Help needed deciding on pickups for a custom build

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by born2lift, Jan 6, 2014.


  1. born2lift

    born2lift

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    I'm hoping the guys here with experience can help guide me to a brand of pickups and preamp for a custom build that Shawn May, of May Custom Basses will be building for me.
    It will be a 4 string single cut with a body back made of Bubinga and a top of Waterfall or Pommele Bubinga. It will also be chambered to lighten it up. The neck will be Wenge and Bubinga laminate and the fretboard will be Macassar Ebony. All Hipshot hardware.

    I am leaning toward a split Precsision pickup in the neck (sweet spot) and a Jazz style pickup in the bridge position. Although, I am open to suggestions in a different combo if that's what it will take to get the tones I'm after.

    The primary tone I'm after, is the bass tone from the albums Facelift and Dirt from Alice in Chains.
    I'd also like to be able to get 80s metal and classic rock tones.
    The amp I play thru is an Ampeg SVT CL, the Korean made one wit KT88 JJ tubes. I run that into an Ampeg 8x10 cab.

    I also love the Steve Harris tone, although I gave 2 Fender P basses that cover that well.

    I'd really appreciate input as to which pickup and preamp combos would best get me where I'd like to be tone wise.
  2. mmbongo

    mmbongo I like turtles. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Location:
    Upstate, South Carolina
    Dual soapbars or J/MM are where it's at. Don't limit yourself to just a J pickup at the bridge.

    P/MM would be interesting, but I've got to think there's a reason why nobody does that. Probably because you can get the same sound and much more from the right J pickup.

    Dual soapbars can be anything you want.
  3. rubendlr

    rubendlr Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2012
    Location:
    Austin, TX, USA
    Yeah, why doesn't any one do P/MM? Carvin offers it as an option for their P style bass, but almost no one else does. Washburn Stu Hamm models do MM/J with MM in the neck position, the reverse of almost everyone else who does that combo. Like MMBongo said, soapbars can be almost anything under the cover. EMG for example has dual coil, P, and J style under a 35 sized cover. Even after getting advice on this very question that I also posted a week ago, I still wondering what allow me the most different but usable combination of sounds? I think Landing, Godin and Mukelroy basses are on to something with a 3 pickup config, but that's just me. Delano offers a pickup that is J and MM mashed up into one pickup, the aptly named Hybrid: http://www.bestbassgear.com/mc4-hy.htm. Have fun, man, the sky's the limit.
  4. born2lift

    born2lift

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    I've been talking with Shawn and we are leaning toward the EMG 35TW in the bridge position and an EMG 35P4 for the neck position (P sweet spot) the 35P4 essentially being a split P in a soap bar cover. With an Aguilar 3 band preamp.

    What do you guys think of that?
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  6. line6man

    line6man

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2008
    Location:
    Close to Los Angeles, CA
    Most likely because there are usually issues inherent to mixing pickups of dissimilar output impedance. Though a P and a MM can jive together, if the MM is series-wired.
  7. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    I've got one bass currently configured with an EMG 40P5 soapbar in the neck position, and an EMG 40CS soapbar in the bridge position. That's pretty similar to the EMG 35P4 and 35TW configuration that you are considering. Having the TW option would be nice, then you could select the bridge pickup tone that matches your needs. That would be a very versatile combo.

    Another option would be Villex passive pickups. A pair of these in the EMG 35 soapbar shape (custom ordered) would give you great tone, a rock-solid lock on the fundamental, a clean but not brittle treble, and a much more natural-sounding midrange. I honestly think the Villex pickups sound more nuanced than EMG. You can run them into a pre-amp or keep them in all-passive mode if you like.

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