Fretless bass pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by d_jason_05, Jul 21, 2005.

  1. d_jason_05


    Mar 20, 2005
    Hey, I have a Fender Squier P-bass that i'm remodeling and making fretless. I'm planning to put on new pickups (p) and wondering what you guys think would be a good one. I've heard some stuff about Seymours, but still haven't decided. I'd sort of like a tone like the bassist of of catch 22 if you've heard him, pretty groovey, but i have no idea what he uses, sort of a bright tone. Thanks for you help.
  2. BuffaloBob4343

    BuffaloBob4343 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    If you like the tone of passive pups, I highly recommend Villex. They are a $250 upgrade to Modulus basses (at least those models that can be ordered with jazz pups). I have them on my Modulus fretless GVJ4 and they really sing, lot's of mwah.

    They are quiet, they come with Vol/Vol/Mid/Passive Tone controls. I love the mid boost/cut control, as it really gives you an added dimension. You also get a very nice differential in the tone between the neck and the bridge locations.

    You can email William Villex at and buy them direct. I sent him an email inquiring price for a set of the pups I have on my Modulus just in case I ever wanted to modify another bass. He said that he has all kinds of shapes and sizes. Just tell him what bass you are upgrading and I'm sure he can recommend one that would work for your Squire.
  3. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    to my knowledge there's no magic to fretless pup and the only one's I even know of that have been deemed as much are SD Steve Bailey Fretless.

    Personally I'd wait till I heard what the pickups in the bass sound like. At any rate, unless I ran across a deal I couldn't pass up for something I knew I wanted, I would definetly wait till the fretless tranition is complete.

    And unless you can adjust that neck to get it dead flat and with some backbow, I would rethink transforming a fretted bass to a fretless. You can get by with lot's of slop in a fretted bass but a fretless needs to be dead-on. Having done one defret (and refret), I'd look for a fretless bass where you know what you've got up front rather than defret one and descover it after-the-fact. Refretting a bass will cost you more than a low-end fretless. You could probably swap your fretted for a fretless as there are plenty of guys that thought they wanted a fretted bass and found out otherwise.
  4. Bob,

    Any idea what mid freq they are set on? Sounds interesting. Got any sound clips?
  5. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    Don't tell anyone, but I put Duncan 1/4 pounders in my Jazz fretless, and am quite happy with them.
  6. BuffaloBob4343

    BuffaloBob4343 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    Hi David,

    Actually I do not and I do not believe that the Modulus web site has that info either (I will double check that).

    I have been having a very nice email correspondence with William Villex about his (my) Pups. I will email him and ask him if he knows.

    According to Mr. Villex, I have a pair of the first half dozen or so that he provided to Modulus for their upgrade option because he had not yet produced covers with his trademark on them.

    I am trying to get him to publish some specs (he is currently working on his web site) such as the output levels and frequency characteristics of the controls.

    If I find out, I will let you know! What I can tell you is that they are the bomb. They are loud, articulate, quiet (noise)and the mid control is awesome. I am VERY happy with them! :hyper:
  7. BuffaloBob4343

    BuffaloBob4343 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    As an addendum to my previous post, I forgot to mention that as of right now, I do not have any sound clips (I don't have any equipment with which to make a recording).

    However, I did find this link with a sound clip that I have not yet listened to.

    Villex link

    OOPS, just checked and if there was one, it is now gone!
  8. Yea, I've been in email corrospondence with him as well. They sound like they might be the pups I put in my fretless 6, but I hate to take the plunge with so little knowledge. Guess I'll keep my eye on them until I get ready to make the mod....

    Thanks for your help!
  9. MiniMic


    Sep 29, 2001
    Syracuse NY
    IMHO, The best sounding fretless I have ever heard or played was a Pedulla Bass 4 with Bartolini Pickups in it. My cousin bought a bass in 1970's from Mike Pedulla when he would just put classified ads in the back of Guitar Player Magazine. The Barts just seem to have more subdude, mellow tone in contrast to a Seymour Duncan or EMG.
    Again just wanted to post my two-cents, Thanks
  10. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Yes, Barts do have a more mellow tone than EMGs. BUT... I actually prefer the EMGs in a fretless, mainly for the incredible clarity and articulate nature to the sound. I have the EMG J-set in my Jazz fretless and the tone is as good as any other fretless I have ever played. It's a fantastic sounding bass and I think this is down to the combination of the graphite neck (Status) and EMG pickups.

    EDIT If you want to hear it, go to the "Bass Tone Glossary" sticky at the top of this forum and there's a sound clip of the bass posted in the "Mwah" entry of the glossary. Let me know what you think!
  11. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Bartolini also used to offer a fretless flavor for some pickups. Basically it was a mid heavy version.
    Great advice, maybe not as fun, but smart ;)
  12. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004


    I've got the Bailey Fretless and they're fairly dark pups heavily weighted on the lower half, very much like a signature Bart tone in fact. Seems Ducan mentioned a Jaco designed influence in one of their pup descriptions but don't see it skimming through them (thought it may have been in relation to the Bailey fretless). No doubt Jaco used some Fender pups at some point, stock who knows. But Fenders would tend to be more Frequency wise like an EMG LJ-5 than weighted lower half. So there you have it, frequencies that are basically all over the chart short of a brittle top end.

    Acoustic properties and electronics would influence choice for a given bass as well as strings if you have strings of choice without much desire to change. The other variables are flexible but the acoustic property is not. Rigging can have a major impact.

    When I defretted that bass of mine the acoustic tone of the bass was sweet but I didn't have any pups at the time which would pickup that tone. I've heard guys talk about transparent pups but I've never actually heard such a pup myself but I would have liked such a set in that situation.

    At any rate I thought that particular bass was disposable at the time so the defret. But it turned out to be the only acoustically bright bass I've got and I missed it fretted - so back it went.
  13. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    I really like the EMGs on a fretless. I love the villex pickups but I get a great tone out of the emgs. The villex is one fo the best passive tones available IMHO
  14. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    Hey! I'm just doing the same - except I'm remodelling my first bass - a generic Westfield (I think it's a P-Bass). I came to the conclusion that I'm not gonna use it again, and noone will buy it, so why not eh?

    And I've also come across the same dilemia... should I change the pickups? Will the current ones sound right? And in fact... should I change the fretboard? But that's for another forum...

    I know for a fact I need to lower the action - it's way too high at the mo. But the main question is, do I NEED to change the pickups? Even if they're passive? do fretless basses need more umph?
  15. You can't go wrong with some Status replacement pickups:

    EMG's sound great on a fretless as well!!!

    Good luck!!!

  16. Bungee


    Sep 23, 2006
    Cleveland, OH
    I just put active EMG's in my SX fretless and I've never been happier with an electric bass. I use TI Jazz Flats and I don't slap. I found the electric bass sound I've heard in my head for many years now. The versatility of the pickups is amazing, and the mids are wonderful with those strings. The response seems perfect. The tone control is very useful now.