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Bought a '63 P-Bass - how to know if pickups are original?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by elambo, Aug 4, 2012.


  1. elambo

    elambo

    Mar 7, 2003
    Last year I bought a '63 Strat and made sure that the pickups were original. Not an easy task because the signs aren't easy to spot. But there's nothing else like those old single coils - they make all the difference in the world.

    Is the same true for P-basses? Are these old pickups important? Unfortunately, I'm not a bass aficionado.

    I think, but I'm not 100% sure, that the bass I just bought has original pickups. If not, I'll need to decide whether or not I should search (and pay) for a set of vintage pups.

    What do you think? If what I have is a modern pair, is it worth tracking down the old dogs, something from the early 60's???
     
  2. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    There are ways to tell, bobbin colours and wire type being two. But originality is only important from a collector's point of view, or if you want to increase the value of the bass to resell it, for example.

    There are replacement PUPs out there that perfectly reproduce old fender PUPs, with the caveat that there was a lot of variation between examples in the early '60's, being wound by hand. Be aware a period correct original pickup won't be cheap and might sound worse than a new one.
     
  3. 1SHOT1HIT

    1SHOT1HIT

    Feb 17, 2012
    This.

    And I'll add, it's really up to you.

    If you have to have it all original to be happy than guess what? Yep your gonna need to search out some originals.

    If you really just want the sound, god your possibilities are endless here. Start anywhere and just go to town experimenting different p'ups.


    That vintage vibe?
    Well I've come to the very real conclusion that it goes so much deeper than the p'ups.
    It's a total package the p'ups, the frets, the neck, the tuners, the angles, the contours, the lines,
    The overall feel, the nostalgia, the knowing it is what it is, the age and time the instrument has had to cure over the decades, I've always wondered why people chased the old stuff. I mean how hard would it be to just copy it to exact specs? Right?
    Now that I own one I know exactly why it's not possible?
    There's certain things you can't recreate, and part of the list is indeed all in our head. But that's ok because that place in our head is a great place to be when you hear the sound of it poor out of your amp and massage your ear drum with that incredible vintage sound.

    Then again as one drop said. Collectibility factors heavily as well.
     
  4. elambo

    elambo

    Mar 7, 2003
    No doubt resale is a factor (though a distant one) and I'd like to feed the brain troll who lives in my head and tells me that wants this guitar to be "o-rig-i-nal." But sound matters most.

    I referenced the '63 Strat because nothing could have made a larger difference in improving its tone than installing the pups from the proper year. It was an evolution for that guitar, which already sounded pretty damn good with the 3rd party "vintage" pickups. Since P-basses and Strats were closely related in those days (certainly the pickup manufacturing), I assumed that a similar improvement would come from the old pickups.

    I learned yesterday that the pups in there now are Seymour Duncan Antiquities. Would these be considered excellent for the vintage vibe? 1960's P-bass pups are around $1,500, which I'd spend if they'd give me that extra 10%. However, if the Duncans are close, sonically, then I won't bother. Not yet anyway.
     
  5. 1SHOT1HIT

    1SHOT1HIT

    Feb 17, 2012
    No experience with SD Antiquities but I've heard a lot of people recommend them, and lots of good stuff.

    But, that really doesn't help you huh?

    Hopefully someone chimes in with hands on experience.
     
  6. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Those SDs are excellent PUPs, and do indeed sound very authentic.

    But now is a good a time as any to pick up the real thing, as prices will start going up again in a while.
     
  7. Session1969

    Session1969

    Dec 2, 2010
    I've also read on this forum that they're fantastic.
     
  8. elambo

    elambo

    Mar 7, 2003
    So the Antiquities are good.

    I do like them, no question, I just have little to compare them to. I have a couple of Laklands but both are J-style with Bartolinis and this P is a different animal.
     
  9. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Chicago
    IMO if you have a 63 P, you're not going to be truly satisfied until you get the real deal original PU's in there. Feed the brain troll. I picked up some early 70's PU's for my 75 Precision and it was REALLY impressed with the clarity and punch over whatever aftermarket PU's were in there. Call it a placebo effect if you want, but damn, my bass sounds great now!

    I also have original pre-CBS pickups in my early 62 P bass and it sounds SO damn good. When you hit that open E, you KNOW it's the tone you were looking for all along. And a good piece of mind that the bass is original where it matters most.

    Pre-CBS PU's can be had for the $300-500 range. Not that bad compared to original pre-CBS Strat or Tele pickups.

    Just keep an eye out and be patient for a good deal on Ebay. Buy from a reputable dealer and you can get a great deal.
     
  10. 1SHOT1HIT

    1SHOT1HIT

    Feb 17, 2012
    Wait I'm confused, I know I saw something about a 63 Strat but I never did catch the actual year of the P Bass??????


    What year is it?
     
  11. elambo

    elambo

    Mar 7, 2003
    You're probably right about that.

    The only pups I've seen range from $800-1600.
     
  12. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Chicago
    yeah the prices are high right now, but hold out and you'll find them much cheaper. I almost bid on a pair (just to have) of pre-CBS PU's a few months ago that had no reserve and ended up going for like $500.

    Be patient. The market will work itself out.

    Also, post pics of the PU's you have in there...how do you know they're not original?
     
  13. RickC

    RickC Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2005
    I've had a lot of experience with vintage Fenders, guitars and basses, with original and replacement electronics. Imo, an original set of pickups will make a difference in the Precision, but not as much as original pickups will in a Strat. You're right, in a Strat it's "all the difference in the world". Not so much in a P. I'd prefer the originals, but I could live with a good repro.

    /rick
     
  14. elambo

    elambo

    Mar 7, 2003
    It's true, the old Strat pickups were a remarkable improvement, but I recently bought a set of p-bass pups from '62 and they're also a very impressive step forward. Every ounce of what I'd hoped for and unlike any other modern pickups I've tried before now. I jumped over to my Lakland, which I've had for many years and love, but it sounded veiled and uninteresting by comparison. Only by comparison -- it's still a fantastic bass -- but I wasn't expecting that to happen.
     

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