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What Pickups/preamp - five string fretless?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Jisch, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. I've spent entirely too much time today reading threads here about pickups and preamps. I got some good info, but I still don't know what I want for my next bass. I've played bass for over 30 years, but I really don't know a lot about pickups, just pretty much sticking to what's in the particular bass I'm playing.

    I have a five string fretless I made myself - I put EMG 40DCs in it with the Preamp that came with it. I understand the one "tone" knob to go from smile to frown with flat somewhere in the middle (see I don't really even know this preamp!). I installed individual volume controls for the pickups on this bass.

    Its the best sounding bass I own by far. Its a fretless, but its got a very full sound, it cuts through very nicely and has plenty of defined bottom on it. I bought the EMGs from a local bass builder who had them laying around. I just went on his word that they were "good".

    I'm about to make my third bass, it will be a five string fretless and, while I like the 40DCs, I'd like to get something with a little more tonal control. Its a fretless so there's little danger of getting too bright, I think. I will only put flat wounds on my fretless basses. The band I'm in now is kind of jam-bandy thing with a hard edge every now and then. I mostly play finger style, but I do a little slap now and then.

    Anyone have suggestions? I have to keep things reasonable as far as price goes - probably around $300-400 for pre and pickups.

    I look through all the options as Best Bass Gear and my head just spins.

    (just for reference, my other basses include an Ovation Viper Acoustic/electric, Fender Jazz Lace Sensor (Fretless), Carvin LB75, a homemade Fretted based on a Carvin XB75 neck and Carvin pickups and my pride and joy which is a homemade fretless based on a Carvin XB75 neck with EMG 40DC pickups).
  2. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    I like the tonal control I get out of a set of Nordstrand pickups with one of their preamps (usually a 3b-4a). That setup is pretty versatile and can be fairly fine-tuned.

    I also like a set of Bartolini humbuckers with one of their more robust preamps, lots of tonal control there too.

    Also, since you're the one building the bass, you might put a lot of extra thought into where you place the pickups. You're going to miss out on lots of tones if your pickups aren't where they should be for the tones you're looking for, regardless of the preamp.
  3. ead


    Aug 1, 2012
    Preston, England
    Hi there. I'm a big fan of ACG pre amps. They are building a fretless 4 string for me and it will have their new EQ03 5 knob pre (with added passive tone option).

    They are filter based pres, plenty of info on the AC Guitars website.
  4. kbuschmann

    kbuschmann Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Second on the ACG. I have a fretless ACG, piezo only, with the EQ01. Even with only a piezo there is a very wide range of tonality.

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