Ideal pickup placement?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Techmonkey, Aug 8, 2005.

  1. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK
    Well I'm building a 35" scale length 5 string bass... With Kent Armstrong soapbars. But I don't have a clue where to put the pickups. I heard it's a good idea to have them on the spots where you can do artificial harmonics, but I'll have to wait till the bass is assembled before I can route the pickups that way. Does anybody know any good pickup placements for 35" scale length basses? In the bridge pickup I'm looking for a growly punchy sound (like Warwick growl) for a good agressive metal tone, but in the neck I'm looking for a more thumpy warm tone, for more fingerstyle funk.

    FWIW: The woods I'm using are wenge/wenge in the neck and bubinga in the body.

    So, if anybody can help with pickup placements it'd be muchos appreciated!! :bassist:
  2. The exact pickup placement isn't that critical. My advice would be to put them in the same locations as other basses that have the tone you like.
  3. hrrrmmm... I've heard it can dramatically change the sound of a bass. While i've never really studied it, I'm sure there are guys here who have looked into it.... I mean, does placing them right under natural harmonics (say, right where the 36th fret would be) or having it placed just shy of that... moving them closer to the neck or further away... It must have an effect. I'd be thinking having a neck pup right up close to the neck would make it boomier and a bridge closer to the bridge would sound thinner but more precise. But like i said, i'd love to hear from someone whose done some comparitive study. :D - Ahhh... I love leaching peoples hard work and knowledge.
  4. wow great help... alot of that kinda goes over my head :confused: , but i'll re read it abit till i understand it better, great link. Thanks a tonne! :D
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Pickup placement does have a great effect on the tone. But there is no "best" place. In fact, putting then directly on a harmonic node spot of an open string will cause that particular harmonic to have zero output.

    As mentioned, either
    - copy the placement of an instrument that you like the sound of, or
    - build the instrument minus the pickup route, then make a jig to hold the pup above the strings, try different positions out, and then route it at your chosen position.
  6. Doug Westlake

    Doug Westlake

    Jul 6, 2005
    I've only built 4 EBG's, but on each one I experimented with ideal pickup placement before routing the holes. I found that the neck pickup is not as sensitive to placement as the bridge one, and that the bridge pickup sounds best as close as it can be placed to the bridge. On my last two EBG's, I used FJazz style pickups in the bridge position and cut the mounting screw bumps off one side so they could be placed even closer to the bridge. Even that little distance makes quite a difference in over all string brightness. Also, the string amplitude is decreasing drastically nearer the bridge, which rolls off a lot of lows physically at the string, where is much more effective that just turning down the bass on the amp. Makes you sound like J. Pastorius even when you're not playing 'FFF'!
  7. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK
    Wow, sounds interesting... Both of my basses have their pickups right up close to the bridge (Not that close though) but I find it quite hard to play the higher strings with all that tension, especially on a 35" scale length bass. (I like to anchor on the pickups)
    Though I could do what I do on my current basses - Anchor my thumb on the neck pickup and play inbetween the two
    I ran the pickup simulator and I got a fairly even response over the fretboard with both pickups - A little quieter in the low end on both pickups than I would have liked, but the graph indicated that the low B would pick up just as well as any of the other strings.