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P bass pickups - MIM vs. MIA - any difference?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by joplin, Sep 1, 2008.


  1. joplin

    joplin

    Aug 31, 2008
    NYC
    I bought a new P Bass, made in Mexico. Is there any reason I should buy the American P bass pickups or are the pickups in my MIM P bass the same as those in the American P bass?

    I'm not going to chase the Pickup Dragon but I don't mind spending $100 if there's any difference.
     
  2. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Yep - major differences. The pickups in your MIM are hotter, have a bump in the low mids / hi bass area that masks upper mid's detail. It takes away some of the 'air' around the notes. Doesn't work for me a bit but it's your bass so it doesn't have to!

    If your bass sounds fine to you, don't sweat it. There's more to getting your sound than just pickups. When you get to the point where you're beginning to fine tune - then's the time to chase the dragon as you say.
     
  3. joplin

    joplin

    Aug 31, 2008
    NYC
    Would it be safe to say that the MIM P bass pickups produce more of a Telebass sound and the MIA P bass pickups are closer to the Jazz bass pickups sound?
     
  4. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    no.

    The MIM P pickup sounds more like a Duncan 1/4'er pounder. It's hot by over-winding and using real strong magnets. I'm not a fan...

    The Tele bass (mudbucker style) is a wholly other thing. Extreme low end and not much else - not that you couldn't use your EQ to fix that - but a very definate one trick pony. A good full range, tonally balanced P pickup is very responsive to your picking hand placement and go can a lot of places with minimal EQ adjustment. (That is minimal once your rig is dialed in for a particular room.)

    I'm more or less enthralled with the 'vintage' P and J sounds. Pete Farndon on the originals Pretenders stuff, today Conrad Lozano from Los Lobos - maybe the most under rated bassist working - I love that guy! The vintage type P pickup is somewhat similar to a J neck pickup solo'ed but with a much larger over all presence. The J needs both pickups operating to get the same presence and that second coil back by the bridge give's the J it's more upper mid's detail or nasal quality.

    I've done a little P pickup swapping. The best I've found yet is the Vintage Vibe. I talked with Pete Biltoft (well emailed actually) and he recommended using Alnico III magents and a slight overwind. The pickup was pretty reasonable - particularl when you consider it is fully custom - built to order - warm, articulate and punchy. I have it in s MIJ 62 RI P and the bass just sounds great. It oozes warmth but retains clarity. For my alt-country, rock'abilly, surf, blues things - it's just the ticket.
     
  5. So the 50s P Bass - MIM - has the MIM pickup? (I know, sounds like a silly question but since the 50s P Bass is the MIM version of the MIA 57 reissue and not just a standard modern P Bass I just want to be sure)
     
  6. joplin

    joplin

    Aug 31, 2008
    NYC
    chuckle - ok... well, i'm not exactly sure what a Duncan 1/4'er pounder sounds like. But... your description of the MIM P pickups as "bump in the low mids / hi bass area that masks upper mid's detail" is great. I'll have to go to the local guitar store where I got my bass and do a comparison of my MIM version compared to a MIA American Standard. thanks again for your help and advice.
     
  7. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Good question and I'm not 100% sure on the anser. My guess is that it is an underwound vesion of the standard MIM Pickup. To my ear that is going to sound better I would expect anyway.

    I have a 50's classic Strat. That one shipped with it's own pickups whcih were swapped out for a set of Fender 57 RI pickups. A definate upgrade in that case. I would guess that Fender took the same approach with the bass as they did the guitar.

    I haven't tried the 50's classic bass but if it's as much better than the MIM Std P Bass as my guitar is better than the MIM Std Strat - it's got to be a great bass. That Strat is just killer!
     
  8. joplin

    joplin

    Aug 31, 2008
    NYC
    re-reading this again... I really really like the Paul Jackson Headhunters era sound. Seems very round and fat and just a hint of the Jazz bass nasal/growly sound. So perhaps these Mexico pickups I have are what I was wanting.

    I'll just have to go to the local guitar store and compare my MIM P bass to MIA American standard P bass. thanks
     
  9. joplin

    joplin

    Aug 31, 2008
    NYC
    If the MIM P bass pickups are so radically different than the MIA P bass pickups, it makes me wonder why Fender would not sell the MIM pickups on their website under some new marketing pitch and not bother trying to "hide" the made in Mexico pickups. Fender markets the MIA pickups as Vintage P bass, seems they could market the MIM-sounding pickups as Salsa P bass, etc.
     
  10. Curious how you made this determination - did you do a direct compare and check the frequency response - is it by ear or some other means. What is taking away some of the air around the notes?
     
  11. TMacATK

    TMacATK

    Jul 9, 2008
    Davis, CA
    I have an American Fender PU in my Squire P and the tone is incredible.

    Not sure how it compares to the MIM PU but the quality is great and I'm sure it be an improvement upon what you have.

    I scored two sets of USA precision PU's for 65 shipped a piece brand new. You don't have to spend $100, there's deals out there.
     
  12. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Well that's a novel idea ! When you hear them side by side - man it's no contest...
     
  13. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Listening, sampling and then listening again. By ear. I use ProTools to catpure the samples. I'm fairly serious about my pickup selection. I consider that and the string selection to be THE critical elements in my tone after setup. I'm a 'bottom-feeder' from way back. I want the tone - can't generally afford the gucci price tag. So it's been hot rodding / upgrading lower end instruments for years. My main players are MIJ and my f'less is a highly upgraded MIM Std J. The mechanical's of a MIM are all there - at least in some. Get a good one, do the tuner, pots, maybe bridge, pickups and a full shielding job - and a MIM can be a great instrument - like better than the MIA Fender's I was hot rodding and playing back in the 70's ... Ok so there's a bunch to spend but you can do a highly upgraded MIM that will play the socks off a MIA for what ? $500 when you're done. This assumes you do most of the work yourself and pay no more than $250 to $300 for the bass itself. Beat's the crap out of a grand for a new one that I still have to do the setup on ... key of course is finding a used one worth buying. I have flipped quite a few ...

    The 'air' thing. It's a tough thing to put into works. I like the term about as much as growl - which is something my dog does that I can understand... when I use the term 'air around the notes' I'm referring to how a full range, tonally balanced pickup sounds. You get a little of everything - low's mid's - lot's of mids - there's more mid frequency content in a bass signal than anything else I think - and of course the hi's. The 'air' part refers to the sense of space around the notes. The detail or maybe the lack of a frequency in the low mid's that is exaggerated to the point where it masks the other frequency bands. To me the MIM P & J pickups do exactly that - a big low mid's bump that well it just sort of squashes all the other freq's around the bump and it comes off - to my ear as - well not great ... it seems to me to be the cvhoice for punch over detail - I want both. The old adage that 'talking about tone is like dancing about architecture' comes to mind though... this is all so very subjective.

    Paul Jackson is exactly the guy I was thiking of when I talked to Pete at VintageVibe about a new pickup for my PBass. His line in Watermellon man. Smooth but punchy. Warm but articulate. Here's what I ended up with - no EQ, no compression, marginal timing ...http://w3.gorge.net/mfbrown/vvwater.mp3
     
  14. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    He had 2 Hi-A (Bartolini) humbuckers on his bass. Those aren't P bass pickups you are hearing! The closest thing to current Barts are the Classic bass pickups, or his 1-C humbucker pickup, which is what Jackson probably had in his bass.

    There was a TB thread here about it, and it used to have a photo of his Tele bass with the two Hi-A pickups on it.

    But otherwise he used a normal P bass with normal P pickups, which are brighter than what the new ones are like. Basslines "Vintage for P-Bass SPB-1" would probably be a good match. None of the current Fender pickups are made like the real thing.

    [EDIT] Here's the photo of the bass from Jackson's MySpace page:

    00.
     
  15. :eek: This is some coincidence; I just sent Paul Jackson a myspace message asking for photos of him from the 70s, with or w/o bass. This photo is no longer on the site that I can see - do you have others that you might have saved?

    RSVP and thanx!!!
     
  16. FWIW, I'm almost positive the MIM 50's RI Pbass pickups are alnico, more along the lines of something you would find in a MIA pbass. The standard MIM pbass pickups have those magnets glued to the underside of the pickups on both sides of the pole pieces. the MIM 50's RI pbass did not have the glued magnets, which leads me to believe that it is of the alnico variety.
     
  17. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    That's right. Original style Fender pickups use alnico rod magnets. The import basses often use molded plastic bobbins with steel pole pieces and ceramic magnets. There's nothing wrong with this style of construction if the pickups is designed around it, but they wont sound exactly like the real P bass pickups. They only do it that way because it's cheaper to make.
     
  18. GeneralElectric

    GeneralElectric

    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    The 62 RI pups, or whatever Fender is marketing them as these days, aren't the same ones as those that come in the American standard.

    Off the top of my head, I can think of almost ten different precision pickups being produced by Fender not including the Squier line.
     
  19. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Fender is a big corporation that wants to make money. They whole reason they make basses in Mexico and Asia is to offer lower priced instruments, so they must feel cost have to be cut somewhere. But they are low end basses with low end parts.

    It's ironic that it's the same type of quality problems CBS introduced when they cut corners.

    Vintage is "in" at the moment, so they are going to want to capitalize on the pickups being "vintage" even though they are nothing of the kind. Of course in this case it's just part of a name.
     
  20. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Philadelphia
    Like 4Mal, I take P-bass pickups seriously, and based on playing MIM and MIA Precisions back-to-back, I completely agree with his description of the differences. I like vintage tone and clarity, but gritty punch as well, and have found both with Lindy Fralin. The MIA Fender pickup has more detail than the MIM, but to my ears gets a little blurry down low. The Fralin stays clear, and has more output, comparable to a Duncan SPB-2 Hot for P-bass.
     

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