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Billy Sheehan PU configuration

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by el murdoque, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Hi there,
    I've always been interested in the PU configuration of Billi Sheehan's bass, with the P-Style splitcoil in the middle and then a humbucker in the neck position a lot further up than usually done.
    I've never played that particular bass because I'm more or less exclusively on 5s and 6s.
    I usually single the neck pickup on my basses - to an extend that you could disconnect the bridge PU and I might not notice for years.
    So having the choice of a PU in the middle plus one right at the fretboard sounds interesting to me and I'm a bit baffled that no other company builds anything like it.

    From the looks of it, i'd wager that you have something like the opposite of a PJ config, where you can dial in the other PU to increase what the P bass lacks in lowend instead of getting adding the trebly and clangy sound of the J bridge pickup.
    Is it too boomy?

    I guess Mr Sheehan is bi-amping his setup because of the two outputs he uses, but you can also get mono output. . .

    So why did this concept not catch on ?
  2. Paulabass

    Paulabass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2017
    I can only speak for his rig about 12 years ago. The mudbucker in the neck position went to 4 Servo Drive subwoofers under the stage. Servo Drives were motor driven speakers that could produce 20 Hz. (the threshold of hearing).
    el murdoque and PawleeP like this.
  3. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    It’s done sometimes, but it’s more of a niche sound, IMO. For one, I think of Rickenbackers as essentially that... yes, there are some hardcore fans that swear by those sounds, but for most of us, it’s a niche thing.

    Why not more popular? The cynical answer is because Leo didn’t do it that way...

    As a practical thing, if you want more than 20 frets, or if you want to slap, you can’t have a pickup over there...

    But the bottom line is, IMO, that the middle pickup covers a lot of ground, and things get needlessly bassy/pillowy further north. It’s probably just as effective to turn bass up, use a pickup with more bass extension, and/or play closer to the neck. Reggae players do just fine with a Jazz...

    Nevertheless, I’d welcome more basses with that configuration. Particularly in a long scale...
    el murdoque likes this.

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