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more than the usual number of pickups

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by uethanian, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. uethanian


    Mar 11, 2007
    sry if this has been covered, but i wasnt sure what to search for...

    can your sound/performance be affected negatively if you have too many pickups? im wondering about a bass with four or five, those big fatty ones, with no gaps inbetween. that way they would function as a ramp (?).

    i think i've seen things like this, but not very often. i would guess that the more of the string is "picked up," the thicker your tone is. so why dont people do it?
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The main reason more bassists don't do it is because of diminishing returns. Most bassists are happy with their basses the way they are, and I think the general consensus is that they're not going to get more out of their basses with extra pickups. I'm one of those types. Two pickups is plenty for me. But there are some people who do add pickups like that. Bootsy Collins comes to mind. His Star Basses have 5 Jazz pickups. Billy Sheehan and Stu Hamm are a couple others who have extra pickups in non-stock places. So I wouldn't want to discourage you from trying it. For all I know, you may love it. But I'd try it out on a cheapo before you go carving up an expensive bass.
  3. +1
  4. Just FYI, a bass with two humbuckers (side by side) is technically a bass with 4 pickups.
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    It also possible that too many magnets near the strings will interfere too much with the string vibration. I don't know if it's been shown, though, whether if each pup is kept at a distance that is "not too close" (as if it had been only one or two pups), this will or won't be good enough.
  6. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    The MusicMan Sabre is the perfect example of this. Too many PUs kill sustain and fundamental.
  7. fookgub


    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    ... and yet the Bongo is fine. hmm...

    More to do with the design of the pickups than the number of them, I think.
  8. Mine has three single coils, one in the neck position, one in the traditional middle position, and one in between the two (i.e., there is not one near the bridge); with all three on and in phase, the signal is too much for my rig to properly reproduce without it sounding like mud. So usually I use just one or two at a time.

    I've tried it with all three through a good amp before and while it does sound very rich, the tone loses some beauty, detail, and character that way. Maybe if I replaced the pickups with something better (I'm thinking of swapping them out for Burns Bass Trisonics), it would sound more interesting and detailed.
  9. bassksun


    Mar 5, 2004
    Las Vegas,NV
    Richard Bona's Fodora :eek:
  10. keyboardguy

    keyboardguy Supporting Member

    May 11, 2005
    I threw on a Reverend P-bass pup in front of SD basslines on a Carvin B4. The sound is Thump heaven with lots of sustain.

    Go for it !!


  11. It'll look like crap, IMO. But, whatever tickles your pickle.
  12. l_65e151568fc75827009f92166b953d5f.

    Here's an example of a bass with an extra pickup. Something like this is still useful. I'll echo that adding too many pickups with a strong magnetic field will really take away your sustain. I'd also guess routing out all that wood could possibly affect the overall tone of the bass, too.
  13. Fast n Funky 11

    Fast n Funky 11

    Aug 28, 2007
    My first reaction to the fact the the pickups are all near the neck was the fact that they are all going to pickup tons of overtones: making it a big fat mud machine (not necesarrily a bad thing) the bridge pickup is generally the one that picks up the detail in your tone. However, this bass sounds like it could be a reggae/dub monster
  14. uethanian


    Mar 11, 2007
    oooookay....jbass/pbass combo's wasnt wat i was talking about. but thanks anyways.

    i mean something along the lines of this (sorry Bryan Tyler for remote linking...)


    yea, i know its just two pickups with a ramp. keeping that in mind, you could replace that ramp with just another pickup. and maybe another pickup after that. and another one after that. therefore giving you one giant ramp, in a way.

    i realize that having 4 or 5 pickups going at once would sound overwhelming, but i think it would be cool to have a gradual pan from first pickup to last.
  15. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Just a question.
    If the pickup magnet is either too strong and/or too close to the string it will kill harmonics, right?
    So would it not be conducive to an "open" tone and "free " harmonics, if the pickup
    is placed between the places where the harmonics sit(nodes),
    is narrow
    and be equipped with a magnet that is not too strong?

    I'd greatly appreciate any feedback
  16. MattL920


    Jul 20, 2006
    ...this one :D

    Attached Files:

  17. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    if you can't 'say it' with one or two pickups, maybe you'd be better off spending the extra $$$ on some lessons, a new set of strings, and a theory class or two.


    just my two (Indian) Rupees on this

  18. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    Builder: ThorBass
    Oh poo ;)


    Just don't set the pups to high.
  19. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Two problems here. First, it doesn't necessarily "kill the harmonics," it introduces a whole set of new harmonics that don't belong on that note. Second, you can't in practice place a pickup in any particular harmonic spot, at nodes or antinodes, because as soon as you fret, all the node positions are all changed, at different positions for each fretted note.
  20. Another issue that comes to mind is polarity and possible pickup demagnetisation, so pickups should be selected with this in mind. Having pickups that close together may negatively impact the pickup itself depending on the magnetic polarity of the pickups placed side by side. What you don't want is like polarities so close to each other because that will actually demagnetise a pickup to an extent.

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