Monday, January 29, 2007

Winter NAMM Recap.

It seems as if another winter N.A.M.M convention has come and gone yet again, and this year's show seems to have been quite a good one. A lot of new, interesting products were introduced, and many of the Blueberry Hill builders attended and had very good shows. The usual suspects were there, as Chris Benavente, Sheldon Dingwall, George Furlanetto/F Bass, Mike Lull, and Carey Nordstrand all showcased their amazing talents. Mike Lull introduced a new model...the M4VXL. This new addition to the Lull family is a 24 fret 4-string featuring the modern M5 body style with a 5A figured maple top. I'm sure this will make 24 fret jazz fans very happy!

Carey Nordstrand also had an outstanding show. Last year, we debuted a couple of Nordy vJ prototypes. This year, we "officially" unveiled the line in it's final version. This is a project that I am extremely proud of. It took 2 years developing, colaborating, plotting, scheming, and ironing out the details to get everything right, but the Nordy vJ basses are an amazing value and went over BIG at the show! Also, I can't forget to mention the success of the Nordstrand pickup line either. Sometimes, I think that the pickup line gets more attention that Carey's amazing basses do! Many high-end builders have already adopted Nordstrand pickups as their pickup of choice, and many other builders are now offering them as factory options. Based on some of the conversations that took place over the NAMM weekend, I have a feeling that you will be seeing Nordstrand pickups available on even more "big name" basses in the coming year.

Now...only a few more months before everyone starts preparing for the next NAMM show!

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nordstrand Fat Stacks vs. Dual Coils

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 vs. Fralin and 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 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.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Why George Ls Cables?

I recently decided to expand the number of products that we carry here at Blueberry Hill after several years of encouragement from customers, friends, and the bass playing community. While you probably won't see straps, stands, and picks on sale any time soon, we did recently add George Ls Cables to the lineup of small companies that we represent. Keeping with the overall theme here at Blueberry Hill, the company is a small, family-run business located outside of Nashville, TN and they have established a reputation for great products, great quality, and for focusing on the needs of working musicians.

I have been a George Ls fan and user for years (so long, in fact, that I can't even remember when I purchased my first George Ls cable)! Up until about 6 months ago, when I unfortunately left my cable at a gig, I had been using the same .155 George Ls cable for over seven years. I never had a single issue with that cable deteriorating or failing, but even if I had, their solderless connector jacks would have made for an easy fix. While I personally prefer the smaller diameter cables, we are also carrying their larger diameter cables (.225 in three lengths) for those who prefer a thicker cable with a more traditional weight and feel.

I trust the integrity of my signal chain for live performances and studio work to George Ls cables, and we also use them exclusively at the Blueberry Hill demo room. If you're hard on cables and are fed up with pitching your cables after the cable/jack connection breaks down, the solderless connectors will allow you to keep your cables fresh and in working order while saving you money at the same time. If you're like me and just want a great cable at a great price that gets the job done and doesn't color or kill your tone, than either the .155 or .225 cables in 10, 15, or 20 foot lenghts would be a perfect solution. I love 'em and can't recommend them enough!