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Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 986
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 - 8:32 pm:   Edit Post

At the suggestion of that true gentleman and formidable ocean sailor Bob Novy (thanks Bob!), I took the plunge and got FatBoys to install in the BigRedBass.

It was an amazingly simple install:
-Take the back cover off.
-Unplug the AXYs. Snake the leads through the
-Remove the two screws you can see on each
pickup, lift the AXYs up, and ease the pickup
leads through the routs.
-Ease the FatBoy leads through the routs.
-Set the FatBoys in the pickup routs and
reinstall the two pickup screws you can see.
-Snake the leads back through the choke, and plug
them back in.
-Put the back cover back on.
-ReString. Tune. Test Drive!!

Totally solder-less operation. The REALLY wild thing is the pickups went exactly back where the AXYs had been as I never touched the pickup height screws, the two screws you can't see. And it took a LOT longer to remove/re-install the strings than the pickups. I'd say each pickup took all of 60 seconds to swap once the strings were out of the way and the back cover was off!

I was perfectly happy with the AXYs, but I decided I'd really like to hear the difference the FatBoys might make.

I'd never really considered the narrow or wide aperture pickup question, as I basically had no side-by-side experience. I understood the implications of a pickup 'seeing' more of the string, but had never been in a position to really experience it. Until now.

The FatBoys alongside the AXYs are a more full, meatier sound. They seem a bit louder. The AXYs sound more single coil-like, the FatBoys sound more humbucking-ish. Sort of like the difference between a Jazz pickup and a MusicMan pickup, in Bass terms. I never felt comfortable soloing the back pickup, and chalked up that thin-ness to being backed right up to the bridge. That's true, but the FatBoy at the bridge is a fuller sound, obviously from seeing more of the string going back towards the neck. The neck pickup was never a problem with the AXYs, but now it's more muscular with the FatBoy.

It will take a while to experiment with pickup heights and the exact blend on the mixer in the back pocket to find the best settings.

I do know it starts to get that pushy/strings too close to the pickups tone up past the 12th fret with the FatBoys in the AXYs unchanged height settings. This didn't happen with the AXYs.

And I hear them hitting the amp harder at the same settings than the AXYs; not a huge difference, but noticeable. The upper bass and low mid EQ is gonna have to change on the amp.

At wide open tone settings or with the QSwitch (Spoiler circuit) in, the treble seems a little more subdued, whereas the AXYs would cut my head off wide open, a little smoother. And of course, they are silent noise-wise, just like the AXYs.

So, more tone, bigger sound, a little more grind than AXYs, and idiot-proof installation (I'm the proof of that!) for a couple hundred bucks. Overall, the BigRedBass now sounds a little snarkier, a little more muscular and insistent, yet still inside the glow of that clear, ALEMBIC tone.

They're both wonderful pickups. Not a night and day difference, just subtle changes that really seem to suit me. This is really subjective, but we must have a decision:

Am I gonna keep them?

Anybody want some AXY4's?

J o e y
Intermediate Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 127
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 - 9:12 pm:   Edit Post


You ever consider running a Fatboy at the bridge and an AXY for the neck pickup?

Just curious... =)

Intermediate Member
Username: trekster

Post Number: 119
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2006 - 5:19 am:   Edit Post

There was a question posted in the previous thread about a better way for Alembic to distinguish Fatboy's from AXY's. Please don't hurt me for suggesting something that anothe manufacturer does, but... Since Alembic has thier name embossed on the pickup itself, how about changing the color of the ALEMBIC on the pickup itself? Say, gold like it is now for AXY's, Silver for Fatboys. I know that EMG for certain models will do that..they have a bass pickup that is actually a 2 in 1 setup that has the EMG name in red instead of the standard white.


Username: lg71

Post Number: 62
Registered: 3-2006
Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2006 - 5:22 am:   Edit Post

Joey, I have just sent you an email, I am interested!

Senior Member
Username: bracheen

Post Number: 1051
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2006 - 8:31 am:   Edit Post

Do we get pictures now? Very detailed description, thanks. I was thinking the same thing that Toby asked as I was reading. My selector knob stays mostly on the neck pickup for that very reason.

Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 987
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2006 - 5:56 pm:   Edit Post

As a matter of fact, Bob originally suggested FatBoy bridge / AXY neck, but I decided I'd rather have two of the same, and here's why:

In my piano days, I'd ALWAYS take a big, bright, loud piano tone (usually Yamaha or Steinway grands) and ease them a bit with my technique. If I wound up on something a bit tame (usually Baldwins, just too smooth for me), you couldn't pound that bright tone out of 'em. This lesson was never lost on me.

So, if the FatBoy might be a little rich at the neck, I'll deal with it. The AXY WAS perfect at the neck, but I'd rather have the same tone in both spots. The AXYs are wonderful, but the FatBoys just suit me a bit better. As I said, I'd have been more than happy with the AXYs, but to choose one or the other, I invariably go with MORE, so there you go!

Pictures of the BigRedBass . . when I ever get some that do it justice, you'll be the first to know!

PS I took His Large Redness to a Blues Jam at a club in the neighborhood for the Fats' maiden voyage. All ready for the usual 'Olympic' questions. I got up, did a nice take of 'Farther On Up the Road'. In my favorite spot, next to the hi-hat so I can see his hands and kick-foot if need be. Before the next tune, the drummer taps me on the elbow with a stick and says, "Alembic (pronounced PROPERLY!!!). . . no WONDER you sound that good."

I almost kissed him! Made my week ! !

J o e y
Username: lg71

Post Number: 66
Registered: 3-2006
Posted on Friday, August 25, 2006 - 3:00 am:   Edit Post

Joey, did you get my email? I am interested in those AXY4's of yours.

Username: davehouck

Post Number: 4328
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Saturday, August 26, 2006 - 11:07 am:   Edit Post


One of these days I'll pull the middle pickup from the Essence and an AXY from the Spoiler and compare their weights.

But not today. <g>

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