Neck pickup location

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by brisonic, May 6, 2021.

  1. brisonic


    Jan 1, 2006
    san diego
    I have been thinking about this and it seems like, among current basses, the only ones that have a neck pickup VERY near the neck are the Sheehan Attitude and the Gibson/Epi EB basses. Are there others? This so totally matters from a physics perspective; I am really surprised more are not doing this?
  2. Hoyt


    Jun 29, 2006
    Saint Charles, IL.
    There’s a few out there like the ones you mentioned and some customs.

    Billy’s bass is interesting because it splits the signal, and I think that’s the only way to go with a pickup that close to the neck IMHO.
    Bassclef46 and StevieMac like this.
  3. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    Ric (spaced back a little) and Hofner (spaced back a little because its neck is two frets longer) are also forward enough for me.
    It was from the Ric that I learned that I must have a neck pickup close to the neck, and now EB, Ric and Hofner are my favorites.

    I need to buy a router.

    I don't remember Warmoth offering a route that far up. I haven't asked them but surely they could.
  4. Bassclef46


    Feb 1, 2021
    I play my Sheehan attitude 3 almost exclusively with just the neck pickup. I love that deep low end.
    DavidEdenAria, LetItGrowTone and Hoyt like this.
  5. Hoyt


    Jun 29, 2006
    Saint Charles, IL.
    The neck joint on that bass impresses the heck out of me. I’d actually love to own one someday, but they’re difficult for me to justify a purchase in that price range. They seem totally worth it, but considering that I play mostly festivals and dive bars, I can’t rationalize the expense.
  6. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    I don't find it surprising.

    Unless one designs a pickup in a very clever manner - Rickenbacker's "toaster" comes to mind - the end result is likely to be less than useful for a lot of people. Fender attempted it with the second generation of Telecaster Bass (1972-79) and that is to this day arguably the least popular U.S. built 34" Fender bass.

    Gibson still gets a ton of grief and hate over their original Sidewinders aka "mudbuckers" which were discontinued 42 years ago. What you find in the SG bass nowadays is a completely different pickup that is just dressed up to look like the old ones, and some people still find it to be too dark-sounding..

    Pickup design has gone leaps and bounds from that era, but more importantly today's amps and cabs are actually capable of handling pickups placed at the very bottom of the neck. Still, the preconceived notions from decades ago still live on and I'd tend to believe that many manufacturers are weary of introducing such an instrument.

    My $0.02 only...
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
  7. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    (The Sheehan bass also has one more fret than a Ric or EB, and so the pickup is back just a little.)
    ajkula66 likes this.
  8. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    They are awesome basses but you’re not wrong; they were useless at the time. Good friend of mine had one and we saw the tonal potential of the thing but all it could do back in the mid 1980s was blow speakers. All the damn time. If I were playing reggae/dub these days I’d want one as the go to instrument and probably just run it through subs.

  9. Yup, I had one and used to blow SVT speakers with it, mid 70's. It sounded better recorded than it did live. You could get some treble out of them though.
  10. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    What I meant to say and forgot, now it's too late to edit the post:

    The first *really* usable bass with a neck pickup all the way up - usable by standards of its day, not today with improved amps etc - was Ovation Magnum. I wish that my hands were still able to handle its sizable neck, it's one stunning instrument regardless of the iteration.
  11. This is generally the layout you see on basses conceived in the 50's or early 60's. It's too extreme for me from this standpoint:

    Take any bass (it's easier to hear on a single pickup axe, but still there regardless) and pick or pluck right at the end of the fingerboard, then repeat the line you played as close to the bridge saddles as possible. Hear the difference? This is why you always see slappers hit right there or even on the last 1 or 2 frets. And some guys utilize it in a way that really works for them, look at Billy Sheehan.

    The closer you get to the fingerboard, the bassier the tone becomes, and the reverse happens as you near the bridge. So with that 'old school' layout, this is part of the reason EB's got that rep, it's just real fat sounding right there. With the right pickups and a pan control you could blend in enough bridge to add definition to the neck pickup, but these are extreme positions and it's hard to get around it.

    THIS is why on a Jazz or a Precision with the Jazz pickup added, I DON'T want the Jazz pickup pushed all the way back. I always had good luck spotting that Jazz pickup halfway between the end of the PBass pickguard and the start of the bridge base plate. But then Yamaha backed a lot of those blade pickups on the BB's right up to it and it worked, so they had to have compensated the tone of the pickup so it wouldn't sound . . . . . like a Tele on steroids.
  12. bumperbass


    Jun 19, 2012
    Tom Sholz used an EB-3(?) to double track the Boston albums.
    I used to have an EB-3 (late sixties) and actually it makes more sense today with improved speakers and HPF's.
    I still remember how deep that old mudbucker sounded.
    ajkula66 likes this.
  13. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    It was actually a "slothead" EB-0 with a slanted Jazz Bass pickup added. He got a nice sound out of it.

    I've been saying for a while now that the new amps - even something as mundane as a Rumble - are the best things that ever happened to old Gibson basses.
    dkelley and PennyroyalWe like this.
  14. Dabndug

    Dabndug Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    Mosrites, Guilds (such as the Starfire), Travis Beans, Ovation Magnums, Waterstone TPs, Gretsch semi-hollows such as the 6073, and the infamous bass vi all have neck pickups close to the fretboard. It's not an incredibly rare configuration.
  15. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I recently "unretired" my 67 EB0 and took it to practice. I ended up turning the bass control on my amp to about "1" so as to not muddy the room up too much. :D
    DavidEdenAria and Ricky Rioli like this.
  16. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    My first thought was Hofner.
    PennyroyalWe likes this.
  17. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    I love a pickup right against the fretboard. But only if it’s an articulate pickup with lots of high-end clarity. The last thing I want in that spot is a thick-sounding humbucker.
  18. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    An essential ingredient for me, for any pickup at the neck, is an Ampeg style (or equivalent) bass control, "+/- xdB @ 40Hz", rather than the Fender style.

    I like pickup placement that catches more low E fundamental - and then turn that down as needed - because it gets me what to my ears is a clear low E, F, F# G that I can distinguish better. (And turning that down coincidentally and conveniently acts as, or contributes to, HPFing.)

    What is mud to me is "Motown", and to me rounds don't fix it.
  19. AboutSweetSue


    Sep 29, 2018
    That is precisely what I did. I later took the neck pickup out and painted the bass gold...reinstalled without the DiMarzio. I then realized it’s a far superior bass with the neck pickup. DE458099-F1E2-40A1-91D8-0F5A06E98B6A.jpeg
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
  20. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    My understanding is that Sheehan does this specifically to cop the same tone from EB-style basses. That is a specific tone that a certain percentage of people love, but most people stay away from. For me, it tends to seem too muddy and bass-heavy for my purposes.

    So, while it does "matter," from a physics perspective, it matters in a way that many (probably most) bassists do not prefer.
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