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P bass tonal solutions

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by sitonafender, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. sitonafender


    Dec 14, 2012
    Hey Seniors, and Senoritas.

    I have recently purchased an 81 Fender P bass, or that's what the date on the neck stamp tells me. It's a 4 string, and all origional minus the pickups. Which is bass lines P style.
    So this bass has superb mids, and great lows, but its lacking in the highs.
    Is there any known solutions for this? Thanks much for your advice.
  2. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    stainless steel strings and a light touch.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Well, you can get a ton of highs from a P bass, but that's not it's strong point. What BFunk said and a good touch on your EQ should get it done. But it won't sound like a J bass or any other bass with a pickup in the bridge position. But, then again, it's not designed to.
  4. sitonafender


    Dec 14, 2012
    Hey BFunk. What brand of strings do you prefer?
  5. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    You can try raising the treble side of treble pick up too.
  6. sitonafender


    Dec 14, 2012
    Hdracer. I did move it up, and it did help considerably. I belive the problem is the frequencies that I'm boosting by doing that are not the only ones I'm looking for. Mostly an issue with the characteristic sound of a p bass. Basically. I love the sound I get out of the bass, but it could use a touch of oh Idk maybe around 6 or 8 k in frequency response.
  7. I have Dimarzio Will Powers which have decent top end. Seymour Duncan Quart pounds have even more top end but les mids.
  8. portlandguy


    Feb 15, 2011
    Portland, OR
    Dr sunbeams sound great on a p bass and give some highs while retaining the low/mids
  9. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    On my P5 I am currently using Sadowsky Blue nickels. I am able to certanly get plenty of upper harmonics in the 4-5k range. I am going to try circle K's next.

    On my 60th Anniv w/Fralins I am using Thomastik-Infeld jazz flats.

    I do find that having proper technique is crucial to getting the singing upper harmonics from any bass, but may be especially true of P-basses. I also tend to play just behind the pickup on the bridge side. Many times when I start to dig in I loose tonality. So I have to remind myself to lighten up. (Any sometimes digging in to get the low-mid growl is just what the doctor ordered.) Also, setting the pickup height is very important to getting upper register partials. A lowered pickup will have more fundamental. As you raise the pickup more partials are heard. I found that spending the time to get the right height paid off big-time.

  10. sitonafender


    Dec 14, 2012
    Yeah I definetly have had to train myself not to be so heavy handed, and watching bassists like Jaco Pastorious has opened my eyes to playing close to the bridge. Technique is everything with bass one reason I love it. There's so many different ways to play bass. The learning just seems endless.
    As far as pick up height. I'm not largely fimilaiar with the topic. It seems simple enough. Right now this p bass has an abundance of lows, and even more mids. So my height has been set with the mids set lowest followed by the lows set slightly higher, then lastly the highs set as high as I could while avoiding the strings hitting the pickups. While understanding that set height is most likely subjective to each individual instrument. Is that a good approach?
  11. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    one other suggestion: switch to 500k pots.
  12. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Try a pick?
  13. sitonafender


    Dec 14, 2012
    You know I was just looking at Stellertone TonStyler pots. They look fantastic. Though scalability is next to nill.
  14. sitonafender


    Dec 14, 2012
    I typically do not prefer a pick. I do occasionally, but I prefer fingertips. I will try though. Any good results are worth further exploration.
  15. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    I don't know if I understand what you mean by "lows, mids, and highs". It sounds like you are referring
    to the balance of the 4 strings, not the tone of each individual string.

    By "lacking highs", do you mean that the G string is weak, or that the tone isn't bright?

    The overall pickup height will affect the tone. The individual pickup height is used to balance the level
    of the 4 strings.
  16. sitonafender


    Dec 14, 2012
    Well I'm trying to get the overall tone of the bass a bit brighter. Partly by adjusting the individual pick up height. So that the A and D strings which dominate more of the mids are some what suppressed. This was posed as a question. That being said. I'm not exactly sure that's the right way to go about resolving an over all tonal issue. I do realize pickups, strings, electronics would better serve me in my issue, though I am trying to stay as close to a p bass tone as I can. So I was hoping that approach would give me the results I was looking for, but I am just an armature trying to sort this out. So there is a large chance that I am wrong in my approach.
  17. You might try another pickup just to see...
    My 62 reissue has a Lollar pup in it and usually DR nickel Low Riders and the tone is rich, complex and plenty bright.
    You do have the bass's tone and volume knobs wide open, yes?
    That makes a difference.'
    And your amp set relatively flat, yes?
  18. ronlitz


    Apr 20, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Which SD pickup do you have? The "hot" model has more mids and less highs. If you want more highs, and you have the "hot" model, you need to swap that pickup.
  19. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    Ok, you are referring to the tone, then.

    Lowering the A and D pickups will not affect the overall tone. It will not reduce the mids.
    What that will mainly do is reduce the level of the A and D strings. I say mainly, because
    the primary effect of pickup height is on the level of the string above it. Aside from that,
    you will get some effect on tone. But moving the pickup height will not make a neck pickup
    sound like a bridge pickup, or make a high turns pickup sound like a low turns pickup.

    Generally there is a best setting for the pickup height. Too close and it will affect the string
    vibration, causing warbling or intonation problems. Too far and it gets thin sounding.

    Your pickup type will make a big difference, and the string type and age will make a big
    difference also.
  20. bumperbass


    Jun 19, 2012
    "around 6 or 8 k in frequency response". Seriously? There's not much useful stuff up there except clank and hiss. If you want the most top-end, don't even discuss tone caps. You don't need one.
    What strings are you using? (you never answered this) Roundwound, I hope, for the sound you're looking for. 500K pots.....good idea.
    Do some research on pickups and pick one. EQ amp judiciously, and by that I mean TAKE AWAY as much as ADD. Good luck.
    Re-reading your original post, I am not so sure that you don't have a wiring/pot/cap problem. You should be able to get at least close to the amount of highs you're looking for.