P bass pickups

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by kiwi blue, Jun 18, 2019.

  1. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,579
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    So what's your favourite P bass pickup, and why?

    I'm a long-time guitar player, relatively new to bass. I have a cheap Samick PJ bass. The guitar is a decent, functional guitar, but the stock pickups sounded anaemic and toneless. I disconnected the J pickup and replaced the neck P pickup with a Dimarzio Model P. Big improvement.

    Recently I've become obsessed with bass, especially the P sound. I pretty much only have video clips to go by, but even though the Dimarzio is a very good pickup it's clear to me that other pickups will be a better fit for my music, which is pretty much old school swampy blues and country.

    The ones that caught me ear the most were a SD Antiquity A2, the Nordstrand NP4, and a Lollar.
     
  2. LetItGrowTone

    LetItGrowTone TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    43
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2019
    Location:
    U.S.
    I was also a 6-string guitar player, long ago, and am new to bass.
    I have an inexpensive Ibanez TMB30 PJ, and also removed the J pickup and pot. I like the tone rolled all the way off, and have a tube amp I'm tweaking to go with it. Initially put heavy flats on it but figured out that they aren't for me, moved to lighter flats, and might try compression wound, but not rounds.

    In this review I liked the Fender 62 (use good headphones), then from other reviews and comments about it I decided that the less expensive Fender "Original" sounded the same, and I bought that. I'm happy with it. The magnets are less than 1/4 as strong as the stock pickup and I can put the pickups much closer to the strings, and I like that.
     
    nojazzhere likes this.
  3. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,881
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Location:
    Big D
    Long time bass/guitar player here.

    In terms of basses, you have similar options like we do on guitars, body wood, neck wood, pups, wiring, etc. and all of them make a significant investment on the tone of the instrument.

    And as a guitar/bass builder I can tell you that some instruments just come together and sound heavenly, while others are just meh... for me it seems like a crap shoot sometimes.

    So here is what I have found on bass guitars.

    Body wood makes a huge difference in tone. I have an alder P bass, a pine P bass and a poplar P bass. To my ears the Pine body sounds the most resonant when played unplugged. It just rings and sustains forever. The alder has more punch initially but does not have any sustain and the Poplar bass sounds more generic to my ears.

    The Alder bass is running Fender P Bass pups, stock P bass wiring and round wounds. The Poplar bass and the Pine bass are both running GFS Alinico Vintage P Bass pups. Even though both basses have the same pups wired the same way the basses sound way different. The Poplar bass has round wounds while the Pine bass has flats on it.

    Also my Alder bass has a Rosewood neck while my other two basses both sport Maple necks.

    I currently have 5 basses in the arsenal and each and every one of them sound different (three P basses, an Ibby 4 stringer and a J&D Fretless 5) and do different things for my style of playing (mostly I play finger style which will also change the sound if you decide to play with a pick)

    So I have thrown out a lot of information to say this. Figure out the style of bass you want to play and configure your bass to that style.

    If you want to sound like Jaco, you need a fretless bass and some J bass pups.
    If you want to sound like Flea, then maybe an Ibby with wide string spacing and a boost wiring configuration will get you that pop slap sound (that is what I use my Ibby for).
    If you want to sound like *insert name here* then you need to study up on their playing style and how they play the bass and the equipment they used. There was a post on here earlier this week that had a BBC series on the guitar and its origins. I found a similar series on the Bass and it was very informative as well.

    The bass is so trans formative as it can sound totally different in different hands and playing styles with the same instrument.

    These are the GFS pups I purchased and I am very pleased with them.
    https://www.guitarfetish.com/KP--GF...co-Vintage-Tone--Kwikplug™-Ready_p_21979.html
     
  4. slauson slim

    slauson slim Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,924
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    By The Levee
    Fender Original '62 P Bass pickups. Flatwound strings - La Bella Deep Talking Bass, GHS Precision or D'Addario Chromes. Add a taste of compression live or recording and you are there.

    I just replaced the original pickup in my '64 P, and the wiring, and installed a '62 Original. All good.
     
    8trackmind likes this.
  5. cc50fralin

    cc50fralin Tele-Meister

    Age:
    62
    Posts:
    401
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2018
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I have nine basses, but none of them are Precision basses.

    The only Precision I owned was a 1975 model bought in 1976, and it was a very poorly made instrument.

    It was a natural body with a fretted maple neck. The pickups were very sterile-sounding; no warmth or bottom at all. Only harsh midrange and shrill high end. I put DiMarzios in it, and it was an improvement, but not that much. I sold the bass after about a year.

    This experience put me off Fender, and made me look to other brands.

    That being said, I honestly can't recommend any P-bass replacement pickups, because I haven't had any experience in owning any.

    I have played a P-bass with Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounders, which I liked very much, and I've heard a lot of good things about Bartolini pickups, if you like vintage tones.

    I have Bartolini soapbars in my Ibanez BTB, and these pickups give a very convincing Pre-CBS tone.

    Mike
     
  6. cc50fralin

    cc50fralin Tele-Meister

    Age:
    62
    Posts:
    401
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2018
    Location:
    Queens, NY
  7. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    67
    Posts:
    7,149
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    First thing I would suggest for "traditional" bass sounds is flatwound strings. I've had my made in Korea Fender Squier P-Bass for over twenty years, and the only upgrade I did was the tuners. As far as I know, it is fully stock otherwise. It's even a PLYWOOD body, but sounds great and resonant. I do play with the tone control rolled WAY down, and down in the mix.......I agree with those who say (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that if you can easily distinguish the bass' notes, you're playing too loud. Listen to Paul McCartney's early Beatles work.....the bass is definitely THERE, but individual note pitches are difficult to discern.
     
    David Barnett likes this.
  8. Bruxist

    Bruxist Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,933
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2010
    Location:
    Kentucky, USA
    Not an expert, but I always liked the SD Quarter Pound P-bass pickup.

    If i were looking now, I think I would contact Rob at Cavalier, tell him what I was looking for and let him wind one custom for me.
     
    SPUDCASTER likes this.
  9. GuitarPix

    GuitarPix Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    225
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2015
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    Not a ‘bass player’ but I do have two and have played bass in bands. I recently found a Crate pbass style and threw in some very affordable Tone Riders and put on flatwounds. Don’t know if it’s the most classic pbass sound but sounds pretty good. Maybe a bit brighter than most pbasses I’ve heard but rolling down the tone works nicely.
     
  10. Vermoulian

    Vermoulian Tele-Meister

    Age:
    53
    Posts:
    120
    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    My experience with pickups has been that there are quantum levels of good-sounding-ness, but the subtle distinctions between similar pickups from any two high-end winders are probably getting into diminishing returns, especially if you're paying retail for them to try different ones. So, a vintage-voiced P-bass pickup from Fralin, Lollar, Bartolini, Seymour Duncan Antiquity, etc., while they may not sound exactly the same, are all going to sound really good and give you an excellent version of that sound. Now, different kinds of pickups will sound very different, i.e., overwound very high output pickups like Quarter Pounders are very different from vintage style pickups.

    Those high-output overwound pickups will emphasize mids at the expense of lows and highs. A Precision Bass is already a very middy instrument, so I (and this is just my opinion) would be leery of that kind of pickup if it was going into the traditional spot on a P-bass. I've come to appreciate lower-wind vintage-style pickups on P-basses. No P-bass ever needed help punching through a mix, but the vintage pickups seem to have more dynamic range. For a long time I played a Mexican Fender Precision as my main bass, and I always thought the stock pickups sounded fine. But then I took a flyer on a set of Fralin P-bass pickups that popped up on craigslist, and I was amazed at how much better it sounded, even though it hadn't sounded bad before. The stock Fender MIM pickups at that time were fairly hot ceramics, and the Fralins gave better low and high end response without sacrificing the gut-punch mids that, to me, characterize a good P-bass.

    So, I'm a big fan of Fralins, but I'm also sure that probably any other similar pickup at that (admittedly expensive) level would also be excellent. Of other pickups I have direct experience with, I've also used Bartolinis. I've got one bass with really old Barts in it, when they were still branded Hi-A, and one with relatively new Barts. Both sound great. I've also got a Seymour Duncan SPB-1 set on a bass, and they're also nice. When I recently did a parts bass build, I went with Fralins because I've been so happy with the ones I got off craigslist. But once you identify the flavor of pickup you want, there are probably lots that will be good.

    One model that I would never have even thought of: when I was researching pickup options on TalkBass in preparation for my build, there was a LOT of love for the EMG Geezer Butler pickups (which are regular passive pickups, not active like most EMGs). They were recommended generally, not just for old-school heavy metal. If I wasn't already so strongly disposed towards the Fralins, I probably would have tried a set.
     
    Praxis, cc50fralin and nojazzhere like this.
  11. PC_Hater

    PC_Hater Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    118
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2013
    Location:
    UK
    The DiMarzio P Bass pickup you have is very nice, define 'better' or you will go around in circles desperately seeking 'that' sound!
    As mentioned above - strings. Try flatwound or even the black Rotosound tape wound.

    Tighten the screws holding the neck on as tight as they will go.
    Later you can remove the neck and fit the stainless steel inserts into the neck so you can use real bolts done up really really tight to hold the neck on.

    You might want to try another bridge - perhaps a genuine Fender one. My experiments with bridges and pickups hunting 'that' sound in my head taught me one thing:-
    the bridge is critical to the Precision sound.
    I fitted a Babicz bridge and what a difference! I am certain you would hate it but I absolutely love it.
    Then Lace Sensor pickups and 'that' sound was there. You would probably hate those too...
     
  12. jimilee

    jimilee Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    957
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2017
    Location:
    Chattanooga
    I use the dimarzio PBass pickups, sounds really good and aggressive. I have quarter pounders in my Javad. Very smooth low frequencies.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  13. cc50fralin

    cc50fralin Tele-Meister

    Age:
    62
    Posts:
    401
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2018
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I am more of a Jazz or Stingray guy as far as tone goes.

    I love the sound of a P-bass, but I love the more burpy, articulate sound of a Musicman Stingray better.

    I don't have a P-bass at the moment, but I have an Epiphone Jack Casady, which kind of falls into the P-bass tone category.

    Not 100%, but it's close.

    Again, I have no pickup advice to offer, but since many of you here have said you like flatwound strings, allow me to recommend Ernie Ball Cobalt Flatwounds.

    I have them on one of my basses. They have noticeably less thump than most other flats, but the odd thing about them, is that they have almost the sustain of a roundwound. I don't know how Ernie Ball did it, but I love these strings.

    Try a set.

    Very well-written post, Vermoulian.

    My Jack Casady and my Stingray below.

    Mike
    Jack_1.jpg
    Guitar_3.JPG
     
    Vermoulian likes this.
  14. ladave

    ladave Tele-Holic

    Age:
    55
    Posts:
    632
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I recently decided to pickup the bass as well and deciding on doing my first build at the same time.

    Warmoth body, Musikraft neck. I did a lot of reading and listening on youtube and went with Fralin +5% overwound.

    I like them but then they are the only bass pickups I've ever played, so that's not worth much. If I was to do it over again I probably would have stuck with stock wind for my first bass.

    db62pbase_01.jpg
     
  15. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Age:
    73
    Posts:
    9,931
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2003
    Location:
    NJ via TX
    '57 style fender p-bass pickups are easy to understand and tweak - again, it's all in the coil wire gauge and turn count. the originals were a tad "underpowered" and thus the tone was a tad, um, "trebly" that required riding the tone pot. the fix is, well, yup, you guessed it right - more coil wire turn counts.:twisted::cool::D
     
    soulman969, ladave and Bruxist like this.
  16. Praxis

    Praxis Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    377
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    Location:
    Out There
    I have a couple of P-basses with EMG Geezers. I fiddled with other pickups, many of which came close to what I was looking for, but the Geezer is the cat's pajamas. It cops an old-school early 60's P-bass vibe perfectly.

    As I understand it, the EMG folks reverse engineered it from the pickup in one of Bobby Vega's vintage P-basses.
     
  17. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,579
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Lots of great replies there. And lots of good options I think.

    I seem to gravitate towards vintage style P pickups, and especially with flats. This is just from the clips I've been listening to. Clips are no substitute for real experience, especially in a mix, but it's all I have to go on for now.

    I think it's partly because so much of the music I like and grew up with has a P bass pumping away in the background. It's the sound I've internalised without knowing it.

    A couple of vintage style options that I can get easily in NZ are the standard SD vintage P pickup, which seems to have a good rep for nailing an early 60s vintage sound, and the Tonerider Precision Plus, which I know less about. The Tonerider is about NZ$80 and the Duncan is NZ$129. Having said that I've often imported a guitar pickup direct from the maker in the US or Britain, and I'm comfortable doing that.

    I don't see a lot of point going between a whole lot of pickups since I'm a part time bass player. One good vintage style pickup, then just play!

    I was playing bass with a friend the other day and the cheap Samick with the Dimarzio Model P sounded really good already. So there's no actual need to change it. But I may move the Dimarzio onto a Westone bass I've just brought and get something vintagey for the Samick.
     
  18. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,579
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Forgot to say I've bought some GHS flats. Will put them on soon.
     
  19. Mincer

    Mincer Tele-Meister

    Age:
    49
    Posts:
    470
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2017
    Location:
    Tampa Bay Area
    The Duncan SPB-1 is beautifully vintage sounding.
     
  20. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,579
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Well I have gone ahead and ordered one. The local SD dealer doesn't have it in stock but they are ordering it in from another branch. I'll put those GHS flats on at the same time.
     
    Mincer likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.