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P Bass pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by plogwok, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. plogwok


    Aug 30, 2007
    Hi all,
    I've got an Ibanez bass guitar which I'm upgrading, and looking for some pickups. It's a passive bass with p-bass style split pickups, and after a little research I've found that the main recommendations seem to be:

    Genuine fender p-bass pickups
    EMG select
    Seymour Duncan SPB3

    although I'm not by any means restricting myself to them.
    I'm not competing against masses of guitar noise, and I don't really need something that will put cracks in the walls with all the bottom end, I'm just after something nice and smooth and quiet, with a bit of depth to it and nice clear top end.

    Given the above, (if it makes sense), can anyone give me some advice on any of the three pickups? Or any others that might be better suited to what I'm trying to achieve? Cost isn't the MAIN concern but at the same time I haven't got heaps to spend, so value for money is also good :)

    Oh, and please don't throw me out for this, but I'm actually a keyboard player by trade, so not too many big words please :D
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    There are many, many great P bass pickups on the market, but you know what? Fender is hard to beat. They invented the P pup, and pretty much nailed it. Certainly other P pups may be better for one person's tastes versus another's, but I wouldn't even go down that road until after trying a good ol' Fender. That said, Fender does make a few different models; I think their '62 reissue is a good one to start with.
  3. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    The Fender PUP will give you all the P-bassy goodness that a precision is known for.

    I've never been a big fan of the EMG sound. To my ear they are really hi-fi and crispy sounding, though you do get some hellacious low end out of them too.

    I have an SPB-3 in my P, and I like it a lot. A good amount of highs, tons of low end, but there's something missing in the midrange area (read P-bassy goodness).

    So, if you want a traditional P-bass tone, stick with the Fender PUP. If you want a somewhat sterile hi-fi sound, go with the EMG (Great for slap IMHO). If you want an aggressive, though not authentic P type tone, get the SPB-3.
  4. Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound P-Bass Pickup

    This Precision pickup is for musicians who want maximum output and extended frequency range. Large quarter-inch wide pole pieces expand the magnetic field and extend the frequency range from low to high end for a fat, full, punchy sound with midrange presence. The Seymourized ™ design balances the coils with the magnets for great sustain and harmonics. Pickup cover included Tonal Characteristic: High output with lots of clarity and high-end punch.


    * Hum Canceling: Yes
    * D.C. Resistance: 12.5k
    * Magnet: .25mm diameter Alnico 5
    * Resonant Peak: 10.2k
  5. You didn't mention the style of music you're playing so...., but always make sure it is a better quality pickup you're stalling. A job worth doing is worth doing ONCE!
    I prefer bass pickups with the magnet in the windings. It seems the less expensive, 'overseas' pickups are built with the magnet attached below the pickup. To me they do sound thin and to me thin equals cheap.
    How good is your amp? Listen to your bass thru a decent mixing board and either good speakers or good head phones. Inexpensive bass amps color the sound.
    Don't be afraid to look in music stores for used pickups. I bought some great pickups covered in dust.
    Research OHMS output. The more OHMS the hotter the output but not always the best sound. Usually darker over all. That is, unless you want that heavy over-driven sound, metal, hard rock, heavy blues.
    EMG Select is a cheap pickup and not worth the trouble.
    Real EMG's are an acquired taste but over all a good, quite, well built pickup, that can sound flat to some ears.
    Genuine Fender? ...... What the heck is that? ..... Fender makes good and bad pickups.
    S. Duncan makes good pickups, but may different types.
    Lindy Fralin are great pickups $$ but worth the dough.
    Bartolini are also great pickups and can be found used.
    Dimarzio; The older yellow case ones are hot and dark sounding. But they make all kinds, so they can be found used.
  6. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    A magnetic pickup is a magnet, and the magnet is made of windings. There is no such thing as a pickup "with the magnet below the pickup" and I've never seen a mag pickup that wasn't made of wire windings. Can you post a pic of the things you're describing? Maybe they weren't pickups. :meh:
  7. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    A magnetic pickup has a magnet; it isn't a magnet.

    The magnet is not made of windings, that's the coil.

    There are plenty of of pickups with the magnet below the pickup, see pic of the DiMarzio with bar magnets on the bottoms.

    Other examples of pickups with magnets below the coils are just about every Gibson style guitar HB ever made and P-90s.
  8. Hey Bongo
    I don't care if you doubt me or what I say, but there is no reason to be rude.

    The two different types I'm referring to are 1) magnetic pole pieces, as used by original Fender, and more expensive pickups by Fralin, Duncan, etc, where the wire is wound around the magnetic pole pieces. Then there are 2) the cheaper, 'overseas' pickups where they put a magnetic steel strip along the bottom of the pickup and then they run steel pole pieces thru the windings to touch the magnetic. Dimarzio did this as far back as the 80's with they're screw adjusted pole pieces. Those pickups were better sounding but more because of the extra windings to make them hotter than other pickups of the day.

    As far as a picture goes this is the best I can find. Look for the metal strip beneath the pickup. In-between the pickup and the form lies a magnet.
  9. kelleysdad


    Dec 12, 2007
    I use EMG, they sound great. My group plays Classic Rock , Blues and some Country, If that is what you are into, they work well.
  10. plogwok


    Aug 30, 2007
    thanks for the advice! I've got my eye on a set of '62 reissue pickups, and with the opinions above i don't think I'll go for the EMG's or the SD's. However, keep the opinions coming, you can never be too informed :D
  11. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I apologize for both my misunderstanding and my tone.
  12. Craig_S

    Craig_S Banned

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    My SD SPB1 (57 vintage) delivers big fat P tone. I like it a lot. :)

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