1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Pickup Recipe for Punch, Grind, and Growl

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Unrepresented, Sep 26, 2010.


  1. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    My goal is to make a bass that's a punchy, grindy, growly beast. The searches I do for any of these keywords usually offer advice on a specific set of pickups. I'm still at the blue sky phase though, and open to any style of pickup that will meet these criteria.

    I'm leaning towards jazz or MM style pickups but know that a lot of the tones I've heard work, came from other style of pickups.

    Think: Tim Commerford's jazz tone from RATM, Flea's Wal tone off BSSM, Duff McKaegan's jazz special, Geddy or Squire's Rickenbacker tones from the 70's, Entwistle's Explorer tone in the 70's, etc.

    There's certainly diversity, but there's also a lot of commonality in the tones. What pickup set or combination of pickups is going to capture that aggressive, punchy, mid-filled, bark that they all seem to share? Further, what placement should I be looking for to further push that tone? Close to the bridge? Sweet spot? Both?

    What's the recipe for an aggressive sounding bass?
     
  2. darkstorm

    darkstorm

    Oct 13, 2009
    Ive had the best luck with that type sound via soapbar and P pups.
     
  3. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    i like passive vintage-type P or J setups "unloaded", i.e., with 500k pots instead of 250ks, into slightly compressed, grindy rigs without horns.
     
  4. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Tim's older stuff was Musicman. Newer is Jazz.
    Flea's BSSM was mostly Wal and Alembic.
    Duff is a PJ configuration.
    Rics and Explorers are muddy whatevers.

    It's hard to get that all in one nice package, if you ask me. But your best bet for instant punch is having a series/parallel switch. Series mode can rev the growl up nicely.

    The Flea/Old Tim stuff is best achieved with big fat humbuckers. I am noodling on a Sterling with a big fat Norstrand MM4.3 pickup and the tone is dead-nuts for old RATM by boosting the mid a little, cutting the treb, bass as needed. Low action, hard digging playing.
    Start there and add preamps as needed.
     
  5. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Interesting, I don't think of soapbars when I think of punchy. Do you have any artists you'd recommend listening to for examples of tone with soapbars?
    Prefer Flea with a Wal, and Tim C with a jazz.

    I've got an American jazz standard (passive with a parallel/series "S1" switch, but I prefer parallel for grind), and a Warwick Corvette $$ which is also typically left in single coil positions, favoring the bridge pickup.

    I play with a very heavy right hand, and can come close to my favorite tones with both basses, but want to have something that's even more. Something that captures the Warwick growl and the jazz bass grind and goes to the punch equivalent of "11."

    Both of my current basses have most of the ingredients right, I'm just wondering if there's the design equivalent of MSG to make a bass even more flavorful.:hyper:
     
  6. TortillaChip520

    TortillaChip520

    Jun 3, 2008
    AZ
    Subscribing, as I want know the secret recipe :)
     
  7. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    The East preamps are like a spice cabinet inside your bass, if you ask me.

    Sweeping a mid frequency can get you whatever growl tone you want: bear, leopard, heck... EVEN SHEEP! It helps a lot.
    Then being able to use passive tone on top of that means that you can dial up a mountain lion on PCP, but make it still soft enough to sound reasonable.
    Pull the treble to slap some sense into the crowd.
    Or shut it all off with the flick of a switch.

    If you want crazy-silly amounts of output, use Status pickups and electronics. Those were so high output that the volume wouldn't go ALL the way down (and it wasn't a grounding issue). They are like EMGs on Mcgwire/Bonds sauce.
     
  8. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I've got a 7 band eq on my ampeg, which is happy to grunt and grind. I usually have the eq bumped around 1K, going into my sealed cab, and I'm typically feeding it a hot load complete with a chunk of compression going into the power tubes.

    My current recipe is time tested, and mother approved. Strong enough for a man but pH balanced for a woman.

    I'd like it to be all that, and a bag of chips.

    I'm armchair planning my next bass and if my Warwick is a jazz on steroids, I want my next bass to be a Warwick on steroids.

    What style of pickups would you put and where would you locate them?
     
  9. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Humbucker in the bridge with coil splitting capabilities. P-style pickups in the neck. Versatile preamp, maybe even 4-bands or something with a variable mid control. Series/parallel switch & humbucker coil switch.

    Tech21 RBI for the grind.
     
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Rics are hardly muddy! If anything they often lack solid low end. They were the original bright sounding bass when everyone was using Fender Precisions.

    Entwistle's Explorer was an Alembic.

    I think the key to those tones is a hitting the strings hard and some overdrive.

    Here's a good example of the classic Ric tone. (extra points if anyone knows who the artist is).

    Rickenbacker

    I got a similar sound with my neo jazz humbuckers, a pick, and some distortion:

    Drum/Bass mix
     
  11. LaklandBass

    LaklandBass

    Jan 26, 2005
    IL
    Heres my thoughts. Do something with a MM/J setup. Probably Nords or Duncans.
    Ive also seen that the Aguilar pre tends to grind more than others.

    I owned a stock lakland 44-02 which is MM/J Barts w/ Bart Pre. then I played a used one at a GC back in the day that had duncans and the aguilar pre and was grind city.
     
  12. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Interesting that I'm getting conflicting opinions.:)

    I've been of the bias that P-bass pickups don't grind as easily as single coils, but then again, Duff's got a P in the neck position of his Jazz special, and I totally dig Matt Freeman's tone from Rancid, and he's a P player.

    As for hitting the strings hard, I'm already there, and my mild overdrive/booster has gone from "occasional use" to "always on."

    FunkMetalBass I've currently got a pair of MM style pickups in my $$ and I keep finding myself using the single coil toggle on both to get that cutting grind.

    Is there a difference in tone between a MM style dual coil being used in single coil mode and a legit single coil pickup?:confused:
     
  13. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    MM/J with Jazz in the bridge?
     
  14. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Technically P bass pickups are single coils. None of the strings are sensed by more then one coil, so it doesn't have the high frequency cancelation of a standard humbucker.

    It sounds the way it does intentionally, with the wide squat coils.

    But listen to John Wetton with King Crimson. There is a very growly P bass.

     
  15. LaklandBass

    LaklandBass

    Jan 26, 2005
    IL
    Unrep.... you're right. it would be J/MM
     
  16. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Digging that track. I have been meaning to check out some Crimson, and they're playing on the same group of neurons in my head that really dug Mahavishnu Orchestra.

    That's actually surprisingly middy compared to my stereotyped "P" tone. Is this a testament to the versatility of the P tone or is it more am exception to the rules?
    Wasn't looking to correct, just trying to clarify.:)
     
  17. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    I think the MECs are wired in parallel. Maybe a series switch would help?

    The difference is in the wind and the location. Every pickup is different, but if you switch to one coil that is perfectly lined up with that 70s jazz pickup position, you can reasonably expect it to have some similar tonal qualities to a 70s Jazz bridge pickup.

    Here's the idea for that setup: the humbucker is to emulate the Stingray sound (ala Flea), the coil switching allows for the jazz pickup (Timmy C & Dufff), and hopefully the preamp would allow enough versatility in conjunction with the pickups to emulate the Rics and Wals.

    I'm not entirely familiar with the switching abilities on those quad coils (like Delano and Nordstrand), but I imagine that you might be able to split out coils to use like a P or Reverse P, and then you could use two coil-switching humbuckers and get a bit closer to a Ric tone.
     
  18. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    They're actually three way toggles for each of the two MM pickups, humbucking in series, humbucking in parallel, and "humcancelling" in single coil mode. The one that works (by far) the best for me is the last mode, and I usually have the blend knob almost entirely favoring the bridge pickup rather than the neck.

    When I'm using my jazz, I typically have both pu's wide open, however.

    I'm actually trying to design the next bass, rather than upgrade the 'wick, so I'm trying to incorporate what I like about the current roster, as well as find some things I'm missing out on, as well.
     
  19. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Yes! I'm a big Mahavishnu fan too.

    If you stick some Rototsounds on a P bass and play it like that, you will get that tone.

    The stereotypical P bass tone is just that. Everyone thinks they are all dark and thumpy, but they aren't. A good example is Forget Me Nots by Patrice Rushen. That's a P bass. Most recordings from the 70's were P bass, and they had a variety of tones.
     
  20. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    +1.

    SS roundwounds on a P bass with a heavy hand is my personal favorite.
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Mar 2, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.