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Pickup swap that made the biggest difference in your tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by faulknersj, Dec 18, 2018.

  1. Removed the pre-amp, wiring, and stock pickups from a Squire VM Jaguar and replaced them with a set of Quarter Pounders (P-Jazz)... significant improvement.
    Phil508, faulknersj and tomich like this.
  2. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    Swapped the stock pickup on my 2003 MIM P bass for a "Fender Original Precision Bass Pickup Set" - pretty substantial difference. Still had the same basic EQ, but it got so much more clarity and detail to the sound that my wife said at the time "It doesn’t sound like a bass anymore" (meaning, at the least, that she heard a clear difference).

    That said, I semi-recently switched [what I thought was temporarily] back to the stock pickup on that bass and...it’s not that bad. It sounds basically the same enough; the basic nice P bass natural EQ is still all there, while the missing clarity and detail would mainly only be heard if the bass is played alone or in a super sparse mix.

    So, one could equally say the improvement was either dramatic or rather subtle. Depends how much one values the details. It’s all in the mind...

    Meanwhile, I’m eyeing that Fender Original Precision Bass Pickup for another P bass that I’m less satisfied with the basic sound of
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
    faulknersj likes this.
  3. Swapped out the stock pickup on my Squier CV 70's P-Bass for an Aguilar AG4P-60, a pickup that actually sounds as described by the manufacturer, old school but with a modern clarity.
    bassman74 and faulknersj like this.
  4. PullThePlug


    Jan 8, 2014
    Charvel Model 2b - the stock Jackson bridge pickup died. I replaced both the bridge and middle pickups with Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounders SPB-3. Difference is day and night.

    I'm going to bust out that bass for rehearsal tomorrow, but my hands are used to the Mustang 30" scale. Should be a good workout!
    City, Zoobiedood and faulknersj like this.
  5. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    I've had alot of swaps that I liked and made noticeable differences in tone but by far the most dramatic was swapping the stock 90's ceramic pup in my MIM P for a SD Quarter Pounder. Major upgrade in tone, clarity and output. Very well suited for the rock music I was playing at the time and it's done well in a couple of country bands as well.

    If doing the same swap today I'd probably go with an EMG Geezer Butler (still might someday) which I loved in a fretless P (LTD Vintage 214) I had for a while. It wouldn't be quite as dramatic a change but would a bit more in line with my current vintage-leaning tone preferences.

    However, the Quarter Pounder has been doing what I want it to for almost 20 years so at this point it's an "if it aint broke..." kind of situation.

    Equally dramatic and far more uncommon was putting a Jack Cassady pickup into a first gen Ibanez Artcore. It was a night and day difference that turned it into a whole different instrument. However, it wasn't a pure pickup swap as I put the harness from a JC bass in at the same time.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
    faulknersj likes this.
  6. Swapped Duncan Bassline PJ's out for Entwistle Neo PJ's. That near doubled the output.
    faulknersj likes this.
  7. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    I’ve swapped a lot of pickups. Most only had marginal differences in tone, that likely, only I noticed. But, pulling the N3 pickups and Fender pre out of my American Deluxe Jazz V and installing Aguilar 60’s and an Audere pre made it sound completely different.
    faulknersj likes this.
  8. pbass888

    pbass888 Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    New York, NY
    MIJ mid 80's fretless went from stock pickups which did not sound sweet but thin to dimarzio model j pickups for work in a reggae and blues band, as well as my usual jazz gigs made the most difference. The pickups added some heft as well as maintained clarity and attack. Also adding sjb-1 duncans made my MIA jazz sound very vintage like my 64 and 65 jazz basses.
    best of luck
    Zoobiedood, ticol07 and faulknersj like this.
  9. MIM P to Fender Original '62. Wow!
    dmt likes this.
  10. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    On my gigging bass, 2011 Ibanez SRA305, going from the stock EMG-HZ pickups to EMG actives. Changed me to an active pickups man from a passive pickups man: no more noise, no more impedance issues, no more direct box issues, basically (pun intended), no more issues.
    Kokoman likes this.
  11. BobKos


    Apr 13, 2007
    Aguilar MM type humbuckers to Nordstrand Bigman / Big Splitman in a HH Jazz Bass. The Aguilars were good, but the Nordies opened that bass up full throttle.
    faulknersj likes this.
  12. I swapped the stock pickups on my VM Jag SS for a Duncan SPB-2 and a Duncan SJB-2. They turned a great little instrument into a great, and even more versatile, little instrument.
    faulknersj likes this.
  13. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    I bought into this and went through SO MANY pickups! What a waste of a lot of $$. Other than a DiMarzio blade set that were really harsh, there was not a lot of difference outside the bedroom. Changing strings has always produced a much greater difference.
  14. D.M.N.

    D.M.N. (O)))) Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Swapped a set of Fender Pure Vintage 58's for Fender 62 Originals, big change from a scooped mids to much more forward, punchy, and bright sound.
    faulknersj likes this.
  15. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Went with a passive Aero type 4 - a huge difference from whatever was in the 2013 USA P bass ... supposedly original issue “custom shop” pups.

    Just acquired a 2014 USA P with same stock pups - it sounds great but the Aeros sound a bit better. Higher output, less mid focus, or more highs & lows ... not exactly sure but impressed just the same.
    faulknersj likes this.
  16. Bought a new Music man Stingray: weak G, staggered poles, sounded flat and uninteresting. Got a Haussel MM (flat polepices, ebony housing) from Harry Haussel/Acys guitar lounge in Germany: Even output across strings, punchy, clear and perfectly Stingray. Best upgrade I have Ever done.
    kodiakblair and faulknersj like this.
  17. Charlzm

    Charlzm Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    In the plus side: Dingwall stock pickups in my Afterburner (old style soapbars, not the newer, skinnier shells) - swapped them out for a Nordstrand Big Split Alnico V in neck position and Big Split Alnico III in bridge position.

    It's the bass sound I've been chasing for nearly 40 years.

    In the negative column, I had a buzzy 1970's Rickenbacker 4001 in the 80's - I had a local tech swap humbucking DiMarzio cream-colored blades into it. Utterly ruined the sound of that bass; it became a grunting, one-trick pony with no decent tone available with any combination of knob twirling.
    faulknersj likes this.
  18. themarshall


    Jun 26, 2008
    cochrane wi
    Old Seymour Duncan split P with dip switches to scpb 3.
    Zoobiedood and faulknersj like this.
  19. Andy235


    Dec 14, 2018
    I love that bass. It is lighter, easier to play and has such a deep kick to it. It is not like I am sacrificing tone for comfort. It actually sounds better than many '34 inch basses! It punches way above it's price range too.
    faulknersj likes this.
  20. When I abandoned hitting on the uppity blond at the bar and went for her wing girl.
    FunkyEel, faulknersj, dmt and 2 others like this.

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