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metal thing over the strings

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mans0n, Aug 10, 2002.

  1. mans0n


    Jun 15, 2002
    hmm im sure this has been asked before, i couldnt seem to find the right terms in the search for an answer

    but what the heck are those metal covers over the neck pickups (if there is even a pickup under it?) on rickenbacker and old fender bass's for? ive always wondered this some clarification is definately needed please =)
  2. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I don't know what they are for, other than looks, but most people remove them (I'm talking about the Fender type, I don't know about the Rick's). Obviously they don't perform an important function. My 1976 Gibson Thunderbird has one, and I leave it on only because it makes a better thumb rest than the pickup (which is too low to use). Will Lee (David Letterman Show bassist) has Sadowsky put them on all his basses, for the same reason.
  3. tim4003


    Apr 30, 2002
    Dawsonville , GA
    On RIC 4001 basses (pre earley '70s), these were horseshoe magnets. These can be identified by a slot through the center between the A & D strings. It was a functional part of the pick ups.
    On later 4001s & all 4003s, these p/u's were replaced by High Gain p/u's that didn't utilize the horseshoe, so RIC put a plastic cover in place of it to maintain the "LOOK".
  4. They are called, brace yourself now, Pick up covers. :eek:


    In early fenders, their only purpose was cosmetics. Someone told me that old pick ups did not have the plastic covers on them like they do today, so the pick ups were rather ugly. They slapped the cover on there to cover up the ugliness on an otherwise good looking instrument.

    The covers on the Ric, like Tim4003 said, were neccessary in the proper functioning of the pick ups.

    The bridge covers, AFAIK, serve no purpose either, other than cosmetic appearance.
  5. Couldn't it offer some kind of shielding to?
    I think Marcus Miller leaves his cover on his J.
  6. I suppose it could. I'm not really familiar with the construction process of the old Fenders. But its nothing some shielding tape wouldn't fix. I think they just get in the way, but YMMV.
  7. I have one on my Ric, which I'll be removing once I get the strings changed, it's right smack dab in the spot where I usually play.
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    The bridge cover on Fenders originally had a foam or rubber mute in it, I'm not sure when they stopped putting that in there.
  9. Oh thats right, I had forgotten about the mute.

    I never would have used it anyway. I played and old P bass, 73 I think, and hated it. It had the mute in there and it kills the sustain. I don't like the pup covers on the P either, since i play right over the pup.

    I'm considering getting one for my Franken-essex-jazz, since I tend to play between the pups.
  10. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    You're correct. On the oldest Precis's, "the blondies." it provided shielding, too.

    The bridge cover in those very old Precis's also had a mute in them. as embellisher said. So, what a lot of owners did was turn them around the other way/backwards, and screwed them back in, so they didn't mute.

    You'll see them referred to as "ashtrays" among vintage Fenderites.
  11. mans0n


    Jun 15, 2002
    thank you for the replies everyone =)

    this mystery..... for me! seems to have been solved now.. thankfully onto the next one. whatever that will be
  12. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    The pickup cover woud also serve as a palm rest, as the bass was originally intended to be played with one's thumb. I searched high and low for a pic of Brian Wilson showing that technique but couldn't find one online, so here's one of James Jamerson, using the pickup cover in a similar way, but with a index finger pizzicato technique.


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