Pickup phasing and 5-strings

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Oct 25, 2000.

  1. Pretty much every two-pickup five-string I've ever played has had a very poor B-string response when the balance pot is centered; this is due to phase cancellations which effectively eliminate most of the low midrange.

    Would it make sense, then, to have one of the pickups out of phase? This way, each pickup would sound like itself when soloed, but when the two were blended there would be no B-string dropout.

    I ask because my Dean Edge Custom 5 has a great tone on the E, A, D, and G strings when the pickups are equally blended, but the B sounds very thuddy.
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Diagnosing this kind of problem by message board is more voodoo than science. My two cents: if you're only noticing dropouts on the B string, I'd think the problem might lie with the placement of the pickups or with the string itself. Of course, if you have decent soldering skills, it wouldn't hurt to experiment with reversing the leads on one of your pickups. It'd be interesting to see what this does to the response from the rest of your strings, though.
  3. Well, the bass does have a 35" scale, but pickup placement might be an issue--the harmonic sweet spot is right between them.
  4. This is why the Musicman has a great B string, even tho it's 34" scale. The physical mass of a B string is so great that most all 2 pup basses are affected by this problem. The Roscoe Beck Fender solves the problem by having pickups that have weaker polepieces under the B. I'm really suprised that other makers have'nt caught on to that one.
  5. Yeah, I've noticed that dropping one of the two pickups also seems to help, as does using a light B (.120). OTOH, there's so much power in the vibration of a B string that you need to lower the bass side of the neck pickup, at least. Using a heavy B actually increases magnet-pull problems, since sustain is decreased just as much and you can't pluck harder to compensate...

    I'd love to get a Stingray 5, or maybe a Warwick Corvette FNA 5, but it's not in the cards.

    I think a two-pickup fiver would work if you had pickups with weak magnets, like EMG actives, and both pickups were close to the bridge, like on a Modulus SST, which has one pickup in the sweet spot and one right next to the bridge. If the sweet spot is equidistant from the two pickups, there will be serious phase-cancellation problems between the two.

    I've found a really buttery, punchy tone across all five strings with the pickup blend about halfway between the center detent and full bridge, and my plucking fingers exactly over the sweet spot. It doesn't get the Big Bottom, but that just eats up amp power anyway; instead, I have a tone that works well for jazz and reggae, and with a little EQ help can cut it with rock (although I've sworn off playing with distorted guitars).