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"Different" P basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by michele, Apr 7, 2006.

  1. michele


    Apr 2, 2004
    I was wondering why there aren’t (to my knowledge) many (or any?) custom handcrafted P basses around.
    Let me preface that I’m not talking about Sadowskys, Lulls and Laklands (or CS Fenders) here. I know that those are the basses of reference when people think to “boutique” or “modern” P basses ... but they essentially follow the usual scheme (ash or alder body, bolt-on maple neck, maple or rosewood fingerboard). I’m rather thinking to fully customizable instruments, so, please, don’t chime in just to tell how fantastic sounding are Sadowskys P, or Lulls P or Lakland Glaubs etc ... I already know it. ;)
    I’m trying to talk here about a “different" P bass: think to a custom body shape, or a neck-through or set-neck construction, or a single-cut design, different woods, etc.
    I’m interested in what can add (or subtract) to the “P spirit” what may be called a “significant deviance from the classic formula”.
    Are P-bass players kind of “purists” so they could accept at most an ebony fingerboard? Or the fact is that both custom builders and/or their customers couldn’t concieve an instrument with, for example ... spanish cedar body, burl maple top, 5 piece neck, neck-through construction and ... a single P pickup!!! :eek:
    I want to hear from you about this. Points of view of those luthiers specialized in fully customizable instruments are especially welcome. And if you have an instrument of this sort, well ... show it and talk about it!
  2. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    This is my custom Mahogany burst P-Bass.


    I will be replacing the neck with a Jazz neck...maple with ebony fingerboard, with a veneer and stain matching the body (on the headstock).

    I will be building my own body for it, which will be a cross between a Jazz and a P-Bass body. More like the P-Bass, but with a bit more of the sexier curves of the Jazz. It will be an alder body, but with a quilted or birdseye maple top. The body will also have a gradual curve on the back up to the back of the neck, rather than the square block at the neck pocket. If you look at a P-Bass or Jazz neck, there is a flat area that the body could curve up to.

    Also, the body will have more of a "belly" curve on the back with the body being more ergonomically designed specifically for me. The lower horn will be cut out more as well.

    But I will keep the P-Bass pickups in it because I love the P-Bass sound. I'm going to add a Gotoh 206 bridge to it as well.

    When I'm done, it will be a "custom" P-Bass. Still a Precision...just different than the norm.
  3. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    First understand that not even all P basses sound alike (you know that) my 57 maple board is different from my 68 rosewood. Then there are the ash body 70s ones. I think that any instrument has a sound because of it's wood, shape and construction, change any of those factors and the sound changes, and that doesn't even take into account pickups ect: . I have a Spector neck thru all maple, with a P-bass pickup in it and if you play it sans an amp it responds in a different manner than a bolt neck P with that big body. Maybe there is one out there that nails it ... but I personally have not found it yet. I do know that with active electronics in the right bass and the right eq you can dial in a pretty convincing P vibe but not that last P-bass detail.
  4. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    You got that right. But, even though different P-Basses sound a bit different, they all still have that unique "P-Bass" sound that nothing else really ever quite nails...no matter how "close" they get to it.

    I do believe it has everything to do with the pickups and the placement of them. I think putting P-Bass pickups into just about any other bass (at the P-Bass location) will make it sound more like a P-Bass than anything else will (short of an actual P-Bass that is).
  5. I think that the reason you don't see P pickups in custom basses is because from what i've seen and heard from pbass players, you don't really need all that stuff, because a fender P sounds perfect to them already

    that is not my view though :)

    also from my experiences with custom basses and the P-pickup is that imo, the p pickup doesn't have much of a tonal variety compared to single coils or soapbars, so when you are spending 2K on a bass, you'd want as much variety as you can get out of it

    thats just imo...i'm not trying to start any trouble :)
  6. catwig1


    Mar 4, 2001
    Brighton, UK
  7. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston
    Mike Pedulla offers the MVP Model: maple body/neckthrough/ebony board/bart p/j pups and pre. Not exactly a P-bass.

  8. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I think you nailed the reason perfectly. If someone is spending a small fortune on a custom bass, it almost seems a waste of money to just put P-bass pickups alone in it.

    To me it doesn't, but I can certainly understand the thinking. To me, a P-Bass is perfection. But I do have certain things I like in a body style. And let's face it, a lot of P-Bass lovers make quite a few mods to there Precisions. Things like replacing bridges, pickups, necks, tuning pegs, pickguards, etc. Some of it is functional, as in the case of the bridge. Some of it is purely aesthetics.

    I love the P-Bass sound...but I like Jazz necks now...and I do like the look of a Jazz body. But I hate the sound of a Jazz bass. Making a custom P-Bass makes a lot of sense from my point of view.
  9. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    U.S. Masters. They do 4 string too. Almost bought this one too but changed my mind at the last minute!
  10. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Rick Turner and US Masters both offer some unusual P-inspired basses with single pickups.
  11. michele


    Apr 2, 2004
    Yeah! It's a common feeling when going for a custom to concieve a bass as versatile as possible ... and this doesn't match well with the single P pickup choice. I can certainly understand this but on the other hand I see nothing wrong to love the overall P character and having the desire to discover what some functional modifications could bring. Of course, like you, I believe that the P character come essentially from the pickup and its placement ...
  12. Human Bass

    Human Bass

    Aug 26, 2005
    this german that i found just few minutes ago


    graphite neck with bubinga body...yummi
  13. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I'm having a non-standard custom neck built for a P body I bought recently (no pics because it doesn't exist yet! Still in the shop). I've also been idly considering routing out enough room under the pickguard to install the guts and controls of an Ibanez/Maxon AF9 onboard. :D!!!
  14. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    New York City, NY
    I already have a number of variants to keep my '76 P company, so when the time came for one more I wanted to get something a little different.
    Here's my Warmoth "custom" P bass:
    Dinky P Mahogany body w/5A quilt top, all Macassar Ebony Jazz neck, Fralin reverse P, SD Custom Shop MM (these were the first outboard MM pickups made available on a limited basis), OBP-3 pre @18v, all Schaller hardware. It plays great, sounds killer and fulfills the desire to leave the beaten path.
  15. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    New York City, NY
    Of course, you could always go for one of these:
  16. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Very cool looking P-Bass!!!

    Of course, I would have left the MM pick-up off it :) (jk, I might add one myself one day).

    That's what I'm after with my custom build, though the body will have a bit more of the Jazz curves to it. I'll definitely be reshaping the thick horns down closer to the dinky body...but not quite that far. I love Warmoth stuff!.

    Killer bass!
  17. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    Whoa! That's awesome! I've been wanting to build a P/MM bass for a while. How well do the pickups match up in volume? That's probably one heck of a versatile bass, I would think.

    If you don't mind me asking, how much did it cost you?
  18. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    New York City, NY
    Thanks! When I did this I wanted something a bit different. I kicked around the pickup type choices for a long time before I went with the P/MM. It was a choice of faith too - I never heard a P/MM before. I already have a few double P's along with a P/J and just didn't feel right about going with another J/MM setup. This actually has a pretty "modern" tone and kicks like hell with both on, but you can't go wrong with a Fralin for a more traditional tone if you want it. It gives me lots of options and I'm glad I did it.
    Here's my other Warmoth P:
    Korina body w/Quilt cap, all Bird'seye Jazz neck, EMG P/J's with BTC pre @18v, Badass II and Schaller tuners. More of a traditional shape but with some extra bling in the woods.
  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    My Sadowsky NYC P5 has just the P pickup. It's a slap monster... or would be if I could slap well. I don't regret not getting a J bridge pickup.

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