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Fender/Squier pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by JKambing, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. JKambing


    Aug 5, 2008
    I know I may not hear the end of it (from the people who insist MIM Fender and Squier pickups suck) for making this statement, but I like the sound of the stock MIM P pickup very much. I just tried a new MIM Standard P bass today, and it had a certain quality which made it very playable, and the sound was rockin'. I tried some Squier J basses today too, and loved the sound of the bridge pickup. Very chunky and aggressive (in a good way).

    I have experience with a MII (Indonesia) Squier Standard P bass Specials too, and I liked those pickups also (loved the way the J pickup had that chunky, aggressive growl too).

    With this in mind, I have some questions (yes, I already searched, though I welcome some links to threads that may have already answered my questions).

    I like playing classic heavy metal and classic hard rock (though not exclusively these genres). In both situations when I was trying out the basses, I cut the bass on the amp to about 11 o'clock, mids boosts to about 1-2 o'clock, and treble cut to about 9-10 o' clock (tone knob fully turned on, or 80% on, depending on the songs I was playing at that time). Usually I play with slightly more treble at home (I use a set of worn-in Rotosound RS77 Flat Wound strings, so I add more treble (roughly 11 o'clock) because I prefer the sound). I play mostly finger style, with the occasional pick for certain songs.

    I have read somewhere the MIM P pickups are similar to the Seymour Duncan SPB-3 Quarter Pound pickups. I have tried a Mark Hoppus bass, and didn't like the Seymour Duncan SPB-3 Quarter Pound pickups (WAYY too bright and hot), so I don't think it may be true (at least in my experience).

    With this in mind, can anybody recommend me a P and J pickup which are tonally very similar to the pickups I tried (MII Squier and MIM Fender)? I would buy a set of Fender MIM, but the Fender website seems to indicate that they don't sell MIM J pickups separately. Also, I would appreciate if someone could tell me if MII Squiers and MIM Fenders use the same pickups, as it is much easier to find a Squier pickup set than a Fender pickup set (since many switch out Squier pickups soon after buying the bass).

    Also, since I exclusively use flats, I was wondering if anyone had sound clips of PJ basses played with flats? I like how rounds make a PJ bass growl, but my fretting hand doesn't fancy the low-tension feel of rounds (though my plucking hand loves it!), or the finger noise. I listened to sound samples of Lakland's website of J basses with flats, and it rocked. I know how P basses sound with flats, since I already own one.. But on Lakland's site, the sample of the PJ bass with flats sounded disappointing. I'm sure a PJ with flats is something that a good number of TBers do, so I would love some input.

    Any other relevant advice that isn't flaming, spamming, or bashing will also be greatly appreciated.

    Man, this is a long post. :D Anyway, thanks! I never fail to get bored of reading up on everyone's opinions (I spend hours on Talkbass searching for old posts and reading), and I look forward to hearing from anyone with knowledge to impart! :bassist:
  2. JKambing


    Aug 5, 2008
  3. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    First, bear in mind that the strings on the MIM you tried contributed a lot to the resulting sound. Those pickups in your bass with the strings you use will sound a lot different.

    I have liked a lot of the MIM basses I've tried despite the stock strings. I use flats (Thomastic) exclusively so I have to envision what it would sound like with my strings. I'm sure I'd be happy with one as far as sound goes.

    As far as what pickups to approximate the MIM sound--I'd say the Seymour Duncan Basslines "hot" models would come close. They're very good sounding pickups and sound great with flat wound strings. I use the Basslines Quarter Pounder on my old P bass and love the sound I get. Using simple eq on my GK amp I can get them to sound any way I need and I get a very nice sound for classic rock and many other styles. I don't find them too aggressive at all. But the "hot" models also sound very good and I'd use them with no qualms.

    Another option would be to contact Pete Biltoft at Vintage Vibe Guitars and ask him to wind you a set of pickups to your specifications. That's what I did with my latest aquisition-a Squier Classic 50s P bass. The stock single coil pickup was pretty good but I wanted something just a little warmer so I contacted him by email and we worked out what would work best for me based on the sound I described to him. 2 days after he received my payment for the single coil P pickup it was in the mail to me. I installed it as soon as it arrived and the sound was exactly what I wanted. The price was very good too and not any more expensive than I would have paid for many off the shelf models in a music store. I recommend him highly. He really can translate the sound you describe to him into reality. I've been playing the Suier with Thomastics exclusively for 3 months now and couldn't be more pleased. Great fat and warm sound with just enough top end bite.

    As far as listening to samples goes, I don't bother. I've listened to many of the samples guys here have posted and couldn't tell much. Many of them can't play well enough to get a good sound or else the sound they like is worlds apart from what I'd ever use. The manufacturers sound samples don't help me much either. While the bassists they use may be able to play okay they all seem to favour a way too trebly sound that quickly gets very annoying and doesn't work in a band setting or else they do nothing but slap--something I'm never called on to do.

    I'm sure you'll get a lot of recommendations but they'll all be based on whoever posts it personal favourite. In the end you just have to go with your own ears. There are iots of good pickups on the market these days.
  4. JKambing


    Aug 5, 2008
    Yup, I did bear in mind. I feel that a good sounding pickup remains a good sounding pickup, and I can roughly envision the same pickups with flats, so it's all cool.

    Seriously, the SPB-2 Hot for P bass sounds like an MIM? I've heard quite the opposite - that in sounds similar an MIA P bass pickup with subdued treble.. Though I will keep your advice in mind..

    There's something to consider.. Thanks!

    And thank you, for the impartial advice.. Hard to come by these days. Peace.
  5. markdavid


    Jun 29, 2007
    Not to be hating on the MIM or Squier basses but part of the sound of those pickups is that they are made cheaply (part of the way that Fender keeps costs down) so I think probably some of the more inexpensive pickups around will get you a similar sound, probably some of the cheap pickups that you see on ebay will get you where you want tone wise
  6. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

    I do not recall reading much about people hating MIM or Squier pups. I seem to read more about the pots being sub-par than the pups. Of I have not read every single post!
    Just saying............
  7. paul_s


    Jan 12, 2008
    Winnipeg, MB
  8. markdavid


    Jun 29, 2007
    I was making reference to me saying that the pickups are cheaply made and was clarifying that I was not saying this as a put down but rather that this is a factor in the sound of these pickups
  9. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Not exactly impartial since I have my own preferences, but if I helped at all, that's good.

    You're right-a good sounding pickup remains a good sounding pickup.I don't think you can go wrong with a Basslines or a custom wind from Vintage Vibe Guitars.
  10. JKambing


    Aug 5, 2008
  11. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

    Yeah I got that. I was not "defending" them but just noting that I had not heard much negative posted about them. At least not as much as the tiny pots.

    Do you think that they would be considered "underwound"?
  12. southernrocker

    southernrocker Banned

    Apr 4, 2009
    I have a new MIM jazz, and i think I'll keep the stock pups. But on my old squier (now has EMG's) the pickups crapped out. It was ok till then. I stay by the best rule: If you like it, use it.
  13. You should try "Classic Vibe 60's" by Squier. The pickup ? well.... just like Fender Custom Shop. Never try ? go to GC and get one and don't suspect the fact.
  14. eastcoasteddie

    eastcoasteddie Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2006
    Not experienced with too many Squier/Fender J pickups, just with what I have. I have a Squier Affinty V, into which I installed BassLines 67-70 pickups. I have to say that I Love the sound. I almost don't even want to try another set of pickups just to "see" what tone I'd get.

    I also have a Squier Deluxe active Jazz, which I completely bastardized. It's my guinnea pig, so to speak. I defretted it. Then I retrofitted the active system to a passive-only VVTT circuit. Still not being happy with the tone, I went and [sloppily] routed the pickup routes to accept standard Jazz V sized pickups.

    I installed the Affintiy JV pickups into it. The tone improved incredibly. The Affinity pickups have a very flat tone curve to them. Also, there isn't that much tonal difference between the 2 pickups singling them out in the circuit. What I noticed, though is that they are pretty much voiced the same, the only tonal difference you'll hear is due to their positioning in the body. I took ohm readings, and the bridge pickup is 8.6k and the neck pickup is 8.3k ohms. The other Jazz pups I have are about 1 to 1.2K ohms difference between the neck & bridge.
    I think they are a bit noisier than a better set such as the Basslines, even with Shielding. The Deluxe is fully shielded, the Affintiy V is not shielded at all.
    Just recently, I picked up a set of Marcus Miller V single coils...i supposed they're modeled after MM's '77 jazz, but in 5-string version. I installed these into the fretless, and the tone is...well...similar and more "jazzy" and clearer...but I'm not sure I like it that much. The pickups are definitely voiced differently, too. The Neck pup has TONS more of that signature jazz tone than the Affinity pickup does.
    I have to seriously compaer the 2 sets tonewise and see what I like.

    I guess in all, after all that long-windedness, I have to say that the "cheap" pickups aren't that bad...just have to see what you like.
  15. wildhorse


    Mar 15, 2009
    I have the Classic Vibe 60's Jazz. The pickup is not bad.
    The Custom Shop pickup may not be any louder but it has more definition. I put some Seymour Duncan Hot for Jazz in my CV and a world of difference. How to explain it? Well I record every performance every Fri and Sat nites on a Zoom H2. Prior to the change in pickups the bass did not stand out in the mix. I'd have to re-eq upon mix down to cd. With the new pickups it is not an issue. Everything is perfectly balanced. So can you live with the stock pups? Sure but the sound can be improved upon. BTW I did not change the settings or the volume on my rig which has allowed me to play with a lighter touch.

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