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How to choose electronics for a custom bass

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by stevetx19, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. stevetx19


    Sep 28, 2006
    Denton, Texas
    So - custom bass on the way, everything sorted except the electronics. Can have any pickup(s) + preamp combo - no routs made, electronics cavity will be plenty big for any number of options.

    I have no idea what to choose - is there a website and/or thread dedicated to compiling different pickup tone samples? i've run a couple searches here and haven't found much more than P vs J, which i'm pretty familiar with already.

    It's a 5 string bolt on and I want deep modern tone, not looking for vintage hum. Originally, I was thinking a single MM style pickup - but how to choose between all the boutique options? I'm open to soap bars too, but take norstrand for example - they have several different styles of soap bars, and it's hard to tell what they produce from their written description. Then there's all the coil tapping and switching - what does that sound like?

    So - I thought I would find it here right away, but after a few days of searching and thread lurking, I'm not seeing any end-all thread dedicated to providing good samples of what's out there. Does it exist? Any recommendations for a solid, reasonably simple modern 5 string setup?
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It's really hard to predict what you will like, and there are so many pickup options out there that it can drive you nuts. Some folks do like the single pickup option, but I prefer it at the P position, not the MM position, which is too bright and plinky for me.

    Might suggest you look into the EMG X series. They have extended lows and highs and are super clean, which sounds up your alley. I would throw a BQC preamp on it, too, since I love that sweepable mid control it has.

    One site where you can hear a bunch of different pickups in action is www.basstasters.com , though they don't have any EMG's on it. EMG has some clips on their own website, though. As for all the options for wiring you can have, I guess some people like that but I always just wire them to whatever the regular position is since I've tried many pickups with a lot of options and always greatly prefer the normal positions.
  3. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    I am a fan of the Stingray tone but I wouldn't describe the sound of a MM pickup in its standard location as "deep and modern". More "brash and punchy" with some definite (and characteristic) sizzle if you use a MM style preamp and bump the treble.

    I could throw out recommendations of what I like, but I think the best chance you have of getting pushed in the right direction is to post some soundclips or videos of the type of tone you are trying to achieve.

    There aren't too many threads with tons of clip comparisons. I've found a few with comparison of jazz bass pickups or P bass pickups but nothing as comprehensive as what you seem to be looking for. Try basstasters.com for some pickup clips and then visit a website like bestbassgear.com (I recommend them highly) and see what pickups they have for sale and then search for videos of those pickups on YouTube.

    Good luck.
  4. tubby.twins

    tubby.twins Amateur Pickup Reviewer Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    I can recommend three good starting points, with their various advantages (and disadvantages).

    Delano SBC 5 HE/S "driver" pickups, available in Bart P2 and EMG 40 shapes, are great all-around pickups for those who like clarity and upper-midrange mixed with a modestly warm fundamental. They can also be ordered in quad-coil configurations for an extra fee, but the standard dual-coil humbucking configuration is still very versatile. They combine most of the tone qualities of Bartolini's "classic bass" pickups but provide more high-end response and clarity. With an active preamp, they can be very flexible; in passive mode, they have a very assertive, active-like tone.

    Villex "classic" soapbar pickups can also be ordered in any common soapbar shapes. They have a great fundamental response and a balanced, very neutral tone which brings a nice combination of most of the good aspects of vintage pickups (i.e. warmth and fullness) but with a balance and clarity across the upper midrange. They bring out more of the sound of the wood versus the strings and frets. Villex classic pickups also include an integrated midrange cut circuit - when paired with a passive pot, a varying amount of midrange can be bled to ground, providing a naturally scooped tone that you can vary to your tastes.

    Carvin "Icon" soapbar pickups have a somewhat rolled-off upper midrange and treble response, but for the price they give a great low-midrange and fundamental with an interesting resonant peak in the upper midrange. When paired with a nice onboard preamp, they tend to sound even better than when passive. They are only available in Bart P2 shape. Unlike most other dual-coil pickups they are usually hard-wired with the coils in series. Carvin can (upon special request) wire up their pickups with four conductors for splitting and serial/parallel options, but it costs a bit more and they have to make custom pickups. An e-mail is the best way to start that process.

    Any of these pickups would be good starting points. I will go back through my archives (i.e. the aborted "try-all-the-soapbar-pickups" project that I started some years ago) and see if I can dig up sound clips.

    You should also decide whether you want a single pickup or dual pickup configuration, and where the pickup(s) will be located. That can have more tonal ramifications than the specific model of pickups you choose.
  5. stevetx19


    Sep 28, 2006
    Denton, Texas
    great stuff - thanks all. Basstasters - what a great find! That's the right idea, hopefully that will keep expanding into a comprehensive source for bass tone comparison. I think it will be soapbars, then. I'll look into the EMG X, delano sbc's, and, from basstasters, i like the way the bartolini's sound too.

  6. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    Bartolini classic bass deep tone soaps.