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For Those That Play A P-Bass...Why Do You Like It So Much?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by El_Charro, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. El_Charro


    Aug 11, 2020
    Hi Everybody,

    I'm searching for my first bass and I'm looking for something in the $600-1300 dollar range.

    I keep seeing a crazy amount of devotion to Fender, but more specifically the P-bass.

    I tried out the Fender Geddy Jazz and didn't like the neck or the ergonomics of the pickup (and couldn't get the sound I really wanted out of it- Possibly bc I've been learning on an Active Schecter).

    For whatever reason I haven't had the best luck with Fender so I'm not really considering them in my search at the moment, but I keep seeing a lot of love for this bass.

    I know Steve Harris and Duff play one (and lots of other well respected artists).

    I'm mostly interested in playing Metal, so that is also my attraction towards an active bass and currently leaning heavily towards a Schecter.

    In an effort to be as thorough as possible in my search I'd like some feedback on what exactly it is that you love so much about this instrument.

    There are no wrong responses here, I'm just looking for your opinion especially if you play heavier music.

    zon6c-f and nuage420b like this.
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    The P has enough mids so it cuts through the mix really well - not a "bedroom tone", but fits in most band contexts. Also, one pickup, one volume one robe, so you can set and forget +although rolling the tone back is an easy change to a second, darker tone.
  3. For many genres, the P-Bass sound just works, and is the sound people expect to hear (even if they don't consciously know it!), but I'm not sure metal is one of those genres. I love P-Basses and have gigged almost exclusively for decades, but your needs may differ.
    dbsfgyd1, Iv@N, Rezdog and 6 others like this.
  4. El_Charro


    Aug 11, 2020
    Just curious, but what makes you say that about the Metal genre in general?

    I'm trying to find the right tool for the job, so if you would please be willing to elaborate on that comment, it would help me...

    Thanks! :)
    Mr Cheese likes this.
  5. kinopah


    Oct 19, 2014
    To me, the louder it's cranked the better it sounds. Fills a room but you can still hear articulation. Can sound gritty with the tone dimed, classic with it rolled off, handles whatever strings and can be distorted without sounding thin.

    And with some broken-in flats, it's just the sound in my head when I think "bass".
    retslock, Justinian, djaxup and 8 others like this.
  6. Tubehed


    Oct 27, 2011
    Maybe consider a p/j configuration. Doesn't have to necessarily be a Fender. All the thump and bark you get from the p- bass split coil pup with the added bite of a jazz pup blended in. Can't go wrong with that.
  7. Cracker7

    Cracker7 Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2016
    Ballston Lake NY
    To me the P bass just sounds right, feels right, and is what I hear in my head as BASS. Fender is the P bass. But what I think you’re looking for is an active Yamaha. Great Basses at any price. Good luck
  8. P necks do it for me, but I'd wager I'm in the minority there as most things I read say people prefer Js. Necks are such a personal thing though.

    I also just think that a passive P bass is no nonsense and sounds what most people think a bass sounds like. It might not be the most sleek, refined, multi-functional tool in the kitchen, but more like that old cast iron pan your grandma kept on the stove.

    I dunno. That went to some weird places. I just like em, alright! :)

    markob, lomo, Dave Reno and 27 others like this.
  9. grrg63


    Dec 14, 2005
    I expect you will hear many rebuttals to this statement.
  10. Depends what kind of metal you want to do. Ps have been used in metal with great success.

    Exhibit A: Steve Harris.
  11. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Supporting Member

    No comment
    Lethgar and lowdownthump like this.
  12. I think a lot of the "P bass tone" that everyone says "is what listeners expect to hear" is not driven by listeners, but by sound engineers. Because the truth is, sound engineers have way more authority over this (at least they have in the past until home recording became so prominent) than the listeners. The listeners just listen to what they get. I think the sound engineers of the past have always desired a P bass because they know how to work with that tone. It's less about what the musician wants and more about what the sound engineer wants. I could point to hundreds of studio musicians who had a sound engineer hand them the studio P bass and tell them "that sounded great, now try it with this..."

    That being said, a lot of players like the chunky feeling neck of a P bass. they find it more comfortable, and they are not wrong. I, personally, don't find them comfortable, and I'm not wrong either. Luckily, there's lots of different neck profiles out there so we can all have the one we feel comfortable playing.
  13. I think this answers all of your questions. If you like the Shecter, get it. There's literally nothing wrong with it and it'll be a great bass "for metal" (if that's really a thing). I also like ESP/LTD and own 2 F-Series basses, I think they are a solid choice "for metal" too. But that's me, not everyone likes them, nor do they need to like them.
    nuage420b, DiscoRiceJ, djaxup and 4 others like this.
  14. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i have two P-bass instruments and would not categorize myself as having "love" for them, although one of them plays fantastic (for me). indeed: they are as limited as any other one-pickup ax might be (no matter how good the one pickup is). that said: the simplicity/limitation is its own attraction. sometimes it's fun (or effective) to play an ax that doesn't do any more than what a P-bass does. also: the P-bass was an inspiration of the godfather of all parts-basses. between the utility of a P-bass and the 'religion' surrounding it = it's something you could check out for your own bad self and revisit from time to time if you needed convincing...either way. IMO: a P-bass is somewhere between a washtub and a good bass instrument! :laugh:

    IME: they are way limited. but they can be fun, no doubt. good luck with your P-bass curiosity! :thumbsup:

    if you have other considerations = try them first. ;)
  15. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    This is sort of like asking why I like chocolate. The problem is what I like about chocolate may not appeal to you. So IMHO you really need to just try it for yourself.

    If you don't like P Basses...it's no big deal. My advice is don't worry about. Also don't be surprised if years down the road you change your mind. Life's funny like that.

    Good luck.
  16. Maybe you should check out a Duff Sig Bass. You will have the P pickup along with a J pickup to roll in to taste. I think if you put on a set of Rotosound Swing Bass steels standard 105-45 you'll be set. If you want clicky get a set of EMG's for it.
    Barry Vestal and Mr Cheese like this.
  17. radapaw


    Mar 22, 2000
    The big advantage of the Precision is that it's the bass that started electric bass, (aka the 'Fender bass'), and has stuck around ever since. It fits in most styles of music because it was used in most styles of music. The engineer knows what to do with it, your amp was built to sound good with it, and it gives you context as a first bass because everything will be compared to it. With a few tweeks like strings and pickups, you can really dial things in to your personal needs.... and luckily, because it's a p, there will already be 75 threads here on the perfect p-pickup for whatever you play.
  18. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I love a P bass. But I'm also a 50 year old guy who plays rock/soul/funk/blues/pop mostly. The sound and ergonomics work for me (and my huge hands).

    You're just starting out and love metal. You know what bass you should buy? The one that looks good enough, feels good enough, and sounds good enough to YOU to keep you excited and wanting to continue playing. Any other bass is wrong for you.

    No wrong answer. Get the bass that makes you grin every time you pick it up. That'll make you want to keep playing even on those days when it can be frustrating.

    Welcome! Good luck with your hunt!
    dalahorse, tito0515, ZedLepp and 24 others like this.
  19. 9Thumbs


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    What we think doesn't matter. Go play a couple P Basses and you will realize that nothing else compares, 'cept maybe a Tele. A black one with a maple neck would be perfect for metal, or funk, or reggae,or soul, blues or grunge rock
  20. FugaziBomb


    Jun 5, 2017
    P basses aren't really my thing as I'm more of a humbucker/dual humbucker fan. That being said, I've got 7 different basses in my stable that are essentially "P Basses" in that they have the right pickup in the right spot and most have the right neck dimensions. It's not that P Basses are that comfortable or great sounding or anything like that, but rather that they can undoubtedly work for nearly any mix. The trick to this is P Basses are WAY mid heavy, which doesn't always sound great in it's own context, but what you can do with it in a mix is really neat

    Just to preface, part of mixing is making sure that no two instruments take up the same spectrum of the audible frequency range. Where the P Bass has the advantage here is that you can carve away at frequencies on the bass guitar track with an EQ and still have plenty of signal to sit in the mix. Lets say you've got a keyboard player really hanging out in the 500 hz range. With a P Bass in the mix, you know you can notch that 500 hz without losing the bass guitar in the mix. Take this and apply it a mix full of instruments or even single instruments that dominate a mix and you can still get the P Bass in there somewhere

    An analogy I like to use is that of a black of marble. With a larger block of marble, a sculptor is less confined as far as the extents to which he can create. The same goes for a producer working with a P Bass.
    ImNotAhab likes this.

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