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PUNK P-Bass Pickups: 50's style or split Tetris Block?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. I like most punk tones I've heard, lately I've been a little stuck on Rancid, some Greenday, Offspring, and so on. I like the uber-simple P/SVT setup sound a lot. I have the amp covered. At present I am refitting a J with some additional pickup options (see "X-Bass" link in my sig).

    So, my question is, what is better suited? The 51/54 single package pickup or the split "tetris block" style for that type of sound?

    My instincts tell me that the splits are a better choice simply due to a wider selection of pickups, as well as the ability to mix/match the two between brands and types. There's some heap-big wampum bitchenola P pickups out there .... like this one ...



    That's a humbucker in each block!

    Just in case it matters, the bass I'm working with is made of "soft maple" with a maple/maple neck. It's just a VMJ.

    I'm also planning on trying an idea ... putting a J/neck pickup between the tetris blocks ... OR ... cozy it right up next to the 50s style P pickup if I am advised to use that instead of the split pickups. The whole array will be mounted in the proper P location. I like the sound of the solo'd J/neck, but I also like the sound of a P .... sooooo ..... yea.

    Thanks for your help.
  2. When I think of punk it is mostly with the split p tone in mind. There are plenty of jazz bass tones with punk as well like Dead Kennedy's.
  3. Is the 50's P tone darker or less ~potent~ sounding than the split-P?

    This is why I've been toying with that idea of putting a J pickup in between the split P pickup blocks. I'd have both tones and even a little mixing ability.
  4. I feel the split p has more highs for more of a bite. If you get a Duncan quarter pounded than it will have a scooped tone which is great for the punk sound.
  5. I had a MIM P about 10 years ago that I installed the SD Quarter Pounders in, I had an SVT at the time so it was like this perfect punk thing. Unfortunately I was in a band with a real nazi of a band leader. We were doing Smiths/The Cure type music then, all orginals. The singer/songwriter/bandleader was a bit of a prick and allowed nothing in the manner of personal tone. It had to be that whole Souxie and the Banshees bass w/chorus upstroke-pick sound or nothing.

    To this day I cringe everytime I hear any "underground 80s" stuff.

    Too bad, I had a great punk rig then! I just didn't know it.
  6. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    Not at all. I'd say the single coil pickup is more aggressive, more full range and "sharper" sounding overall.

    The split P by contrast has a bump in the low mids and slightly more rolled off highs making it sound fatter and warmer. The heavier low mids also makes it sound bigger in the lows but in reality the single coil P pickup actually has more deep bass.

    Either would work just fine for punk.
  7. NightTripper


    Oct 20, 2011
    I know that Mike Dirnt and Matt Freeman use P-basses with the split pickup. Dee Dee Ramone did too. It's a great sound.
  8. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    The single coil P pickup has more attack to the note IME, which would be helpful for playing Punk. It really doesn't matter though, they will both sound great with the right amp and playing style.
  9. I've seen a couple of Dirnt's vids, he has a really great solo sound.

    Interesting stuff about the attack phase of the single package pickup over the split p's.

    Seems I saw a Quarter Pounder for the single type. Hmmm .. I wonder ..
  10. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    the classic punk bass tone is regular stock split-coil P-bass, just like it's regular bridge position humbucker guitar (johnny ramone excepted).

    oh, and stuffing a pickup between the two halves of a P pickup would make it no longer a classic P pickup sound, due to their being moved; it might be a cool sound, but it'll no longer be that sound. it would also exaggerate the difference between the two upper and lower strings, which might make things too uneven.
  11. I should have mentioned that I'd me obverting the pickups, with the treble pickup closer to the neck and the bass pickup closer to the bridge ....


    Details in the "X-Bass" link in my sig. It is just an idea.

    The gap between them would create more of a scoop tone, but obverting them would also have it's own affect on the sound as well. Mixable with the J/neck pickup .. who knows? Might be the Next Big Thing ... ya just never know about stuff like that until it is tried.
  12. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    how do you figure? each string will still be sensed by only one coil, that coil will just be moved a little.
    sure, but usually mixing pickups that are right against each other nets you less, not more, sound. (unless you put them in series, which gets you loud but muddy)

    anyway, you're already making it too complicated to be any kind of "punk" :p
  13. THe further you spread two pickups apart the geater the width of scoop. It may only be a small amount more, but it will still sound more scooped than a standard P setup.

    I don't think I understand what you mean by "less sound". Less volume?

    And "punk" is anti normal, anti conventional, anti rules. If you must remain simple to be punk you're following a standard. Punk is anything against established norms. It is nothing established. If it gets too standard, it is no longer punk. :)
  14. miles'tone


    Feb 26, 2008
    Wales, U.K
    My fave punk tone of all time is the intro to London Calling by The Clash. Paul Simonon used a Dimarzio model P to achieve this.
    Just sayin.
  15. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    two pickups one one string, maybe. that's not what's happening here, you're just moving one pickup per string away from the sweet spot.
  16. I'm not trying to "be" anything other than myself, and the pickup idea is just that .. an idea. It's free to try it out, costs nothing in my case, and the worst that can happen is I won't like it. Sortof the end right there, y'know?

    I'd much rather try it and fail than not try it and always wonder.

    Now, back to the topic, from what I've heard so far there is enough room either way. It seems I can go with either the single 50's pickup or the split P. I may have to try both to figure out what it is I like best. The bass I'm using for this stuff is detailed in the X-Bass thread which is linked in my signature. In short, it's a VMJ that I'll be soon routing a universal "bathtub" pickup cavity large enough to try a number of different pickup setups, including split-p. Ultimately I'm hoping that I'll end up with a pair of pickups in the standard Ric 4001/3 locations, as well as either a J, or single-p/split-p pickup in the p-j/neck location. Whether that is too complicated for "punk" or whatever is totally irrelevant and not something I care about at all.

    So, since it seems that there is one right answer to this question posed in this thread (which is ... either one has it's punk-tone merits) I may have to obtain both, try both, pick the winnah!


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