Resident tone expert, Stew McKinsey, is coming at you with our most popular recommendation. The Big in Big Single is something that brings pride to our shop! Why is it we love the Big Single and what makes it something we recommend so much? Stew explains.
The J-pickup remains one of the most popular designs ever used in bass. You will find them in everything from the most basic student instruments to the most high end basses from boutique builders. As a single coil, it’s easier to make than everything that developed afterward, it offers an open, detailed sound with great presence, and it’s less expensive than everything that came after it. Since Carey’s not just a luthier but also an innovator, he was convinced that he could enhance what was in this design. So he looked at from the perspective of someone who loves tone to figure out how to emphasize those elements of the sound and performance he liked best.
By rotating the pole pieces, while it really looks cool, this changes the aperture of the magnetic field beneath the strings allowing more information to be transmitted from the vibration to the amp. More information translates to more detail and dimension.
But that was only the beginning. Getting more from the strings was a solid start, but from the first Carey knew it would be possible to add both muscle and a lushness to the character of the pickup that people describe with terms like ‘bark’ and ‘snap’ and he knew that a different wind would be possible. Knowing that too much wire added to the coil will both darken the sound and add to the midrange content, so he realized quickly that there would be a fine line between power and the wonderful articulation of the J.
The result of all this research and development was a single coil pickup like no other. The wider dynamic range of the Big Single means that none of what is in the original pickup is lost, but there is more of everything. The top end is more musical but not harsh, there is more complexity through the midrange and the bottom end is bigger but still tight.
And best of all, it costs less than anything else in our Signature Series!
Add all of this together and you end up with something that we are happy to recommend because we use them in our own instruments! Whether it’s powering Adrian’s wicked glorious green vJ4 or my completely over the top 10-string Conklin, the Big Single is truly near and dear to our hearts.