High-visibility artists openly using and sporting SPB3 quarter-pounders?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by EmaTheMirror, May 19, 2020.

  1. Foreword: I do like Duncan and his/their product, so no criticism here, since I know you swim on wavy waters whenever this pickup comes up as a subject...

    Duncan (as a brand) claims that the SPB3 is their most popular P pickup to date, every "official" review is usually very positive, it's often cited as a good technical improvement over the traditional split design, something to go for... yet it usually gets very mixed reviews here on TalkBass and on forums in general, at least from non-sponsored users.
    And I'm personally wondering: how come do I know very few "famous" artists visibly sponsoring or sporting/praising this pickup if it's their most popular design or something to go for?
    This is a fair enough question, I think... Other brands do "less known" quarter pounders too (Aguilar...) but you usually see traditional poles mounted in pictures of famous bassists' very own P basses.

    I do know of Nate Mendel (and I do like his signature model) but I also know that he often relied on his Bob Glaub Lakland or other basses when recording - eg: Glaub -> Ashdown ABM -> mic for Waisting Light, which is also my favourite of theirs tone-wise, regardless of the production story behind it.

    Mark Hoppus?

    Anyone outside of the pick playing/punk rock scene (nothing wrong with either of them) I'm missing out?

    Is it really that popular as a swap, even in very professional rigs?

    I can't personally comment on it. I happen to have a QP single coil P, which I'm not taking into account as it's a different pickup with a different design. I like it, and I think that larger poles on that single magnet design can have its clever advantages. But how does it compare to its more popular split counterpart?

    Is it also possible that forums can tend to create a "bias" or placebo effect, where a particular opinion on something becomes a sort of "general consensus"?
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
  2. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    While I have a whole lot of respect for the top-flight players out there, I don't put a lot of stock in the endorsements. Remember, they are being paid, or given, or provided equipment at a significantly reduced price. Now don't think for a second that I believe they using the equipment more so for the money or publicity than the fact that they really like the equipment they are endorsing. I don't think that at all. But it is what it is.

    I would look at other factors involved when considering that pickup or any other piece of equipment, regardless of artist endorsements or any consensus on a forum on the internet. If I looked at it that way, I wouldn't be playing my oh-so-awesome Stingray SR5 because I seem to be the only one on the planet that prefers the 3-band preamp to the 2-band. Which is completely fine with me. I could care less if I'm the only guy on the planet with that preference.
  3. That makes sense, and that's why I also mentioned "official" (potentially sponsored) raving reviews as well... But it's more a matter of how much footprint of the quarter pounder P there is in "literature" such as records, live shows, etc...

    ... the Stingray itself has tons of footprint, and the 3 band ones are probably heard in countless records and lives too. I guess there's also a factor of availability and standard feature/variations introduced as stock by the company itself, like the Stingray eq or Fender neck shapes/different flavours of stock pickups. A pickup swap is effectively a mod, so numbers shrink.
    Geri O likes this.
  4. You’ve got company...

    I know that Rex Brown has a signature PJ and preamp which consists of the QP pickups. But he also has been a long-time Spector/EMG user, and has been endorsed by Fernandes in the 90’s and most recently by Warwick...I’ve seen a photo of him with a Warwick Streamer and his QP pickups in it.

    But I think a lot of “famous” players don’t really mess around with pickup swaps. They may stick with a pickup that they have used when starting out, but a lot of the time if they get a free instrument, they use what it comes with.

    SD might be selling a lot of that particular pickup to us regular schmoes.
    Geri O likes this.
  5. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    If we look at the typical bias on TB, we see the ultimate is a P bass with flats, tort guard and a vintage output pickup (like the SPB-1). :wacky:
    The QP SCPB-3 is pretty popular just because the 'extra everything' you get with the QP really works for the single coil P bass--it adds some oomph and heft vs a traditionally wound pickup. This 'extra everything' with the QP for split coils tends to be a little hot and sound somewhat mid scooped, which is not the mid forward, classic P tone recipe that has been heard a million times and entered our bass DNA. Another popular P pickup is the Dimarzio Model P--which takes a classic P tone and adds 'just a touch more extra,' which isn't as polarizing as the QP's tone. Compared to a classic P pickup, the Model P just has a touch more output and extended lows and highs vs the QP's radically different output and EQ curve.

    I can understand why the split coil P QP is popular, when you install one on a bass, there is a very obvious tonal change. For many players, that's enough to justify a change and they will accept it or adapt to like it.
    Or not.
    In the end, it's a distinctive tone, and if it works within reason, it will get used. Much like the Dimarzio Super Distortion vs a vintage PAF, when you install one, the tone is noticeably different.
  6. P Cheen

    P Cheen Alembics and parametric mid knobs scare me.

    Apr 4, 2015
    Southern Oregon
    That’s it. I think it’s psychological. Most think that highly altered tone from the stock pickups = very good. That’s why the Super Distortion and the JB blew up in the late 70’s early 80’s. People quickly adapted to them and now can be seen as faux standards.

    Just a generalization, of course. Not meant to offend or target people who genuinely love these pickups.
    bigtone23 likes this.
  7. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    Much agreement. No ill will for hot replacement pickups, that is where aftermarket pickups all started in the 70s and 80s--the goal was "more"... A SD or JB into a JMP/JCM800 master volume Marshall has an equally iconic tone as a PAF into a cranked 4 holer. TBH, JBs and SDs have much better split and parallel tones vs a PAF. Same with the QP split coil. It sounds better (to me) in parallel mode.