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P Bass Pickups for Dubby Jah Wobble Tone

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by PianoOfDoom, May 9, 2015.


  1. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    I've read a few threads that touched on this, but I wanted to get a little granular. I have a good sample of a new MIM P Bass, and upgraded the pup to a Fender Original (62), put in CTS pots, and changed the cap to .1uF. Sounds pretty nice to me, but without trying every other pickup out there, I don't know if I could do a little better. I don't mind experimenting a little, but would rather not buy a bunch of boutique pups and end up with the the same tone. I like the old Jah Wobble PiL sound, which I know is largely in fingerstyle and recording technique (amp pointed at the wall, I've read), but I'd like to optimize the bass itself, while I'm still excited about customizing ;). What specifically would I gain (or lose) tonally by moving to something like a 63 Fender, 58 Fender, Fralin, or NP4? I know it's difficult to describe in words, but given the target sound, is there any room for improvement? I'm currently using Labella DTB flats, medium. Thanks in advance for indulging a somewhat vague question!
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2015
  2. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    I know you all love talking about pickups!
     
  3. Snaxster

    Snaxster

    Nov 29, 2008
    Heh. Yeah, that's for sure. ;)

    I haven't heard PiL since back then, I think. Probably there are any number of P pickup models that will further your cause. I just got one I think you would like:


    Their "1958" model might suit you even better:


    Do or will you use any pedals? May I recommend highly by Fuzzrocious either the Broke Dick Peanut Gallery (aka BDPG) or the Dark Driving. Two very different pedals, but each will get you into beautiful ultra-bass territory, ranging from natural- to synthetic-sounding. I see that the BDPG is not at the Fuzzrocious website now, but I bet they will make one for you.

    Good Luck!
     
  4. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    Thanks! Have you compared the Klein 58 to the Fender? As far as pedals go, I don't use much for bass (guitar is another story), but just picked up a used Black Finger to try out. Sounds pretty good. If I'm recording direct, I go into a Golden Age mic pre with EQ insert, so I can do a lot of tone shaping. If I'm amping, I use an old Ampeg Gemini I guitar amp, which actually sounds better to me than most bass amps I've tried. 12" speaker, big cabinet. Very defined but with strong bottom end. I'm thinking my next big purchase will be a rack compressor like a Warm WA76.
     
  5. Snaxster

    Snaxster

    Nov 29, 2008
    No, I have not. I haven't compared it to a current production Fender pickup, that is.

    Today I played several of my basses, including an ash/maple 1973 Fender Precision with the Klein "1959" pickup in it and an alder/rosewood 1969 Fender Precision with what I believe is a 1967 pickup that is original to the instrument. Apples to oranges there, of course, but in context the Klein pickup sounded utterly natural to me, as if it always only belonged in an old Fender bass (albeit not of this one's vintage).

    Good luck with your search!
     
  6. Fender True Vintage '63 will work great for what you do. I am a reggae player but find the Original '62 to lack lows for reggae. They are perfect for the James Jamerson sound or played with a pick otherwise. The True Vintage '63 have more lows.​
     
  7. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    Thanks. Sounds like you have some nice basses!!! I'm going to research the Kleins some more, as there isn't much information out there comparing them to others.
     
  8. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    Thanks. I've read nothing but good things about the 63s, so it's probably worth a try.
     
  9. If I were you I would try either a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound or the Bare Knuckle '58 Spit Coil P. Both have a lot of low end but still have that definitive P-Bass growl.
     
  10. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    I have a set of the Fender 63 coming today, so we'll see how that works out first. The 62s I have now are starting to grow on me, especially for direct recording, so maybe I'll end up with multiple basses to house all of these pickups eventually ;). Somehow I feel like that is not uncommon around here.
     
  11. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    Metal Box is one of my favorite albums from that era! My fave song from the album: He is playing one of the old Ampeg "scroll" basses with a P pickup. I had a fretless version at one point and the fat necks on those things seemed to have a huge amount of resonance that made them super warm and woody compared to comparable Fenders (I actually used that neck on a few Fender bodies and the tone really followed it!). Sounds like he just has the tone control turned completely off and flatwound strings, fingerpicking right over the end of the neck.
    These days he plays an Ovation Magnum bass, which has a mudbucker-looking pickup right at the neck joint (similar to a Rickenbacker or Gibson EB). I can get very similar sounds by favoring the neck pickup on my Ric and playing similar to him.

    I'd recommend looking for a P pickup with a nice low-mid bump like the Duncan SPB-3 or G&L MFD, and/or messing around with a Varitone circuit with your Tone control- most of his sounds have that thick resonant peak in the low-mids that happens when you turn a tone control all the way down, and a Varitone would allow you different capacitor options for a different peak frequency. I would think .1uf might be too large, and I'd probably start with a .047uf personally (though this will differ based on the pickup you use).

    Here is one of my favorite newer Jah Wobble tones/lines just because:
     
  12. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    We have the same favorite PiL song :). That Ampeg scroll bass is insanely cool, as is his Ovation. I read somewhere that Metal Box was recorded with a P (and an SVT pointed at a wall), though. Either way, the tone is P-ish, or at least close enough to approximate. I've actually gotten close (accidentally) using my 62 Original pickup direct into a vintage reel to reel tape machine with surprisingly interesting preamps. The .1 cap is working out well for that tone, as well. My bass came with the .47, but the rolled off tone was a little flimsy by comparison. I'll look into this Varitone, though. Thanks!
     
  13. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    Just got the 63 pickup and installed it. I'm not blown away, but I'll give it a few days. There is far less midrange with the tone rolled off, and that kills much of the personality. It is thunderous, though. I have a feeling I'll be putting the 62 back in there soon.
     
  14. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    I can attest that the 58 Pure Vintage from Fender is probably their dubbiest offering (in tandem with a .1 cap if really rolling off the top). My band mates described it in terms like "teeth rattling" and "turn down the bass", lol.
     
  15. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    Always more stuff to buy:). Sunbeast nailed it above when he mentioned the low mid resonance. The 62 has that, 63 not so much. How is the 58 in that respect?
     
  16. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    The 58 has tons. The 62 is what I use and I would say it accentuates the upper mids, while the 58 very much dominates the low mids. It's also wound similarly to the 62 (the 63 is wound relatively hot at 12k) and is capable of the that upper mid voice as well.
     
  17. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    I'm wondering if maybe it's the upper mids I like (what remains of them after being suffocated with the tone knob and .1 cap), coupled with that thickness the 62 has. That PiL video Sunbeast posted above nails the tone I like, even though it's not a P. The 62 is in that neighborhood easily.
     
  18. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Some folks claim the 62 is "harsh" in that regard, but I feel it's that quality that helps it punch through a mix when the tone is rolled back. It's the signature of the classic Fender P sound, imo. If the 62 is doing it, no need to look further (but it sure is fun).
     
  19. PianoOfDoom

    PianoOfDoom

    May 30, 2011
    NYC
    Yeah, I caught a bit of the upgrade fever! We're in agreement on the 62. There is some special magic in there.
     
    petrus61 likes this.
  20. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    Another thing to try is lowering the Volume control on your bass a bit to shift the relationship of the Tone control a bit. My main P-bass has a Fralin pickup that has a ton of bass but also a ton of sometimes aggressive top end. If I roll down the Volume a bit it smooths out perfectly, then rolling the tone down it can definitely get in the ballpark of Poptones. My P has a .047uf cap- I find the .1uf to cut out too much mids for articulation for me...
     

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