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Finally Understand Why People Love the P-Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Gatlin, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. Gatlin


    Sep 22, 2016
    Ellisville, MS
    So, I'm going to state something that I've read on TB many times and never could really understand it until I tried it for myself.........

    I've played many different basses over the years but until recently never owned a p bass. I've mainly played 5 strings my entire playing history and since p's aren't as common on 5's I've just never owned one. Well, I recently decided to pick up a 4 string p-bass just to say I have one. I play in our worship team at church and a lot of the songs we've been playing haven't required the 5 string so I thought I'd give the p bass a whirl.

    I've never really understood how people say that a p bass just sits good in the mix until recently. I'm using the same pedal board, same PA system, everything exactly the same but the raw recordings of the service just sound better to me with the p bass. It really is strange because when I'm playing at home I really like the sound of my active 5 string over the p bass, but when I go back and listen to the recording (again, no tweaking or editing) I think the p bass just sounds better. It seems to be more smooth and beefy (yet still defined) than my other basses. I've never had the privilege to own a high dollar bass and am basing my opinion on all midrange store bought basses, but to me I finally understand what the p-bass is all about.

    That's it........so I'd say to someone who is like me and doesn't really understand the p-bass sound and why people seem to like it so much to just get one and try it.
  2. Mr_O'B


    Feb 22, 2015
    One is not better than the other.

    I appreciate both!
    gregmon79, Dr. Cheese and Pbassmanca like this.
  3. Gatlin


    Sep 22, 2016
    Ellisville, MS
    I agree and I wouldn't say the p-bass is better. In my in ears (which is all I can hear since we are ampless) I actually prefer the sound and playability of my active 5 string, but for the recording (not sure about FOH sound) I actually prefer the p-bass. Maybe it's time to invest in a nice 5 string active/passive p-bass??????
  4. tlc1976


    Aug 2, 2016
    I started on a cheap toylike Harmony 4 string, but until this summer I never had what I would consider a true standard 4 string bass. The Kramer is close enough to a P bass. Same body shape, split pickup in the correct place, etc. First time I plugged it in, I started playing a little differently due to the sound and feel. (First thing I noticed is it sounds a LOT like the Harmony bass, but on that little bass I hadn't experienced this before.) One thing I see characteristic in many P bass lines is the sliding up on some notes to get a certain energy, rather than just going up a string. For classic P bass parts like 80s and older country, I find myself playing it quite a bit now.

    I'm by no means a P bass convert, or saying one is better than the other. But IMO a gool ol basic P bass definitely has its place in the toolbox for some songs, even when you primarily play 5+ stringers that will do it all.
    SJan3, Mr_O'B and Gatlin like this.
  5. Mr_O'B


    Feb 22, 2015
    I think everyone should own both a nice p and j bass!
    One Way, TN WOODMAN, SJan3 and 8 others like this.
  6. What brand of P-bass is it?
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  7. Gatlin


    Sep 22, 2016
    Ellisville, MS
    I bought an MIM Fender.
    DaveDeVille, SJan3, ShirazBop and 2 others like this.
  8. fermata


    Nov 10, 2015
    Mountain West
    The P bass is all about context: it's an ensemble instrument. Now, I happen to enjoy the P bass sound solo, too, but that's not what it's designed for or where it really shines.
  9. Cowboy in Latvia

    Cowboy in Latvia

    Mar 1, 2015
    Glad to hear you found a winner. I recently have gotten the chance to play a friend's 60th anniversary P and I gotta say it is way better than I expected. It still won't make me put down my current favorite basses but I'm happy to play it in our band while we jam. Might even put together a Warmoth P after I sell off the extra basses in my stable (hard to do when you don't have a great grasp of the language).
    spaz21387 likes this.
  10. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Here's my personal take. Obviously completely my opinion. A "nice, active" P-Bass might lose some of what you love about how your current one sits in the mix, so make sure that it's got a preamp designed to stay out of the way when needed. You rarely get something without losing something. I mean, what would you do with it that you can't with a regular passive P? You would probably make it sound "nicer" to you, but that will just mess with how it sits perfectly in the mix. The main issue is that the best mixes doesn't mean the best individual tracks, so instead of just optimizing for your solo tone, you should be imagining where other instruments sit if you want the audience to enjoy the overall mix. If you want a preamp just so you can play with it but ultimately want the P-Bass thing, you should probably keep it neutral (or bypass it) when playing with others and just rely on your fingers to do the EQing.

    I really like 5-string P Basses, by the way. I have had a Fender American Standard, Squier Vintage Modified, and if you count the Ibanez SR655, that one, too, as well as the Schecter Raiden Deluxe (35" scale passive 5-string PJ). My least favorite is the SR655, and I've had two. It plays like butter, and the preamp and Nordstrand designed pickups are really, really good, but I think the B string sounds horrible and full of bad overtones with every flatwound I've tried, and I always suspect it's the cheap bridge (which is impossible to replace due to recessed design). What good is a great electronics package without a good construction? All the others sounded really good. The thing about a 5-string bass, too, which makes active even less necessary, IMO, is that you have a built-in EQ with the B string. I will play the same riff on the E string then switch to the B string higher up the neck to get that instant fat boost, or vice versa. When you have a P Bass that sits so well in the mix, that's often the only EQ you need.
  11. Gatlin


    Sep 22, 2016
    Ellisville, MS
    Mine is also the 60th anniversary P.
    ExaltBass and Cowboy in Latvia like this.
  12. I'm not saying P basses are better, just that other basses aren't as good.

    ;):smug: (joking)
    jasper383, TN WOODMAN, Turock and 9 others like this.
  13. Great description.
    Klonk, Fxpmusic and bobyoung53 like this.
  14. Mr_O'B


    Feb 22, 2015
    Hey, my two j-basses take offense to that statement! :D:roflmao::D;)
    Groove Doctor and Pbassmanca like this.
  15. You really cant go wrong with a P bass I say this because it wont sound bad. It may not be extreme enough for many people but you wont sound bad. I no longer use any active basses because I can accidentally hit a tone control and sound bad also I don't want to depend on a battery.
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  16. Pbassmanca

    Pbassmanca In the pocket n' thumpy. So woody, so greasy...

    My sentiments exactly....
  17. JKB1957


    Jul 18, 2015
    You converted to P Bass in Church. I gotta ask, was the church "St. Leo's"? :)
    Keep the groove, and welcome to the P Bass world.
    Pbassmanca, SJan3, ShirazBop and 3 others like this.
  18. Gatlin


    Sep 22, 2016
    Ellisville, MS
    Our church plays alot of Hillsong Worship and Elevation Worship stuff. Interestingly the bass players of each of those groups play 4 string p-basses which is one of the reasons I looked into a p bass to begin with.
    JamasC, b/o 402, ShirazBop and 2 others like this.
  19. I started on a P in church and ended up with a Stingray 5. Just sayin'
  20. Just playing a p bass at home by itself is doesn't really put a smile on my face but there's just something about them that makes them work well in a mix. Especially in a mix with a lot of instruments. I play in a band that's essentially just bass, drums, and one guitar. I do prefer my Warwick thumb for heavy stuff and modern clean tones but the p bass works amazing for rock ballads and if I was in a band with two guitar players I'd probably rock anp bass all the time. I played a big national act show on Saturday. Four bands and two of them used p basses, one stingray and my Warwick. IMG_3608.JPG
    ExaltBass likes this.

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