. jacochops


    Jul 2, 2000
    Suzhou, China
    Let me clarify.
    I played his Fat Stacks in a different bass, yes. However, I've been playing for about 25 years, am a professional player, have a Master's degree in bass performance, and feel that I have a pretty clear idea about what good tone is, as well as the ability to compare a couple of different pickup sets. If I was writing an article for Bass Owner...errr..I mean Bass Player magazine, sure, I'd need some way to compare dozens of different pickup types to keep track of them all. But I wasn't; it was a simple pickup swap.
    The bass I played the Fat Stacks in was a Nordstrand. A singlecut with an alder body, and a top with a similar density as mine, same Aguilar OBP-3 preamp...basically the same formula as my Nordstrand bass. I flat out loved the sound of the Fat Stacks. I had my Nordstrand handy to play so that I could hear the difference between the Fat Stacks and the Dimarzio Model Js, then after my new pickup install, I played my SC4 with the new hum-cancelling Js, and compared them to the Fat Stacks. As good as his hum-cancelling Js are, I far prefer the tone of the Fat Stacks.
    Regarding the hum-cancelling Js...I have owned my Nordstrand with the Model Js for quite some time, and I've played the bass extensively with the Dimarzios in it. I KNOW what the bass sounds like with those pickups in it. I played the bass minutes before the install of my new Nordstrand pickups through the same amp....after the install, the difference was clear, and more than substantial. I strongly disagree with your statement about Carey's hum-cancelling pickups not being as fat or deep as the Model fact, just the opposite. The hum-cancelling Nordstrands absolutely sound MUCH deeper, fatter, with more "meat" (for lack of a better term" in the sound. Now, did I have a recorder, etc. to compare the sound? Nope. I didn't need one to "properly" compare them. Same bass, different pickups played minutes apart....the difference was blatantly obvious. Even after the pickup swap, and playing G-Man's bass with the Fat Stacks, the tone was closer between the two basses with different styles of pickups than it was between the same bass and simlilar styles of pickups. Even in passive mode, I prefer them to non-hum-cancelling versions.
    And Mr. Goody-Good,
    I wasn't "overwhelmed" visiting a luthier's shop...he's actually been a friend of mine for almost a decade!:D I played the basses in his livingroom with furniture, carpet and drapes (and they're nice! His wife has a good decorating sense!:p )
    All in all, the Fat Stacks are the pickups I'm having put into my new SC4 Nordstrand.
    And G-Man....DON'T CHANGE THE PREAMP IN YOUR BASS!!! It sounds flippin' killer as it is!! It would be like trying to straighten out the Mona Lisa's smile! A tragedy! Aaiighhhh!:bawl:
  7. dragonbass

    dragonbass Commercial User

    Feb 17, 2003
    Owner/Builder of LoPrinzi Basses.........................................EX-Sadowsky Guitars Builder

    Don't you mean Hman?
  8. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE


    Peace, JP
  9. jacochops


    Jul 2, 2000
    Suzhou, China
    Holy cow...I hope this thread isn't getting heated!:eek:
    I had Carey overwind the hum-cancelling pickups that he put in my SC4 a tad, so that if I did run them passive or active, I'd get the "umph" i need in the low, yes, they are a bit different than the usual ones that one would get if they just ordered a stock set. These appear to me to have a lot of low end chubbiness, much like the typical F Bass sound, if one could summarize a typical F Bass sound (which IMHO is an exceptional one).
    As far as not using paragraph breaks, I apologize for my lack of journalistic flair...I am on a very heavy dose of Vicadin, as I pulled some muscles along my ribcage recently due to pneumonia that I am currently getting over. The "little fuzzy pills" might be making my sentencesseemlikethey'rerunningtogether.I'mverysorryforthat.:D
    Haap Thanksgiving all...I'm out!
  10. You see, Carey! This is all YOUR fault!! If you didn't build such a good line of products, NONE of this thread would've happened!:mad: