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Best pickups for 12-string Hamer?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by hairbo, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. hairbo


    Mar 15, 2013
    Hi all,

    I'm new here, and was hoping you guys could offer some advice to me. After 20 years of lusting, I finally broke down and bought a Hamer acoustic-style 12-string bass. It was built in 1995, is a lovely Gretsch orange color, and is going to take a while to get used to. Man, it's a monster.

    Anyway, the pickup/controls situation is a little weird. It has a P-bass style DiMarzio neck pickup, and I think a DiMarzio humbucker at the bridge (the pickup is not labeled). Each pickup has a volume control knob, and a third knob controls the overall tone. Then it gets a little weird: there's also a three-position pickup selector; why you'd need this when you have separate volume controls for each pickup is beyond me. Finally, there is what appears to be an onboard preamp (the pickups are, by themselves, passive), which can be toggled on or off by the switch. i recorded with the bass earlier this week, and the preamp was distorting, even with a fresh battery, so I just removed the battery and recorded passively (the pickups provided plenty of output in passive mode).

    The wiring looks kind of sloppy, and the two switches are of different styles, all of which leads me to believe that the pickup selector and preamp were added later.

    What I want to do is get rid of both switches, then repurpose the three knobs: one for overall volume, one as a pickup selector, and one as an overall tone knob.

    The advice I'm looking for is this: what's the best pickup for a 12-string bass? Hamer uses EMG DC35s at both the bridge and neck in their current 12-strings:


    I'd have to have the neck pickup spot routed from the current P-bass configuration to accommodate these pickups, but that's okay with me. Unless somebody tells me that the DC35s are awful, I'm sort of inclined to go with them.

    A very nice rep from Hamer suggested that I could use this P-style pickup in the neck position, if I just wanted a drop-in solution:


    I've never monkeyed with the pickups in my other basses, so this is an entirely new world for me. As I said at the top, any advice is much appreciated.

  2. tmoney61092


    Sep 15, 2009
    don't ruin this bass by routing out the neck pickup to fit a humbucker. it sems like all you have to do is change the wiring or install a preamp, something that can be reversed without ruining the value
  3. hairbo


    Mar 15, 2013
    Hi tmoney61092,

    Not sure I'd consider it ruining the bass. If I'm right that these switches were added after the fact, then I'd say I'm restoring the bass as best I can. But I agree that routing is a relatively dramatic step. If I can avoid it, I'd like to.

    Tell me: what's the difference in tone between a humbucker at the neck vs. a P-bass pickup at the neck? My relatively uninformed sense is that a P-bass pickup is going to be warmer and less distinct than a humbucker. Given that this is a 12-string bass, I'd say that pickup clarity is a really important factor. If a P-bass pickup at the neck can still deliver lots of clarity, then I'd be pretty happy with that solution, but given that Hamer doesn't use them in their current 12-strings, that leads me to believe there must be a reason they favor the humbucker over the P-Bass.

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