Installing 5 pickups into 1 bass

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Gulli Hardar, Aug 26, 2021.

  1. Gulli Hardar

    Gulli Hardar

    Aug 19, 2021
    Ive been considering modifying my P-Bass so that it has a Rick pickup in the neck, P pickup in the normal spot, Jazz stack in the middle next to the P pickup, a MM pickup in the bridge position and a strat stack hugging the bridge à la Cliff Burton, and being a novice in the instrument electronics department i was wondering if there would be any complications with having this setup
  2. OOD


    Jul 29, 2009
    Others will come along with more wiring knowledge, but I’ll just say that I would make sure I have a way to take these pickups out of the signal completely with a pickup selector. Maybe multiple pickup selectors for convenience.
  3. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Anything is possible. First you have to wonder why you'd do that. What's the goal ?
  4. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Yes, it’s possible. If the different pickups have different resistance values, then combining them could be a bit of a problem. But just using switches to run one at a time would work well.
    Reedt2000 and scuzzy like this.
  5. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Sounds like a lot of magnetic pull on the strings!
  6. It's a good experiment, you only forget to add a piezo pickup into the bridge.

    I had a PJ with piezo in the bridge. Then I found that the piezzo doesn't add much and took it out. Then later I found I don't really like the J and took it out too. I find it quite likely that you will find the differences between the pickups are not as big as you think. I'd use some beaten body, perhaps even buy a cheap parts body for experimenting, so you won't be sorry later.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah they oughta pull pretty hard on the strings. Could be some tuning/sustain issues.

    Here's the thing. It's all about value. If you have a bass body you don't value, go for it. If tue money it would cost to get the pickups doesn't hurt you financially, go for it.

    If this is your only bass, and you're all but broke, don't do it.

    Mods should be fun. If there's no risk, and only potential reward, have fun with it.
  8. Gulli Hardar

    Gulli Hardar

    Aug 19, 2021
    The goal of the build is to create a “franksteins monster bass” and i was thinking about using push/pull pots for the rick and MM pickups so that i could split them and then route them all (except for the strat stack, that will go into a bypass switch and straight to the output) into a darkglass tone capsule with a bypass switch and then maybe have dual outputs like billy sheehan, but if the pull on the strings would be too much with them all i think id just take out the J pickup if thats enough difference
    Thank you all for the replies
  9. Blackjac97

    Blackjac97 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2012
    Check out Guns n' Guitars on youtube. This post reminded me of a video of his I had seen.

    He makes basses with all kinds of pickups in them. Combining ric pickups and jazz pickups, p90s and humbuckers, etc, maybe not quite as many pickups as your thinking, but definitely along similar lines.

    Edit: I actually don't see a bass with guitar pickups in it now. My memory was off. But still, it's good watchin'.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
    instrumentalist and mikewalker like this.
  10. Stop the talking and start the wiring! ;)
    I'd consider blends maybe to overcome the incredible diversity of pups outputs and resistance.
  11. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    I'm enough of a novice that I'd probably make a template for the routering then make a bass out of a 2x4/2x6 or a junk body first if only to get the routering and wiring done right.
  12. mrjim123

    mrjim123 Supporting Member

    May 17, 2008
    With that much extra weight in the body you definitely won't have to worry about neck dive.
    Funky40, JonathanPDX and Clemouze like this.
  13. Gulli Hardar

    Gulli Hardar

    Aug 19, 2021
    Im thinking of ordering the cheapest Harley Benton P-Bass to practice on that body with the routing and wiring so that i dont screw up on the bass i inted to modify
    TheReceder, basted and funkinbottom like this.
  14. Gulli Hardar

    Gulli Hardar

    Aug 19, 2021
    And using a bypass switch for each of the pickups so i can just take them out of the signal if i dont want them on
  15. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
  16. drumvsbass


    Aug 20, 2011
    5 you say... Hmmm...

  17. WillyW

    WillyW l’art pour l’art, fonction de baise

    Dec 10, 2019
    DJ Bebop, kjp360, MattZilla and 3 others like this.
  18. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    This is a very real concern - pickups closer to the neck, and with more magnetic pull can give you strange (not good strange, bad strange) sounds from notes higher up on the lower strings. You don't see a lot of folks with 4 or 5 pickups on their basses (3 is actually pretty rare). There is a reason for this - the utility of an added pickup often doesn't make up for the shortcomings that come with adding it.

    Getting them all to play nicely with each other is another concern - for example, MM pickups are usually much lower impedance than P's or J's - if you turn on the MM and a P pickup, you won't hear much of the P if they're wired in parallel. I've built a bunch of 2 pickup basses - even getting 2 to work together in a manner that makes the thing more usable than 1 pickup in the right spot is sometimes a challenge. When you start putting magnetic things next to each other, the interactions are also kinda unpredictable - more than 3 pickups means they're gonna be almost on top of each other, which may or may not cause issues.

    This is not to say that you won't learn something from this - you will. It's just that you may learn about a bunch of things that don't work, which is likely to be disappointing. If I were you, I'd start with a physical design where you have a pickguard covering the entire area between the neck and bridge. That way, if/when you decide that a certain pickup and/or location doesn't work for you, you can make a new pickguard, and cover the "oops".
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
  19. Too crowded. Those many pickups will not have enough real estate to be in their sweet spot. Sure you could add a rotary switch to engage selected pickups or combinations, but so what? I suggest find another more practical project.
    Funky40 likes this.
  20. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I have thought about all of these things in many ways in the last 45+ years that I have been playing and tinkering with electric instruments. For guitar, I always seem to gravitate back towards a simple neck-both-bridge setup, and on bass, on stage, to one pickup in the P position, with only occasional use of a J bridge pickup blended in a little bit to flavor the tone or articulation.

    To get an educated ear, I suggest spending time at a sympathetic music store that will let you try all of the basses that have the pickups you are thinking about to see what their real tone in their original instrument will sound like. You may prefer to purchase (I suggest used) versions of the basses that have the particular pickups under discussion depending on the feel and the rest of the construction synergy and ergonomics that make each of these basses what they are. From experience, if you put all the pickups on one bass, you will have more of a difference of tone from the difference of mounting position, not from the different kind of pickups. For example, I have a Rickenbacker HB-1 in the "DG" position of a custom P-style bass. Does the bass sound like a Rickenbacker? No. It sounds like a P-bass with a little more edge on the EA strings due to the pickup being a little closer to the bridge.
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