Review: Nordstrand NM4 Mustang Bass Pickups

Nordstrand NM4 Mustang Bass Pickup

About a year ago I pickup up a Fender Mustang Bass and for the most part have been very happy with it.  It has a great vintage sound, but can be a bit limiting.  I recently saw that Nordstrand has made a replacement pickup for the Mustang so I decided to get a set and give it a try in hopes of making my Mustang a bit more versatile.  Installation is fairly easy, if you know how to use a soldering iron.  You do need to use the stock pickup covers and screws as Nordstrand does not provide these.  Before I installed the pickups I made a couple of recordings of the stock pickups with my new iPhone iRig that my wife got me for Christmas.  I recorded a “Clean” version with the iRig set to bypass mode and an “Amped” version with the iRig set to Bass Amp with all of the controls set flat, gain set at 4, and a 1×15 cab simulator mic’d with a simulated SM57.  It was super simple to record the tracks with the iRig’s built in recorder and then transfer them to my computer.  Once I had installed the Nordstrand pickups I recorded again, creating both “Clean” and “Amped” versions.  Here’s how they sound:





Unfortunately, from these recordings the pickups sound only slightly different.  Overall I feel the Nordstrand pickups have a fatter more articulate tone, while the stock pickups can sound a bit muddy at times.  When plugged the into my GK MB200/Avatar 210 rig it has a nice clean tone with plenty of punch, much more than I feel it did with the stock pickups.  The tone knob seems to have a wider range of usable setting now as well, which certainly adds to the versatility.  Some folks have said that the Mustang bass almost sounds like a P-Bass, which I agree with, and these Nordstrand pickups get you a little closer to that sound.

For more info on the Nordstrand MN 4 Pickups visit

11 Replies to “Review: Nordstrand NM4 Mustang Bass Pickups”

  1. Thank you for this as I am currently awaiting a Fender Mustang Bass and I had seen a write up about these pickups. I was thinking about getting them and I saw your post. Can you tell me where you got the pickups and the cost? Thanks. Really appreciate it.

  2. hey i was wondering if the new pickups increase the output? my mustang seems to be a little weak in terms of volume.

  3. hi,
    thanks for the review: it was indeed very useful for me, for it motivated me to go for it. It is not the first time I swap some pickups for Nordstrands: the tone change is never dramatic, rather a very accurate shot to the holy grail of “good balance and tuning things together”. About the Mustang, I really appreciate the lower resonance frequency making for an earthier twang that – in my humble opinion – is a better match to the Mustang’s natural body/neck assembly resonance. It is true it is a bit more biased towards P-bass territory, but with a specific boldness that truly makes the Mustang a one-of-a-kind animal. Very nice!

  4. Very useful comparison. Thanks.

    I find the difference pretty dramatic, though I think I may prefer the sound of the stock pickups. It all depends on what kind of music you’re playing and which way your tastes run, I suppose.

    I was under the impression that the reason Mustang basses don’t have a lot of low end is because they’re short-scale instruments, but someone suggested to me that it’s the pickups that limit the low end, and that swapping them out for “regular” pickups (which I suppose must entail having to damage the instrument to fit them in there) would increase the low end. Anyone have any thoughts about that? I don’t hear much low end with either of these pickups.

  5. It’s the scale of the instrument that is the limiting factor here. The Mustang pick-up, as well as the vintage EB style humbucker are the only 2 pick-ups that I consider as being successful for a 30″ scale.

  6. I would never say Macca’s Höfner is lacking anything in the low end, also a 30″ scale bass.

  7. For what kinds of music would replacing the stock pups with the Nordstrands be? I play indie/folk rock, would it be good for that? thanks.

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