how bass parts affect your sound?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Son of Bovril, Sep 27, 2006.

  1. place in order, what do you think has the biggest effect on your bass's sound:


    1. preamp
    2. pickups
    3. Neck wood
    4. body wood
    5. body top (ie. maple top)
  2. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    2.Body wood
    3/4.Neck wood (fretboard)
    3/4.Body Top

    I don't do pre-amps.
  3. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    Well preamp first since you've got the scope to change up to about 30db on partiular frequency ranges by design. In terms of non-active sound alteration, I'd say the pickups. I would also suggest you add strings to your list, bridge too. I would be of the opinion that they have more influence on the electric sound of a bass more so than the wood.
  4. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    1. hands/technique
    2. preamp
    3. hands/technique
    4. pickups
    5. hands/technique
    6. all of the other bass construction materials and techniques which each add a small portion to the overall package
    7. hands/technique

    I say this due to hearing several of my clients play certain demo instruments I have on-hand. each bass takes on a new sound depending on who is playing it. I hear the same sound consistency when a client switches from one bass to the next ... sure there are subtle differences between different basses, but nothing as extreme as the difference between bassists on a specific bass.

    a great player can make a cheap bass sound outstanding ... a poor player can make an outstanding bass sound cheap

    all the best,

  5. ok, but bassed on the fact that I'm looking at building a custom instrument, I'm more interested in where the money is best spent...

    I should probably add the nut and bridge to the list shouldn I...

    strings can be changed quite often anyways...
  6. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    I agree about strings, they can have a significant impact on your tone, more so than pickups IMO. The different types of strings (flats, rounds, etc.) have an obvious affect, but even different brands of the same type, say nickel rounds, will sound different from each other.
  7. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I agree that strings have a significant effect, but the pickups define the tone of the bass. Put it this way: I'll be able to tell a P-bass from a J-bass (both pups on) regardless of what kind of strings they have.
  8. dion mauer

    dion mauer

    Sep 21, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
  9. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    1. Pickups (type and location)
    2. Body wood
    3. Neck wood
    4. Preamp (assuming it's decent quality)
    5. Body top (unless it's especially thick)

    Pickups define the tone of the bass more than anything else. Fender P-basses and J-basses are essentially the same bass (solidbody bolt-on) but with different pickups. Body wood can make a difference, but a P-bass (any wood) will easily be recognized from a J-bass (any wood) in most situations. No combination of hardware/materials/strings will make a P-bass sound like a J-bass with the bridge pickup soloed, or vice versa.
  10. alanbass1


    Feb 8, 2006
    You also need to consider construction:

    Through Neck/Bolt On
    Body Mass

    These play a big part in the resulting sound of the instrument.
  11. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    As explained above: pickups and pickup location! P-bass, J-bass, Stingray are all solidbody bolt-on basses. The differences in tone are due to the difference in pickups and electronics.

    The tonal effect of the nut is on open strings only. And I would place the bridge as #6 on the list.
  12. Drifta


    Sep 13, 2006
    South Florida
    1. Technigque
    2. Pickups
    3. Strings
    4. the woods
  13. jady


    Jul 21, 2006
    Modesto, CA
    Trace the sound path......


    anything else just colors that sound combination, don't underestimate the effect of strings. i have had basses change character completely with changing string brands.
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I don't know if these choices are available from your luthier, but if so, they should be considered:

    Construction: bolt-on, set-neck, neck-through
    "Air": solidbody, chambered, semi-hollow, hollow
  15. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    Let's consider how sound is produced. The pickup generates a magnetic field, and as the metal string vibrates it disrupts the field producing an electrical current in the pickup coil, and the current is sent to the amp. The string is suspended between the frets and the bridge for all notes except open notes, where the string is suspended by the nut.

    So based on the above, I would place the components affecting sound in the following order:

    1. Pickups;
    2. Strings;
    3. Bridge; and,
    4. Frets / nut.

    I wonder why metal nuts of a similar material to frets aren't more common? I didn't comment on the pre-amp because I've never used one.

    In my opinion wood doesn't affect the sound as much as the above components. I just don't see how wood can affect the magnetic field. I suppose the resonant frequency of the wood may affect the string vibration, but wouldn't this be moreso on an acoustic? I'm sure that others more knowledgeable and experienced than me would disagree.
  16. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I can take a P bass (or J, take your pick), and without changing anything except the strings use it to play country (flats) or classic rock (nickel RW) or heavy metal (SS RW), and it will sound right for the music.

    On the other hand, I can take a P with flats, and it doesn't matter what pickup I put in it I can't make it sound right for heavy metal (to my ears).

    Of course YMMV.
  17. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Heh. That's why four of my five basses sport rounds. It's not difficult to make rounds sound similar to flats. But make flats sound like rounds? Ain't gonna happen!

    This is pretty much true for any bass, regardless of pickups.
  18. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area

    After many years of experimenting with pickup/preamp replacements, owning many basses experimenting with wood options, etc, I'd have to agree 100% with your order, but don't discount pickup placement. Placement will play a big part in the fulltime, always there, inherent nature of the bass' brightness/growl/thump regardless of what the electronics bring to the table.
  19. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    That is my point...:D That is why I said strings make a bigger difference in sound than pickups. I can use EQ and make a Basslines P pickup sound very close to an EMG P pickup, for example, but no amount of EQ will give flats the RW tone.
  20. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i agree, although i think the pickups are going to be ahead of the preamp, setting everything flat.
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