POLL: Ashtrays & Pickup Covers -- Do You Play With Them in Place?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Jeremy Crockett, Oct 3, 2022.

  1. Yes -- The covers never leave my bass.

    64 vote(s)
  2. No -- I do not leave them on when playing, but I do like the esthetic.

    118 vote(s)
  3. Yes -- Ashtray/bridge cover ONLY while playing.

    44 vote(s)
  4. Yes -- Pickup cover ONLY while playing.

    19 vote(s)
  5. No -- I do not have them nor would I EVER have them.

    141 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Dan Bone

    Dan Bone

    Apr 4, 2021
    I've never had one with covers. But I believe the open holes left behind after you remove them would bother me just as much as the covers themselves.
    donhank likes this.
  2. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    None of the above.

    I leave both covers on at all times EXCEPT when recording. Whatever some people say the covers DO affect the tone, if only marginally.

    I'm not talking about the pickup cover affecting the magnetic field or whatever (although I'm sure that in theory this MIGHT be measurable...???). What I'm talking about is a physical resonance. It can be quite noticable in recordings as a sort of "ping" when hitting certain notes/frequencies (basically the same frequency as the "ping" you get when physically tapping the cover). Different covers "ping" at different frequencies and I've found that the ones with the "ping" in higher frequencies are the worst. I've actually got a few spare "high frequency ping "-covers that I've replaced with "lower frequency ping"-covers to reduce this problem. You never know what you're gonna get with these covers, the difference in "tone" when you tap them can be huge, even between two original Fender covers from the same batch/series.

    Surprisingly I've found the bridge cover to be the worst offender BY FAR. I often just remove the bridge cover and leave the pickup cover in place. Dampening the inside the of the brigde cover also helps a lot. Basically the same type of dampening Fender used in their vintage basses but as far behind the saddels as possible to avoid dampening the strings (unless I specifically want the "Jamerson thump" of course).

    To be fair this "ping" is hardly noticable in a dense mix and bassists have gotten great tones with the covers in place for DECADES (but many of these bassist used foam muting, which reduces the problem significantly).

    Still, I know it's there and in more open/airy mixes with more space for the bass I can hear it quite clearly. Also, the problem seems to be worse with newer basses than vintage basses. Maybe they use different alloys for the covers back in the day? But I've not really gone far enough down this rabbit hole to make any definite conclusion on that point (and never will!!!). All I know is that it's definitely there and one minute with a screwdriver before a recording session isn't much of a sacrifice to get rid of it. Surgical eq can get usually get rid of it too but can bring it's own set of issues. The less eq the better IMO.

    I'm talking specifically about FENDER basses though. The plastic pickup cover on Ricks have never given me this problem (Ricks have given me plenty of other problems though... but that's for another thread:laugh:).
    LowEndThrasher and Gruff like this.
  3. Gruff


    May 19, 2021
    Wales, UK
    I have thought about getting an ashtray and adding the 70s style foam underneath - I mute nearly all the time I'm playing and having an instrument that is always muted is attractive. Definitely if I had a second jazz bass I'd consider this option. Mind you, I could well get the same effect using the sock that I have stuffed near the bridge on my mandola, and socks don't leave screw holes.
  4. GWGuitar


    Jul 25, 2021
    I had both on my J bass, and I had foam stuffed under the bridge cover for that truly vintage sound for a few years. Then I started wanting to use that bass for more modern tones, so I took off the bridge cover and the foam. Now I just have the neck pickup cover on it.
  5. I don't mind them...on OTHER people's basses. :roflmao:
    BassyBill and chadds like this.
  6. furym


    Aug 31, 2014
    Carthage, NC
    I never liked the look, they don't seem "normal" to me. However, I didn't start paying attention to instruments until the 80's so normal for what I always saw was no ashtrays.
  7. Baker69


    Mar 24, 2008
    I always leave the chrome bridge cover on my P Bass, it doesn’t affect playing at all and it does tend to keep the bridge reasonably clean.

    The pickup cover I do not ever use and is in my ‘box of bits’. When I first bought a P Bass in 1974 it remained on the bass until 1978 when there seemed to be a trend of guys taking their chrome covers off (both of them), I then realised that the pickup is where my natural playing position is so removing it helped me tremendously over the years.

    More recently (and on a different P Bass) which came supplied with both covers, I was intending on giving it a go with the covers on again as I think they look great, but I changed the stock pickup on the bass to an EMG GZR and found that the pickup was so powerful that it was affecting the tone of the bass with the cover on (it became more bassy). There was definitely a noticeable difference, the chrome cover was affecting the magnetic field of the pickup.

    As such the pickup cover has remained off but the bridge cover remains - I saw a photo of Guy Pratt a while ago and he was playing a P Bass with just the bridge cover on it.

    Has anyone else noticed the difference in tone with and without the pickup cover on a P Bass?
    dangevans likes this.
  8. LowEndThrasher


    May 19, 2022
    Here’s my take:

    I mostly play p and j basses, p basses the majority of the time. I learned to play with them on years ago when I started. If the basses don’t have the covers, they look very strange and empty to me. It’s part of the complete package, if you ask me. They’ve never gotten in my way of playing. Tons of people have seen me play with them and ask me often how I can possibly play with them on, especially metal (I’m mostly a metal player). It’s kind of funny though because I’m a metal player who loves the look of vintage basses and prefers them vastly to modern basses and electronics. I’m just weird that way, but I always get tons of questions about it. Anyway, mine never come off for any reason other than a cleanup and string change. Otherwise, they ALWAYS stay!
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2022
  9. BargeOn


    Mar 19, 2004
    Ashtrays? Look more like panties and a bra.
  10. HeavyJazz

    HeavyJazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2013
    Central Virginia
    I always keep the pup cover on the J5. Love the look and it draws out some different playing techniques I wouldn't otherwise do. ...And it help me not overplay. :)

  11. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    I don’t hate them, but I do regard them mostly as an irritant. When you monitor your adjustments the way I do, you just don’t want to bother with them every time you do an adjustment.
  12. truand85

    truand85 Zig Zag Wanderer

    Nov 11, 2021
    Phoenix, AZ
    Bridge cover only for me, with foam above the strings.

    Pickup cover gets in my way too much.
    Gruff likes this.
  13. Never owned a bass with them, don't even remember if I've played one.

    They look cool, but seems like it would be in my way and limit my options.
  14. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I tried them on a ‘57 style P and couldn’t get used to it. I did wind up keeping them on a ‘51 style build, with foam muting.
  15. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    I'm a total sucker for them....love the look on a nice, vintage-style bass
  16. LowEndThrasher


    May 19, 2022
    Do you use flats when recording? If so, I can see how this could be a bit of an issue. I also record, but only with rounds and have never noticed any unwanted pings, but the roundish zing could account for that. I also play flats and have recorded with them, but on rare occasions. I use flats mostly for practice so I haven’t had much opportunity to experience those tones via recording.
  17. andare


    Oct 4, 2016
    Not a tone difference but the cover definitely makes all my 3 (otherwise perfectly silent) P basses hum as if the pickups were not hum cancelling.
    So annoying that I can't use it. So far two more people here have had the issue and no one has been able to help.
    I'm convinced the cover interacts with the pickups somehow.
  18. Keith Rawlings

    Keith Rawlings Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 3, 2019
    I would like to add the following potential selection:

    “I wish my 90’s Thunderbird had pickup covers.”