Since the previous Nordstrand
pickup blog entries appear to have been very helpful to players trying to make tough decisions between various pickups models (see the Nordstrand
Jazz Pickup Review blog articles), I thought that a Fat Stacks vs. Dual Coils entry was probably long overdue. I have been receiving a LOT
of questions about these two pickup models lately, and I have a feeling that the push behind
the volume of inquiries is coming from three primary sources. First, Roscoe Guitars has added Nordstrand
Dual Coils as an option, and several of my Roscoe customers have been requesting Dual Coils on their custom orders. Secondly, the success and popularity of the new Nordstrand Nordy
line of basses has brought a lot of attention to the Fat Stacks set, especially since we are featuring them on many of the early Nordies
that have left Carey's shop. Lastly, many high-end and custom builders have adopted Nordstrand
pickups as their pickup of choice, so even non-Nordstrand
owners are getting exposed to Carey's outstanding pickups. I hope that the following review helps to clear up any outstanding questions that might be floating around out there.
The first point of emphasis is that even though both pickups look
similar and are the same size, they do NOT
sound alike. In fact, they are very
different pickups. The Fat Stacks were originally designed to be the "ultimate" pickup for the jazz bass fanatic. They sound like their name implies...like a super-fat jazz pickup. This is why you will see the 'Stacks featured so heavily on the new Nordy
line. While they offer a bigger, thicker, fatter jazz tone, they also deliver a great slap tone as well. The pole-pieces are shifted off-axis to deliver a better response for slapping. Another benefit is that by adding a coil tap, you can convert the hum-canceling stacked coils into single coil mode, essentially converting a Fat Stack into the Nordstrand
Big Single pickup. All Nordy
basses come standard with a mini-switch on the control plate providing the player with the advantage of having the benefit of "two pickups in one".
The Dual Coils, on the other hand, deliver what many players traditionally refer to as a true "modern" sounding pickup. They can be wired in either series or parallel, and can also we wired so that either series, parallel, or single coil modes can be selected. The DC sets are extremely versatile in offering a range of wiring configurations and a variety of tones. The series mode has a slightly higher output, places an emphasis on the midrange
, and will give you a deep, rich, thick tone. If you're looking for an ultra-modern, "hi-fi
" tone, then a set of Dual Coils wired in parallel would be the way to go. This wiring option emphasizes
the lows and highs.
While tone is largely impacted by the bass itself, how you set the instrument's controls (if you have a bass with an on-board preamp), how you set the controls on your amp/preamp, and your own playing style, the pickups are a big contributing factor in the overall sound of your instrument. But, even with all of those variables taken into consideration, I hope that the generalized descriptions above will provide you with a better understanding of these two Nordstrand
pickup models and will help you make the choice that is right for you and your bass.