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difference between 4 and 5 string pups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by HotRoded, Feb 23, 2005.

  1. HotRoded


    Jun 6, 2003
    I have a Fender 5 string MIA standard jazz with the original passive pups.

    When I go to the shop and try a 4 string MIA on the same amp than mine, it seems to me that it sounds better, and I get a much better agressive growl than with my 5.

    Unfortunatelly, they don't have a 5 string I could compare with, so I don't play one right after the other, and don't play them in the same environment.

    Is it me, or is there a noticable difference?
    If there is one, I suspect would come from the pickups, since it is the main difference between the 2 basses.
  2. King David

    King David

    Dec 13, 1999
    I think it could be a variety of things. The string tension could be a little less on the 5. I did not like the floppieness of the Fender 5s. It could be the neck mass, bridge differences, string maker, eq/bass settings, or some other slight vatiations.

    You could be on to something with the pickups too. Since the pickup is wider, the windings would have to be longer. There may be something with the magenetic fields or even the pickups could be made slightly different.

    I guess you would think they would sound the same, but there could be several small variables that add up to a different tone.
  3. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    The variations in the acoustic tone of the bass alone could be dramatic, let alone a myriad of other factors. Seems manufacturer tolerance within identical pups is either +/- .05 or .5, can't remember off hand but it's definetly not identical. I'm inclined to think an identical pup made in 4 or 5 string version would not produce a variation in tone of any significance as a result of that variable alone.

    Four identical models rolled off the assembly line in sequence will all sound different. Different makes of basses can sound more alike than "identical" models of the same bass. In essence, basses are no more alike than the people that play them.
  4. HotRoded


    Jun 6, 2003
    Thanks for your inputs.

    I understand what you mean, and that there can be many factors.
    But I have that feeling everytime I grab any 4 string MIA J, not always the same one.
  5. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Yea, when you are talking the difference between two different models of bass, the pickups are only one of the many difference. This is not to say that you won't be able to get more growl from the 5, but there may be a fair amount of trial and error to find the magic combination.

    The wood and construction of the 5-string will have an impact. Unfortunately, short of selling the bass and buying a new one, you can't change this aspect of the bass. There are two things you can do:

    1. New strings. Different strings have different tonal characteristics. There is probably a set of strings out there that will give you a more aggressive sound.

    2. New pickups. Different makes and models of pickups have different tonal characteristics. The two pickups that I have heard that are fairly aggressive are Duncan hot pickups and Aero pickups.