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Why Does The P-Bass Sustain The Way It Does?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Misterwogan, Feb 5, 2013.


  1. I've been having a bit of a play this evening with some of my favourite songs form the early 80s. One of which was "Who's Cryin Now" by Journey - so lot's of long notes.

    I started off with my Gibson SG, then moved over to the Stingray HS, then the Jazz and finally the P.

    Now the first three did a fine job, but somehow I knew I had kept the best till last.

    The sustain on the P is in a different league to the others entirely. Syrupy sweet and sticky with all of those tones that the others just can't manage.

    It is the lightest (by a whisker) of the four basses, the most unsophisticated mechanically and electronically and yet the sound it delivers is absolutely unique.

    Why is this?
     
  2. I was hoping for some profound technical insights...
     
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  4. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Are you sure that's a P bass on that song? It never sounded like one to me.
     
  5. No it's not - it's a Stingray on the original played by Ross Valory. But that's not my point.

    This was not a "how-to-get-journey-tone" post.
     
  6. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Disclosures:
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    My BB5000 sustains way longer than my P-bass. :D

    Sounds better, too. :eek:
     
  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I doubt very seriously that song was recorded w/ a P. I think he was using something fancy like an Aria Pro II. Of course, I also heard a rumor that some of their bass studio work was hired-out to a "ringer" so it could be anything. Some of those tracks are difficult to isolate because of the chorusing effect/piano unison.
     
  8. No one - is suggesting that it was.
     
  9. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    And, yea, my P-basses aren't heavy sustainers compared to some of my other basses.
     
  10. SunnBass

    SunnBass All these blankets saved my life. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2010
    Columbia, Mo
    It should have something to do with the placement of the pickup. However, you must have a "control" of some sort,(i.e. all basses strung with the exact same strings) for this to become a right proper experiment.
     
  11. It's not an experiment - it's an experience!
     
  12. "the P is in a different league to the others entirely. Syrupy sweet and sticky with all of those tones"

    That's because of the pup design and its placement in particular. Newer strings help too ;-)
     
  13. TexasTodd

    TexasTodd

    Jan 10, 2013
    Its part o the mojo, Because they're awesome :)
     
  14. Even on the crappiest basses Ive ever played, sustain is never an issue. When do you ever need to stretch a note that long? I could make a bass from garbage can and a broomstick and it would have enough sustain, unless your music requires you to let notes ring out for 60 seconds at a time.
     
  15. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Oh okay. It's just the sum of the parts on your particular bass then, not all P's are that way. I have two Precisions, and my others (including my preEB Musicmans) sustain longer than them.
     
  16. Ah, time for a hearing test...
     
  17. EagleMoon

    EagleMoon

    Jul 13, 2007
    Wexford, PA
    Seems like in a perfect world that a single pickup bass would sustain better than a bass with more than one pickup...due to less magnetic pull on the string.
     
  18. SunnBass

    SunnBass All these blankets saved my life. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2010
    Columbia, Mo
    It is now.
     
  19. That's interesting. It's just a standard american P 2011, but I put 62 original pickups in it. The dynamics are amazing, just the slightest touch and it kicks off and keeps going.
     
  20. JimB52

    JimB52 User Gold Supporting Member

    May 24, 2007
    East Coast
    I've noticed very different tonal qualities from my AVS '57 RI Precision and Lakland Bob Glaub P Bass as compared to my other Fender Precisions, and I think that difference is due to the 1 3/4" nut width. Bigger nuts = longer sustain?

    Probably not much help, but at least somewhat on topic.

    .
     
  21. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I will say, some of those Journey "power ballads" do have a lot more hang-time on the bass notes than is typical. I realize this isn't a thread about "how to get Journey tone", but cranking the volume a plucking/picking a bit lighter is helpful in terms of getting a more even sustain. That's typically how I like to get that low gain, direct into the board, heavily compressed sound without running a compressor live.
     



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