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P-Bass pickup replacement shootout

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by tonebrulee, Nov 30, 2008.

  1. Hey folks,

    I'm looking to replace the "Duncan Designed" PB-101 stock pickup in my Squire VM P-Bass. I'm leaning towards the Fender '62 Vintage Original (OEM pup on the Fender '62 American Vintage reissue). Don't see how you can go wrong with Fender's own version of the original, but was wondering how others felt about the (mostly pricier) offerings from Duncan/Fralin/Nordstrand by comparison.

    Fender Original '62 $75
    Duncan Vintage (SPB-1) $65
    Duncan Antiquity $115
    Duncan Antiquity II $115
    Norstrand NP-4 $115
    Fralin P-Bass Pickup $120

  2. I haven't had any real experience yet, but I'm thinking of putting the DiMarzio HotRails, but now that may not be an option. Why are you thinking of replacing them? I have a Squier Affinity, but if you really have questions, you should message Darkstrike. He's good with this stuff.
  3. i put in Basslines SPB-3 (the hot ones) they aren't as vintage sounding as some of the others (i assume), but they brought the tone out of my bass very well

    that's my $.02
  4. Folks - little help here! ;)

    Looking for any insight on how Fender's Original '62 pickup stacks up against the various top-rated offerings for a vintage P tone.
  5. depalm

    depalm Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2004
    I have a NP4 installed on my 78 P and it sounds so good that sometimes I just can't stop playing it.

    It has a great vintage vibe, very, very well balanced, nice well defined bottom… in fact this pick up is so better than the Fender.

    You can't go wrong with it.

    2 cents
  6. xsubs

    xsubs Working Class Hero Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2007
    NYC & Corcaigh, Éire
    Endorsing Artist: Hiwatt Amplification & Rotosound Strings
    Do a search... the '62 has been directly compared with all of the pups on your list, in multiple threads.
  7. FYI - found some good comparisons with high marks for the Fender Original '62 HERE
  8. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I've never owned a Fender '62 Original, but have played several basses with them. They certainly deliver a good, classic P-bass tone. But I'll take the punch, clarity, and grit of the Lindy Fralin any day. It's superb. Fralin pickups are expensive, but if you plan to keep the bass long term, they're worth it IMO.

    But don't discount the Duncan SPB-1 for solid, basic P-bass tone. I had the SPB-2 for awhile, which is an overwound version, and from that I'd bet the SPB-1 is very close to the Fender Original, but probably has more clarity in the lows.
  9. It's an interesting topic - considering pickups in the context of "classic P-bass tone". I mean, all the competitors - pretty much by definition - have to offer something a little different than the reference - "punchier", "clearer", "more grind", "smoother", "fatter", etc. I guess somebody could try to offer a pickup that claims to be closer to the reference than Fender's own version, but that would be a pretty tough row to hoe, marketing-wise.

    I guess I'm leaning more and more to the Fender Original '62. Not because the other pups on the list aren't GREAT pickups - I'm sure they all are. And if I had a specific goal other than classic, solid P-bass tone, one of them would no doubt fit the bill.

    One nice bonus is that the Fender, at $75, is $40 cheaper than all the others, except for the Duncan SPB-1 which is just $65 (now *that* is classic marketing - "as good as" the original but a little cheaper!). But the main reason is that I can imagine like half-a-dozen P-bass fanatics sitting around a table at Fender debating the classic P-bass tone and the design of their Original pickup, and it would be hard to believe someone else could come closer to that standard, ya know? To use another example, if you want a great live vocal mic, no doubt you can get a terrific one for $75-150 from a dozen different companies. But at $99, you just can't go wrong with the Shure 57. I mean, it's the frickin' Shure 57! How much better can "better" be?

    Anyway - fun discussing our little obsession. ;) Thank all for your input.
  10. atomicmiata


    Apr 23, 2010
    I have these pups stock in my new squier vm pbass.
    They did not sound right, even after setting up the pup height etc.

    I took the bass apart and saw a factory assembly defect that sapped the tone out of the pups. The foam/spring spacers under the pups were not installed properly. Also it is a poor plan to have metal springs near the pickup poles. A spring was actually touching a pickup pole and sucking the life out of the tone and signal output. After replacing the factory spacers with foam core board I have to say that these pickups sound great. No need to replace.

    Duncan info here: http://www.seymourduncan.com/products/duncan-designed/vintage-2/pb101/
  11. Greevus


    Apr 15, 2009
    Duncans are one of the BEST passive pups to my active-loving ears. For $75 or LESS, you can have GREAT passive tone.
  12. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    I have fender 62's and nordstrand np4s. I would say the nordstrands are close to the 62s but with a little cleaner highs.
  13. NelsonNelson


    Sep 25, 2011
    LOL I'm pretty sure it's safe to say this guy already replaced his pickup back in 2008.
  14. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    While I don't have any personal experience with them, I have heard others mention Bill Lawrence P-46 pickups as being very good and relatively cheap.
  15. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    There are also Kent Armstrong and Wizard pickups, both running about $80 for a P. I have Kent Armstrongs in a guitar, and Wizards in a bass, and although not P pickups, they are very nice.