Thinking new pickups in an old bass?

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Thinking new pickups in an old bass?

Postby RyanBass » Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:01 am

Greetings everybody!
I've been considering this for a while now, but really wanted to ask some advice of other players. I have an older Carvin LB70F that i ordered new in about 1998. I had received their catalog in the mail and for the first time ever 'Swamp Ash' was an option so I jumped on it. After reading reviews in Bass Player magazine I decided on getting it with the H50N stacked Humbuckers? They hooked me with a line that said something like.. "The H50N pickups had a clarity and bell like tone not heard in the other pickups." Or something to that affect. I played it religiously (not in church, just often) for years until I started becoming more accomplished and getting more/different gigs. 22 years and 8 basses later I still own and love the bass. Recently taken out of closet storage and hung on the wall of admiration - It gets the opportunity to be seen and played more. Which is great, like an old glove or something.. But now when I hear the bass, it just doesn't have that growly pizzaz I kinda yearn for, but didn't know I would want 20 years ago? Rather than order a new bass and all the fun that goes with that, it seems an updated set of pickups would likely solve this issue?
So, i know very little about electronics, could you help?
I think it has a 3band EQ with active/passive. What options will solder straight in to the original set up? Will I have to replace the preamp too or can I just do the pickups? Are the routing sizes universally the same?
The humbuckers are good, and its the quietest of all my basses.. but totally lacks oomph.
Looking for a good, growly single coil I think.
Kiesel pickups? Bartolini? Aguilar? Nordstrand?

Appreciate any help. Looking forward to making this old girl sing again!

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Re: Thinking new pickups in an old bass?

Postby Toptube » Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:04 am

Kiesel's JVA single coil pickups are fantastic. There are a few youtube videos with great examples of how they sound. they will drop right in.

I am also a big fan of Nordstrand's tone and their company. Their tone will be more snarly than the JVA. Nordstrand also has great split humbucker jazz style pickups. Don't forget, Carvin's Jazz routes are the same size. They are both like a Fender bridge pickup. So if you go with Nordstrands, you will have to contact them for a custom set. But, their upcharge to wind pickups into different casings is pretty trivial and they work fast.

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Re: Thinking new pickups in an old bass?

Postby badmotorfinger74 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:07 pm

My experience with the JVA's is that they sound great at home, but I find them mostly unusable playing live at church from the hum (I have a P/J configuration, so I strictly use the P pickup which is quiet). I've been going back and forth if I wanted to swap them. My main bass for the past 15 years had EMG's and they were silent, so trying to deal with pickup noise is a new adventure for me.

This leads to another question that I've not considered... Is the Kiesel preamp compatible with other passive pickups (I've also looked at Nordstrand)? I've been looking at the Nordstrand pre's assuming I'd also need to get a reamer to enlarge the pot holes due to the smaller shaft pots that Kiesel uses, but it would save me a lot of headache if I can just keep the preamp. I'm really torn here, because the SCP and JVA sound really good, but one pickup is essentially only useful for home recording.

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Re: Thinking new pickups in an old bass?

Postby gumbynotpokey » Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:43 pm


I solo'd the bridge HB on my LB70P totally passive for many many years. My ears did it. I would never "choose" to play like that. What a spectacular pu.

Another is their split pu. That thing has so much presence, bark and growl it's unbelievable.

Let us know how this ends up. I'm curious.
Wife: C350, Claro top SH550, Vintage 16
Oldest: DC400M greenburst, C980TMW
Youngest: C750, GK1, CT624M Deep Black Cherry on flame, V3MC Celestion,
SH550 white/white, black binding, gold hardware
Me: LB70P jet black, LB70PF Claro BEM HAN, MB 10

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