Difference between a guitar pickup and bass pickup

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by LotusCarsLtd52, Feb 22, 2010.

  1. LotusCarsLtd52


    Dec 6, 2009
    What is the difference between a single-coil pickup on a bass and a single-coil pickup on a guitar in terms of materials used in it's construction, wiring, type of magnet used, the way it was constructed, etc. What makes them so different if the technology (seemingly) is the same? Assume a passive instrument, if that matters.
  2. mech

    mech In Memoriam

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    Wire, bobbin material, magnetic materials can all be the same. Main difference is physical size to accomodate string spacing.
  3. whiteP


    Feb 19, 2010
    ive wondered about putting a ''guitar'' humbucker on a pbass - with the pbass pickup. would this add some crunch / od ?
  4. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    I would think "crunch" would come from the post-processing (preamp/effects/poweramp) rather than the pickups themselves. FWIW guitars don't sound crunchy (to me) when clean, so unless you're going to use effects or an overdriven tube amp you'll be disappointed.

    Then again, if you're using effects/tubes then the pbass pickup probably also can sound rather crunchy.
  5. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Putting a guitar 'bucker into a bass might give you crunch and overdrive, but it might not. It depends on how the pickup was designed, and the amp you're plugging it into. A Gibson humbucker can be very very clean and smooth because the crunch and overdrive don't come from the pickup, they're coming from the interaction of the PUP and the amplifier.

    In the case of the original Fender Musicmaster, there was NO difference between the guitar and bass pickups. They were exactly the same part.

  6. Funkinthetrunk

    Funkinthetrunk Registered User Supporting Member


    I've used Carvin single coil Strat pickups in my bass years ago...sounded fine.
  7. GlennW

    GlennW Inactive

    Sep 6, 2006
    I've been delighted with many Strat pickups in a bass, DeArmond gold foils too.

    IME the main to things to avoid (as already mentioned) are:
    1) pickups with pole spacing too narrow for your strings
    2) "hot" pickups, they'll sound muddy on a bass
  8. Agree with the above. Also, it's very possible that the coils would have more turns in order to accommodate the "thunder in the guts" :)

  9. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    True. Also -- one of the most popular replacements for the original Musicmaster bass pu's is the Fast Track 2 Strat replacement pickup from DiMarzio. Those pickups sound nice and fat on a Strat plaeyed through a guitar amp, but smooth as silk on a Musicmaster bass through a bass amp. It ain't in the guitar vs bass pickup - it's usually going to be in the amp and effects.
  10. LotusCarsLtd52


    Dec 6, 2009
    Makes sense. I could see lipstick pickups working, for instance, or other pickups without the individual poles. It would also work for basses with narrow string spacing.
  11. Bassman203


    Mar 29, 2008
    I noticed a while ago my squire has a guitar pickup in it.


    The bass does seem to lack a lot of low end, but I would place the blame on the capacitor, not the spacing of the poles on the pickup.
    Kammy likes this.
  12. Dojix


    May 24, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    I know that the bassist for Avenged Sevenfold has his neck pickup switched out for a guitar pickup, so it's at least something that can sound band-worthy. Because I don't think he'd do it for a gimmick if it didn't sound good.
  13. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    The Bass strings disturb the magnetic fields much more than those skinny guitar strings...
  14. Funkinthetrunk

    Funkinthetrunk Registered User Supporting Member

    I guess you never seen me play guitar. ;)
    MovinTarget and JustForSport like this.