Pickups or woods?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassophile, Oct 17, 2005.

What affects sound of bass more?

Poll closed Oct 24, 2005.

  2. WOODS

  1. Guys, what do you think what mostly affects sound - pickup or wood? I think PUPs are 70% and woods are 30% of sound character.
  2. Er... you have a thread JUST LIKE this one...

    In any event...

    I'd say it's an amalgam of things... mostly technique... pickup placement... wood... everything is there for a reason... that being, for you to manipulate it yourself.
  3. I wanted to be more simple in poll options because that thread is complicated for polling!
  4. Pickups.

    Isn't that the main part of the electric bass?
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    If pickups mattered so much, then you could put Alembic pickups on a Carlo Robelli student model and make it sound like an Alembic.

  6. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Ah, it's the same ol' argument time after time. The classics never get tired do they? No matter if they're here in basses, in the set-up section, or over in the electronics/pickups forum...

    No one's saying anything will sound 'JUST LIKE' whatever model the pickups came from.

    The question was "MOSTLY effects sound". We all have a laundry list of things that make a bass' intrinsic sound without even talking about player technique.
  7. you forgot some important things like strings, string geometry (scale length), and playing technique.
  8. jow83


    Jun 3, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    the thing that most affects sound is using a pick vs fingers
  9. beadgc


    Oct 10, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    I think the wood is more important, though I wouldn't put a percentage on it.

    I have two MTD 635's -- one is a fretted, 21-fret, ash body, myrtle top, maple neck and rosewood fretboard. The other is a fretless 24, walnut body, walnut top, walnut neck and ebony board. In terms of size and shape, they're virtually identical (the fretless 24 has a slightly deeper cutaway). They have the same exact same bart soapbars and preamps.

    Anyway, they sound like two TOTALLY different basses. If you A/B'd them blindfolded, you'd almost certainly think they were two different models from two different builders. The fretted 21 has a fairly traditional sound -- kind of sweet and mellow (though you can dial in lots of variation); the fretless 24 has a really dry midrangey sound across the spectrum. It kind of goes from bark to roar....

    On the other had, I have a Fender P/J -- ash with maple/maple, a very bright, aggressive sounding bass. I switched the stock pickups for an EMG set, due to balance problems with the stock set. But although it sounds a little different with the EMGs, it's a subtle difference. It still sounds like the same bass. I'm thinking of trying something else yet again. Anyone have a suggestion for the darkest-souding P/J set on the market?
  10. I'll let you all in on a secret: you know what best affects the sound?

    Whether it's plugged in or not.

    Can we put it to rest already? :rollno: it's the sum of all factors. please. let this die.
  11. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    Barts. I have EMGs in a couple of basses and I know what you mean. I find the Barts to be much darker and more to my liking.
  12. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    oh, and in reference to the original question, the neck woods.
  13. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Cool! We have determined without a shadow of a doubt what it is that makes the biggest difference.

  14. beadgc


    Oct 10, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks, F I've been thinking that may be the way to go.
  15. I looked at the title and thought to myself, "Duh, of course wood affects the sound more!" (This is because you did not specify what type of bass you were talking about. i.e. Double Bass). I put wood so. (me do rei fa)....
  16. Halftooth

    Halftooth Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Tri-Valley, NorCal
    Overall, I would say that pickups and neck woods seem to have the biggest impact on tone. At the same time though, you can hear differences between body woods, top woods, multi-piece bodies, etc, so it all affects the tone, but I still come back to the pickups really alterring the sound the most.

    I have owned a few MTDs, and I actually owned one with Lane Poor pickups. I had another MTD that had the exact same specs as the one with the LPs in it, and the bass with LPs sounded like a totally different animal as compared to the Bart equipped MTD, so I would say that pickups do make the biggest impact. I currently have two MTD that have the exact same tops woods and body woods, just different neck and fingerboard woods, and the two basses are more similar than dis-similar as compared to the other MTDs with the different pickups.
  17. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    You might also consider the LOCATION of the pickups with respect to the bridge and neck. Very important, IMO.
  18. Bassosaurus


    Aug 27, 2005
    It depends

    I do think a lot of the Warwick sound comes from the woods they use, other basses maybe not so much.

    You know if one replaces steel round wounds w/ flat wounds, any bass will sound radically different.

    This is probably just to general of a topic to reach any sort of consensus on.
  19. Consider this: There are many electric basses with no wood, but no electric basses with no pickups.
  20. 34 Blues

    34 Blues

    Oct 2, 2005
    The reason I think it's mostly the pups, take 2 Les Paul's, one with the traditional 490/498 humbucker combo, record it. Then do nothing but change the pups to P-90's, the difference in sound with doing nothing but changing the pups is like night & day.