If a tree falls in the forrest do pickups actually make a difference
So todays question;
Various elements make up the sound of a good (or bad) bass. Being in the finance industry (sorry!!!) I like to add numbers to things. If you had to put a percentage to each major item that makes up the tone of a bass what would you allocate?
Preamp / electronics
Can good wood make up for cheap pups? Can kick ass pups make up for cheap wood?
Whats driving my question you ask? Good question people! I have three basses. One I love that was straight off the shelf, one I have put together and one fender japanese that I have sunk about $600 into upgrading pups and preamp and still not happy with.
Would love to hear stories of what element turned the sound of your bass around the most.
This is my opinion, I'm sure others will have other ideas.
Fretboard wood 5.5%
Body Wood 0.5%
There is the acoustic side to the bass (how much it plays and "rings"), and then there is the amplification side. They are related, but it is difficult to rank them against each other.
That said, my order would be:
Neck - 25% (The neck has a huge influence on the instrument's acoustic character)
Set up - 20%
pups and pup placement - 15%
preamp - 15%
weight - 10%
strings - 5%
balance - 5%
Whether or not I like the bass independent of what everyone else thinks - 5%
Being a recently recovered (not fully) GAS survivor, and having gone through about 60 basses, heres how i see it:
Pre/pickup combo- 40%
Neck wood and NT/Bolt on and scale-20%
Of course, thats given a very well made bass with expertly constructed components, i find when you're dealing with cheaper basses the quality on any one of those can hold back the entire setup.
And i dont want to derail the overall thread, but ive owned several "twin" basses where they were identical save for the neck-through vs bolt-on. NT VS. BOLT ON MAKES A VERY NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE. Ok.
Wow. I think the body wood is the surprise so far. I guess to a degree it depends on the genre but would have thought this to be higher.
And yes I forgot strings...but I was thinking more the non consumables.
Fancy top wood 25%
Headstock shape 25%
Headstock label 25%
Tort pickguard 25%
My honest opinion is that it is important to get pickups that match the natural character of the bass. I had a set of pickups that was in a bass with a rosewood FB/maple Neck/ Maple body and it sounded pretty good. I put the same pickups into a bass with rosewood fb/wenge and bubinga neck/ mahogany body and WOW!! perfect sound. Same pups, different sound. Also want to note same strings as well on both. YMMV but that is my experience.
Garbage pickups and pickups that are not what you need ruin everything.
Wood has to be very bad to make that much of a difference.
Given the same pickup that is good quality and to your liking wood makes a noticeable difference. Also, some pieces of wood align in a way that there are resonance frequencies that end up producing dead notes on the fretboard. That's bad.
I'm not going to venture a guess as to what percentage the various components contribute to the tone of a bass because it's a pretty complex set of interactions, but I will say that from personal experience just yesterday, good pickups can definitely make a decent bass into an exceptional one.
Here a link to the thread that I put up about it:
I think it all matters, but I will say this... I've changed pickups on my main bass and have used countless different string types, and its basic tone is always very recognizable despite these changes, so I'm not one of those who holds the "pickups and/or strings are the biggest factor" opinion.
I'm pretty surprised by the feedback so far. I talk to people all the time with some pretty cheap guitars that become totally giggable playing instruments with just a new set of pickups....
That cardboard body with nerf ball bridge won't sound very good with even the best strings and electronics.
There is a return on investment (for the finance minded OP) which is going to diminish after a certain point, and depending on where each respective piece of this puzzle is starting from, you'll get different returns.
I have now ordered new pickups for my fender. Will be interesting. I think the thing I have picked up here is the tone that I am not happy with may well be the neck/fretboard wood. Once I have my sd basslines and preamp all working then if I still have the brightness that I cant get rid of, then time to look at the neck.
Fretboard wood 1.3333333%
Body Wood 1.3333333%
Actual playing style/talent 45%
The rest is magic.
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