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Pickup style determine sound?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Growler, Apr 3, 2005.


  1. Growler

    Growler

    Sep 26, 2004
    Kinda of a newbie question, but how do different style of pickups produce different sounds, and also what is the sound difference between, parallel, offset, soapbar.

    Does the number of pickups make a difference?

    My basic MiM P-Bass has 2 that are offset, other's I've seen have two pairs of offset pickups... of a combination of offset and parallel.

    -Growler
     
  2. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    In general the shape of the pup is exactly that, a shape and not an accurate reflection of the contents. J's and soaps can be singles or HB's for example. Among other things the magnets and windings can vary to dramatically alter tonal characteristics. HB's can be split into singles.

    A gross generality is singles tend to be thinner and brighter while HB's fatter and deeper. HB's split rarely sound like a true singles in my experience - SD Classic Stacks the only exception I've experienced to date. A tradtional single will exhibit 60 cycle hum, an HB will be quiet.

    Parallel is characteristically thinner, brighter, more mids, with a half to 1/3 the output. Series characteristically fatter/fuller with double to triple the output. Personally I've found parallel to simply be a thinner sounding series tone with 1/3 to half the output and not a tone I can't adjust to get in series.

    Offsetting the pup makes very little difference in most cases - some manufacturers place the E&A on split P's closer to the neck, some the D&G.

    The further from the bridge towards the neck a given pup is located, the bassier, less clear, and louder it will become. So yes, an increasing number of pickups would allow for signal input from more locations along the string. I have personally found more than two pups to be of no practical value on a bass.
     
  3. Growler

    Growler

    Sep 26, 2004
    So, to generalize without bringing in a brand/model, if I was looking for a deep bass (thinking along the lines of the accoustic double basses in jazz bands), I should look for a bass with pickups that are in series. Shape not making a real difference.

    -Thanks
     
  4. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    Probably depends on how much of a purist you are and how particular the guys you play with are. It's not uncommon to hear players state they get a very passable URB tone from an electric bass. Haven't messed with it much myself but I've had pups over time that struck me as doing a better job of it than others - can't remember any specifics though. I've had more J pups so probably if you read through Dimento's J experiemnt there will be mention of an URB tone in one of them. Seems J's with a good P tone did a better job of it and actually it seems one of active EMG experiments did a good job of it - PJ, J's, or J mounted mid position. Too many pups to recall accurately.

    It will have a lot to do with the acoustics of the bass they're installed in and amp they're played through. Also Flatwounds (and probably tapewounds) and techinque (playing up on fingerboard, etc.) will have a major impact in obtaining that sound.

    I imagine if you do a search there's bound to have been a thread on getting an upright tone. Search the pup and technique forums.