Precision Pup Options
I've got a 2004 Precision with (I believe) stock pickups. I LOVE this bass physically (insert sexual innuendo joke here) however, the tone is unremarkable. It punches through a mix just like a P should, but I just wonder if a change in pickup and/or cap might make it sound.....less unremarkable.
Rather than do my homework (wade through a hundred threads), I wonder if you guys (and babes) might just provide a quick list of the more popular pup upgrades. I recall a thread by JimmyM in which his review of his P pup upgrade was wildly complimentary. Perhaps he used the 'Original 62' pickup?
At any rate, I wonder if the more popular pickups and capacitor swaps could be listed here and described in terms of the tonal characteristics of each using terms like:
Traditional Vintage Tone
Extra Thumpy Tone
I use the Bill Lawrence P46 pups. Lots of commentary and clips in the thread.
I don't know what's in your bass, but if it has 250k pots I'd replace them with 500k, and use a good .1uF cap. All that's under $20 + a little time. Ime, the 250k pots choke/muffle the tone.
I tried about 10 split P pickups (before giving up on them) and thought the Fender '62/Original was the best of what I tried. I didn't try Lollar or Fralin.
I recently went with an Aguilar P4-60 and I've never heard a more articulate vintage voiced P pickup. It just sounds like the best P pup you can imagine without exaggerating any frequency out of the norm, which a lot of them do in order to suit a players particular tonal preference.
I used to have an excellent 2004 Am. Series P, and went through a couple of pickups before landing on a stock wind Lindy Fralin, which was just perfect IMO. It has all the thump and punch you could ask for, plus lots of clarity and a touch of crunch/grit that's wonderful in a band mix. If a P-bass is appropriate -- which is usually the case -- the Fralin will work IMO.
The Fender 62 is a great sounding pickup, but my favorite P pickup are Rio Grande, the vintage and Muy Grande are both excellent.
If you want mids, the Duncan SPB-4 is your friend.
I'll echo the chorus that the 62 Original is a great pickup. The one that came in my 2012 P is just.....well, the sound that a Precision should have in my head. I have a 2010 P without the pickup that I use for reference. It's stock pickup was just a bit thin and maybe a bit scooped for my taste. I dropped a Lace Sensor in it (ok tone, but much lower output and weird response to tone knob adjustment) before settling on a SPB-2, which I also like, but is a bit deeper voiced than the 62 Original.
That said, I think there's a LOT of different flavors of the P pickup, and what sounds right to me might not be what sounds right to you. The SPB-3 Quarter Pounder is the pickup that pops to mind when you mention "modern" tone- it's somehow a bit mid scooped to my ear, with a big low end and bright highs. Personally, I don't like it, but I know for a fact that many people swear by it.
As others have said, the Bill Lawrence P-46 appears to be excellent. I have not tried one, but I have not read anyone say anything negative about it.
I'll cast another vote for Fralin stock wind. Wonderful p'up. Even, vintage-voiced tone with lots of nice detail.
My '83 stock Fender p'up has a slightly fatter sound than the Fralin and a little less detail.
Quarter-pounders are nice for a more modern thing; a push in low mids and a hotter output. If you like the low-mids but don't want the hot output, you could look at the Bartolini Originals.
The choices for P-p'ups are vast....
I think you'll hear an "upgrade" sound using an SPB-4 (new) with 250k pot and 047 cap.
There's an interesting article on this very subject in the latest Bass Player Mag.
(white cover with Avenged Sevenfold bass player on cover)
I agree with those that say the "Original '62" is a great pup.
I do not know if it is any different or a marketing gimmick but the one bass that I have with the "60's Custom Shop" pup that Fender was putting in the American Standards a couple years ago sounds like you described above. This is in a maple-necked bass with TI's. I only have one bass with these so I cannot say that they are all like this. I have a handful with the '62's and they are pretty much the same across the board.
I have a few basses with the Aguilar AG 4P-60's and I like those quite a bit too. They may not be as bright as you want though. Clear and thumpy but I would not say "bright", more strong mids maybe. I can get a bright tone from my Tech-21 VT Bass though if I need it.
but i picked up a used spb-1 off of ebay, it measured 11.8k
has plenty of low mids and mids, also plenty of output, sounds even, treble is there but it's thicker sounding. not brittle.
works well with my nickelwound strings...
Thank you. This discussion is precisely what I asked for. I can see which pups are favorites and why. It sounds like the '62 Original might be the overall winner. Nearly everyone speaks well of it.
I am still a little confused about the pots and caps.
The 62 originals are just OK to my ears.
Budget is an important consideration, pickups range from $65 to $145.
Here are some of the pickups I really like in no specific order:
The Seymour Duncan Ant II
Dimarzio DP250 - this is the best value vintage vibe pickup, nice punch too. Virtually unknown on Talk Bass except by one fellow bass player who turn me on to them.
Dimarzio Model P - the ceramic pickup yields a 70's hard hitting tone.
Seymour Duncan SPB-1
Fralin are very detailed and bright, I like them with flat strings
While I like and currently use the 62RI in my Classic 50's, my vote goes to Fralin stock wind for clarity, evenness and low mids...all things important to a traditional good P tone. I didn't think I could improve on my last classic 50's (same US pickups as pre 2012 Fenders), but the Fralin did dramatically. The 62RI is more high-mid/top end focused but still has supple lows. Both good pups, but I'd take the Fralin if I had a choice every time.
Having been through a mass of the commonly recommended P pickups, I recently tried an EMG P pickup. It was a revelation. It was exactly what I had been looking for. THe attack and punch are very different to a "traditional" passive P pickup. It's not better or worse, but it is different. Worth having a listen to some clips at least if you can.
Contrary to some (EMG haters probably), it's not a mid-scooped pickup, but definitely has a more extended range (upper and lower) than a traditional P pickup.
Bill Lawrence P46. You'll never look back.
Curtis Novak Charlie Christian incredible sound.
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