EMGs or passive pups? I really can't decide..

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Andy Daventry, Dec 17, 2001.

  1. I have a PJ'ed fretless Yamaha BB1200. The P is the stock pickup, the J a Shadow.

    I quite like the Shadow. It's punchy and has sufficient bite. But the stock P pup is not so good. Bass deficient, over smooth and totally un P-like.

    I have narrowed down the options to changing the P for a Fender pickup (Fender make the best passive P bass pups IMO) or scrapping it all and going for an EMG PJ set.

    Now, I really go for the Fender P sound. But on fretted basses. The Fender P has a tendency to indistinctness on fretless basses. But, on the other hand, does the EMG P pickup have the rich texture of sound you get out of a Fender P, and does the EMG J pup have aggressive bite?

    The only active PJ set I have experience of is the Seymour Duncan one, and that is MUCH to clinical for my taste.

    I want a P sound like a 20 year old single malt whisky and a J sound that has a bit of growl and bite to it.

    Cam anyone help here?
  2. Oh, and one more thing..I HATE mellow sounding basses. I want a bit of balls to the thing!
  3. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    i love the fender pickups too. you could try a '62 precision pickup. if i were you i'd go that way.
  4. Hello again, Andy. Sounds like you would be better off with a passive P. Here is something to keep in mind. Although you like the Fender P sound, you don't have a P. You have a neckthrough with a HUGE maple and mahogany tone block set in that alder. The stock Yamaha pickup reflects the strong, bright mids of that wood.

    While the EMG P sounds wonderful to me (full spectrum tone, good definition on the 1200 fretless), it also reflects the inherent qualities of the bass. And the EMG J on my fretted 3000 doesn't growl like a single coil, but it is useful for adding bite.

    I've been emailing off list with another TB'er about replacing the P in a 1200s (I've got a stock one of those, fretted). I'd advise looking at the tone chart at Seymore Duncan (Basslines) and Bartolini and make a decision from there. BTW, Fralin also makes a P in three different windings but won't answer email questions, only phone. I'm leaning towards a Bart "dark" model, but your "balls" comment leads me to believe you would like the SD quarter pounder. I've read lots of raves along those lines about it. Good luck!

    see tagline for the disclaimer
  5. Joe,

    Thanks for your answer...

    This is exactly the sort of reply I need...an intelligent description of a guy's own experience with the gear! I have been playing long enough, and have enough imagination, to put your info into my context! Thanks again.

    I know that I won't get a P sound out of a 1200s. It's not a bolt on alder/maple bass! The sound is middy, and there is a lower mid openness in the bass that I want to bring out.

    I really can't decide. I have never seen a satisfactory passive PJ set up, so I think by taking that road I would be limiting myself to using it either P or J....not run together. An advantage of the EMGs is that I would get much more tonal variation.

    Sadowsky claims that his preamp warms up EMGs, and I guess gives them a woodier, more natural sound. I use Sadowsky preamps already.

    I don't like high output P pups....when I had a P bass, I used to run it with the volume turned slightly down as it gave a sweeter sound. I mean I like a ballsy sound, but not an uncontrolled ballsy sound. Sweet AND ballsy, if you see what I mean.

    I want definition in the bass and lower mids. I don't want mud and boom.

    I think I'll leave it for another few weeks and see how I feel....
  6. With the emg P pickup I get a defined, dark tone in the low bass notes (low E up to D). The fundamentals are so strong that it almost sounds a little transparent. The mids slowly fill the sound up so that by the time you get to the second G (98hz) there's a sweet honk to the tone. This continues on up to around the next octave G.

    Rolling on the J pickup (with the P) seems to compress the sound a bit, giving the lows a little more cut and the mids an edge.

    If you can wait a couple of weeks, I'll find the time to paste together some different sounds into an mpg for you.
  7. Thank you. That would be very useful.
  8. I'd like a copy of the MPG also, please.
  9. KeithPas


    May 16, 2000
    Hi Andy
    I have recently owned two Yamaha fretless basses, a BB5000 and a BB1200s. I really liked the bridge position J style pick up sound and I would use that about all the way up and I would dial in a little bit of the P pick up for fullness and botttom. I think that a Lindy Fralin or an Aero PJ set would give you what you are looking for. Good luck and Merry Xmas

    I sold them both because I loathe 60 cycle hum. The tone was happening though.
  10. If you want balls then it's hard to beat the EMGs. Perhaps you should include the EMG BTS or an Aguilar OBP-1 preamp with the pickups for more flexibility.
  11. Oh yeah, you mentioned you have a Sadowsky preamp. I assume it's the outboard preamp.