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Pickup positions?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Ulyanov, Jul 3, 2001.

  1. Hey, I have a question that's been bothering me for a while now. I know that on a bass with two pickups, the bridge pickup gives a brighter, sharper sound, and the neck pickup gives a deeper sound. But why is that? Is it the same principle as to why you get a different sound from plucking different parts of the string? Because I don't know the answer to that either. Thanks in advance.
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Uly - You're on the right track, as you noticed that as you pluck a string incrementally towards the neck/bridge, tone changes incrementally.

    There are all kinds of formulas for this and I don't understand how to read them.

    But, obviously, the bridge pup is nearer where the string vibration ends, so the vibrations decrease as you get nearer the bridge. The same happens with the neck pickup as you play higher up the neck, to some degree.

    The bridge pup has less vibrations to "see" and the higher freq's are the ones it tends to "see." It also tends to have lower output since there is less for it to "see."

    Since strings aren't so taut at the neck position, the string has a larger elliptical pattern as it vibrates, as well as a longer sustain/vibration time to be "seen" by the pickup. There is more info for the neck pickup to "see," it picks up more of the fundamental because it is presented with it.

    Larger string gauges cause larger elliptical string vibration patterns and that's why you sometimes see pickups where the end of the pickup that senses the larger strings angles towards the bridge and the end that senses the smaller strings angles towards the neck. A Fender Strat is a good example. The angling helps even the strings' relative output and tone.

    That's my layman's explanation.
  3. Thanks, rickbass1, that's exactly what I was looking for.

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