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pickup placement

Discussion in 'Roscoe Basses' started by eo., Nov 28, 2012.

  1. eo.

    eo. Supporting Member

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    I'm curious about you guys' thoughts on different placement of pups and the impact. I've noticed several variations on the J's but most of the roscoe soapbars seem to be in the same position (straddling the sweetspot?). I'm sort of curious why we never see any in J positions and what the advantages/disadvantages would be.
    Thanks!
  2. J2Kbass

    J2Kbass Gold Supporting Member

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    I have wondered the same about the placement of the soap bar pick ups.
  3. chaosmic

    chaosmic Supporting Member

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    Good question. Bass Central had some soapbar Roscoes where the neck pickup was closer to the neck. The bridge pickup may have been too, I can't remember. You can probably check out there site and see what I'm talking about. I'm sure they would sound incredibly deep that way. Probably amazing for Dub or Reggae...

    That being said, I'm lovin' the JB pickup placement. That really hits the mark for me.
  4. VroomVroom

    VroomVroom

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    Only one variation I'm aware of on the J's - the 'JB' placement (not sure who dreamed up that crazy idea :ninja:). You could argue that the slant and reverse-slant soapbar placements are variants.

    I've heard other instruments with soapbar DC's in 60's positions, and....I don't like. Just my take, but things get thick and muddy. Roscoe's placement is awesome and helps me sleep at night. :D
  5. LilRay

    LilRay

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    :rollno::p

    I'm convinced you don't sleep at night. You most definitely work at night in a secret government lab.:ninja:

    As far as pickup placement goes, I have a Standard that I can go from seismically low to downright shrill. I think moving them would just exaggerate that. You might try the different soaps to obtain what you're looking for.

    :D

    God Bless, Ray
  6. VroomVroom

    VroomVroom

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    Worth noting here.... Ray, your bass is just stupid-good. It stands out among what are notoriously terrific instruments by any baseline measurement. I would happily gig your bass at a Steelers convention. :D

    That said...IMO, Ray's comment speaks to squashing any notion of placement options. It's all in there. Keith Roscoe designed and tweaked things over the years into a signature sound that is both unique, yet fully valid.

    Now, the J thing is certainly a new branch on that tree. However....why fix what isn't broken? Truth be told, these variations themselves are pretty tried-and-true. The 'JB' thing with the J pickups....for those who don't know, that was my selfish request for Roscoe to mirror what Joe Zon has been doing for years. (And it sounds damn good!) The slant....Keith's formula dating back many years. The reverse slant...Jimmy Haslip's tone sounds pretty darn good, no?

    So, Gard can correct me if I'm wrong here, but I believe Roscoe will happily customize things to your own specs, but at a certain point it stops truly being a Roscoe. Why invest that much money in a really wonderful instrument if you're not going to trust the guy who puts his name on the headstock?
  7. Gard

    Gard

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    ...and Joe Z nicked that from Warwick and the Thumb...but yeah. ;)

    I agree. We're happy to work with custom pickup locations, but there are a myriad of reasons the "standard" soapbar locations are where they are - main one: it WORKS.

    :)
  8. ubone

    ubone

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    I was curious about pup placement myself.. Can you guys install JJ pups at the 12th and 15th fret for me?? That would sound cool...
  9. JOME77

    JOME77

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    It would also look cool! :cool:

    And maybe you could install strap buttons on the end of the p/u's to allow the bass to hang in a manner that allows easier reach to the 1st fret position. :D
  10. ubone

    ubone

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    Alright.. All glib/silly/stupid remarks and reply's aside, lets get serious here for a moment.
    If you would all allow me to get on my soapbox for a moment, maybe I can help out.

    Ever asked yourselves why it is that world class players can sound good, really good on just about any bass they pickup?
    And why is it that the average bass player can pick up the very same basses and sound really bad on them?
    Is the answer the build quality? Or the electronics used? Or even Pick up placement? Or, how about the strings used?
    I contend those four things in reality, are only a small part of the answer.
    The reason the World Class players sound the way they do is because they've committed themselves to developing their
    abillity to get the sound they hear in their heads by applying themselves to solid technique in they're playing. Plucking each note,
    of each string, with the same intensity as the preceding note. By committing themselves to the idea that each note they play maintain a level of focus,
    accuracy, and clarity. By being acutely aware that where they pluck the strings, whether at the neck pickup or behind the bridge pickup and all points in between
    plays a big part in tone and mood, and that applying the same amount of attack is not beneficial. String tension plays a part as does gauge, but not as much as you'd think when the experienced player is aware of the nuances.

    The long and short of it is this one simple truth. YOU ARE WHAT YOU SOUND LIKE. If you commit to a lifetime of endless practice, learning, and refining YOUR technique then you will discover along the way that electronics and pup placement really don't play as big a part in it as you first thought. Develop yourselves first, and then buy yourself a quality build when you can really appreciate the time, effort, money, and trial and error the luthier invested in developing and refining the fine instrument you desire. You are the biggest factor in your sound.. After all, You might have invested in the worlds greatest luthier's bass but if you haven't developed your ability, then it's really just an expensive bass that still sounds bad. And that is really criminal in my opinion..

    Now go play and have some fun..
  11. eo.

    eo. Supporting Member

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    I know what you're saying Steve, but all of the things you listed still make a difference even if it's less substantial than the player. I have no problems with the Roscoe placement, but it's a subject I've only recently started pondering and obviously it was arrived at with certain goals in mind.
    What do you guys get from the JB that you don't get from standard J placement?
  12. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Wizardry! Supporting Member

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    Exactly,


    If the options didn't matter, why offer all the options?

    Why do these famous guys actually pick basses rather than play whatever?
  13. Modern Growl

    Modern Growl

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    Pickup placement plays a key factor in tone... Marcus Miller's tone and style of play go hand and hand.

    OP - to answer your question, the 60's style placement works great for narrow aperture pickups (Jazz style) with one slim row or bar of magnet. That thin "view" of the string yields a nice "precise" response.

    A dual coil, or soapbar placed in the 60's placement with two rows of magnets broadens the aperture of the string, and in that placement can get a bit muddy sounding. A bit too thick and undefined.

    Picukp placement can be very scientific... Leo Fender was an engineer first and foremost. 50 years later, were all still using that placement as the golden standard. Look at the Stingray - specific placement yields that very special tone.

    Roscoe's standard SKB soapbar placement is great for the tone its after. Being its lower toward the bridge, you get a nice midrange bark. "tight" sounding.

    So pickup design (soapbar, single coil, etc...) and placement has a huge factor on tone.

    Marcus Miller wouldn't sound "the same" playing a P-Bass.
  14. LilRay

    LilRay

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    Well here's my take on that; Options do matter but only to a certain extent. You don't grab a Roscoe expecting to nail a P Bass with flats tone and vice versa.

    As far as the "famous" guys picking basses vs playing anything; That's where build quality and service come in before an exact tone. And one can go so far to say that any lifelong musician MIGHT have hypersensitive hearing or impressions of tone. Ie; They CAN hear a difference.

    I can also echo the "you sound like you" sentiment in that as Jerry puts it I have a stupid good bass, but just having the bass hasn't improved my talent level. Granted it is the best playing and built instrument I've ever owned but I've yet to give Jerry or Pacman a reason to sweat losing their chairs. :smug:

    :D

    God Bless, Ray
  15. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Wizardry! Supporting Member

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    This is my point, going by everyone here, it wouldn't or shouldn't matter whether I play a Roscoe or a P bass with flats, because I'll just sound how I do anyway.


    TBQH, it all smacks of elitism and our way or the highway, shameful. How come Jerry wasn't given this shtick when he wanted the JJ's in a different spot?

    Hypersensitive hearing, tosh excuse, why can't, or shouldn't I hear a difference if it's there to be heard, why do Roscoe offer the same bass with different wood and pickup options, and advice on which will get whatever sound a player is after?

    I can play two basses to people one after another to people who aren't musicians at all, and they can hear a difference.
  16. LightGroove

    LightGroove

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    but are they different enough to matter or make the listening audience care?

    Case in point... Went to a MOE. NYE show about 7 years ago..Rob Derhak was playing a nice fancy Ritter.. Thought it looked great and sounded ok but really surprised how it wasnt special sounding...actually kind of dull... perhaps it was the venue, sound guy whatever... anyways... he swaps basses between the 3rd and 4th set and I see him kind of massaging his shoulder..Im assuming the Ritter had weight...he begins to play an Ibanez SRX or whatever he was endorsing some years prior... BAM..the sound was ridiculously good.. same venue same sound guy... so what gives?
  17. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Wizardry! Supporting Member

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    When is the last time you bought a bass thinking, "yes, the audience will love this"?

    Why bother with expensive stuff like Roscoes at all then, play a Squier or whatever, the audience won't care.
  18. VroomVroom

    VroomVroom

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    I don't think there's any shame necessary. Answering your question, I think there are two reasons:

    1. I was willing to write a check.

    2. This had been done before, and was proven effective. Obviously this is further evidenced by the fact it's now on Roscoe's option list. The same applies to the MM action, btw/fwiw.

    As Gard has clarified, Roscoe will build you what you want...if 'custom' is truly your desire, rock it. My point - and what I think some of the other folks have tried to suggest - is that there comes a point when it stops sounding like a Roscoe. No more, no less. Use your own judgment, and all the best. However....

    That bass with the neck-biased soapbar placement someone referenced above? It sat on Bass Central's wall for....how long? How many custom Roscoes do we see in the classifieds, offered for sale mere months after delivery? I guess that's my ultimate point....be careful what you ask for, as you very well may not like it. Especially, wait, let me emhpasize: ESPECIALLY if you haven't already tried the 'standard' Roscoe formula. I've been playing Roscoe basses since 2001. I didn't start flirting with things until 2008, when I bought a bass with Nordstrand/Aguilar electronics. (Which didn't last long.) Anyway...just a suggestion for folks, but try the original before you start tinkering. When you do tinker, have specific goals in mind. For me, and hopefully Jon (Pacman) won't mind me speaking on his behalf in reference to his MM, those goals were about combining Roscoe wood selections, playability, and craftsmanship with electronics options that reflect other sounds we've employed over the years.

    Ok, back on track. To answer the question about what the 'JB' placement does sonically that the standard (i.e. Fender 60's spacing...again, tried and true) placement doesn't. To my ears, two things. First: punch. Moving that neck pickup closer to the bridge gives some push to the upper mids, while de-emphasizing the lower mids (as but one way to describe things). Second, it changes the game when you start playing with the blend knob. You can bias the neck pickup and get that P-bass-ish kind of tone without things getting muddy. Or, you can favor the back pickup and get extra snark that cuts through anything. Combine these, particularly on a fretless, and you've got a pretty magical formula.

    I hope that helps....
  19. LilRay

    LilRay

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    My point was that it DOES matter but at least when it comes to manufacturer specifics, the extent to it making THAT much of a difference is limited.


    I understand but I see differently. I guarantee Tony and crew will rout and place ANY pickup in ANY position on the body. To be blunt I bet the JB placement makes a difference and the J's vs soaps makes a difference, but only minutely . Where's anyone being elitist, or our way or the highway? The fact that Jerry got the JJ's in the Zon placement refutes the our way or the highway idea, at least IMO.;)



    You can hear different. Everyone can hear different BUT the hypersensitive point I made was I've heard of Eric Johnson saying that he could hear a difference in batteries used in his pedals. Dunno if it's true or not, but I guess it's possible?

    All this matters to us musicians only. And we quibble over those minute details. That's why Roscoe offers so many options. Call up Fender and ask for a Jazz Bass built with even Bart or Barden J's and they will probably laugh.

    Roscoe TRIES accommodating their customer base.

    The listening public doesn't know or frankly care what bass we choose. We might get "you sound good" or "pretty guitar" but that's about all.

    :D

    God Bless, Ray
  20. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Wizardry! Supporting Member

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    What's wrong with asking questions before writing the check? That's just sense. You obviously already had some experience with the sound, via Zon.

    I honestly don't keep an eye on Bass Centrals stock, so I don't know how long it was there, who's to say it doesn't sound good though?

    For all them custom Roscoes for sale, you see many standard ones for sale too. That's no indicator of anything on the pickup placement topic. ANY musical instrument you buy should have your try before you buy caveat, or at least be prepared to not get exactly what you expect.

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