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P pups for a mellow bass

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Lord Henry, May 9, 2006.

  1. I just bought my lovely, lovely Sub V, which is my main axe. However, I've hung on to by first bass, an Ibanez Blazer (basically a cheap 4 string P bass clone). Not a top of the line bass I know, but a solid piece of wood. So, I'm thinking that in contrast to my bright, round wound steel Sub I need a mellow, flat wound bass, for when the mood takes me. The thing is that the stock (and now 20 year old) pups are far from great. I'm not going to go crazy here, I'll spend up to £70-£80 (with the crazy UK mark up think about $100 US). That puts me in about the price range of the Seymour Duncan Quater Pounders (£60). Given all of the above, what pups would you guys go for?

    Just to point out, I'm not interested in the resale vale of the bass. It's my first bass so I won't sell it anyway. On top of that I want to learn about the mechanical side of bass and I figure the best way to do that is to just give it a go. That's part of the reason I'm doing this.

  2. BadB


    May 25, 2005
    AZ, USA
    I'd start with a set of flats. It may be all you need and it will save you a few pounds. If that's not your cup of tea, I'd think that any of the good replacements would work for you. For "mellow", I'd select a vintage type replacement.
  3. zachbass02

    zachbass02 One Hairy....squatch.

    Jan 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    If you want mellow, stay away from the quarter pounder. Those are very aggressive pups. I'd look into some sort of RI pup from Fender for a mellow tone or anything that has cloth covered windings. I've got a '57 RI cloth covered pup that I just replaced with a Hot for P to get a more aggressive tone. The '57 was really laid back and smooth. I used it on a jazz gig with flats and it sounded great in that context. I now have flats with the Hot for P and while I love the tone of it, it's not as mellowed as the '57 RI.
  4. I agree.

    You'd be amazed at the difference a set of really good flatwounds makes -- especially on a P-Bass.

    Check out the LaBella Deep-talkin' flats or if you want to spring for the additional quid, try the Thomastik-Infeld jazz flats.
  5. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I agree with the others that a vintage voiced pickup is in order. I'd suggest either Fender's "Original" or Seymour Duncan's SPB-1, but a current Am. Series Fender pickup would be great too. I don't know if they're available as accessories. I know some say Bartolinis are mellow, but I have no experience.
  6. Great advice, thanks. Do you find it's better to get pups in store or mail order?

    Also, I don't know if this will change any opinions, I'm thinking of throwing on a fretless neck at some point in the futute (the current one's OK but in no condition to be defretted, and I'd like to have it around incase I ever want to go back to 'my first bass'). Do some pups just work better for fretless?

  7. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I've bought all my replacement pickups through internet or phone orders, with no problems. It's usually easier to find what you want that way.

    The prospect of going fretless doesn't change my recommendation at all. If anything, I think the vintage voicing is more appropriate on a fretless, and my P-basses fit this pattern. I have a 2004 Am. Ser. fretted, which is my "hard rock" P-bass with a Seymour Duncan SPB-2 Hot for P-bass pickup. It's actually quite versatile, but fatter, more aggressive, and with less high end than a vintage pickup.

    When I assembled a fretless P-bass project out of new MIM parts, I used the stock Am. Ser. pickup from my 2004, and it works wonderfully. To maximize "mwah," I think you want to preserve the high end, which is done best with a vintage pickup if you want a mellow sound. Modern full range pickups like the Quarter Pounder will preserve high end too, but won't be as mellow. For fretless, I think ideally you'd want a boutique "updated vintage" pickup like Lindy Fralin or Nordstrand for additional clarity, but the Fender Original or Duncan SPB-1 will be fine.
  8. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    The Quarter Pounder with TI flats sounds incredible and very versatile. It beats out any factory P I've heard. I've used mine for years.
  9. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    PLEASE tell me there's not really a pickup called "Hot for P"!!!

    Do you have to wear a yellow hankie in your pocket while playing?

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