How to test out pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Growler, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. Growler


    Sep 26, 2004
    I've got a stock MiM P, and have thought about changing the sound a bit (it always sounds a bit muddy too me say compared to a Stringray) with new pickups. My questions is, even once I find the 1 or 2 pickups that appear (from reviews, sound clips etc) to be the ones to get.

    How do you test them out? I could go to the guitar shop and hope they have a bass that has them installed, but even if they are installed in a bass
    a) most likely its not the same bass as I have
    b) Even if it is the same bass, it could have different strings
    c) Different amp.​

  2. Put them on and test is the best way I know.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    yup, that's the only way to control the variables you mention.

    For a P bass, it's very simple.
  4. Fruitfly

    Fruitfly Guest

    Jul 25, 2004
    Testing pickups, proceed as follows: switch on your stereo set, and an audio signal (AC) will be fed into the voice coil of each- preferably full range- loudspeaker. This signal causes the voice coil to move in accordance with the change in the direction of the AC. The AC passing through the voice coil will create a surrounding flux pattern which will build and collapse with the same frequency as the impressed current. All you need now is to hold up your pickup at a distance of, say, 1 inch in front of the voice coil to bring about a mutual flux interchange that will induce an emf in the pickup; current flow can then be supplied to a low or high Z deck input. Once you have set your deck's recording level control to match the pickup's output level- depending on the strength of the current in the voice coil, the number of coil windings in the pickup, and the distance between the voice coil and the pickup- you can record any piece of music directly. This simple testing method offers extensive possibilities- with the added advantage that it provides constant circumstances; and so, three cheers for applied physics.
  5. Remember that it's not necessary to install the pups in the bass to test them out. You can flip them upside down and suspend them above the strings to test them out. A couple pieces of wood or foam should work. Cut the end off a guitar cable, or unscrew the plug and use some aligator clips to hook it up.

    If you connect straight to a guitar cable (with no tone circuit) expect the test signal to be very bright. The tone control will cut a lot of treble when in place.
  6. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK

    So basically what you're suggesting is to use the pickup as a microphone, so you can compare the sound you get from different pickups? I assume you mean to listen to a recording of the bass being played that you want to hear with a different pickup... But if it is, then how can I get the tape to play back and record at the same time on my crappy hi-fi? :bawl: