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'Forgiving' pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by bassteban, Apr 16, 2005.

  1. I just saw Bartolinis referred to as unforgiving(of poor technique:my middle name). I'm somewhat familiar w/Bart tone, & agree w/this opinion. Given this, what would you consider a 'forgiving' pickup or PU/pre setup- in other words, what's at the opposite end of the spectrum? Also, how do wood combinations apply to this question? I'm more interested in the PU side of the issue so I hope this belongs here.
  2. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    What, specifically, are you looking to "forgive"? Are we talking about "popping" or "clicking" sounds from striking the strings?

    I think the best option, in all honesty, is to work on what needs "forgiving". Otherwise, you'll use whatever pickups you find as a crutch and you won't solve what needs to be solved.

    I think you're going to find a lot of contrary positions regarding the most "forgiving" pickups, frankly. For example, I would submit that Barts are probably more forgiving with respect to string clicking/noises than most I've played. Basslines, to me, seem to be less "forgiving".

    I used to have the string-clicking/noise problem, but i focused on my plucking hand technique, allowing me to ultimately use any pickups I chose. Saved me money in the long run and made me a better bassist.

    Sorry for the preach as I know you weren't looking for that, but I thought I'd throw in a couple of cents (actual value: .05 cent)
  3. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    I'm not sure that I agree with the premis of the question (or idea behind it, rather), but I know what you're getting at. In theory, the cleaner and clearer a pickup, the more detail you'll hear coming through the amp, the studio monitors, or the house system. As long as we can leave plain-ole WRONG NOTES out of the equation, if one has poor technique, these issues will more than likely be translated better, and heard better, through a cleaner, crisper, more hi-fi system (which can be applied to pickups, but it also applied to head, cabs, etc.). If your tone is generally dark, muddy, and non-discript, everything tends to sound like one low rumble......the detail in your playing can be difficult to pick out, especially in loud volume settings with other band members grinding away. If a pickup is going a good job of relaying exactly what you're playing, and how you're playing it, these details become easier to hear and pick out...the more accurate the tone, the easier it is to pick out.

    For instance, just listed to John Entwhistle's live tone. Even though it is often incredibly distorted, because he has the treble CRANKED on his amp, more detail cuts through and it's easier to hear what he's playing. Likewise, when you take the above and then replace one of his '50s or '60s maple boarded P-basses with an Alembic with low impedance pickups or a bass with a graphite neck, even more high-end gets carried through the signal chain. The more treble you have in your tone, the easier it will be to pick out the various nuances and details in your playing...it's just easier for the ear to pick up and lock on to.

    As for you comment about Barts, I'm not sure if it is an accurate one. As I said, any pickup (or bass, or rig, or whatever) that does a good job of broadcasting/reproducing what you're actually playing, will cause problems for someone with poor technique. The only way that I know of to "cheat" (aside from practicing and actually improving your technique) would be to string your bass with dead strings, pan hard to your neck pickup, turn the treble on your amp all the way down, turn the tweeter on your cab off (if it has one), stick some foam under the saddles of your bridge and throw a heavy blanket over the face of your speaker cabinet. Do all of that and you're ready to go!!! :D ;)
  4. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Mudbuckers. You could be playing with a dead fish or a pick, and they'd still sound about the same.
  5. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Take your pick....EB-0, EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, Thunderbird, etc. :smug:
  6. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Yep. Gibson basses in general. Shame, since I do enjoy the T-bird asthetic, just not the sound, or that floating bridge.
  7. Dont use piezo's, thats one thing i can say, way too clear, it just sounds like a scratchy mess when i play with a pick :(
  8. First of all, thank you everyone. Planet Boulder, I'm not trying to solve any problems, though my technique could certainly use improvement. I'm also not stating "barts are unforgiving", at least not as fact. The Bart systems I've had opportunity to play with leaned, IMO, ever-so-slightly towards piezo-ish in their reproduction of finger noise & general slop in playing, which I have in boatloads. Lasly, I expect contrasting opinions, & your experience &/or opinions are worth a good 2.5 cents to me if not more(I'd put a smiley here if I knew how).
    JPJ, the idea is that I read on another thread the unforgiving comment re:Bartolini PUs, & tended to agree. If, for the sake of discussion, you agree, even partially, then my question is: What do YOU consider the opposite of this tone? I realize tone is not a 1 dimensional thing, & maybe not definable in these terms. If the question annoys you, ignore me- works for my wife.
    Everbody else, yeah, I agree(Gibson comments). Mr. Mohawk, I like the word 'piezo', but don't like the pickup.
  9. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    I think you might have misinterpreted the tone of my comment (or at least I hope you didn't), as I think that the question that you asked is a perfectly reasonable and legitimate question. :) By the way....when you're typing, you should see a bank of heads to the right of your reply box with varrying degrees of smiles, dispositions, etc. Just put your cursor where you want it to go, click it, and it should appear in the text of your reply or post. ;)

    As for the forgiving nature of pickup, I'm not sure if I think that any pickups could be classified as "forgiving"...at least in the contect that we're talking about here. If anything, I'd have to say that Barts would possibly be the one brand that I would say might be more "forgiving" that most, in that Bart pickups tend to be a bit darker than your average pickup. Early Gibson pickups (mentioned above) also qualify, and I suppose you might be able to toss the Duncan Quarter Pounder series in there as well. although that might be a stretch.

    When it comes to eliminating fret-buzzing from poor left-hand technique, finger sqeakes on roundwound strings, any anomalies that might occur due to a poor fret job or poor set-up, etc., I would tend to think that you could get more mileage out of EQ tweaks from an on-board pre, amp controls, passive tone control, tweeter level in a cabinet, etc. That idn't a direct response to your original question, but I feel that it's more accurate.

    But, as for pickups, the warmer the better. Anything that de-emphasized clarity and highs and emphasized mids and lows will help. Any pickup that is overwound (probably by 5%-15%), a pickup that uses alnico magnets (as opposed to ceramic), etc. These elements are the types of things that get at your original question. Hope that helps. :bassist:
  10. Look- ;) -Thanks & I have no problem w/your tone. That seems quite forgiving ;) . Look, I did it again! Woo-hoo! Gonna go practice now...
  11. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    given the assumption that your bass is properly setup, from what I can tell, pretty much everything said before is accurate in my experience. As a gross generality, pups with characteristically lower frequency, less clarity, and less sensitivity will not reflect technique as much. The Gibson EBO is a great example. Regardless, pups with less sensitivity will be less reflective of technique at the same frequencies than a more sensitive pup.

    If you simply fret a given single note, and get the problematic response you get while playing to music, the setup is probably the issue. If nothing else, if the strings are too high or low, it can make playing a lot more difficult than necessary. Also some strings on some basses can be the problem.

    Some players definetly have better technique than others but if you haven't been playing for long, the technique will probably come around as you play more. Just the fact you've acknowledged it has set your brain in motion to correct it. If you've been playing for a while and technque is the actual problem, then probably some finger exercises and conscious work on technique alone is a good idea cause technique does not only produce a clean tone when you want, it has a lot to do with the tone you get. In a more extreme case, on some basses with the right pups through the right rigging, you can go from style to style and tune to tune altering techinque and never touch your controls -and get tone variations that would normally require control adjustment.
  12. gruuv


    Jan 23, 2004
    I must agree wholeheartedly. Barts tend to be darker in tone than Basslines/Duncans, etc... and thus tend to transmit less "whir" of fingers sliding on the strings and that sort of thing. BUT, one of the least "forgiving" pickups I've found are Aero J's and I LOVE the tone they bring to my basses. They're hi-fi in their clarity and evenness across the spectrum, but still afford lots of bottom and vintage growl -- remarkable! You'll definitely be able to tell if your technique is sloppy, but that'll just speed up the improvement process!
  13. RD


    Jun 17, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I think passive pu's are more forgiving than active pu's in general.

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