One pickup or two?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Michael Jewels, Mar 5, 2001.

  1. Attention Moderator: You might at first think that this belongs
    in the Pickup section, but, as you read on I think you'll agree
    that it's more of a guitar question rather than a technical pickup inquiry.

    The question that I now put before all you Friends, Romans and countrymen of this forum: Do you prefer one pickup on a bass, or two, and Why? I'll give my opinion then you all can follow.

    A few months ago, I read a tone tip in Bass Player Magazine
    in which a few bass players/makers were asked about how many pickups a bass sounds best with, and it made me think
    a bit.

    I think a bass only needs one pickup to sound good. O.K. I
    know two pickups gives more potential versatility, but after
    buying an Epi Jack Casady, it changed my mind about the number of pickups a bass should have. With only one pickup
    I think you concentrate more on your playing than on your tone. I know a Jazz Bass sounds great and versatile, but, think
    about Musicman Stingrays; they sound fantastic, and if you
    think back a few years, they offered a two pickup version
    (the Sabre) but, as you all know, wasn't nearly as popular as the Stingray, why?

    One pickup also makes for a less complicated instrument; less
    wiring and switching. Some players and manufacturers also feel that one pickup gives somewhat more of a truer tone, as
    there's less of a magnetic field to affect the strings' vibratons.

    One more thing to add to the *one pickup* cause: If you play
    acoustic bass guitar, or an upright, how many pickups do they have?

    Just something I wanted to ask you all.

    Mike J.

    P.S. Whatever you view on pickups, let me give all of you some personal advise: If you're out at a bar, Don't try to
    *Pickup* more than one woman per night; it doesn't end well.
  2. ahh, but then i think of the G&L L-2500
  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Actually, I think the Moderator wouldn't move this thread even if you hadn't posted your "Disclaimer" thingy. all you had to do was phrase the question as "Do you prefer basses with one or two pickups?"

    Anyway, I have only had one bass with one pickup. Actually three. An Aria Pro, a Warwick and a Samick Stingray.

    I enjoy the extra tonal options you get with two pickups and the fact that you have more options as far as places to rest your thumb, although I'd settle for just one if I felt it was voiced properly from the start.

    Will C.:cool:
  4. i always knew moderators werent really god like beings!!!! big wheel just accidently posted the same msg twice!!!
  5. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Well, Even Gods make mistakes. The thing that makes us real gods is that we go back and rectify our errors.;)

    I'm still high and mighty, though.

    Will C.:cool:
  6. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Oh really? Must be something wrong with my hearing then.


    Kidding. :D

    I happen to prefer a single pickup bass myself (Sorry OysterDude, the MM Stingray RuLeZ!! :p :D)

    My main ax is a SR5, I played my carvin almost exclusively with the bridge pup only, and same for my jazz fretless, although sometimes I'll blend both pups there.

    I think the whole point is, If you want versatility out of a bass, it's possible the more pickups you have the more options you'll have tonally. If you're a one tone kind of player and you're not Oysterman ;) a single pup bass like a Musicman may be just what the doctor ordered.
  8. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    well, I had a one pickup bass for two years and I didn't like it at all.
    the sound lacked that neck pickup deepness.

    I now own a dual pickup bass (can't afford more than one at a time) and I like it mucho better.

    maybe if I try single pup basses with another PU placement it would be more to my liking but the one I had was too much mid and not enough bass.

    with the dual pickups I can achive both this and a deep neck soloed tone and anything in between.

    thats my opinion though and it might be completley useless to some of you who have different visions of what they're bass should sound like.
  9. I have heard that a second pickup down by the bridge helps prevent neck dive, but I wouldn't know.
  10. Hey Stingray5, you had me goin, there for a moment; Moving to pickups.

    Now, the next question...

    Should I or should I not become an elite member?

    Hmm... Methinks I shall sleep on it.

    Later guys.

    Mike J.
  11. oo0o00o0oo


    Apr 30, 2000
    Maybe if thats where you anchor your finger...surely not from the weight of it though. I prefer 2 pickups, just for the tone differences.
  12. Sorry, I was being facetious. I have had many two-pickup basses, but always seem to end up playing just one. I am not too crazy about the sound of combined pickups. If there were a way to combine them without losing something, I might go for it. But it just sounds to me like something's lacking when two pickups are mixed. Someone somewhere was building a PMM. I thought about it briefly, maybe switching between the two (definitely not combining them). But the combined magnetic pull on the strings would probably be nasty. I'm a P player. I bought a J once, well, twice, but ended up just playing the neck pickup and not being all that thrilled about it. Played just the neck pickup on my MM Sabre. When I played a Steinberger 4, I just played the neck pickup. Same with a Steinberger 5. Same with a Ken Smith 5, which was just wonderful in every respect except it didn't sound like a P bass. About the only bass I ever had that I played both pickups on was an EB-3, and I guess I had a good excuse for dialing in the bridge pickup, even though the sound didn't have much excuse. Oh yeah, had an original Epi EB-2D or whatever Epi called it. But the bridge anchors started pulling out of the block before I could figure out if it had a useful two-pickup sound, and I traded it pronto. Now I'm having my first custom built. One pickup. I considered making it a PP with close positioning. I'd use only one pickup at a time, anyway. The first would be a bit north of the standard, and the second just a bit south. The idea is not new, and not popular either (see pic of the Hofner Cavern Bass, anyone ever seen one live? I'm going to buy one when I hit the Lotto). But I thought, nah, one is enough.
  13. BURN!
  14. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    My ATK was 1 Triple Coil Pickup, my Curbows are 1 Pickup with 4 coils, and my Crestwood was a Split P.

    I also have a SR506 with 2 Pickups and had a Jazz bass.
    2 pickups does give you "versatility" but .. do you use it? are you changing the sound everytime? I have been happy with single pickups but with multiple coils and a selector, thats more than enough for me, In fact I LOVED the ATK.

    My 6 String Curbow does not have a coil selector switch, but im happy the way it sounds, the same applies for the Stingray 4 that I love so much but I would never buy, then again, I would love the Stingray 5.

    I believe that 1 Pickup does make you focus more on playing than searching for the ultimate tone, it is also true, that the tone is affected by the way you play.

    My 2 Cents.
  15. One pickup or two? It's up to you....

    Oh no! Oysterman, I thought you had taste! :( ;) :p
  16. Anyone remember the Westone Rail bass? It only needed one pickup because you could slide it to any position between the neck and bridge on metal rails! I kid you not. Sounded just awful....But I don't think it had anything to do with pickups:D
    My configuration of choice is two J-style pickups, works fine for me. But to each his/her own.
  17. Me I like 2 PUs or more, if it ain't got I wanna add it (but mostly don't). I have 2 modified basses (fretted/fretless) with one with 3 operable pickups, the other 5 on 2 circuits plus 2 or 3 more stuck in just for grins lots of switches and knobs oh my.
    One pick up basses do sound fine, I guess I'm just a twiddler.
  18. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    I built a semi-hollow fretless with one humbucker. It sounded good, and I tried hard to like it, but I just kept wanting more options. I put in another pickup and changed the positions, and I love it. I also like the sound of both pickups on full; it is a smoother, almost compressed sound. I used to have a Sabre, bit I stupidly got rid of it. When I bought it, I hoped that it had Stingray tone, just doubled, but it didn't. It had serious bottom, though.
  19. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    It depends. For blues/funk thump, there's nothing like a single-pickup bass. The good ones (I'll go with the Precision and G&L L-1000 here) have that sweet spot pinpointed, and you can't fight it. For power and depth, though, I have to go with at least 2 pickups. That's why the Gibson Thunderbird (or my sweet Epiphone Embassy) has a sound that no other bass can match. Now, if you want to talk Bootsy, that's quite another story.....