Approximations of the P-Bass sound

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Chicory Blue, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon Supporting Member

    I've heard it said that few things sit in the mix quite so well as the Precision.

    Having never owned one, I couldn't say, but as a sizzly Ray-type player who can rarely feel comfortable in any recorded ensemble besides solo projects, I'm increasingly eager to see if the grass is greener on the other side.

    I have to ask, though, is that legendary amiability something unique to the Precision Bass itself, or will any decent thing with a P-type configuration manage the task?

    Will a Squier Affinity or an SX get along as well on tape as a Fender P? What of a Mikro or TMB with the P-pup solo'd? Or one of those adorable Lunas?

    Just how close can one get to the spirit of a P sound without shelling out for an actual pedigree Precision?

    Frugally yours as always,

  2. If $300 for a Mexican Standard Fender is worth your time not shelling out, then yes, most P-type configurations can get you close to that fabled P-bass tone. The most important criteria is that the two coils of the pickup are run in series (which 90% of them are with the exception of DiMarzio, whose pickups are switchable) and pickup placement; that is, with the middle of the pickup about 28 5/8" from the nut.

    My first bass was a Hondo P-bass, and it was only years later that I realized exactly how good the tone was on that bass. My brother owns it now, for which I'm grateful, because it's still in the family.

    IMHO, the MIM Fender Standard Precision Bass is the absolute best value for the money in all the bass playing world, at least for those of us who can't leave anything stock. It's the best platform for customization and modification. They're great stock, though they generally lack some refinements that I find quite necessary. Proper shielding is one of them, but that's easily remedied
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  3. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    South Bend, Indiana
    Lefty Duke 2.JPG I couldn't say for sure one way or the other. My first bass was a very nice Fender P-Bass (which I still have), anyway, so I've never felt the need to find out. However...
    I bought this '82 Kramer Duke Special mainly because it filled the "Headless"spot in my bass herd - and because I like aluminum-necked Kramers. But, the reason it's a "Special" is because of the pickup. It's what Kramer called a "Twin-J", because that's actually what it is; 2 DiMarzio Jazz pickups mounted back-to-back. It has a 3-way switch (and a mare's nest of wiring) that lets the bass:
    - run both "halves" together as a humbucker;
    - run the bridge half as a bridge Jazz pickup (creamy smooth Jazz Bass imitation, too, IMO); or
    - run the left half of one, and the right half of the other, like a split-coil P pick up.
    How does it sound as a P-Bass copy? I think it's pretty darn close; but the small body, the short scale, and - of course - the aluminum neck, keep it from being a dead ringer. Amazingly close, though...
    I also have a Warmoth Mini-P, that I had built to be a short scale clone of my '78 P-Bass. It does sound very much like an ash-bodied, maple necked, vintage pickup P-Bass - but then, it's supposed to. So, I guess I'd have to say that if you have a P-Bass pickup in the "correct" position, you'd be at least most of the way there...:)
    Chicory Blue likes this.
  4. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    As noted above, the "spirit" – IMHO – comes from the split-coil pickup design mounted in the proper position, and more than a few competitors caught on to Leo's thinking since '57. FWIW, I have A/B'd a MIM '50s Classic P with a Yamaha BB in the studio, and the Yamaha comes very close to the Fender in delivering the P tone.
    Chicory Blue likes this.
  5. twinjet

    twinjet Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Just about any split-coil bass should do you right. In my opinion, the design is timeless because it just works so well with nearly everything.

    Here's my LB-10, a Lyon by Washburn instrument. Just an unbelievable sound when strung up with Chromes. I think the magic is in the split-coil and its positioning, which a lot of manufacturers get right. This bass was $40.
    Chicory Blue and Son of Wobble like this.
  6. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    Squier Classic Vibe, Matt Freeman, or Peavey Fury should do the trick. I prefer my P basses to have Alnico rather than Ceramic pickups like those found on standard Mexican Fender Precisions.
    Chicory Blue likes this.
  7. Son of Wobble

    Son of Wobble

    Mar 8, 2010
    A set of $30 chromes on this $200 Craigslist MIM P-bass is one of my favorite sounds.

    nlmcguire91, Chicory Blue and twinjet like this.
  8. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon Supporting Member

    Super sweet. You guys rule as always.

    From what I'm hearing, I've got a generous share of viable options for a radio-friendly thump, and I'm deep in love enough with Chromes that I suspect I'll quite enjoy whatever I end up with.

    Now the only question is whether I'll aim to snag my first burst-and-tort, or seek out something more personal...

  9. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    You have far too much joie de vivre to succumb to the burst, tort and flats ideology.

    Please continue your self expression through choice of an instrument that suits you.
  10. twinjet

    twinjet Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Pretty as it is... get your own bass, not everyone else's. ;)
    lowdownthump and Chicory Blue like this.
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