Late 60’s sounding Precision Bass pickup?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Ethan Battistel, Aug 17, 2020.

  1. Fender Pure Vintage ‘63 Precision Bass pickups

  2. Other

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Ethan Battistel

    Ethan Battistel

    Mar 4, 2020
    As some of you may have seen in my earlier posts, I’m a huge John Deacon fan, and I’m always chasing his perfect tone. While I’ve mastered the amp tones, I’m now looking for the bass tone.

    I have a p bass, which is the most obvious factor in getting close to his tone, and I’d say I’m pretty damn close, but I’m constantly chasing the absolute perfect tone. I know John had ‘65 and ‘68 p basses which sounded 99% identical. I’ve been looking at Fender’s Pure Vintage ‘63 pickups which I’d assume are pretty damn close to the ‘65, which would be close to the ‘68.

    The pure vintage pickups would be my first choice, but I don’t know if the pickups changed when CBS bought Fender. I’ve heard some luthiers and smaller companies make custom ‘65 pickups, but I live in Canada, so shipping is a huge factor in searching for anything bass.

    I know some of you said that John was able to get a similar sound with any bass or amp he used, but this is sort of my dream project, so it would be really helpful if anyone have any suggestions. I’m looking to do these upgrades on a MIM Player p bass, but I’ve been looking into getting a custom shop or even original p bass for when I’m ready to buy that “dream bass”.
  2. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    Big Deacon fan here as well, saw Queen live 3 times with Freddie (mom was a bigger fan :) ) I have long wondered if he did any modding on his P basses as he was the electronics guru in the band, and built the boxes that helped Brian May sound like Brian May iirc.

    On my own P bass, most signature Queen tones are readily available with different tone knob positions. For me, the key was an underwound pickup, maybe look there as well.
    Here's a few possibilities- Underwound P Bass Pickups

  3. Bass4ThePublic

    Bass4ThePublic Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2019
    Kansas City
    Seymour Duncan Antiquity 2. Built like late 60s p pickups and sounds just like it.
  4. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    I’m not the most well-versed in small differences between vintage sounding P pickups, but I’d say those differences are small in comparison to how the bass sounds as a whole. In other words, to nail the sound, you might need to try a few different pickups to hear how they sound in your bass...

    Or, you can get a “good enough” pickup (perhaps even the stock one), and instead find the right flats for it... obviously you want to start with Rotos (that’s what John used, right?), but with your bass and pickup, another set of flats might work better.

    the thing is, minus the player (and amp), there are probably three main ingredients to the sound of a bass: strings, pickup, and the bass itself (and interplay between them). You change one component, and then you gotta get the other two in balance...
  5. Ethan Battistel

    Ethan Battistel

    Mar 4, 2020
    I read on their website that they were designed to sound like Motown, which were pre-cbs pickups
  6. Ethan Battistel

    Ethan Battistel

    Mar 4, 2020
    Well I’ll be buying roto flats (obviously), and have a Pau Ferro fretboard (almost identical tone to rosewood) and have the amp settings nailed, but for me it’s down to the pickups. As I said, I live in Canada, so the prices are much higher as well as the shipping costs, so I don’t really have the luxury of trying different pickups
  7. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    I’m not sure that it’s any big mystery or if there was anything “special” about deacons gear, but any nice precision pickup (fender,fralin,Duncan,Lollar etc.) Would suffice
    I loved the flying mojo jazz pickups But have no experience with their P pickup
    I would suspect that the flying mojo pickups might be perfect as they use real CBS era wire and magnets (they purchased the old fender and gibson components) when the companies relocated
    I believe that they even purchased som of the original machines used to manufacture as well FWIW
    BASS Archives -
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
    Burwabit likes this.
  8. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    I haven’t used any of these, and I don’t know how easy they are to find…

    Arcane 65 Experience
    Bare Knuckle P Bass 65
    The Creamery Classic 65
  9. Bass4ThePublic

    Bass4ThePublic Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2019
    Kansas City
    That have plain enamel wire which was used on fender pickups from late 1964 til the mid 80's. I had them in a bass and they sounded a little bit less aggressive than my stock 1976 Precision, but very similar. Think Geezer Butler tone off of the Paranoid album.
  10. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but it sounds to me you have this almost completely backwards. Get Rotos first, adjust the setup, and play the strings for a while so they settle in... I’m not sure what you mean with having amp settings nailed, but I suggest you start over when you get the new strings. And practice a lot to nail his technique and touch and all. Listen with your ears, not eyes (specs).

    You probably won’t even need new pickups, but you can’t fully assess your needs until you try Rotos. And even if Rotos don’t do, perhaps different flats will get you closer to the tone (rather than different pickup). It’s typically much cheaper and effective to change the sound with strings.

    Changing pickups is a gamble, you have to take into account that whatever you try may simply not work well in your bass. It can be expensive to go down that road. The most cost effective way is to buy used pickups, and resell them if they don’t work out. If you want to start on the cheap, I’d look into Duncan SPB-1. But only after trying Rotos, and maybe one or two other sets. You have to first find out what exactly you’re missing, then find the pickup that might correct that deficiency.
    diegom likes this.
  11. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Look at Lollar. Fralins are great too. Probably in my very subjective and clearly stupid view I think Fralin is maybe a little cleaner and Lollar P has a tiny bit more growl, but they're really close to each other. If you want to sound like a '60's vintage P but you want more of "it" try the Lollar first. And yes, it's subjective.
    If you want to "soup up" your P to make it not as vintage sounding but maybe a little hotter and brighter look at Fralin first.
  12. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    You could also turn your P into a monster with a John East preamp, that makes it a stone cold murderer but that isn't within the scope of OP.
  13. Ethan Battistel

    Ethan Battistel

    Mar 4, 2020
    Do you mean the 62’s sounded like geezer or your 76 p bass sounded like geezer?
  14. Bass4ThePublic

    Bass4ThePublic Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2019
    Kansas City
    I mean the antiquity 2’s sounded like Geezer.