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Best P-bass pickups? Money and age are no issue.

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by elambo, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. elambo


    Mar 7, 2003
    Forget cost, forget new vs. vintage, what is THE best sounding precision pickup made now OR back then?

    If you could ask for it and elves would drop it off on your doorstep tomorrow, what would you want?

    If you were about to play at the closing ceremony at the Olympics, what pickups would you bring?

    If Charlize Theron agreed to marry you and to bow to every command, but only if your bass was impressive, what pickups?

    In all seriousness, I have a '63 that I'm trying to make the best of. I don't want budget to restrict the answers so have at it.
  2. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    Assuming you still have the original pickup I would look into repairing/rewinding it. Lindy Fralin and Jason Lollar have extensive experience in working with vintage pickups. If I was looking for a replacement I would have someone like Chris Klein or Curtis Novak wind a custom pickup that is not only made to '63 specs, but made to sound like a pickup that has aged 49 years.

    I made this request to Chris Klein for a custom Pino replica and he made me a pickup that I absolutely love and would have a 3-way with it and Charlize.
    miles'tone likes this.
  3. low2groove

    low2groove Tyranis 4 / Lower Groove Guitars

    Jan 21, 2007
    Personally I like the original Bill Lawrence "Wilde" P-46. It sounds like what I think a P should sound like. I'm not really into the over priced boutique pickups.
  4. seang15


    Aug 28, 2008
    Cary NC
    SD Antiquity.
  5. brooklynbassguy

    brooklynbassguy Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2004
    maplewood, nj, usa
    David Allen pickups by far!
    RiZzBot likes this.
  6. Deedubs


    Mar 5, 2012
    I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I like my s.d. Quarter pounder!
  7. elambo


    Mar 7, 2003
    Thanks for the good advice so far!

    I have a SD Antiquity in there now (it came with the bass) and although it sounds pretty good I'm hunting for the next level. The top level. Maybe the SD sits among the very best but I think there's room for improvement.

    I mentioned this in another thread (that I worded very poorly and so it didn't go anywhere): when I removed the reissue pickups from my '63 and replaced them with real-deal '63's the difference was incredible. I have a lot of Strats, including several very good boutique models, but none can hold a candle to this one now that it's back to vintage spec.

    I'm hoping that a similar evolution is possible with this new P-bass. I don't know that it is - maybe I'm already there - but it's worth looking.

    If the consensus is that a period-correct pickup is best I'd be willing to drop the cash for an early 60's pup.

    If by now you've guessed that I'm not exactly the Steven Hawking of basses you'd be correct.
  8. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I'd be going for a Lindy Fralin or a Lollar.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I've played a bunch, and the best 2 I have heard are the Nordstrand NP4, and the Fender '62 Reissue. The SD Antiquity is too muddy to me without enough midrange clarity. The Fralins are good but aggressive. I find the NP4 to be incredibly balanced and pretty true to vintage. Another one that is HIGHLY underrated is the Duncan SPB-1.
    Matt R likes this.
  10. +1 for the Fender '62 reissue. It came stock in my P and it smokes.
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Seymour Duncan 1/4 pounders or SD hot.
  12. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    A big 'boooooo' to any SD suggestions
  13. elambo


    Mar 7, 2003
    No recommendations for vintage pickups? Is that because they're not up to snuff, or because you haven't tried them?
  14. Deedubs


    Mar 5, 2012
    ok. boooo to me then. :rollno:
  15. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    now i just feel bad.
    no posting before coffee...
  16. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Duncans are great. Love the spb2 and antiquity. Lakland/hansons are great. Fralins are great especially for flats. 62RI is great if you have a great bass, it's really transparent. Really, if you have a great P any of these will kill. If you have a lackluster P consider quarter pounders or maybe EMGs.
  17. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Expensive, hard to get, and fragile.
  18. George Mann

    George Mann Banned

    May 27, 2012
    But boy what a tone!
  19. NelsonNelson


    Sep 25, 2011
    Bill Lawrence...I just put them in today and was blown away. Wilde Pickups is his website, not to be confused with Bill Lawrence USA.
  20. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Never owned a '62, but I had a '64, and I also had a '62 AVRI.

    Disclaimer: I was never completely happy with my '64. It sounded a little light on the low end, and a little too hollow. The sound I always had in my head, was closer to what Nordstrand is doing.

    The trouble was, on the gig, the '64 had an uncanny ability to fit into the mix. It wasn't a great bedroom tone, but it killed on the job. If I hadn't gotten obsessed with 5-string basses, I would probably still be playing that old P-bass.

    I'm not sure if a vintage Fender pickup has the best tone (not even sure if I know what that means), but if that's the tone you're after, then the aftermarket pickups I've sampled, including the SD Antiquity, all fail because they try to improve on the original.

    The Nordy is a good example: it's a little smoother and more even, a little warmer and fatter than the real thing. Probably a "better" pickup in the technical sense.

    The only modern pickup I've heard that nailed the sound of my '64, is the '62 American Vintage. Once again, not my favourite tone when practicing at home, but brilliant in a live setting.

    So if it was my money, I would buy a Wilde P-46 and a Klein or a Novak, just out of curiosity. Then I'd sample them back-to-back with the Fender '62 AVRI pickup, and keep whichever I liked best.

    Right now, my money would be on the Fender.

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