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Less is More?...

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by groove pump, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    Howdy troops! This is a general inquiry as to your approach to getting sound and tone depending on the layout of pickups you have in your basses. Maybe this has relevance in the Live Sound section, but I'm more or less focused on the use of one or more pickups here.

    Times have changed along with my point of view I guess. Back when I first got my Jazz, I suppose my attitude was that this thing has two pickups so I should use them both wide open... and I did. Love that tone forever - my passive Jazz is a parts bass with humbucking DiMarzio Ultra J's. Later on I came across a '79 MM Sabre which I've also played out on some occasions. That thing is an absolute diesel, but my approach was also the same early on; two pickups on board, so play them both together.

    The latest addition is a P/J 4-string with active EMG's. The first time I played out with this bass and solo'ed the neck (P) pickup, my guitar player actually asked me to turn down. Maybe this was the turning point. Suddenly I appreciated how much phase cancellation can suppress or mellow down my tone when two pickups are blended together, at least sometimes.

    So now I'm finding that I pretty much like to play my basses running only one pickup. Unless I want a slappy tone from my Jazz, I solo the neck pickup for a sorta-kinda P sound. My Sabre is Godzilla big with the neck solo'ed and also fun with the bridge solo'ed and the lows bumped. That P/J mostly runs "full P". Va-voom!!

    Interesting how my take on pickup use has evolved and I can't help but wonder whether you cats have gone through your own evolution with your own gear. Feel free to offer any of your own revelations.
  2. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    When I use the Jazz basses, I usually keep the neck full up and the bridge off. On my Carvin, which has a single-coil at the neck and a humbucker at the bridge, I use one or the other, rarely together or blended in any way. I also have a fretless with 2 humbuckers---on that one I use both pickups full up.

    Like you, my approach to this has changed over the years. In the beginning, it all pick-ups wide open all the time (the rock and metal years). As I got more into fusion, and later other types of music, I started trying to coax different sounds out of my rigs.
  3. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    I am me
    My latest thing is to run 2 J pups, but not in a conventional manner. The bridge pup is located in the 70's position. The neck pup is in the "MM" sweet spot. Only about 1.5 inches between the 2 pups. Add a nice 3 band preamp. This gives me the low end and a great deal of punch. I'll adjust the volumes on the pups to get the tone I'm looking for. I really don't have a setting I stick with all night. It really depends on the room.
    Will_White likes this.
  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
    Generally, both pickups full on for modern tones, neck pickup only for oldies stuff (Motown etc.), bridge only or both for rock. Most of my instruments are wired with a Gibson-style three-way switch. However, the blend on my Audere-equipped bass is mighty nice...

    The caveat here is that if the bridge pickup is slammed right up against the bridge, it doesn't work on its own for me. At all. I prefer a "bridge" pickup to have at least a good two inches of wood showing between the pickup and the bridge. You get more beef that way, and I'm in the business of supplying quality beef. :bassist:
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    When I started out I did basically the same thing. Both pickups at 100% was the default setting.

    As I got more experience playing out with other people I realized what worked better for me was soloing whichever pickup was closest to the P position.

    The only exceptions are when playing chords I'll solo the bridge pickup (maybe one song an hour on gigs), or on fretless I prefer both pickups on with the neck turned down about 25%.
  6. ofajen


    Apr 12, 2007
    92.4W 38.9N
    My first and only bass for 25 years was a Ripper, which has a four way switch, so I didn't have blend control, just four combinations.

    I used the neck only setting most often, which gives a very deep, focused tone.

    Next most used is both in parallel, which is very fat and can have a very nice high end for slap with some treble boost. Much like both pickups full on with a J.

    Both pickups in series is a barky tone with strong midrange. I've used that on occasion but less than those other two.

    Now I also have bridge only instead of the useless polarity inverted setting. That is great when played with a pick or finger style right over the pickup for a burpy tone.

    Overall, I think that system got me into the mode of trying both single and combo settings as appropriate to the tune. The four way switch is conducive to that because it is quick and reproducible.

  7. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    Thanks to everybody for your thoughts.

    Haven't done much fretless playing in a while, but I do recall typically using both J pickups wide open there.

    Also loving the idea of dropping an Audere preamp into my Jazz and it's good to know that the blend can be so effective there.

    More on this story as it develops...
  8. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    i also started both full on, as well as tone (jazz bass)
    Now I know there is a variety of tones in there, and theyre subtle shades. I still use both more than one solo'd, but the knobs are down in the 40 - 75% range usually
  9. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I guess everybody starts out with the both pickups on full thing. I know I did. Largely I think I was motivated to do that because that cancels the single coil hum. Over time I also moved to setting volume at about 80%. This was because of gigs where I DI into the sound board which is set and forget with no actual sound guy. So that gives me a little extra boost I can call on if I suddenly need it. But then I put SCN pickups in my Fender Jazz V and since have discovered that indeed there is reason to solo the neck or solo bridge pickups. And without hum I love it. Still the dual full on mode is really sort of the traditional Jazz thing, right?

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