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16.5 or 17mm 5 string PJ pups anyone?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Seedpicker, Feb 9, 2020.


  1. Seedpicker

    Seedpicker

    Feb 21, 2019
    Hi folks, first post!

    I'm doing a budget rebuild on a sentimental nostalgia piece and converting an old Aria 4 string Pbass copy to a 5 string PJ. I'm stressing...budget! Now I've got a guy willing to build me a composite neck from a nice piece maple I was gifted and walnut he's throwing in. (I made him a trade for an old stack I had and a bocote guitar fretboard I had that I'll never use. He's going to help me with routing the body to fit the neck and new pups as well.) Anyway, I've played Ibanez 5-strings for years now and I love the narrower necks. So now the narrow string spacing is what I'm used to, 16.5mm. I'd like to build this neck narrow but finding a proper bridge and pickup combo has been a challenge. (I'm drawing out this design with AutoCAD.) I've checked out Nordstrand's stuff. NICE! But not budget. In fact I even owned an SR655 for a little with the CND's in them. Which brings me to my last thing. I bought that 655 because I wanted the option of playing passive (especially for studio work). And despite what you think about my ridiculous rebuild project, I do try to live by at least some measure of practicality. So this rebuild was going to be completely passive electronics because my other basses are Ibanez active electronics and I want something different.

    Therefore, in view of the foregoing, all things considered, yadda yadda, nuff said for now.

    Here's the question: Is there such a thing as a budget, passive electronics, PJ5 pup set, with 16.5-17mm spacing that'll do my rebuild justice? I'm brand new to guitar building and all that too so feel free to school me. Thanks!!
     
    Bassdirty and Helix like this.
  2. pogipoints

    pogipoints Custom User Title Holder

    Dec 5, 2005
    Atlanta
    Wilde P46 + J45 pickups. They work with most 4 and 5 string spacings, and fit in a regular PJ route/pickguard.

    They sound amazing, and are quite affordable.

    P-46
     
  3. Seedpicker

    Seedpicker

    Feb 21, 2019
    That’s a nice find. Good link thanks. I might contact them.
     
  4. Seedpicker

    Seedpicker

    Feb 21, 2019
    7144A189-A4BF-4D4D-9F0B-65B99600B16E.jpeg Here’s a photo of the ol’ girl so you can get an idea of what I’m working with and imagine what I’m going for
     
  5. Budbear

    Budbear Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    Staten Island, NYC
    Here's the answer: IMO highly unlikely.
    You are looking for products that are custom sized, and that entails hand work, which means labor time. That's going to cost $$. No "budget" brand will get involved in that. There are parts builders that can do what you want, but not in any way that could be called "budget". In my experience of building or replacing, the best you might do cost-wise, would be Hipshot for the bridge, and Nordstrand for the pups. Both offer quality products, including custom work, at fair prices, along with extraordinary customer service. Good luck with your build. Take your time, ask questions, make it an enjoyable experience.
     
    Bassdirty and Seedpicker like this.
  6. pogipoints

    pogipoints Custom User Title Holder

    Dec 5, 2005
    Atlanta
    Seedpicker and Helix like this.
  7. pogipoints

    pogipoints Custom User Title Holder

    Dec 5, 2005
    Atlanta
    These are still in the realm of standard sizes/configurations. Only thing really custom is the neck which OP says he's got covered.
    The Wilde pickups I posted works with the spacing he desires, and the set costs less than most other aets.
    A search on 17mm spacing 5 string bridge yields many results, a lot of them costing less than a Hipshot, so I think his goal of doing this on a budget is feasible.
     
    Seedpicker likes this.
  8. Budbear

    Budbear Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    Staten Island, NYC
    Here's a thought on the pickups. Since it's a standard rout, why not put bladed pups instead of pole-pieced. The spacing won't matter then and you can find plenty of them at lower prices, Bartolini, DiMarzio, etc. You can often find them for sale in the classified section. Still can't help you on the bridge.
     
    astrah, Helix, flojob and 1 other person like this.
  9. Seedpicker

    Seedpicker

    Feb 21, 2019
    Yeah I was really hoping not to have to custom size anything. I’m hoping the idea of 16.5/17mm spacing on a 5 string has become so mainstream that there are options available that Google doesn’t show me. But I understand your point
     
  10. Seedpicker

    Seedpicker

    Feb 21, 2019
    I’ve thought of that (if I understand the concept of bladed pups), but most of them are active. Dimarzio, Bartolini. And they tend not to be budget. If you have a specific example I’m happy to look. I’ve already found one new pup maker tonight!
     
  11. Cutter8

    Cutter8 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2018
    Georgia
    The magnet spacing of the passive EMG PVA5 pickups would probably be perfect for the 16.5/17mm string spacing you are planning for your project and would only cost about $100 new, and I saw a used set in excellent shape on Reverb recently for $55.
     
    Seedpicker likes this.
  12. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I disclose nothing
    I Frankenstein 4 string basses into 5 string basses and I use all sorts of pickups and most of them work just fine

    5s%20024.jpg
     
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  13. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I have a 5 string PJ with 17.5mm spacing using Ulyate Tic Tac pickups, but I don't think they'll fall into the budget category. I guess you want something like Tic Tacs or Nordstrand Big Blades, but at t budget price. I don't know of any solution for that. As mentioned earlier, Bill Lawrence pickups are designed to accommodate a wide range of string spacings. Not sure if they fit within the definition of budget either, but it's the lowest priced option I can think of.
     
    Seedpicker likes this.
  14. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    That's a good thought, but.....if you're putting on a wider neck (you'd need to go to 14.25 mm spacing to get the outer strings to line up on the same width neck), you'll need to either move the pickup routes toward the bass side, or accept that the new neck will overrun the neck pocket on the G string side. This conversion may not be as straightforward as you're envisioning.

    With 5 strings, the other thing you need to be aware of (this can be a huge deal) is that you'll have a middle string. Yeah, so what? Well....(take a deep breath) depending on pickup geometry (how the halves of the pickup interact in the middle), you may or may not get away with that. With some hum cancelling pickups, there's a "magnetic valley" in the middle - the middle string will be much quieter than the others (on a 4 string, this valley "hides" between the D and A strings). This is worse on most in line hum cancellers than it is on most split P pickups, but it's still there somewhat on the split ones, and teh split one have one more thing to ponder. If you manage to find pickups where the transition is more graceful, you need to know know that the middle string will be covered by both haves - while the volume of that string might be a decent match to the other strings, since two pickups halves are sensing that string's vibration, it'll sound like you've got a humbucker on that string, while the other strings will sound like a singe coil - since only one coil is "listening" to them. So, it's a bass where 80 percent of the strings sound one way, but the string in the middle sounds....different. So, you've made a cheap bass by using a 4 string pickup, but if the cheap bass isn't a good musical instrument....

    If you look at 5 string P bass pickups, you'll see that they are usually either assymetrical, or....if they're the same sized halves, one half has a blank space or a dummy pole piece (an unmagnetized thing in the place of where magnets would typically be) to compensate for this issue. You may decide this risk is OK, but I'd be reticent to put in a lot of work with that thing hanging over my head in the final result. Why do Nordstrands cost more? Partly because they've figured this stuff out. And they'll make things with exactly the spacing you need - custom stuff is made one at time, it costs more.

    Buying a cheap thing that doesn't quite work is the most expensive way to do things - it means you've spent money on something, you don't have what you wanted to begin with, and you still need to buy the "right" (more expensive) one to get something that works.

    Yes, I've made your decision process more difficult. But perhaps I've increased your chance of success on the first try. Good luck!
     
    ctmullins and Seedpicker like this.
  15. Nordstrand gave me custom polepiece spacing for only $20 extra. I got the spacing I wanted to the nearest 0.1 mm at both my bridge and neck pickup locations. (My bridge was 17.5 mm, so I got the bridge pickup 17 mm and the neck pickup 16.2 mm and it looks perfect).
     
    Seedpicker likes this.
  16. Seedpicker

    Seedpicker

    Feb 21, 2019
    Wow! Really?! I'll look them up, thanks. I had no idea EMG made a passive pickup. I'd written them off
     
  17. Seedpicker

    Seedpicker

    Feb 21, 2019
    No "valley" effect for the center string? See micguy's comment above

    By the way, gorgeous Jaguar!!
     
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I disclose nothing
    It is my experience that most fender style pickups with 8 poles cover 5 strings and no "valley" for the A string. There are a few exceptions … Gibson mudbuckers do not work well with 5 strings, and EMG dual rail split p style pickups have a problem with the middle A string, but Seymour Duncan work great. Sometimes I put a blank cover to hide the poles.

    b%20533.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
    Zoobiedood and Seedpicker like this.
  19. That's incorrect. The DiMarzio and Bartolini offerings are entirely passive. You CAN hook them to an on-board preamp, but they will run just fine into a passive volume and tone control.

    You could probably get the DiMarzio Split-P pickup for about $90US or even less. The Bartolinis will be a smidge more money...
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
    Seedpicker likes this.
  20. Seedpicker

    Seedpicker

    Feb 21, 2019
    That's interesting. See? This is the kind of schooling I need.

    So the reason they're so expensive is because they come with the preamp and wiring harnesses usually? I'll google it but how do you get them separately?
     
    frankie5string likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    May 14, 2021

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