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Pickup placement and mix to get the "4001 sound".

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. Ok, I kicked this around before I posted it. Even though it's about pickups (kinda) it's not about their electronics, it's more about placement and mix than it is about the actual pickups themselves. So this set of questions is more about engineering a bass body and it's use more than it is about pickup types. So I posted in this forum instead of the pickups and electronics forum. Movin' on ....

    On a 34" scale bass, pickup location could be explained as ...

    ** division 4 - 2.125" from bridge - 1/16th of scale length (J "bridge" position).
    ** division 3 - 4.25" from bridge - 1/8th of scale (Pbass position, J "neck" position" and Ric "treble" position).
    ** division 2 - 8.5" from bridge - 1/4th of scale -aka "fret 24" (Ric "bass" position),
    ** division 1 - 17" from bridge - being 1/2 of scale, aka "fret twelve" or "one octave" (not a pickup position but part of dividing up the scale).

    I'm not well educated so these are the names I've given these positions just because I don't know any better. But they'll do for this conversation.

    Anyhow, I've noticed that:
    ** P-bass pickup seems to be placed at roughly division 3 (very middle of the road sound).
    ** Ric pickups are placed at division 2 and division 3 (well, we know what this sounds like).
    ** J pickups are at division 3 and division 4 (more higher voiced, almost nasal at times).

    So, that said, could a fella build a body with pickups (type?) in all 3 harmonic divisions and obtain tones that all 3 of those basses put out?

    It seems like not many basses use div-2 and div-3, most use div-3 and div-4 these days .. or so it seems anyhow. Could be a part of why so few of them sound like a Ric? (Ric = div-2 and div-3).

    I know I know ... active-vs-passive, neck wood, fret composition, electronics choices, body wood, date of birth, acidic levels of sweat on the fingrertips, lunar phase, mother's maden name, all of that also play a part. But if I build a body with pickups located at div-2 and div-3 would I stand more of a chance of getting 4001 and P-bass sounds? (I'm not a big J/Bridge PU sound fan).

    Also, when I hear Geddy on his 4001 in the earlier works (FTK, 2112, Hemispheres, and so on) was he using both pickups and using a mixture of those sounds (not to mention biamping them .. but that's another thread). Or was he using just the neck pu for the sounds he used? I would think he used them both because his Ric and his P sound pretty close, and the P has it's pickup in the same location as the Ric's "bridge" pickup .. there at div-3. So it seems like he'd have to have that pickup in the pile otherwise it seems like it would sound a lot different than the P (seems like it woud be bassier if he used just the neck pu).

    What I'm getting at:

    I'm thinking of a body with a neck pu at div-2 and another pickup at div-3 (no bridge pu per se .. neither the Ric or P have a pickup in div-4) .. adding a 3-way switch, using a mix knob when both pickups are on. Hoping for TONE.

    Thanks for tolerating my ignorance. I have to make do. :)

    (If this is confusing, sorry, I'm really tired. I know what I mean, just having a hard time getting it said).
  2. sloppy_phil


    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    I think I roughly follow what you're getting at. Not sure about the math on your divisions (really, I'm not sure; that wasn't an underhanded way of saying i think its wrong), but i think a simpler way of putting it is this: If you're looking for a 'Ric' sound, put 2 single coil p'ups in roughly the same position as a 4001/3. you should be able to get an approximation of that sound. The all-maple-ness of Rics is certainly a big factor in their sound too, however, so don't expect the p'ups to do all the heavy lifting.

    And, this is totally just IMHO, but I get a closer P-bass tone on my 4003 with the bridge p'up soloed (plus the cap bypassed) and the tone rolled off at least halfway

    As to the Geddy stuff; he basically always played with both his p'ups on full. From Fly By Night until 2112, he was using the mono output on his bass, but starting with AFTK he was using the stereo capabilities and sending each p'up to its own amp.
  3. I have no idea how but I missed this reply. THANK YOU! What a huge help to me!

    That math is easy. You simply divide the neck into halves ... half of 34" is fret 12, half of fret 12 is fret 24, and so on. Each one of those divisions is another octave higher. It's easy to prove .. just use a slide. And you'll see that each "half" or "division" is right at each octave. Each octave seems to be where pickups are usually placed. Not ALWAYs, but usually. The sound is louder and sweeter at each octave. One exception is Music Man. They seem to have "split" the 3rd and 4th octaves. I think the string orbits are larger where they place their pickups. Not really certain. The bridge pickup on Rics seems to be in the MM sweet spot as well. Not sure without measurments though.

    Thanks truckloads for the data on Geddy. This makes much sense, I've been listening to "The Sacred Eleven" a lot lately (the 1st 11 albums including the two live albums ... even Signals ... I love the synths in that one) as well as the third CD in "Different Stages" trying to get my ears wrapped around what he had going on back then (I don't even bother with CD1 or CD2, but CD3 is the shiznot!).

    As far as I am concerned, Rush was killed in a terrible tragedy right after Signals. A tragedy known as .....The 80's. :spit: Nothing after Signals is anything like everything up to that point. All is well though .. really it is ... I'm left with a wonderful collection of 11 excellent albums and Moving Pictures (heheh). Moving Pictures being the worst as far as bass tone is concerned. That Jazz with the nasally distortion just don't work for me. Sorry. It's ~ok~ through a cruddy radio in the garage or a crappy clock radio, but in any kind of decent stereo system that nasally distortion used on his Jazz just annoys me. The music is WONDERFUL but the bass tone is irritating to me. It sounds great as long as you can't hear any detail.

    Anyhow, Geddy's Ric is my favorite 70's rock bass tone .. that and Dave Hope's (Kansas mk1) from that same time period. Hope used pretty much nothing but a P with a pick back then all the way up to Two For the Show, and it has a great sound as well.

    So Geddy didn't start with the bi-channel/bi-amp routine until AFTK then? That's great to hear but it seems to conflict with stuff I've read elsewhere.

    I have that wonderful book called "Rush Tribute. Merely Players" but the instrument info can get just a little ambiguous and somewhat vague. So your comments help clear the fog a good deal. However, that book actually says that he used the bi-amped/stereo Ric as early as 1974 on the "Rush" album tour. Quoting Page 239 verbatum: "BASSES: Rush Tour (1974) (w/Neil Peart). Fender Precision (had a Rush decal slapped onto it). '72 Rickenbacker 4001 in Jetglo (run in stereo with the neck pickup going to the Ampeg and the bridge pickup going to the Sunn) with solid maple body, maple neck, 20-fret rosewood fretboard, mother of pearl sharkfin inlays and single coil pickups, Rotosound Swing (Round Wound) strings, stock bridges, Schaller Deluxe machine heads. AMPS: Sunn 2000S. 2 Sunn speaker cabs w/SRO speakers. Ampeg SVT amp. 2 Ampeg V4B cabinets w/15" speakers." (end quote). It says in that same book that in 1975 during the 2112 album and tour he had the P-bass done in stereo with a Jazz bridge pickup added in the bridge position, wired in stereo and had it cut into the purple teardrop shape. So maybe you got those two basses confused? Or maybe this book is wrong. Anything is possible!

    Seems to conflict with what you said .. but who's t'know, y'know? :)

    In any case thanks a lot for the help! :)
  4. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    The Rickenbacker 4001/4003 bridge pickup position is quite a bit closer to the bridge than the P pickup position.

    The neck pickup on a 4001 is about 8.25" from the 12th fret, and the bridge pickup is about 12.5" from the 12th fret. With the way mine's saddles are adjusted, the neck pickup is about pickup is about 8.25" from the A string saddle, and the bridge pickup is about 4.25" from the same.

    On my Peavey, which was originally a P-bass, the 12th fret to where the D and G string portion of the pickup was, is about 12". To where the E and A portion of the pickup was from the 12th fret is between 10.5" and 10.75". Measuring from the A string saddle, the treble coil would have been about 5.25" from the bridge, and the lower coil would have been about 6.75" away from the A string saddle on the bridge.
  5. THANK YOU SO FRIGGIN MUCH!!!!!!!!!! This kind of data is important to me and for you to have more than a little of it and willing to share it is wonderful!

    Thanks truckloads man! HUGE GIANT HELP!!!

    Right on ...
  6. You also need to factor in that the RIC bass does not use a 34 inch scale length...it uses a 33.25 inch scale length. This would make a difference as to where the pickups are placed and what division (as you put it) the pickup is amplifying.
  7. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    Indeed so.
  8. My mother's maiden name is Cox, does that mean if I build a bass it will have some serious balls?
  9. cassius987

    cassius987 Inactive

    Apr 20, 2007
    Denver, CO
    For your visual reference... the middle pickup on my 4001FL is in the same position as a Jazz neck pickup. So a Ric bridge pickup is just an inch or so "in front" of a P pickup. The neck pickup is the old, 0.5'' spacing.


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