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P. Pickup w/ less treble response?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by dregsfan, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. dregsfan

    dregsfan Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    The Lollar I have, as good as it is, may be too bright for my liking. Are they considered on the bright side?
    The Dimarzio Area P. with alnico II magnets usually gets described to my liking. It might be the solution.
    Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

    And I am a big tone control user, but that's different than inherent sound. & I'm going to try some different strings as well. But the treble response in general is way overboard.

  2. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    different string could work, yup... Have you tried lowering the pickup height? That can soften the sound sometimes...

    besides the tone control to kill the highs, another option would be to wire in a small capacitor (say 220-2200pF) in parallel to the pickup. While the tone control essentially lowers the resonant peak, a cap will shift it to a lower frequency (higher value cap = lower frequency). The exact value would depend on your setup (and goal), but caps are cheap and you can fine tune the sound. Once you find the right value cap, you can hardwire it in or put it on a switch.

    In regards to new pickups, do you care about having the traditional “Alnico poles” look? If not, I found DiMarzio Model P to be dark sounding (particularly in the mix), but also more muscular overall. Some Barts have that reputation too, but I don’t have experience with them. Otherwise yeah, in theory Alnico 2 should sound softer than Alnico 5, so that might also do the trick. Or overwound pickups should be less bright too. Perhaps check with Nordstrand or other custom makers about your goals and what they’d recommend.
  3. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Oh and one more trick: in my experience, bright pickups often have a pronounced peak in the high mids or low trebles, where human hearing is particularly sensitive. The key is to not have the peak at that frequency. With caps, you can shift the peak towards a lower frequency. Alternatively, I find it that shifting the peak towards a higher frequency also sounds less bright (even though technically you have more treble).

    My sense is that an inductor in parallel with the pickup will do that (and you can fine tune the sound with caps and resistors; check out the Bill Lawrence/Wilde Q-Filter). Another option is to wire your P pickup in parallel, and then fine tune the sound with caps and resistors. The downside is that your output will be lower, but you can boost it at the amp...
    dregsfan likes this.
  4. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Hello. Try the Seymour Duncan Antiquity P. I never played an Area P, but I did play an Area J set briefly.

    Here is something I wrote a while ago, for an evaluation of split coil P pickups I was invited to by a bass-related company. Although I can't reveal the identity of the sample pickup or the company, this should be descriptive enough:

    "A stock SD Antiquity measuring 10.88K per the factory. The only Alnico 2 pickup so far, it had more low end than the Novak, but far less than the sample. This Antiquity solved the sample’s harsh highs with a delicate articulateness. Nearly the sweetest midrange ever. Tone pot heaven, and simply very good everywhere. A little hollow sounding. Though lacking the Novak’s mind-expanding complexity, this Antiquity had excellent balance."

    In my opinion, despite SD's claims, the Antiquity pickups are designed to achieve an effect, not a re-creation. But whatever the motivation for their design, if the sound and behavior of the Antiquity P meets your objective, then it will be good for you.
    1960jbass and dregsfan like this.
  5. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I would try a different tone cap first. That way you can still enjoy the inherent sound of a pickup you love. It also costs pennies if you know how to solder and Google. If you know how to Google, I bet you know somebody who knows how to solder.
    scuzzy and dregsfan like this.
  6. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Lollar is not considered super bright even though it offers plenty of highs. It's kind of a 60's benchmark in my opinion.
    If you want something with less highs, the Aguilar AG-60 4P would be my recommendation. It's a warm laid back pickup that is noted for having less highs. Seymour Duncan Antiquity II comes to mind as an alternative. The DiMarzio Area P has also a fair amount of highs so I don't think it will satisfy your tonal objectives.
    jwindham, Aqualung60 and dregsfan like this.
  7. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Find a pickup that uses Alnico II slugs instead of Alnico V and is about 5% to 10% overwound.
    Thegrandwazoo and dregsfan like this.
  8. dregsfan

    dregsfan Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    These replies are great. Thanks guys.

    Just recently got the bass put together and have not experimented much with pu height yet.
    I have lots of practice soldering. As much as I've done it, it's taken years to get good at it. It's very easy to do a poor job soldering :D.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  9. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Laurent ! Salut. Ça fait trés longtemps. :) I hope you are doing well in these crazy times.

    I feel compelled to report that my experience of that pickup, which I know as the "AG 4P-60", is entirely different than what you describe.

    As I heard it played by others in the Fodera Monarch-P, then as I played it in the same bass model, I found the AG 4P-60 to be gratingly trebly. So much so that I requested that my Monarch-P be made with a Klein pickup instead, which Fodera graciously agreed to do. Later I asked them to replace the Klein with a Flying Mojo pickup.

    Also anecdotally: Recently I bought a NOS Spector USA bass that was made with Aguilar electronics. I was biased by then, yes; but it came as no surprise to me when I found the Aguilar Super Singles in that bass to be harsh-sounding. "shrill", as one reviewer put it. I replaced those with some NOS Nordstrand Big Singles, which sounded sweet and articulate without any harshness.

    Sorry, but in my brief experience of Aguilar pickups, they are characterized by a harsh, pronounced treble.
    Laurent and dregsfan like this.
  10. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    You are quite welcome. I hope you get the sound dialed in soon. Pickup height is extra-important. :thumbsup:
    dregsfan likes this.
  11. Low8

    Low8 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Nordstrand has the option of Alnico III magnets in several of their P pickups.

    After experiencing way too many "clangy" P pickups, I went with the A3 mags in their standard NP4 and I love what I'm hearing. It's very spongey, regardless of where the tone knob is set.

    dregsfan likes this.
  12. HG1180


    Aug 11, 2019
    Rehoboth Beach,DE
    Nylon Tapewounds and Alnico Pups should do you good.
    dregsfan likes this.
  13. Duncan SPB2 worked for me some years back, when there weren’t nearly so many nuanced choices in boutique pickups. Big muscular sound, enough top end.
  14. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    The brightness of a pickup is ultimately defined by where the rolloff is after the high mid peak - when the tone control is at max, the inductance of your pickup resonates with the sum of two capacitances - that in the pickup itself, and the cable that you have on the output of the bass (assuming a passive setup here). What does all of this mean practically?

    1) The value of the tone control capacitor (when the tone is at max) has nothing to do with the sound of your bass at that setting. It's so out of the circuit electrically that you could remove the capacitor completely, or replace it with a dead short (essentially an infinite capacitor), and you wouldn't hear anything change.

    2) The height of the peak in the high mids is set by a few resistances - the ones you have control of (again, with the tone control at max) are the value of the tone control and volume control potentiometers. Reducing those resistance values will reduce that high mid peak in amplitude. A Very similar result can be had by turning the tone control down a bit - that reduces the high mid peak, but it does not change the frequency range above that in the top half of a typical tone control's range.

    3) The range above the high mid peak is controlled by the pickup's inductance and the capacitances I mentioned before. If your pickup is too bright, and turning down the tone control by a quarter turn or so doesn't take away what you want taken away, what you need is a loading capacitor. Best positioned directly across the pickup - on a P bass, wired from the point where the pickup is hooked up to the volume control to ground, a loading capacitor will give you control (by changing its value) over the brightness of your pickup.

    Instead of buying another pickup ($100 or so) in the hopes that it will move things in the direction you want, a loading capacitor (half a buck or so) will absolutely reduce the brightness - the only question being the value that gives you the amount that you want. My suggestion would be to buy a few values of capacitors and a couple of clip leads, and experiment with finding the value that does the trick, then wiring that capacitor in permanently. Values of 330 pF, 680pF, 1000pF (aka .001 uF), and 1500 pF (aka .0015uF) should be enough to find something that you like - at half a buck a piece for a good mylar film capacitor, that's a total of $2 - the shipping will be more. Mouser is a good source for such things.
    fermata, garak7, zenrad and 6 others like this.
  15. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    Wow some really high end, knowledgeable responses here.

    All I can say is that I was going for the opposite, a more full spectrum pbass pickup. I sold the Geezer set I got for exactly that reason, it was too old school for my taste. So that may be an option for you. They are passive and come up on the boards here at great prices all the time.
    jwindham, dregsfan and Thegrandwazoo like this.
  16. Killens84

    Killens84 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    This is spot on, about the Lollar and Aguilar pickups. Those are the two most recent P pickups I’ve used, and you’re right. The Aguilar is a little warmer and darker than the Lollar. I had the Aguilar in my bass, switched to the Lollar, and just switched back to the Aguilar (which I realized is my preference).
    The OP would probably really like the AG 4P-60.
    dregsfan, jwindham and Laurent like this.
  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    OK 2 things.
    First, Dregs. Right on. Proud owner of a Steve Morse MusicMan guitar, total fanboy. Me like.

    Now, less important but still related to OP, I have a J Lollar P but since tone is so subjective I agree a cap change might be more what you need. Do you have a shop tech you trust or do you play well with solder?
    dregsfan likes this.
  18. jwindham


    Sep 17, 2006
    I have been using a Seymour Duncan Antiq II pickup in a nice squier p-bass recently, and I like it- but- it surprisingly has more treble bite than I was expecting/prefer overall. I am curious if a cap swap may benefit this bass (better pots, too?) to help tame the more present high end. It is a cool sound, just the high end is a bit less balanced than other pickups Ive tried. I have yet to try it in a mix, but think it may work better in that context. My main mim fender with custom shop 60s pups is quite a bit more balanced overall, I think. I do think my amp (WD800) may accentuate this a touch, though it can be eq-d fairly well to compensate. The tone changes some depending on volume uses, too, of course. For some reason, overall the fender cs60s p bass pickups just seems to work well in my hands. I have played the Aguilars in a bass before, too, and they are definitely more subdued in the highs. Nice tone, though, and fairly balanced I'd say. I've tried the lollars regular wound, and think I also preferred the Aguilars for more rounded/warm tone overall.
  19. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    I have a Lollar P pickup in one of my type II Fender Highway One Precisions and it is a great sounding pickup to be sure. However, I wouldn't call it unusually bright sounding. One pickup you might consider is the Fender Pure Vintage '63 P pickup. Along with the above Highway One P loaded with the Lollar pickup I have a bunch of P basses loaded with a SD Antiquity II, FCS '59, FCS '62, Fender "Original" '62 and Fender Pure Vintage '63 P pickups. The PV '63 P pickup has the most bottom, is relatively high gain @ 12K, and sounds the most like my actual pre-CBS '62 P pickup. I have a very lightweight alder FrankenFenderSelect P with a maple top that was a bit too bright for my liking and I installed a Fender PV '63 P pickup in it. The added depth of the pickup balanced out the inherent brightness of the bass and now it's perfect.
    TC.65, Laurent and dregsfan like this.
  20. Tom Baker

    Tom Baker Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2016
    Austin, TX
    I vote for trying different strings and a cap change, but who doesn't like trying out a new set of pups? What type of strings do you play? Have you tried coating them with butter and hanging them up in your garage for a year?
    sikamikanico and dregsfan like this.

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