Do pickups make such a great difference?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by flury, May 23, 2004.

  1. flury


    May 21, 2004
    Well Im faced with a decision for my 2nd bass. Ive played both MIA Jazz basses and MIM ones on and off for the past month. I can tell the difference especially since Ive been playing a lower quality bass for awhile now. My question is...
    I could get an american made jazz bass or a mim/mij one and add my own pickups it. I would go with EMG's or Fender Custom '60s. Not sure what to do...any suggestions?
  2. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    Pickups are a very significant factor. I think your situation is a price issue more than anything. Due to the inconsistency of MIM fenders (MIJ's seem to be more reliable), you have to evaluate your situation on a case-by-case basis. If you can find a very well built MIM with a good feel to it for under $300, I think it would be well worth your time ot buy it and swap out the pickups. I have MIM's that felt terrible,a nd others that felt just as nice as an MIA, but lacked the nice electronics. On the other side of the deal is if you can find an MIA for cheap (around $600)- that would probably be better than paying $400-$500 to soup up a MIM.
  3. I agree totally. A good feeling bass can be upgraded to sound good. Different electronics can totally change the sound of a bass.
  4. I recently purchased a Lakland U.S.A. Bob Glaub signature P-bass. This is a great axe - a high-end Precision. This thing plays and sounds incredible. The pickup is a split coil humbucker by Linday Fralin. I would highly reccomend upgrading any bass to one of these fine pickups. check them out... Bruno
  5. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I had a MIM Strat that kicked butt. I put Semour Duncan Pearly Gates, Quater Pounder, and Jazz. Bought the guitar used for 200, put 350 into it with pickups and routing and new pickguard...beter than any MIA Strat with those pickups. But...the original guitar was better than average. Sold it. Bought a bass. Happy now.

  6. MascisMan


    Nov 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    I think someone one said (cant remember who) that a guitars tone is 60% pickups, 30% body wood, and 10% neck wood. I would tend to agree with this statement.

    I have a HWY J-bass and when I replaced the standard pups with DiMarzio Model J's the guitar completely changed (for the better).
  7. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    If you really want a Fender, try to play a Lakland Skyline Joe Osborne, and use that as your reference point. Then look for a Fender that plays that good. The Laklands (I have one) are more consistent than Fender, but I hear that if you look you can find a Fender that is good. Then put the pickups you want in the bass you get. I don't know, talk to guitar/bass techs in your area, maybe they can adjust the bass you get and do a fret dressing.

  8. Corwin81


    Mar 18, 2003
    Ames, IA
    I've got an Essex Jazz that has a good body/neck. The pickups sounded decent stock(I recorded most of my band's CD with it), but just because I'm a tinkerer and love the Warwick sound, I popped a set of MEC pups in. The growl factor went up.
  9. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    More likely, it is 20% neck, 20% strings, 20% electronics and 40% player. :ninja:

    Seriously, electronics have a very important impact to the sound. Much, much , much more than any wood selection!
    If you want to change your sound out of an intstrument, changing strings would be the cheap and simple, yet good, way.
    If that doesn't get you your result, try changing pups.

    Simple, isn't it? :scowl:
  10. De Teng

    De Teng

    Oct 27, 2003
    Utrecht, Holland
    Yeah... of course you're right, the sound depends more on the electronics then the wood itself. And the player... and the neck...and..euh.... :D

    But if one has crappy woods, it has crappy tone... don't forget that.

    (And I know what I'm talking about...I went from an old Aria to a handmade Warwick Streamer Stage II)
  11. MascisMan


    Nov 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    so more like 70% electronics, 20% wood, 10% strings?
  12. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Electronics do have a large effect on the sound, but a good preamp is transparent when flat.

    The best preamp will enhance your sound but isn't going to make a bad bass sound good (over generalisation, it might make it sound good if it had a 'bad' preamp in there previously). So you have to have a good tonal basis to start with. That comes from wood, pickups, playing style, strings etc.

    Having just spent a weekend comparing different pickups in an MIA Precision bass, there's a huge difference in pickup sounds between different brands/models etc. There weren't necessarily in bad ones in there, just some that weren't the sound I was looking for. The tonal difference between, say, the Stock P and the Dimarzio Model P is large.