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Pickup naming - "Neck/Bridge" vs. "Front/Back"?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jeff Moote, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Ok so maybe I'm the only one in the dark, but I have never understood the "front/back" naming convention for pickups. I don't even know which is which withuot looking at the context someone has used the term in.

    First of all, which way around is it? Is the closest to the bridge front, or back?

    With that out of the way, maybe someone can fill me in on whether this is acceptable terminology in their circle, and if it is preferred to the more descriptive neck & bridge. I'm also interested in the origins of these terms, and how they came about :)
  2. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    I've never even heard pickups being designated front or back before. Only neck/bridge really makes sense.
  3. I believe the front pickup is closer to the neck which is mind-boggling to me
  4. Cerb


    Sep 27, 2004
    If I were to use the front/back designation, front would be neck and back would be bridge. I, however, use the neck/bridge designation. It just makes more sense.
  5. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...

    Front/Back makes absolutely no sense. Both pups are on the front, so which one is the back one? Neck/Bridge makes perfect sense, and there is no confusion about which one you are referring to.
  6. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    EXACTLY! I'm glad that everyone agrees with me on this one, but from time to time I'll hear someone refer to them that way and it just throws me way off. :eyebrow:
  7. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    That is because everything in Canada makes no sense...:D
  8. bloodline462


    Jul 20, 2006
    i always called them top and bottom pickups until i learned the names, now i say neck and bridge.
  9. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    That's alright

    Not long ago, I referred to the E-string as the "top string" :rollno:

    Ah well.
  10. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    Well, that makes sense, though, unless of course you're playing a 5+ string with lower, therefore higher, strings. Vertically speaking, of course. :D

    To the OP: I have only ever used the neck/bridge terminology. Front/back makes no sense!
  11. Keith Guitars

    Keith Guitars Commercial User

    Aug 25, 2004
    Woodstock, NY
    Builder: Martin Keith Guitars
    This is always a tough one for me too...

    Bridge and Neck just seems so much clearer, and less
    open to interpretation.

    On the same list for me:

    -Tuning keys often referred to as Left and Right sides,
    rather than the (to me) obvious Bass and Treble sides

    -The Top and Bottom string thing has come up for me too,
    with band members...actually, the same band members
    would 'misuse' High and Low, with high strings being the
    ones that were furthest from the floor.

    I read an interview with Mick Karn where he said he used to
    "invert" Up and Down the neck - so he would go to higher
    frets when told to go "down" the neck...

    Oh well.

  12. Ste_m3


    Mar 26, 2006
    Northwest UK
    Heh, presuming the bass in your picture is yours, is it really an issue? :smug:
  13. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    The "top string" thing and getting the whole "going up the neck" backwards are another couple things that amazed me too. I think those arise from folks who aren't thinking in terms of music when they approach the instrument. It's ok Mark, we'll let you in the club now that you know the E string isn't the "top" :p

    Touché. It's not my only one though :)
  14. Hapes-Nova


    Jun 11, 2006
    I dunno, maybe its just me, but i've never had an issue with either terminology.

    The headstock is at the front of the bass. makes sense to me.

  15. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Of course! It's all so clear now!

    Just kidding ;)

    I too find the front/back terminology inexplicable.
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    WRONG! I don't agree with you. I use front/back most of the time, and I have over 12,000 posts, as you well know.
  17. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Never seen front or back being used. As far as I'm concerned, it's neck/middle (if applicable)/bridge or rythm/treble as Gibson puts it.
  18. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Damnit. Not much I can say about that ;)
  19. jobu3

    jobu3 It ain’t ideal but I deal Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    I've always heard/used front/back interchangeably with neck/bridge respectively.
  20. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    And then there's Rickenbacker's terminology: bass (neck) and treble (bridge).

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