1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
     
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Dr. DIMENTOS ONGOING P PUP EXPERIMENT

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by luknfur, May 11, 2004.


  1. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    BILL LAWRENCE EB-60 P

    Dual Blade Split P
    Singles coils?
    3 plastic coated leads

    Reading "FLUFF" at the end of the review first will probably help add some context to the review.

    Loaded into an acoutically midrange bass. Output about average. Some hum killed my touching strings. Some finger transfer (primarily on the G string) that had to be worked around on a few tunes by altering technique. Would be a problem regardless if trebles were increased to about 5 or better but that wasn't necessary to play to tunes. Sensitivity to attack, technique, and hand position about average. Average sustain.

    Most frustrating pup I've worked with in a some time. Tried it through most every combination of stuff I've got. Couldn't get mids or top end where I wanted. Struct me as a pretty scooped pup to music. Plenty of low end and airy top with presence - and it worked like a charm to tunes that like that tone, and that was about it. Otherwise it was marginal at best, more frequently annoying, and useless at worse. I thought the presence control on the Sans would be the ticket to get the top under control and that helped but only to a limited degree.

    The strange thing is typically it was pretty sterile, lifeless, and active-like with no rawness about it. But to the tunes it worked for, it was just the opposite. It was as much fun to play to the tunes it worked to as it was misery to play to the tunes it didn't work to. When it worked there were variations of warmth, rawness, and liveliness to tone. Tone tended to sit right in the pocket with a full lower half and top that cut but wasn't airy or bright. Some tunes focus would be a warm, clearly defined mid. Some tunes it was a mix. Pretty unique tone so probably just the ticket for select songs/styles.

    Couldn't get a vintage Fender P tone from it and tried everything I knew. Overall lower frequency, comparatively dull, and the top was either too dull or too airy. I could pretty much get the Fender bottom but not the mids and top. Didn't really have the punch, thump, or thud of a P.

    The pup basically had one sound that either worked to a given tune or didn't. Roughly a little better than average to about 20% of the tunes (mostly southern rock/blues) and that's about it. Volume, sensitivity, tone, cut, and clarity fairly balanced across the strings - no issues of recall at any rate. No controlled fading of strings. No growl or the like to speak of. Some good solo tones. Probably decent for slap but I didn't check it out. I will if I can remember and update.

    Frequency Spread (highest value is 10 and the TB won't allow for the columns to align but they're in sequence and merely need be shifted over)

    Hertz 50 1.2C 4C 5C 8C 4.5K 10K

    1; 8; 3.5; 0; 3.5; 0; 0


    FLUFF:

    Tried different gear combinations but overall results were comparatively similar. This reveiw I used the micro tube amp setup I've been experimenting with. Bass > THD > Micro cab with 8" pioneer audio speaker (31Hz-7kHz). Micro cab was mic'd with a Audix F15 > Art MP > QSC 1450 > GS-112 & L'acoustics DSOT 15" speaker. The review was through the lo-gain/clean channel and produced a dark tone overall with the THD attitude adjustment full cut.

    I later plugged the bass into the hi-gain/lead channel of the THD and set the attitude control to about 6. The result was an upper mid/treble focused (sort of Grateful Dead) frequency mix. Lacked bottom but was pretty appealing to the majority of tunes yet seemed close but never quite there. Tone had a distinct reverb quaility to it. The E string was blatantly thin however with some volume/cut issues on a number of tunes when fingerpicked. Worked very well flatpicked. Good Pink Floyd "Money" or Yes "Roundabout" quality to tone. Very pleasant tones on the D & G strings especially. Real snappy and out front.
     
  2. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    No doubt blaspheme for P purists but I'm a bridge guy and I follow my own interests.

    Due to some recent encounters I've began thinking about trying some P pups in bridge position, while I still have them (and determine which ones if any to jetison).

    At any rate, the initial plan is trying them in both standard Fender and reverse P arragements in the same bass through the same gear with about a half dozen different pups over the next month or so. I know I've installed a P at the bridge a time or two but it's been a while and it's not something I've ever taken a hard look at. What little experimentation I've already done is interesting, definitely different - although I'm not sure how useful. That's something time will tell.

    I'm guessing at least the first post will be long enough without throwing this jargon in with it. So I'm getting it out of the way up front.
     
  3. I'm looking forward to your Reverse P experiments.
     
  4. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    ALEMBIC P w/ALEMBIC PREAMP

    Passive low output pups to my knowledge (greenish tint)
    Preamp: Vol/vol/tone filter (PJ set with J vol full cut)

    Synopsis:

    Definitely different, interesting, and unique sound and control arrangement, and no cakewalk to get tone. The filter control results in a fairly sudden phase-like transition from a very dark tone to a treble tone. Typically, both a bass heavy and treble heavy tone can be obtained that will work to each tune. The bass heavy tone, although it worked for virtually all tunes, it's probably too dark a sound for broad spectrum application by most standards - but it's teasingly appealing regardless with cutting mids that make up the top half of the tone. The treble tone is very woody, Grateful Dead sounding. Definitive high frequency finger/flatpick attack followed by a clearly hollow tone - very reminiscent of a Beatle Bass tone (which a guy once described as sounding like a banjo, which to me it does have that quality flatpicked unplugged).

    This preamp is different, very passive sounding and the filter control blatantly audibly changes the curve and quality of tone in the process. It doesn't just sound like the same thing boost/cut. This Alembic preamp is hi-fi sounding in the sense that tone is quite clear and dead quiet, sound is passive otherwise.

    Pup worked passably to all tunes but I wouldn't say better than passable - more passable with a unique quality.


    Whole Enchilada:

    Loaded into an acoustically midrange bass in standard Fender P position. Plenty of output. Dead quiet. Finger and pick transfer blatant when trebled up but not an issue to tones to tunes. Finger and flatpick transfer complimented tone for the most part. Sensitivity to attack, technique, and hand position above average. Less than average sustain.

    Definitely different, interesting, and unique sound and control arrangement - and no cakewalk to get tone. The filter control results in a fairly sudden phase-like transition from a very dark tone to a treble tone. There is a small window of "midrange" transition but it's probably no more than about 10% of the control travel. So tone was for the most part divided into a dark or top half tone. Typically, both a bass heavy and treble heavy tone can be obtained that will work to each tune. Sometimes a tone will dial in and sync up to each tune not unlike harmonic tuning - drawing in, locking in, and fading in and out as the filter control is adjusted. Unlike harmonic tuning, the sync'ing up is sometimes very definitive, other times shades of gray, and still other times it's more a case of ruling out what doesn't work that what does.

    Strings will typically not be balanced across the board unless the tone is sync'd up. Most often the E would lack comparative clarity and less often either the E or G. There is some controlled string fading as a result but it's not a fading I found of much use as what I've found useful is to be able to fade the E/A or D/G strings in pairs.

    Not a user friendly arrangement as adjustment was required for virtually every tune and it wasn't something I could predict before the tune was running. To complicate matters, small adjustments in the filter are apparent. Even with the tune up and running I was frequently constantly adjusting hand position or the filter trying to get it where I wanted - or seeing if it was as good as it gets. Given that there's typically a bottom half and a top half tone that worked to tunes, I wasn't even clear which way to go unless I zero'd out the filter control at the beginning. When a tune sync'd in, the further out of synch the tone was the less it worked to tune, not much flexibility in terms of variation. If I didn't have 10 hours plus on this setup I'd say I just needed more exposure but I'm not dialing in tone much different now than day one.

    Since there are some interesting tones to be had, perhaps a good setup for studio - where you can play a bit to get it right before taping. There's also some appealing qualities to tone that recording could bring out that pretty much fade into the mix for many of the settings.

    The bass heavy tone is very dark, is just the ticket for some tunes, and although it worked for virtually all tunes it's probably too dark a sound for broad spectrum application by most standards - but it's teasingly appealing regardless with cutting mids that make up the top half of the tone. The treble tone puts out what I can best describe as a "tong" tone - as it basically sounds like pronouncing the word "tong." Very woody, Grateful Dead sounding. Definitive high frequency finger/flatpick attack followed by a clearly hollow tone - very reminiscent of a Beatle Bass tone.

    This preamp is different from any of the onboard Bart, Aguilar, EMG or the outboard Sans DI, MXR M80 stuff I've had. These all effectively boost/cut and typically filter some rawness out of passive pup tone, but I don't here them doing much else with the exception of mid switching. The color switch on the MXR and the presence control on the Sans add a nice spin to that. From recall, the NE-1 parametric EQ was closer to this Alembic (esp. on the high frequency band). The Alembic is very passive sounding and the filter control blatantly audibly changes the curve and quality of tone in the process. It doesn't just sound like the same thing boost/cut. This is more what I expected preamps to do when I first got them and how I'd prefer them designed (especially if tone could be more easily dialed in). Makes me wonder about the Sad pre, another untried arena. This Alembic preamp is hi-fi sounding in the sense that tone is quite clear and dead quiet, sound is passive otherwise.

    All said, I don't hear killer tone in this setup and I'd guess more players would pass than partake. The typical best experience was almost there but not quite. Fun playing it wasn't, thought provoking it was. Definitely some frustration but more in a trying to find sense then totally sucks sense. If I had to have one bass to work through it wouldn't be this setup for sure. However, it is good quality tone that is different and versatile in application, very Bart-like in that respect. It just depends on what you're looking for. It could be the more sophisticated Alembic preamps with the switching or multiple filters would take it to another plain - or make getting similar tone more complex than it already is. Or perhaps the other Alembic pups.

    Quite a bit of useable versatility to tone from the neck to bridge by altering hand position. Tone resulting from use of a flatpick shifted tone from background/blending to out front and enhanced woodiness. These were also more of a locked-in sync'd tone application rather than being able to vary them to put spin on the tune. In other words, it may work to fingerpick a tune at the neck in one spot but it wouldn't work as you moved down the neck - unless you adjusted the filter control too maybe.

    Minimal punch/bulge, growl, etc. Rawness of tone was in terms of woody, hollow, phase-like. Passable "Roundabout" tone (without the burpiness) could be had flatpicked, passable Fender P bass, and didn't sound like a single J per se' but it was passable to those tunes. No solo or slap tone.

    Pup worked passably to all tunes but I wouldn't say better than passable - more passable with a unique quality. Volume, tone, sensitivity, clarity, and cut was a mixed issue - primarily with the E and less so G string as mentioned previously. Not major but definite enough to be annoying and a consistent issue.


    FLUFF:

    I've been thinking about checking out some Alembics for a while so finally took the plunge. Alembic stuff is obscure to me and really had no familiarity previously. This is an Alembic P from an old Activator-like PJ set. For this run I just full cut the J volume and maxed the P volume. The pups are apparently low output passives and have no internal preamp. The preamp to my knowledge is an AE-1 or it's predecessor - two volumes and a filter control. I've played this P for 10 hours at least and ran it through an SS combo, an SS power amp, and a tube head. Response was similar in all cases.

    I'll try a couple of different other approaches when I do a J and PJ run and see if it results in any improvement.
     
  5. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Anyone here used the new Nordstrand P5 yet?
     
  6. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    I think there was a dude that posted a thread about a month ago that used the Nord P5, although it may have been J's. Anyway, he had sound clip links to 3 tunes from a live recording and it was IMPRESSIVE. Top flight product.

    I tried to relocate it myself to check it out again but couldn't find it. One problem with the TB search is it doesn't like short words and single letters like "P" so it kicks out the search.

    You might locate it with a search. Seems the subject of the thread was something like: Tried the new Nordstrand P5.

    You'll know the link cause the page is red and has this hot blonde in the top left corner that I assume was the lead vocalist.
     
  7. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Found it, thanks.
    I'm gonna go the Nordstrand route fershure.
    NP5 at the neck, Fat Stack at the bridge.
    Warmoth takes 6 weeks to cut a dang body though, so it'll be a while....
     
  8. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    80's SEYMOUR DUNCAN 1/4 POUND P

    Split Single coil P Reverse Fender Arrangement
    P location
    1/4" bi-poles Alnico 5 Mags
    2 plastic insulated leads

    Loaded into an acoustically midrange bass. Output average (correction: above averge. Had the volume partially cut during the volume check). Some hum killed by touching strings. Finger/pick transfer minimal and on the appealing side when it was present - unless trebled up which wasn't done to tunes. Worked well to finger and flatpick. Sensitivity to attack, technique, and position above average. Less than average sustain.

    Probably the most appealing P pup I've run across to date. Typical P qualities but without the airy undefined aspect to tone which has probably been my primary issue with a P pup. No problem getting a nice solid, punchie, fat P tone you could feel. The darker the more rounded the tones and got pretty J like when trebled up. Kind of luke warm tone overall. Pretty flexible tonewise. I could get a bottom, mid, or top focus tone to work to each tune more or less. Could go dark, more thin than bright really but comparatively J toned, and thick. All the bass and mids I could use and adequate top that was not harsh. Add in tone variation from mixes of attack, technique, and hand position and the tone plate was pretty full.

    Basically the tones were there to be had. Not a plug a play pup out of the box though. A little tweaking could make a big difference but some major adjustment swings were not infrequent. Bottom line I was always tweaking controls. I tried running it straight to the jack, through volume/tone-cap onboard, and the Victor Bailey (VB) pre outboard. Basically the more controls I ran it through the better tones I could get with it but the harder they were to find. Running into the VB put an active synthetic spin on tone but was required to get a good fat bulge going and rawness otherwise, definitely a plus. Passively I didn't get any rawness to speak of anyway. I'm guessing with more experience a focal tone could be obtained and minimal tweaking around that would work to a variety tunes without all the jumping around.

    Some controlled fading of strings but not that I used to tunes. Tone could be thinned to the point of transparency (as in no cut). Tweaking on a number of occassions was actually to get rid of the fading and get tonal definition, primarily top half and less often bottom half.

    Got some nice rawness in terms of fat bulge in the low end, some appealing midrange nuances in string grazing and a hard edge, some woody percussive quality in the top half as well as some appealing finger/pick transfer and fretting nuances. Pants blowing punch and a peculiar treble presence punch from attack that's a first in my recall. Also a strange midrange tone that was like a lower frequency dull woodiness. Pretty minimal growl.

    Pup worked to all tunes passably, better than average to roughly 50% and probably 25% of those the pup excelled at. Worked to P and J tunes. Close to nailing the Fender vintage P track. Volume, tone, sensitivity, clarity, and cut balanced across the board for tone to tune. No solo tones noted but worked well to brief "in tune" solo's in tunes. Interesting darker slap tone.

    FLUFF:

    This is an older pup without the bottom spacer, just exposed slugs like an early MM. In fact I didn't know what it was when I bought it and about the time DavidRavenMoon ID'd it I ran across a cross-section of one.

    Bass with volume/tone .0475 cap > Victor Bailey Pre outboard > Art MP tube Mic > QSC parallell mode > pair of Aguilar GS 112's.

    Nothing quite sounds like a P pup live. Up to this point I would have said (tongue in cheek) and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But I've heard quality recorded P tone (most live tone sucks P or not) so I've kept plugging away over time and it looks like I'm getting there. I have played a lot of P lately and I will probably eventually get back around to the bridge P experiment mentioned previoulsy. It's not like I haven't put the time in. The time has been spent trying to get a tone out of one I could enjoy playing. In the process I've pretty much drawn conclusions about the P placement issue but that's about it.
     
  9. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    80's SEYMOUR DUNCAN 1/4 POUND P (Bridge Position)

    Split Single coil P (Fender Arrangement)

    Ran this pup in the bridge position and it was pretty decent. Ran through same gear as in the previous review. Still sounded like a P. Retained the fat bottom, general rawness overall, and top half had a nice J like edge to it. No problem cutting. Overall was noticeably brighter but especially the top half. Only real issue was the D & G strings being consistently thin and apparently lower in volume at times, nothing major and seldom problematic - more irritating than anything. String balance was therefore thrown off and noticably heavier on the E & A strings.

    Much more adaptable to tunes with a lot less adjustment required. Much more user friendly. More growl. I basically had the tone control on the bass either full cut or not far removed throughout the run.

    Pretty much nailed the Vintage Fender P track and had a good slap tone. No problem getting it deep and dark enough for Reggae. Worked well to finger and flatpick. Noitceably more sensitive all around to attack, technique, and hand position. Fingertransfer was definitely apparent, borderline appealing, but not a signficant issue. Pick transfer was appealing and could practically be negated altogether with a medium pick instead of thin. Sustain was noticeably improved and about average.

    FLUFF:

    Unlike the previous review, these were mounted Fender arragement. Therefore the difference in distance for the treble pup was 3 times the pup width whereas the bass pup was a little more than one width removed. They were also considerably lower height adjustment this run as I didn't have long enough screws to raise them higher (long story), more so on the bass pup than treble as it's inherently further from the strings by virtue of location.
     
  10. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Interesting..... I always considered the quarter pounders to be high output but you just found them average.

    Gary at EA has always said that my basses have low output. Given that the quarter pounder equiped bass had the highest output it looks like he was right again.
     
  11. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    Actually that's so. I'd forgot about the routine volume check until afterthefact and I later realized that I'd had the volume down on the bass some. In messing with these P pups I've invariably had the volume cranked but apparently I turned it down during that run at some point. I hadn't been back into this thread to correct it since the realization.

    Normally I would have thought something was wrong right off but I recently had an experience that clearly demonstrated there's not always a direct postive correlation between DC resistance and output, although true as a general rule.
     
  12. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    SEYMOUR DUNCAN 1/4 POUNDER (Mid position)

    Fender arrangement mid position (the E/A half located at the normal Fender D/G distance)

    Not to minimze the pup, but I ran this through the Victor Bailey (VB) pre in outboard form and that can't be minimized. Since this is not a review on the pre, I've split much of the VB comments out and added it to what I've already written about it in Dimento's "onboard" preamp experiment in the FAQ thread. I've left enough of it to get the jist of the experience. I'll run the pup without it later and add in the results to this post, assuming they won't amount to much which is what I expect.

    Finally after a couple months of steady application (and a couple years of intermittant application) I've hit a P combo that's a joy to play to all the tunes, at least in this bass with this pup with this rigging. Works like a charm (in terms of getting tone anyway) off center detent eq, whether that's flat on the VB unit I have no idea.

    Same bass. Output better than average. Little hum (but not much) killed by touching strings. Finger/pick transfer of consequence was appealing. Sensitivity: better than average to attack; overall less than average to hand postition fingerstyle (better than average to cleaner brighter tones) but average or better to flatpick; sensitivity better than average to technique. Very interesting and appealing kind of punch like presence to finger attack at times. Sustain better than average.

    Quality vintage Fender P tone with minor variations in adjustment and works equally well to J tunes. Except for maybe Reggae, I doubt any of the controls move more than an 1/8 of a turn of the knob off the detent when I get the adjustment right. Since the bands interact, if I cut more than that, I just have to cut the others to match. Even so it's not the same cause the curves are different. Amazing array of subtle variations that make a signficant difference in tone. Sometimes using the same tone to the following tune will be so far off it sounds out of tune. Other times it works well with no problem. Other times it works but is different just not the tone in the recorded tune. That can be anything from an appealing variation to marginal to on the weird side. Seems like 90% of the time some adjustment was required.

    Unfortunately, still way too much tweaking of controls. The only real downside actually. Given the versatility of the nuances in tone, a joy to play regardless cause the tone is actually worth the search for once. Fat/thin, airy/clear, hard/soft, warm/mellow/cool, clean/dirty, round/fuzzy, decent growl, plenty of punch/bulge, percussive, woodie, appealing finger and pick transfer, good slap tone, that come to mind. A myriad of other nuances in rawness in terms of overdriven tone, variable edge/bite, harmonics, string graze, etc. Just depends on how control's are set, how it's played, and the tune played to. Ample bass, mids, and treble.

    Volume, tone, sensitivity, clarity, and cut even across the board for tone to tune. Strings could be faded almost independently: usefully in pairs or the E or G alone, even the A and especially the D string fading at times was of use in the sense of adding or substracting some bite. The E/A was again out of balance strong. Lowering the pup height there a bit resolved that.

    In conjuncton with the rigging, the pup excelled to 100% of the tunes. Can you get any tone imagineable from it, of course not. It's just a veratile quality pro sound with countless variations that can be played to a broad range of styles.


    FLUFF:

    Bass (pup straight to jack)> VB> Art MP tube mic pre> QSC parallel mode> pair of Aquilar GS 112's.

    This is among the best playing experiences I've had with a pup to date in terms of tone. Kind of weird cause it's a simple tone the bass player in a band I was in had and I've never been able to cop it. He had a Fender bass and Fender combo amp but I don't remember if it was a P or J bass or which amp model it was. What I remember is the tone. What I'm getting is a lot more complex cause he was a plug and play one tone fits all kind of player. But it's the same basic sound.

    Tonewise a monster and would be a great studio bass in that sense. Live it would probably be nightmare short of playing sets of a given style. More experience will likely make the process more predictable but adjustments would be required regardless.

    Addendum:

    I ran the pup less the VB through the same setup with v/t .0475 cap in the bass. Actually the Art MP does a lot for the throwing swell and overdrive into the tone. Anyway, same basic tone qualities are there, the controls were just too minimal to get where I wanted to go. I only played through about a fourth of the tunes and it was marginally passable overall. The passive aspect was nice. The pup really is sensitive to fine tuning and that was apparent having just the tone control to work with. So changing variables (strings, bass, etc.) is probably going to show a lot more than with most pups in my experience.
     
  13. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    I agree with most of your assessment of the Quarter Pounder. I have had one in my 70s Precision for many years, first passively and for the last 5 years or so with the Raven Labs onboard P preamp. I use Thomastic flatwounds and a slight bit of foam muting and I love the sound. I go for the old 60s recorded P bass sound that the studio players got and it certainly nails that, live or recorded.

    I've also used it with various roundwound strings and it's quite versatile with them too, just not the sound I like.

    The Raven Labs preamp seems to me to be very neutral, and doesn't colour the sound in a bad way. Just a bit more clarity on the top end and of course, the ability to drive long cable runs without loss. It seems to add a little bit of life to the sound when recording. It's too bad they are not in production anymore.

    The Quarter Pounder is my favourite replacement pickup for a P type bass.
     
  14. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    EFFECT OF LOCATION/ARRANGEMENT ON SPLIT P PUP TONE

    Not an easy read but wasn't an easy write.

    Synopsis:

    The bottom line is there's no magic formulae, it's basic understanding, common sense, and trial and error. For a given pup itself, fundamentally you have 3 controls (location, arrangement, height) to alter 3 factors (volume, clarity, brightness) to obtain the desired tone. In an ideal world, different P's would require different placements and different arrangements for different players. To throw a route down in a given location with a specific P pup in mind is pretty much a shot in the dark. In a nutshell, that's my conclusion from this experiment.

    Whole Shpiele:

    For me using pups is a combination of research, understanding some basics, common sense, and mostly trial and error. A little understanding of the technical side but I don't make them I just use them. In the end the ear is the judge, jury, and hangman.

    Turns out this is not rocket science and was more of a refresher than a surprise to me. I routinely stick pups in their standard position cause that's where manufacturers install them and everybody plays them. Early on I moved pups around a lot and after some early basic observations and conclusions; I've since actually moved pups around very little. I vaguely recall pups that sucked, sucked no matter where they were stuck. Also seems that, in general, there was variation but no particular "sweet spot" per se' with most pups - but there were definitely exceptions to that. Or maybe it was having the right pre that was the missing link cause passively this experience was still less than impressive. Whatever, it seems like something's changed and I'm not just covering the same ground again and relearning what I'd forgot.

    First a few basics and mention that this has been a look at placement of a single P pup, not pairs or mixes. By location I mean bridge to neck. By arrangement I mean the standard Fender relationship with bass half to neck and treble half to bridge, or the reverse. All pups have different tonal qualities, P's are no different. The difference between some pups (of like shape) is splitting hairs while between others it's splitting heads. In general, the further the same pup is moved up from the bridge to the neck the darker, less clear, and louder tone becomes. For me, I know I can tell a difference in tone in the same pup moved 3/4" (a J pup width). It's more obvious at the bridge than at the neck location because it's easier to distinguish bright clear frequencies than dark dirty ones.

    The unusual design of a split P pup makes the difference between halves roughly a distance of 1 1/8" center to center. For perspective, it's farther apart than slugs between coils in a Ray pup. In addition they're construction uniquely sends a single signal that reads different portions of different strings. We take it for granted since they've been around forever but it's actually a pretty radical design. Even though they combine to make one complete pup, they are what they look like - two of the same pups in different locations reading different strings but combining output into a single signal. You can look at a split P as two single coils that form a staggered humbucker or a staggered humbucker made in two halves.

    Due to the staggered arrangement, it's not uncommon for the halves to be in conflict. There have been numerous posts regarding a reverse P arrangement creating a more even response because it evens out the frequency spread, shifting the bass half down (brighter/clearer) while moving the treble half up (darker/less clear). Whereas the typical Fender arrangement accentuates the spread giving both more bass AND more treble response for a given location. Although both are so, aside from a myriad of other variables that factor in, what neither arrangement takes into consideration is the tonal qualities of the specific pup at hand. It makes a big difference if a pup has a pronounced airy quality to it or is more inclined toward defined tones.

    There's a specific example listed under FLUFF for those who like to read stuff like technical journals. Probably totally confusing to anyone else. The bottom line is there's no magic formulae, it's basic understanding, common sense, and trial and error. In an ideal world, different P's would require different placements and different arrangements for different players. To throw a route down in a given location with a specific P pup in mind is pretty much a shot in the dark. And that's really it in a nutshell.

    So simplistically speaking and in accord with the preceding, if the pup half was too bright, I moved it up the neck; if it lacked clarity, moved it toward the bridge, etc.. Of course there's some trade offs between balancing clarity, darkness, and volume but, if the pup has the tone, all factors can usually work in harmony.

    The sweet spot. Everybody's heard of the sweet spot and many have read the Yay's and Nay's, like that it changes with every fret change. Technically that may be a fact but, unless there's some kind of EQ machine out there I'm not aware of, if this little endeavor has clearly demonstrated anything, it's reminded me that there is definitely a specific location that I prefer SOME pups to be and that location works all the way up the fingerboard. Can a pup work fine elsewhere, of course. Can a pup suck in one spot and work well in another, yep. Can some location make any pup work, not in my experience.

    Another aspect of placement to keep in mind is pup height. Volume, brightness, and clarity can partially be compensated for with height adjustment as doubling the distance of the poles from the strings decreases bass response (therefore sounding brighter) and decreases volume by about 60% (Bill Lawrence). To me it also loses some punch, bite, clarity, rawness, edge and response to attack in the process becoming more mellow sounding (unless they're high to the point of distortion to begin with). You can vary volume, clarity, and darkness some without changing location or arrangement at all as well as use height in conjunction with location and arrangement. It's not uncommon to see Fender P's pitching a tent (high in the center low perimeter) as a result of the effect of pup height on tone and output.

    FLUFF:

    I've tried to implement a variety of approaches to pull this off. Basically, I've been practicing with nothing but P since November. I've done more swapping around and trials than I can count. I had some notes printed up in an email but they were dropped long ago. I didn't expected a cakewalk but hadn't planned on it taking this long.

    This is primarily a comparison of the same P to itself in different positions in the same bass, same rigging, played to the same music then the same done with the another pup. This is just one example to demonstrate the process.

    The SD 1/4 pounder is overall a darker pup than the Fender '59 Custom Shop (CS). Although I preferred a mid location for both pups, I chose a reverse P for the brighter CS and the Fender arrangement for the darker SD. The CS lacked definition/harmonics on the bass half till it was moved so far toward the bridge (clearer) and tended to be comparatively too bright, clear, and loud on the treble side till it was moved so far away from the bridge (darker/clearer/louder). Keep in mind that even though the pup becomes louder as moved up the neck, darker tones are not as apparently loud as bright so there is a counterbalancing affect in that respect. So a reverse P arrangement brought it's qualities into balance by adding definition to bass and taking the edge off trebles.

    The SD was quite consistent in quality of response on the bass half regardless of location but the treble half was inclined to be comparatively muted, dull, and lack clarity, bite, and cut till it was moved so far away from the bridge. Moving the bass half up didn't adversely affect bass tone but moving the treble half back did increase brightness, clarity, cut, and liven the tone up - which brought it's qualities into balance. So the Fender arrangement worked well for it. I used all 3 locations and both arrangements on both pups and those settled on were unquestionably the preferred setup all else equal.

    In general, mid position (P half width moved toward the bridge from standard) works well for me with split P's cause my main issue with them has been lack of definition but bridge placement is overkill and quells too much of the basic qualities that make a P what it is. Moving it back a little gets the definition I want without the overall quality being noticeably different from what P's normally vary from one P to another in standard position.
     
  15. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    REVERAND 10K SPLIT P

    2 lead ceramic mag exposes bi-poles

    Loaded into an acoustically dark bass. Loaded in standard position in reverse Fender format. Output better than average. No hum. No finger transfer of consequence. Some pic transfer - which I wanted. Too thin sounding with a thin pic and had to brighten tone up a bit to get it pronounced enough using a medium pic, but worked fine. Worked well to finger and flatpic. Sensitivity to attack, technique, and position little below average on this thudder bass. Sustain little below average as well.

    Pretty flexible P tone. Plenty of Bass, midrange, andadequate treble. Noticeably warmer than most P's I've played. Almost indistinguishable from the vintage Fender P track. No problem brightening it up to J tunes. With the VB (Victor Bailey) preamp (pups were ran straight to the jack, no onboard controls), emphasis on tone could be shifted from coming out beneath the tune, to blending in, to punching through it, to coming over the top. No problem fading strings as desired and thinning or fattening up tones. Noticed I'd like more punch on the E string on occassion but not to the point of being a problem. Little bit of an issue getting the definition I wanted at times but typically could pull it off. Lots of tweaking overall but I've never had much luck otherwise with P pups - often not even with tweaking. The VB I'm guessing makes it even worse. I've basically only used the VB with P pups so whether that's it's nature as well is yet to be determined.

    Not much rawness or growl. Pup worked passably to all tunes. Better than average to about 90% and excelled to a small percentage of those, 10/15% ballpark. Volume, tone,
    sensitivity, cut, and clarity fairly balanced across the board for tone to tune except as addressed previously. Real tough pup to beat for the price and then some. Definitely a best buy in a P to date.


    FLUFF:

    Bass > VB Preamp in outboard form > Art MP tube mic preamp > QSC 1450 in parallel mode > pair of Aguilar GS112's.

    Few weeks back bought the 8.7 and 10K Reverand pups. I stuck the 10K's in an acoustically midrange bass first, moved them around some, couldn't get anything I was satisfied with. My first impression was they had a nice upper mid
    warmth, following the Fender Dirnt P and SD 1/4 pounder which I had been playing. But I got used to it quickly and could get the pup to work but was just okay. So I pulled it and stuck the 8.7K's in. Dinked with them a bit then was
    off to other tangents. Yesterday I pulled the Alembic stuff out of the acoustically dark bass that has been sitting idle waiting on some connectors for those pups/preamp. Stuck the 10K Reverand in it. Not so airy, more thudder, not
    too bad.

    Long story but apparently I can't get back in to edit the 1st post in this thread so any pups from this point on won't be in that original list. Also lost interest in the P's for a while (wrote this up month or more ago) so maybe I'll get back to the 8.7 and others for a review later.

    *Note: Reverend 8.7K
    Picked up and ran this pup as well but not different enough for a seperate review really. It's noticeably clearer and brighter than the 10K Reverend. Similar to the SD 1/4 pounder but not as thick. This was the standard pup Reverend stuck in their basses.
     
  16. I am seeking more info on Piezo bridges, has any one out ther got one on board??? I was given a vintage P-Bass body I am making a project out of but I really want to have 2 pups on it as oposed to 1 without doing any routing.... ( I already own a 57 P) any suggestions??? Thanks...Capt. Kirk
     
  17. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    Lane Poor Split P
    Two lead w/ground passive
    Hard wired parallel
    Epoxy potted


    Synopsis


    Basically a refined, lukewarm, balanced frequency pup with an extended top end that could go bright beyond need. Not much rawness, pretty clean tone. Got some very good tones from it but they were not easy to come by (see Fluff). Finger and pick transfer was unappealing and problematic at all but darker settings. String balance was a recurring issue with the A & D strings dropping out and the E and G strings being pronounced (especially the G) - even with the common tent-shape P adjustment.


    Whole Enchilada

    Installed in an acoustically bright bass, reverse split P arrangement, typical P location, wired straight to the jack (no onboard controls). Output significantly below average (DCR a tad below 3K FWIW). No hum of consequence unless trebled up and that was killed by touching strings. Sensitivity to attack, technique, and hand position better than average. Worked well to fingerpick and to a lesser degree to flatpick. Finger/flatpick transfer was noticeably problematic except at darker settings - very pronounced at brighter settings and none of it appealing. Sustain better than average overall.

    Tones obtained could vary dramatically depending on the amp/settings. There was no lack in bass, mids, or treble; they tended to be clear and rounded; and they all could be varied significantly through amp controls. The treble range stood out due to the finger/pick transfer issue as well as because it was quite extended - could go bright beyond desire (could be a challenge to control). It was quite clear and could be borderline hard in nature as opposed to the more typically melodic LP top end I‘m accustom to. The pup overall could go dark to bright or dull to clear. It was inclined to be noticeably refined, minimal rawness, and lukewarm.

    The rawness that did present was in the nature of punch, percussive/woody, little tubey (as in phase-like not vacuum), marginally melodic, and slight growl. After a lot more time than I’d typically expend, I pretty much copped the ‘65 vintage Fender P track. Also the first P pup I ever got a good jazz tone from. Massive subwoofer-like tone that worked to a broad range of styles and was fun to play (actually the setting I used for a Villex J/MM setup but the LP had a brightness/airyness to it that made for a better McCartney Come Together tone). Also got what was probably my best URB tone from a solidbody electric to date (not using some modeling/effect).

    Difficult to judge (see Fluff) but ballpark I’d say it played passably to 60%, better than average to 25%, and split the remaining 15% between below average and excelled. No solo tones noted.

    A few issues of note.

    Aside from finger/pick transfer, another issue was string balance. The E and G tended to be significantly louder than the A & D strings which could drop out big time depending on the settings and tune - even with the common tent-shape split P pup adjustment. In as much it threw off tone, clarity, cut, and sensitivity as well. I was able to tone down the E for the most part but the G was an issue more than not. In fact part of one screw tower is chipped out and that could have resulted from someone attempting to pitch the pup beyond limits (and probably kept me from doing as much).

    Finding useable tone was no walk in the park and took lots of tweaking (see Fluff). However once a tone was obtained it didn’t require a lot of tweaking to individual tunes and worked to a broad range of styles.

    One last issue that goes without saying for all LP’s - the overkill leads are about like steel pipe. In fact I didn’t have to prop the pups up with anything - the leads alone supported them firmly in place. I’m just glad the pups didn’t need to go any lower (G string excepting).

    Fluff

    Signal Chain: Bass > Roland D-bass 210 with a Roland Bass Cube 30 ran through it’s effects loop.

    This is the first pup review using this amp setup. I’ve played pups I’m familiar with plenty through it without issue but a new pup is always uncharted territory. There’s so much flexibility in the amp setup that I can’t accurately assess whether the pup is the source if I have a hard time pulling a tone from it - or for that matter whether the amp isn‘t the dominant factor in a given tone. Fact is, it throws a monkey wrench into the whole review process. But I had the pup in hand so thought I’d pass the experience along as it may be of use to someone at some point.

    This pup and a Q tuner were loaners courtesy of WarriorJoe7 whom I thank for the experience (maybe he’ll pipe in with his experiences with the P). The Q I was interested in and the LP he sent along to help remedy this P impairment I seem to be afflicted with. I don’t play P’s as a result and this is in fact the first one I’ve ran through this amp setup. Not bad and it’s raised a curiosity to try some others through it. It could be this amp will allow me to expand away from a bridge only setup in general.

    Another thing I don’t use is onboard preamps. I have a few mounted in boxes for outboard use (primarily for use in reviews) but they sit in a drawer otherwise. Since pup reviews have been sparse for sometime, I totally forgot about trying one with this pup - and the Q for that matter.
     

Share This Page