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Anyone 'bonked' your pickups loose just by playing?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Honch, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Tried to search a topic on this before, but didn't find it. So here I'll ask again.

    Has anyone of you ever "bonked"* your pickups out of the screws on your bass, just by playing?

    Now, I have. On certain large shell pickups, mostly active like EMG, there are:

    1. You have to set the action so that is as close to the strings as possible, for best sound and output.
    2. They usually just have ONE screw on each side, one at the bass side, one at the treble. Not four screws, on in each corner.
    3. You have to screw them "high up" in order to have your thumb for something to rest on when doing regular finger pick strokes.
    4. This happens at rest strokes mostly.

    Now, what happens is, that one tend to naturally seek a sweet spot right on the strings, RIGHT over the pickup, and since it has been set too close to the strings, there's little space underneath for getting that grip on the string. However, when doing this you seem to alter your pick attack, and lean in a bit heavier.
    The resulting rest strokes, are so heavy that it'll push the pickup shell down a bit, and it lifts the shell up again, for the next attack with you fingers. However, doing this repeatedly will unravel the screws thread in the wood underneath, eventually leaving the holes without threads, so the bass end of the pickup will be loose and rattle as there were no screw at all.

    Also, but to a much lesser degree, having the pickup as a thumb rest will also whack the screws somewhat or at least impose an unneccessary force to pickup, albeit sideways.

    The only remedy I have to this, is getting either pickups with four screws (requiring more force to move the PU in any direction) or using steel/brass threaded inserts for the screws together with silicone tubing that has more resistance than the spring surrounding the screw.

    Turning the pickups down so much that this ain't a problem increases all other problems. Like, less output, and character of the sound, as well as too little space for your thumb to rest on.

    - - - - - - -

    For what is worth, I think that bass pickups, at least on the treble side, should come with replacable covers that has a choice of different "flanges" or "thumb rest ramps" that protrudes high over the body anyway, but to leave you with the option of having the strong pickups turned down low, with longer distance to the strings. Of course, the best thing is that such a ramp would be built in the bass from the start like on the old P and J basses. On the bass side then, not as the really old ones with "ramp" to rest your other fingers while just playing with your thumb.

    *Not the british slang word for sexual intercourse!
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
  2. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    So far I'd only seen one bass have the flanges you mention - the Yamaha RBX and TRBX series. This is somewhat awkward for manufacturers - the RBX375, a five-string bass, would normally use something shaped like an EMG-40, but because of the need to accomodate the flanges, the pickup is actually EMG-45 sized. So it's a bit messed up for manufacturing and not as easy for use. Either way, like you said, silicone tubing and/or steel inserts are the way to go because they're the least invasive mod to do.
    Honch likes this.
  3. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Thank you Stealth. Or steal an old "tug bar" from any Jazz Bass or Precision and screw it on there. I would love to see something CARVED into the wood of the body instead of it protruding out. Of course, there's no one size fits all in that case. Or at least on a neck through bass, a larger difference between the neck portion and the body. I e the distance from the neck wood, aren't flush with the body but significantly higher.

    I don't know, though, if "flange" is the right word for it. Hence my quotation marks. I didn't think "tug bar" would fit in either.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
  4. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Is this the reason they have three screws sometimes?
    I've seen now that the Yamaha Yamaha RBX and TRBX has different pickups, one regularlu square with three screws, and the one with flanges with two screws. The three screws model, two of them seems always placed at the bass string side.
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    I've seen pics of early-50's style P bass single coils that have been completely ripped out of the body by catching a string under the edge of the bobbin.

  6. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Ahhh, see there, even the string pulled the whole shebang up! See there. Must've been very loose or low tuned string! I have yet to play that animated on any bass, but animated and lively enough to slowly pull the pickup out, at least the bass string side of it.

    I do reckon that it has surely to do with the soft wood which the body is made of, since soft wood doesn't hold screw threads that well. Wonder what happens to the necks screws after a while then, although the tension is at another direction.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Nope, and nope. They were all standard tuned G strings. Usually from people playing downstrokes with a pick.
  8. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Ok then. Must be the neck or bridge pickup - I don't know if Telecaster basses had two or just one pickup.
  9. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Nope again. Early 50's P basses have one middle position pickup.
  10. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    I even seen Steve Vais guitars equipped with no pickup covers at all for most of DiMarzio pickups. When he whammies with the bar down below with his Floyd Roses the high e-string gets too slack and gets underneath that edge of the uncovered pickup and gets stuck there. Hence his use of grey gaffer tape there. When contructing and designing that high end Ibanez signature EVO guitars one could've at least required that they took precautions to this. It can't be the first time that happened.

    "Other features include a tremolo cavity plate fastened to the body with Velcro, gaffer’s tape on the sides of the neck pickup to prevent the strings from getting caught underneath the pickup..."


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