PUPS....Oh C'mon.....Are They Really That Bad?...

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ZenG, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. You'd think stock bass pups were the worst electronic product on the planet the way people swap 'em out with wild abandon on TB.

    I have yet to go into a bass shop and play a bass where the sonic output/tone/sound absolutely sucked.

    Just about every bass I've tried would certainly hold it's own at a gig.
    And that's with the factory strings on it.

    I get that nicer is better........in fact I did change out a PUP on a Bronco. But in reality the stock one would have worked had I chosen to leave it there.

    I have a Mikro that I changed the bridge and the strings on....but the PUPs are stock...and that bass will compete with anything out there if gigged.

    Ditto for any bass I've owned so far.

    But some people here, their new bass hasn't even arrived yet but they've got new PUPs coming for it....

    Not that it will make me violently ill with angst....just sayin' though....
  2. Agree. The reason so many aftermarket parts are available is because we'll buy them. : D
    Are there differences? Of course. Do they really matter? Maybe. Maybe not.
  3. The common occurrence here seems to be that people assume that upgrading automatically equates to "better," but they rarely have any concept of what "better" actually is. If you are going to upgrade your pickups, (or for that matter, anything) then you have to have some sense of direction for where you are going. That means knowing the faults of your current pickups, and being able to clearly define them. Too many people post nonsense on this forum, like "What pickups for P bass?," or "I want to upgrade my Jazz bass, but I don't know what pickups are good." To me, this kind of thing is a bigger problem than having an eagerness to ditch stock parts. There isn't anything wrong with taking advantage of the diversity of choices available on the pickup market, but you have to actually know what qualities you are in search of, beforehand.
    meatwad, metermech, Camaro and 14 others like this.
  4. Sometimes the stock stuff actually IS bad. I have a 5 string Ibby that came with 6 string split coil pickups. The A string sat in the gap and sounded like poo. New pickups, 5 string Barts, fixed that.

    Second case, the preamp in my EDB605 had a weird 3K shelving filter at the output stage. A more conventional pre fixed that. Sounds so much better now.

    It's tough to know what you want until you can get a chance to experiment. Unless you want to buy a lot of basses, swapping out parts is a reasonable way to get some of that experience. I recommend starting with strings and cheap tone shapers before digging into more expensive and extensive items like pickups, preamps and bridges though.

    If you have a little extra cash, and willingness to mod, and The Knack (Dilbert reference), I say go for it - mod away.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015
    Dogbertday, BlueTalon and gebass6 like this.
  5. Case and point: I had a 2004 Fender American Standard Jazz where the pickups just sounded blah even after trying several kinds of strings while a 2011 Fender American Special that was really good along with a Squier Classic Vibe P and 2005 Squier Jazz that sounded nice. So my opinion is not all basses warrant an immediate change. Having said that , know this I like a seeet vintage tone so what I like mau not be your bag so play the bass in in a live environment and if they don't work for you then try others
    Growlmonkee likes this.
  6. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    The stock CS62 pups sold me onto the American Standard Jazz and Precision bass series. Truly wonderful electronics. It was a real tough decision when choosing which one to take home. I took the P out of curiosity and growing disdain with the lack of thump on the Mexican Jazz basses. So far, so good!
    LoveThatBass likes this.
  7. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    I think you have to remember that usually up to a certain price point, everything on the bass is the cheapest possible part the manufacturer could get that week/month from their supplier. I say 'usually' because the pickups in my Warwick Streamer (which lists for $3200...but that's a joke and a whole other thread!) were terrible sounding, sterile junk with no headroom or dynamics. Installing Bartolini's made a huge difference. But, swapping pickups is something I love to do. That being said, my Roscoe is the only bass I've owned that is perfect as-is. I haven't changed a single thing on it. So obviously the answer is...get a Roscoe!
  8. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    I think great pickups are more crucial to guitar tone than on bass.

    For bass I think that good strings (if you are wanting the roundwound sound) And a rock solid neck. Are equally important if not more important than pickups for tone.

    In other words, with a bass the whole package MUST be quality. With a guitar, just any old plank and strings can sound amazing with a good pickup and a good player.

    This is just my opinion though. I'm sure there are many guitarists who think the opposite!
    Dogbertday and Clutchcargo like this.
  9. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    It's not necessarily that the existing pickups are crap, but rather that different pickups might be better!
    DiabolusInMusic likes this.
  10. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Sometimes I think pickups are replaced more as a form of personal therapy than anything else.
  11. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    Like reorganizing the furniture in your room, or putting on a fresh coat of paint
    Awesome Sauce likes this.
  12. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    I have a seven string bass that came with six string split coils.
    The D string was in the split. Snapshot_2015918.jpg
    And I also had a six string with a hum.I replaced the pickups with Delano SBC-7HE/S duo coils soaps in both. Snapshot_2015221.jpg
    Solved the problems in both basses.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  13. Odinbass


    Dec 6, 2006
    Cleveland, OH
    To each their own. I've had such good results with aftermarket pickups I'll probably never go stock again. That doesn't mean all stock is poop, but I just like aftermarket.
  14. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    My basses that have the stock pickups:
    Rick 4002
    Squier VM '75 J (Yes, I actually like the DD'd stock pickups on the maple body)

    My basses that have replaced pickups:
    Ibby SRA305 (EMG 40CS & 40JX)(to have as quiet a signal as possible for our digital sound board)
    Washburn AEB (changed the element, retained the stock preamp)

    My custom built half-fanned P/J
    RIC HB1 & Dimarzio UltraJazz

    I added a Fishman Full Circle to my double bass.

    So for me, it depends. I am all for changing pickups and other electronics when a particular sound is desired, but I am also in favor of playing the stock setup first for a significant amount of time to see what it is all about.

    Most pickup changes, in my experience, are a corollary to purchasing an inexpensive used bass that has (a) lesser quality ceramic pickup(s), and a pickup change is the least expensive and usually the least invasive way of turning a marginal bass into a giggable bass.
  15. ofajen


    Apr 12, 2007
    92.4W 38.9N
    Sometimes, pickups are the whipping boys of tone. They can be easily and affordably replaced when someone isn't satisfied, for some reason, with the sound of the instrument. As others have noted, if you aren't clear about the reason for dissatisfaction, pickup replacement is basically a shot in the dark, but likely to bring about an audible change in tone.

    BlueTalon likes this.
  16. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    "stock" in what?

    the stock pickups in a squier are a far different thing than the stock pickups in a sadowsky.
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I used to agree totally with you...until I got a couple of basses with some of the worst pickups known to man, and new pickups transformed them from crappy basses into awesome basses. I did, however, obey the rules and tried them first before replacement. With disastrous results, I might add. Always amazes me how pickups that sound fine at home can sound absolutely horrid on a gig. Don't judge...might happen to YOU one day, too.
    metermech and walterw like this.
  18. And the other way around - some pickups can sound bad at home but really cut through in a live setting. My EDB605 is one such example - horribly rough in the basement because of the overbearing mid-growl but great through a PA.
    walterw likes this.
  19. NoBlackTShirts


    Feb 23, 2010
    You can't avoid that swapping pickups only started in the Seventies and only became normal behavior some years after that. That leaves an awful lot of good music before that, from guitars that were never modified.

    Of course that was before the plague of cheap ceramic pickups, too. In the old days you just didn't see ceramic. Even Mr. Fender, famous for using cheap parts, wouldn't go that low.

    Ceramic does have a place among people who want a more condensed lo-fi sound, though. I use it sometimes myself. It was probably a strategy employed by DiMarzio when they decided to make a Jazz Bass pickup that got some of what the Precision Bass had and the Jazz Bass didn't.
  20. ofajen


    Apr 12, 2007
    92.4W 38.9N
    Ceramic magnets don't make sound. They are just the source of the magnetic field. The sound comes from the entire magnetic circuit.

    BlueTalon and wcriley like this.

Share This Page