Pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by LeFevre, Jan 23, 2014.


  1. LeFevre

    LeFevre

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2014
    Advice on pickups, Aguilar, Nordstrand, EMG, Bartolini, any preferences/advice?
  2. tylerwylie

    tylerwylie Supporting Member

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    Jan 5, 2008
    Location:
    Champaign, IL
    Um... wow... open ended question. What are you trying to do? What type of sound, what kind of bass? What's the rest of your setup like?
  3. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered 8er Supporting Member

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    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    They're great!
  4. bass_case

    bass_case Used Register Supporting Member

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    Oct 23, 2013
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    Miami, FL
    I recommend Toyota.
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  6. mcnach

    mcnach

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    Jun 16, 2007
    Location:
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    I like to have pickups on my bass, definitely.
  7. Madsen6466

    Madsen6466

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2013
    My favorite pickup line involves boxed wine, boys ii men, and the movie ghost. It's a winner.
  8. wild4oldcars

    wild4oldcars

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    Jan 22, 2012
    Location:
    Garner, NC
    EMGs sound thin to me.

    Thats all i got for ya, sorry
  9. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered 8er Supporting Member

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    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    Serious answer:

    Your question is like walking into a grocery store and asking "what's the best food?".

    Additionally, as a brand-new TB member, you have direct access to an overwhelming wealth of opinions about all things bass-related, including everything you could ever care to know about pickups. It's in the upper right of your screen, and it's called "Search". Use it to learn as much as you can, and if you still have questions, come here and ask them as unambiguously as possible.
  10. LeFevre

    LeFevre

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2014
    Ok, I realize I'm new to TB, so I'll refine my question. I have a bass being built for me, and was looking for some advice on pickups. I'm not in the dark about pickups, neither is the luthier, was just looking for some additional advice in this forum. I'm going to have a P/J setup, I have Bartolinis in my Lakland, I like those and the preamp, but I've also heard great things about Aguilar or Nordstrands (not sure of the spelling).
    Looking for some pickups that have great clarity and punch, not too heavy on the low end, so that the sound of the wood and my fingers are enhanced, without too much of the pickup getting in the way. Anybody, Bueller? Thanks, appreciate any advice that can be given.
  11. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

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    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Spokane, Washington
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    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    Honestly, the first thing I would recommend is to re-think your P-J arrangement. If you have already thought it through and still want to use it, make sure you use a hum cancelling J pickup. In-line split-coils function pretty much the same way P pickups do, just housed in a J body, and IMO there is no compromise from the single-coil sound.

    I can personally recommend Fender Super 55 pickups. Sweet crystal-clear tone with absolutely no noise.
  12. LeFevre

    LeFevre

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2014
    Thanks Blue Talon, I appreciate the feedback. Just curious, are you against a P/J set up? You mentioned re-thinking that setup, are you suggesting a different arrangement, such as two J's?
  13. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

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    I am not fond of that setup, but primarily because most people don't address it's inherent weaknesses. (Maybe that's a poor way of putting it.) There are the two main issues with that arrangement.

    The first is that most of the time, a P pickup is matched with a single coil J pickup. The P is inherently hum-cancelling, the single coil J obviously is not. In a Jazz bass, the single coil bridge pickup is matched to an oppositely wound single coil neck pickup, which cancels hum when both pickups are fully on. Such hum cancelling is not possible in a P/J arrangement, so any use of the J pickup at all introduces the possibility of unwanted noise.

    The second is that the outputs of the P and J pickups are often mismatched. The P usually overwhelms the J. I have heard people defend this, saying that they only want the J to influence the tone of the P, but honestly, to me that just sounds like rationalization.

    So I guess my objection isn't with the P/J pickup arrangement itself, it's with what most manufacturers and people do with it that bothers me.

    If you take those things into account when selecting your pickups, and you get a hum-cancelling J pickup with enough output to keep up with your P pickup, then you should be happy with the result.


    P.S. I can happily recommend Fender Super 55 pickups to use with each other, but I am not in any position to recommend a J to use with a P. If I were in your situation, I would probably go with Barts, or any other manufacturer who makes a matched P/J set with hum-cancelling J's.
  14. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

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    One other thing. Since you are having a bass built, I reeeeeeally recommend you rethink the P/J arrangement.

    It's not because such a combination is necessarily bad, it's because you have a whole world of possibilities open to you right now. Why go with something you could literally get anywhere? Now is the time to go for something different, something that will be unmistakably yours and no one else's. Maybe two P's and a J? Three J's? Three P's?

    My first build was the bass in my avatar. I have never regretted spending a little extra and getting something unique and unconventional.
  15. LeFevre

    LeFevre

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2014
    That's some great feedback, I appreciate your time on this. I agree with your assessment of the P/J problem of the J pickup being second fiddle to the strong P; it's inherent in that setup. I was going to see if there was a hum canceling J pup that could be a bit hotter, maybe equalling the output of the P. The main problem I guess I'm having is that there are so many options at this point in regards to pickup choices, it's mind boggling! And since it's a custom build, once it is built I'm locked into whatever setup I choose. I have a Lakland with the J and humbucker, a music man, a P Bass; they're all great and different. You make a great point about having the build be uniquely mine, just which way to go with pickups, and then active versus passive; was thinking of having a preamp as well. Decisions!! I appreciate your feedback, any more insight would be helpful. Do you prefer two J's, how would three sound?
  16. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered 8er Supporting Member

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  17. LeFevre

    LeFevre

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    Jan 23, 2014
    Hey thanks for the links, very helpful! I'm going to call BBG this week for some additional help. It seems that for a P/J set up, a lot of people favored a 10% overwind on the J, so that it can keep pace with the P. Thanks again!
  18. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

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    It all depends on the execution. I don't mean to cop-out, but a lot depends on the bass itself, the pickups, the choice of wiring and controls.

    I can tell you that my 3-pickup bass sounds phenomenal. I have three Fender Super 55 J pickups (one bridge, two neck). The body is a Warmoth. I had them route the bridge pickup in the normal location, and then route two neck J's with 2" edge-to-edge. It was a completely arbitrary number, based on how I thought it would look.

    (Caveat: many people hold to the theory that pickup placement should be related to harmonic locations. I am not one of those people. Harmonic locations change the instant you start playing up and down the neck, and there's absolutely nothing anyone can do about it, so I choose to ignore it completely.) (And even people who do believe that theory say that it doesn't matter if the pickups aren't located precisely.)

    The pickups are all wired parallel to each other. Each one has independent volume and tone control. From there, the signal goes to a Turnstyle switch, to a master volume and tone control, and on out to the jack. It is all passive. The Turnstyle is a 6-position rotary switch -- position one is full manual control of all pickups, positions 2-6 are tone presets.

    Michael at Turnstyle, who did the control circuitry, had this to say:

    "I got the neck on it and WHOA does this bass sound good!! These pickups not only sound amazing but work exceptionally well with the Turnstyle switch. Even if these were not noise canceling, they would be worth the price just on tone quality alone. The clarity of them reminds me of the Fralin pickups I have in my Tele.

    The setting with everything wide open is crazy sweet sounding. Reminiscent of the Seinfeld J-Bass tone but the middle pickup adds a whole new complexity to the tone without even the slightest hint of mud.

    One-of-a-kind bass with infinite tonal possibilities."


    So to answer your question, three J pickups on my bass sound exquisite. I love having three pickups, it gives me a lot of tonal flexibility. I invite you to try three J's. Or how about two J's and a MM? The possibilities right now are only limited by your imagination.
  19. LeFevre

    LeFevre

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    Jan 23, 2014
    Thanks again for the feedback, plenty to think about here; I'll be busy for awhile trying to figure which configuration to go with!
  20. TN WOODMAN

    TN WOODMAN

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    Jan 31, 2011
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    Smyrna, Tennessee.
    I heard the Seinfield J bass tone was actually a keyboard . Perhaps a j bass sample but nonetheless .
  21. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

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    Spokane, Washington
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    I'll be interested to know what you decide. And if you decide on something uncommon, I'll want to see the final result.

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