Fender/Duncan SPB-1/A. Pribora - P. Bass split-coil comparison

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by EmaTheMirror, Apr 12, 2019.

  1. Fender stock

    3 vote(s)
  2. SPB-1

    4 vote(s)
  3. Pribora, P. Bass Traditional

    6 vote(s)
  1. Recently I've recorded a few samples of the split pickups I currently have trying to keep everything but the pickup as close as possible, just to highlight the difference (almost) purely due to the magnets.

    I used a Classic 50s precision, tone and volume full on, same strings, pickups as close as possible to the same height and recorded within minutes from one another, literally solder the wires -> record -> change -> record and so on. The main differences lie on the pickups and my fingers - being human.

    The three pickups are:
    1) Fender stock pickups for Classic 50s series - the same found on pre-2012 Am. Standard basses
    2) Duncan SPB-1
    3) Alexander Pribora, P. Bass Traditional (scatter wound)

    I'm also posting this since A. Pribora is a small-scale producer based in Moscow, Russia, who is starting to gain a good reputation for his Strat and Tele hand wound replacements which he sells for a steal on eBay and his website, but is still relatively quite unknown and IMO deserves some credit.

    All pickups are made with Alnico V magnets and lean towards vintage specs, so differences are not as stark as over wound/ceramics/active and so on.
    The SPB-1 is of all the only one using plain enamel wire and has to my ears a smoother tone with a narrower range on the highs and lows. Pribora uses formvar and scatter wounds, and his pickup has a great clarity and definition on a broader range, still maintaining a good degree of warmth. On paper his specs are very similar to boutique builders like Fralin, and those are the sonic qualities people usually use to describe them, warm yet very defined and not shy in the mid-highs. Personally, I've never tried Fralin pickups so I can't confirm or say any further.

    I'd like to know your opinions based on the samples, keeping in mind that (at least in my experience) the differences become more apparent at louder "real" practice/stage volumes:

    This is the same clip virtually re-amped with Amplitube's Ampeg SVT CL + 8x10 model and some compression afterwards:

    I hope this is useful.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
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  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    From what I hear the Pribora is in the same ballpark as the standard wind Fralin. I like it.
  3. Glad to hear that, as I've never tried them. I've never doubted about Pribora's magnets since I installed them the first time.

    I know it's all speculation from recorded clips passing through You Tube's compression, but nevertheless it's still something.
  4. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Sound pretty good on Pribora, beefy and a bit high output.

    But, I found the stock fender pup are better tone balance from E to G which great for Amp EQ tweak. Especially for Flatwound string player, the Pribora pup could sound too boomy and muddy tone on E and A string. If reduce the Amp bass knob for clearer E and A, I believe the D and G sound will become thin and weak.

    That's why my Fralin P are -5% wound.

    My2 cents
    Isotonic likes this.
  5. Thanks for the reply.

    The string volume balance in a split P is easily dependant on (and manageable with) coil height on each side. Pribora's magnet bars are a bit longer, or at least they tend to stick out of the cover a bit, so there might have also been a tiny discrepancy with the other pickups - ie. the bass side might have been a tad higher.
    Or it might've been the same and that's because of the pickup's intrinsic range, in fact I've lowered the bass side a tad more since the demos for the reason you mentioned. Good observation though.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  6. MurphyWang


    Apr 14, 2019
    Your records are awesome bro!
    It's exactly how they sound!
  7. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    They all sound like good P bass pickups to me!

    Thanks for the recordings, it's good to have such good comparison videos (same bass, same strings).
  8. jallenbass

    jallenbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I just listened again to the comparison video since I've ordered a set of Priboras and am awaiting arrival. What sets the Probora apart from the other two is its midrange presence. The Fender and SPB-1 just don't have enough of it and that's what I most rely on in a live band setting to hear my pitch and articulation.
  9. Great!
    I personally think all three pickups have good definition in the mid-range, though the Duncan's have a smoother response on the higher end of it, but Alexander's pickup has a particularly pronounced clarity, definition and reproduction of dynamics. As I said before, all those pickups are "variations on the same theme" (vintage P bass design) so differences lie in smaller details IMHO.

    I think you will be equally pleased after trying them first hand, but please share your "real" feedback here as I'm curious about it! :)
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
  10. Isotonic

    Isotonic Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    Round Rock TX
    Excellent comparison video. Great playing! Thank you! I loved all three pickups. I am a big fan of the American Standard P. It has a little more heft and roundness to it compared to the others.

    I looked at the Website for the Russian Pickups. He claims that his pickups are hand wound with no machine, taking two hours for each bobbin. 8000 rotations each bobbin. He states that there is no pattern for this so I wonder how his pickups could have any uniformity (quality control) in tone from one to the next (I don't know much about the physics of this admittedly). I also noticed that his pickups are only $52 shipped. Four hours just for the winding labor plus free shipping from Russia. (And just thinking about two hours of hand wiring gives me arthritis pain.) This would lead to a very low profit margin. Not my concern, but it does make me wonder, what gives?

    Also, the Kalashnikov slide guitar demo was interesting.
  11. Isotonic

    Isotonic Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    Round Rock TX
    I have found this to be true with my stock wind Fralin P, but have never put it to words. Nice observation.
  12. FrenchBassQC

    FrenchBassQC Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Gatineau QC CA
    Great video, I prefer the stock pickups myself, more balanced and punch overall...
  13. I came across that video as well, but if memory serves me well, I think I also saw another clip on YouTube where he's winding with a machine controlling the tension and pattern by hand. I think the latter is the most plausible method as of now, since eBay reviews come up quite frequently and I assume he's now selling a good amount of Strat and Tele replacements. I think the Kalashnikov thing was quite ironic, I don't know about the hand winding one. AFAIS, he's not updating his site very often, he probably doesn't care that much as he's quite popular on eBay.

    My bobbins clearly show a scatter wound pattern, both for tension and direction. The humbucking effect is there for both bobbins anyway: the pickup is silent and sounds good, that's what matters in the end.

    Re. the low costs, he replied to my email in a very frank way, saying that raw materials sourced in Russia are cheap for him, as pickup building is not common or something they capitalise on, so he can build his magnets keeping prices low. He probably caters to local musicians quite frequently and doesn't bother charging double prices for foreign customers, which is something I quite appreciate.
    He did a P model with plain enamel wire he bought from the US which he told me cost him around ten times as much, imported, so he had to charge a different price accordingly.
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
    Isotonic likes this.
  14. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Excellent sound recording and it is fun to hear the difference between the 3. IMO, it's kind of like the Goldilocks fairy tale. The Fender pickup is bright and thin. The Pribora is the stronger and fuller sounding pickup and the S. Duncan is somewhere in the middle.

    Which sounds best? I guess it's a matter of opinion. I like the Pribora 1st. Duncan 2nd and Fender last. But, they all sound good and each one kind of has an advantage over the other.

    The Pribora would sound excellent with flats and the Fender would sound excellent with some Roto Sound 66. The Duncan can go flats or rounds and has a great all purpose P sound.

  15. Lol, what's great about this is that you're all bringing points and observations I didn't think about when listening back to the clips after recording.
    I think they all do their job and differences are not night and day - although the Duncan's do "feel" a bit smoother when playing.

    As I said before, differences tend to be more evident when playing loud and without any streaming compression.

    Bassdude, I assume you play a 51 model P... If and when I'll have time, I might do a similar thing between a Fender stock, Duncan's SPCB3 (single coil quarter pound) and (currently in use) 51 hand wound Bare Knuckle on my CIJ 51 P model.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
  16. Zombie resurrection, for whom it may concern:

    I recently found out that the SPB1 needed some repair as it probably had one of the enamel ends not fully connected with the wires - you know when you take your spares from your drawer and you wish you had stored them with more care? Right...

    Anyway, I wanted to fix it and so I did with some soldering and a tiny amount of lead to grab the wire again - it certainly doesn't look like done by Duncan close up but I put it back on the bass to test it and it works just fine, so I'm relieved. Well, after playing with it for a while, I decided to leave it there: it's not a drastic change, and I don't know wether it's mainly because of the purple enamel, the slightly narrower magnets, the winding patterns or whatever, but I found out I quite dig the sort of smoother yet still present response in the high-mids and highs, since that bass tends to naturally be quite bright and responsive in that range. It also tends not to clip as easily when digging or thumping on the E string, so I'm keeping it a bit closer. But most importantly, it seems to interact brilliantly with the VT bass when breaking up, it sort of counteracts any excessive harshness. Again, I think differences are not night and day, and I think my initial OP comparison from last year and the comments that followed can still be indicative of what I'm saying.

    (P.s. I should probably give the mobile app a go, whenever I write something from my phone in Chrome, I find out something weird happens with the corrector and whatnot, so I systematically have to edit my posts)
    Last edited: May 25, 2020