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P-Bass Pickup Orientation

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by twisty4678, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. I've done a far bit of searching, but can't seem to come up with a consistent answer. I'm installing a pair of American p-bass pickups in an old beginner bass. I'm wondering if it matters which of the pickup halves (white wire/black wire) goes towards the neck? Furthermore, should both pickups be in the same left/right orientation (wires both exiting toward the right), or mirrored (wires both exiting towards the center)?

    As far as I can tell, top/bottom orientation does not matter, but both pickups should have the wiring leaving towards the right. Does this make any sense?

    Here are some pictures for clarity.
    1. White wire on top, same left/right orientation.
    2. Black wire on top, same left right orientation.
    3. White wire on top, mirrored orientation.
    4. Black wire on top, Mirrored orientation.
    Sorry if this is an dumb question!
  2. dave_bass5


    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    I think i generally do it as in pic #2, but im interested in what others have to say
    I was going to ask this a while ago but never found any need to, as i dont think i have need to change things
  3. oldleftybass


    Jan 24, 2013
    Good question! I'm putting a 61 Reissue pickup in my lefty Squire and wondered about orientation too. My guess is that it doesn't matter, but I'd like to hear some other opinions too.
  4. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    doesn't matter.
  5. I've often wondered why Leo laid the P pickup the way he did.

    Clearly, it was outrageously successful, so there's no point in challenging it. However, I would have intuitively done the opposite as the E and A strings generally have less treble than the D and G strings and by switching them around the tone might have been more consistent?

    It may simply be that he just got them as close as possible and didn't worry about the orientation. I doubt this though.

    Maybe, he really wanted the low notes bassier and the high notes treblier.

    Sorry, I've just made up some words, which is unforgivable.

  6. I'm glad I'm not the only one confused. I had read somewhere that orientation could effect being in/out of phase? Anyone want to explain that to me like I'm 5 haha?

    Rccollins: do you have experience with installing pickups? Or just from an electrical standpoint you know it doesn't matter? Thanks for the input!
  7. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Any of them work so long as you keep both flatwork pieces (where the wires are attached) on the same side. I.e. if the EA pickup's wire is on the bottom (towards the wood), the DG pickup's wire should also be on the bottom. That way, the pickup halves still have opposing electrical polarity and opposing magnetic polarity - which is necessary for the P-pickup as a unit to work as a humbucker.

    As for Leo's intentions, the best description I've heard before is that this sort of stagger makes the lows deeper and the highs brighter, just as you said - which made sense from a perspective back then. A reverse orientation is better in that it gives a more uniform tone.
  8. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    On any P Bass pups I've ever seen, the white wire coming out is signal, black out is ground, and both of them are supposed to be oriented towards the control cavity - the pup with the white wire out is for E-A, black wire out is for D-G...

    Take a look here:http://www.seymourduncan.com/images/products/basslines/501030-100.pdf

    - georgestrings
  9. Perfect, exactly what i was looking to hear. Thank you for the input everyone!

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