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How good are the EMG's on a Johnson P bass?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by NickInMesa, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. I picked up a Johnson P bass from CL for $30.

    This thing was not taken care of and I am currently stripping the body, that's how bad it was.

    Prior to doing that, I plugged the bass in and was disappointed by the sound, although I read some good reviews about that bass.

    How good are the EMG pickups on this bass?

    I will probably fit new pots and pickups, the idea is just to get a cheap but nice sounding P bass in my arsenal.

    On a side note, the neck is really really nice. The bridge is total crapula.

  2. kyral210


    Sep 14, 2007
    Hmm, 'good' is a very subjective term. To one person something may sound amazing, but to another that same sound is worthless! I would say if you can afford it then put the EMG's in and see how it sounds. The worst thing that can happen is you dont like it and you sell the pickups.

    Im not familier with Johnson basses, but $30 doesnt encourage allot of quality in the sound potential. having said that, why not? Try this:

    New nut
    New Saddles
    New Bridge
    New Pickups
    New Pots
    Pro Setup
  3. Kyral, thanks for the answer.

    I read good reviews about the Johnson basses on harmony central, so why not.

    For $30, you can't go wrong.

    I bought it from the brother of the owner. Brother told me he barely played it, got bored and then decided to "vintage" it by scraping the body and rusting the bridge.

    It may very well be that the owner and the brother are one same person.

    I can tell you this bass was barely played, as the frets have no string mark on it, and the neck is absolutely perfect, with no mark.

    So no need for a new nut. I have a replacement Fender type bridge, fits perfectly. I will probably get new pots, buy a bulk from Stewmac.

    As for setup, I know someone.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    i doubt that it actually came with real USA-made emgs, so if that's what's on there, they were likely an upgrade. what exactly is written on the pickups themselves?

    as for the sound, did you change the battery? emgs are good sounding bass pickups.
  5. Battery? This is a straight P bass.

    The pickups say "EMG by Johnson".

    It was everything but punchy.
  6. kyral210


    Sep 14, 2007
    If there is no battery inside it, I would bet my house that they are just EMG Select pickups, and not fully fledged EMG's:


    My reasoning? The EMG HZ series (the passive series of 'proper' EMG Pickups) is relatively new, and Selects are designed for 'lower end' basses, which I think the Johnson is. By the way, I am using Low End as sub-£500. If you had full on EMG pickups in your bass you would almost certainly have a battery compartment.

    You could try a set of these:

    However, I am not 100% sold on EMG's passive pickups. Something just doesn't feel right to me. I use EMG for my active and Seymour Duncan/ Basslines for my passive. I love both, but they are both very different. Also, upgrading to Basslines means you can select the kind of pickup and tone you want from a selection, rather than EMG's 'one trick P' (they have very limited choice in variety).
  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    then those are not real EMGs, so feel free to dump them for just about anything else.
  8. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    Those are definitely the "licensed by EMG" pickups. They sound like poo. But not the good sounding kind of poo. IMO.
  9. Yeah, thanks all.

    Already looking at ordering something else.

    Anybody got spare P pups? L:)
  10. skullservant


    Aug 15, 2011
    I've got one of the Johnson basses with the EMG by Johnson pickups. I usually keep it on one setting, cutting all the lows and boosting all the lows and mids. I don't really have any complaints about the bass, I think it sounds pretty okay. I got it as a gift about 4 years ago and it's held up decently since. It's got a decent clean sound to it and when sent through a Green Big Muff it still keeps good character
  11. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Theyre prob a variation of the early emg hz which where called emg select. Ok for when they came out but not nearly as good as emg's modern hz pups imo. Yes replacing them is great idea imo as long as the body isnt plywood and it also sounds good with fresh strings when played unplugged. I say this cause if it sound dead unplugged then body wood is probably subpar.

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