Pickups And Strings

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by JimmyM, Dec 30, 2012.


  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Apr 11, 2005
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    Apopka, FL
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    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Weirdness abounds...

    A modded 76 Precision with 62 CS P and DiMarzio Ultrajazz and a 95 P Lyte with new EMG PJ's and a BQC are my two main basses, mostly the Lyte because it's lyte. Up until a few weeks ago, I was running dead Chromes on both, and now I'm back to new XL nickel rounds.

    When I first got the EMG's in the P Lyte earlier this year, I was using Chromes, and I sat down with it and my Precision and tried to EQ the BQC into sounding as close to the P pickup by itself with tone on full as I could. Actually got it sounding quite like it by cutting treble a tad, cutting bass a half a tad, and boosting 800hz 1/3 past center on the mid selector. EMG's are cleaner but the tonal response was right on as far as I was concerned.

    Cut to the XL changeover...the first few gigs I did with them were on the Lyte using the EQ I always had. Sounded good to me but a little bright for my tastes. I pull out the Precision one night and it's complete culture shock. It sounded so different and so much ballsier that our drummer's girlfriend, who doesn't know much about music but is a fan of it, said, "That bass sounds way different than your other one, doesn't it? I can tell. It's not my imagination, is it?" That's a pretty big difference if she noticed it.

    So the next day, I sat down with the Lyte and the Precision again to match the P with the BQC. Bass was still the same half a tad cut (I actually leave it centered for gigs...adds a little warmth and it's not that big a difference), but I had to cut treble almost completely off and boost 1khz almost all the way up! And since then the sound has been much more ballsy and in line with the 76 on gigs.

    Tonight I put a BQC into my Guitar Factory 4-string, a custom neck-thru 24-fret bass with 90's EMG PJ's and a Kahler whammy bar, also strung with XL's. Sat down with my Precision and the Lyte to see what EQ sounded closest, and sure enough, the same EQ on the Lyte worked about identically in the GF bass. It's a neck-thru with a lot of sustain and active pickups so it wasn't identical to the Precision of course, but again, the tones lined up.

    This led me to a discovery that I'm sure most of you all knew a long time ago but I just learned tonight...passive pickups react much more dramatically to different strings than actives. I assumed that because the string changes were the same, the basses would react the same. Boy was I wrong! Total night and day difference between the EMG's and the Precision's pickups. And the Lyte and the GF bass ending up with the same EQ to sound as close as they can blows my mind. I guess that makes sense because passives depend a lot more on magnetic relationships, but I never thought it would be that dramatic a difference.

    Well hey, look at me learning something I never knew before all on my own!
  2. LowB-ing

    LowB-ing

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    I'm not so sure you're right about passives reacting differently to string changes.

    My first thought was that rounds are just more revealing of the frequency response in the signal chain than flats are. Your original EQ that matched up the two basses really wasn't that close at all, but since the flats didn't have much output in those frequency ranges, it wasn't noticeable. Then you changed to rounds and the difference in sound between the two signal chains became clear.

    I wasn't there and I could be wrong of course. It just sounds like the most likely explanation to me.
  3. parsons

    parsons

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2008
    Location:
    Maryland
    Jimmy, you're not wrong. I've had a similar experience between two of my basses.
  4. Jim C

    Jim C Supporting Member

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    Nov 29, 2008
    After many years of playing bass and behind a pro recording desk, the thing that still amazes me is how things sound so much differently by themselves as opposed to playing in a live band situation or in a mix.
    It would be so much easier if tone in living room = tone with a bunch of vile geezers making racket!
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  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    I could buy into that, except for the fact that I did many listening tests over a few days to come up with these different EQ's on the EMG bass and checked and rechecked my previous day's work until I was sure.
  7. kurosawa

    kurosawa Supporting Member

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    York County, Virginia
  8. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    I think it's mostly an EMG thing. When I was using them different brands of strings sounded very different, but it always sounded like EMGs.

    The same bass with different active pickups (my own) and the same strings sounded very different.

    I have also found that some of my basses don't sound good with certain strings, while others do.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Maybe you're right. It does seem to appear that EMG's keep the same basic EQ across the board, although they do pick up on string changes, volume/sustain levels, and things like that. And of course I wouldn't expect a set of Barts or a set of SGD's to sound the same.

    But I'm sure you've installed your own pickups on more than one bass ;) Do they do an across-the-board thing with the EQ like EMG's do? I know passives certainly don't! I first tried that CS 62 P in my P Lyte and hated it because it was thin and wuss sounding, but it comes alive in regular Precisions.
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    Well, every bass has its own sound, and then the pickups have their own sound. I put Bart Hi-A pickups in my Rick, and it sounded different from the stock pickups, but still had a lot of the same Rick tone it had. Just EQd differently.

    And even with a few of my hand made basses, which are very similar to each other, except the wood on the tops, they sound quite a bit different with the same pickups.

    What got me away from the EMGs was the feeling that I wasn't hearing what the bass sounded like unplugged. They have a god tone, but it was always kind of the same.

    I think you have to find what works with that particular bass, which includes the pickups and the strings.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Hmmm...well I guess it's all different when you record ;)

    Same EQ for the P Lyte worked with the P in a recording comparison, but with the GF bass, my new EQ is bass backed off a 1/4" from full on, mids at 1000 all the way up, and treble halfway between off and flat. So I guess I have to say never mind to this whole thread ;)

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