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Help me not hate my P Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ric4682, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. ric4682


    Jul 2, 2008
    Alright, I recently got a pretty great deal on a beautiful 89 MIJ Fender P so I jumped on it. It plays like absolute butter, but I just can't dig the sound. It seems very harsh and clacky in the highs and doesn't cut it in the mix. I play classic rock-jam band-funk kinda stuff and I'm running an Aguilar TH500, which I've read sound especially great with P's, and usually an old 2x15 Acoustic cab with new speakers, but sometimes I use 2x Ampeg 210Av's.
    My main bass is a 4003 and it sits nice and fat in the mix with little to no EQing. I know they're two TOTALLY different basses. If I roll the tone knob down a little bit on the P it just gets really muddy and if it's up its still muddy and its a clack fest. I've tried all manner of EQ options and a few different sets of roundwound strings and nothing seems to work. It feels like I'm fighting it. I've been through flats many times on many basses and I just really prefer rounds. I had a Squier Classoc Vibe 60's P for a while that I don't remember sounding like this.
    I read somewhere that someone upgraded their bridge to a higher mass one and it made a noticeable difference. I was also thinking about dropping an Aguilar pickup in it to see if that would help, but I don't want to put lipstick on a pig if I have a pig and don't know it.
    Please help!
    HardNHeavy and shirky like this.
  2. Sgt. Rock

    Sgt. Rock

    Apr 10, 2010
    How far is the pickup from the bridge? On the PJ models the P pickup was moved out of the sweet spot and it got a bit honky. Not sure if they did the same to any Precisions.

    Pickup replacement is an easy enough fix. Those are fine instruments.
  3. Dug2


    Sep 24, 2011
    not hate?!?!?! i just cant do that. its yer fault for not gettin the jazz in the first place.
    could probably end thread here, just sayin
  4. ric4682


    Jul 2, 2008
    I haven't taken any measurements, but I'm pretty sure it's in the standard place. If I can snag a pickup used I probably will.
    Sartori and Sgt. Rock like this.
  5. aaronious

    aaronious Supporting Member

    May 23, 2011
    Denver CO
    Go for a more vintage voiced pickup maybe. Nickel strings if you're using round wounds. Steel strings are very clanky. Is it properly set up? If none of that works, sell it and move one. Life's too short to waste time on a bass you ain't feeling.
  6. TMARK


    Jan 10, 2012
    Richmond VA
    Pickup! Experiment with pickup height as well. I had some Fralins that were mud city until I lowered the pickup a lot.

    The Aguilar P pickup is really grindy. Very aggressive.
    MattZilla, Mike A, Bioflava and 5 others like this.
  7. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    nickel wounds and new PU maybe.
    The MIJ get a lot of praise around here.
  8. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    I suspect the problem is that you are a Ric guy. There may be nothing wrong with the Precision; it just isn't a Ric and isn't what your ears are expecting.
  9. LT131


    Jan 25, 2015
    Deep South
    I hate them too. Send the thing packing. I'll send the address of a good Precision disposal facility that will only charge you shipping.
    ehque, MMiller28, Ghastly and 27 others like this.
  10. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Ok, first : fingerstyle or pick?
    Where are you plucking? Try neck side of the pickup.
    Try lowering the pickups a little. Get an eq pedal or a preamp pedal so you don't have to change the EQ profile on the amp.
    The Ric and The P are Soooo different.
    If it's clack city, try heavier strings. Or 1/2 rounds or pressure wounds to tame the roundwound zing.
    The bridge will not make a great deal of difference.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
    petch, TMARK, Sgt. Rock and 2 others like this.
  11. The bridge change isn't gonna make a huge difference. Maybe different strings will?
  12. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    +1. Lower pickup height yields a clear sound that doesn't get lost in the mix.
    Aqualung60 likes this.
  13. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    1. Try adjusting the pickup, lowering the height should fatten in up a bit. Closer to the strings gets more treble.

    2. Try pressure wounds or a dull round wound. Are you using stainless steel strings? Try nickles (since you said you don't want flats).

    3. Try a new pickup. The emg geezer p pickup gets rid of the clacky highs and gets a nice punchy sound. There are others to experiment with. A good neutral starting point might be a SPB-1 but I think you might want something else. I wouldn't do a quarter pounder (SPB-3) because it has more highs. The SPB-2 might be a good one since it's more mid heavy. Anyway, I'm sure there is one p pickup out there you will like. There are so many and many of those sound different.

    I'd start with 1 then try 2 then consider 3. If those fail it will be easy to sell that puppy even with the new pickup. You'll probably get what you paid or more.

    I will also say you might want to have a tech look at your tone pot. Rolling down about halfway shouldn't sound muddy at all. It should have a tame high end and lack presence but still have definition from some mid to upper mids.

    Now that I think of it, swapping tone caps is another way to get your tone knob working the way you want. However I'd bring it to a tech to figure out if you want a different one, or if something else is configured Non-optimally like not using an audio taper pot or something, unless you have electronics experience.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
    MattZilla and HardNHeavy like this.
  14. ric4682


    Jul 2, 2008
    I'd say about 85% finger style and the rest is mostly picking and very little slapping. I usually pluck right over the pickup, but sometimes I use my thumb closer to the neck or pluck right at the end of the neck for a little bit deeper tone. Just not too often since the bass is already a little muddy right now. I just lowered the pickup and I have a band practice tomorrow so we'll see if that helps. I think I'm going to order up some Sunbeams too.
  15. joel406


    Dec 27, 2013
    Fender's CS60 pickups are a thought. They work great in my P bass.
    StudioGC likes this.
  16. That could possibly be.
    My Fender was out of service for a while & I was playing a 4004 almost exclusively.
    When I put my Fender back together, I couldn't help but feel it was really DARK, but I've since gotten used to it.
    Sartori likes this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    If you don't like your p, then play the one you like. A p is a p, and there's nothing wrong with not liking that sound.
  18. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    How is your amp EQ'd?
  19. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    The OP said something about too much clack in the sound. Then some other things he wrote seems to imply the tone knob is all or nothing, clack or mud. That definitely doesn't sound like a properly (or perhaps standard-ly) configured P-bass to me. I think there might be some correctable issue going on.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
    MattZilla, basspedaler and Josh Gone like this.
  20. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    Do you have a picture of your P-bass? What pickup does it have?

    Some of what you wrote makes me wonder if you didn't buy a modded bass. Someone may have thrown a brighter pickup in it.

    A P-bass (stock, not some special run) doesn't normally sound very clacky, or get muddy right away when rolling off the tone knob. At the extreme it can be muddy, but it shouldn't get muddy even when rolling off as far as 60% on the tone knob.
    Atshen likes this.

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