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Classic pickup locations?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by amper, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    Anybody know off hand, just exactly where, in mathematical terms, the pickups of the classic basses are placed and why?

    What are the locations of the:

    1. Jazz Bass bridge and neck pickups
    2. Precision Bass pickup
    3. Music Man StingRay pickup(s)

    as those positions relate to the scale length or harmonic nodes of the strings? And why did LF (or whoever) choose those locations?

    For example, I measured my single-pickup StingRay, and the pickup seems to be centered somewhere in the area of 30.5" (not exactly, but it was a quick measurement) from the nut on a 34" scale. I would have expected it to fall at a major node, but it doesn't seem to.
  2. You have to remember that the nodes will change as soon as you fret a note. I don't think the pickup placement is so much about a ratio, since that will also change once you fret a note. It's all relative.

    I bet the placement is just a result of trial and error, seeing what sounds good where.
  3. ibz


    Apr 14, 2005
    Columbus, OH
    +1 you can't measure your open string and wonder why it's not on a major node or whatever. The nodes will shift and change since people do fret notes on thier instruments...

    If you used the same reasoning in the first post, then the pickup would have to move as you fret different notes while you're playing. Not sure if that'll ever happen on a bass. ;)
  4. I'm gonna think out loud a bit too...

    When you fret a note, more things change. You're having different ratios of string mass to length, etc...and the pickup placement being relative to the scale also changes. Pretty much, when you play the whole scale of any bass, every note is going to sound different, and that all just goes into the inherent sound of that instrument. That's one of the reasons why a real instrument sounds different than say a sampled MIDI instrument where one note is sampled and then sped up so the same tone is applied to all of the notes in the range.

    To give you a better idea of what I'm talking about, take a keyboard with trumpet sounds and play well below the trumpets actual range. The notes (on cheaper samples) start to have a long "frak" sound before the note sounds. This is because they have taken a note played in the normal range and stretched it out, so that "flub" that you would hear is now 10 times longer!

    Basically I'm saying that all instruments have different sound characteristics based on the strengths/weaknesses they have in producing certain tones. Basses are no exception, and if every note of them actually had the same characteristics, it'd sound much more different.

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