Really large pickup cavity under pickguard: effect on amplified tone?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Temcat, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. If a bass has a really large pickup cavity under the pickguard, will it affect the amplified tone significantly?
  2. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    Manton Customs likes this.
  3. Good. Thank you.
  4. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    There's one exception and that's if it's a thin neck through and the route extends to close to the neck, I'm not sure if it effects tone, but it's not really a good idea as it weakens it significantly, it was a problem with some rickenbackers.
  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Well, it depends on how big a cavity you are talking about. If the cavity is big enough and deep enough that it significantly weakens the the body structure, then it will affect the final amplified tone. That's what we are doing when we cut internal chambering in bodies; cutting away wood in the center of the body to weaken it and shape the tone.

    If you are just talking about a somewhat oversized pickup cavity then, no, it won't affect the stiffness of the body or the tone.
    reverendrally and JIO like this.
  6. The only 'exception' to be considered is if you put a microphone in the cavity, then there might be some sonic capacity. Otherwise - no.

    One more time - wood is the roach motel of sound - sound checks in and it doesn't check out. It doesn't 're-energize' the strings to vibrate over the magnetic pickups. It can't, as it's not alive not does it shake sufficiently to make the strings move.
  7. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    On a solid body bass, wood is a dampener.

    Different woods/densities dampen different frequencies.
  8. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    <puts on english major hat>

    Technically, it damps the material. Dampening requires moisture.

    <removes aforementioned hat, sees self out>


    p.s. yes, I am also fun at parties.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  9. kopio


    May 8, 2012
    Boise, ID
    Always good to see another English Nazi around!
    wraub likes this.
  10. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    English Nazi seems rather severe, needs to be replaced with something... Hmmm. I'm not really sure.
    Didactic pedant, insufferable a-hole, pedantic didact, idiotic perfectionist... Many options, really. Some of which I hear quite often.

    Something will come up, I'm sure. I'll take notes.
    :) :D
  11. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    This was a maple Tele guitar body I turned into a fretless bass. The swimming-pool rout I created was large enough to give a slight hollow-body tone, especially it seems as the P pu is attached to the pg.


    PDX Rich and Bass. like this.
  12. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    How'd you mount the p pickup to the pickgaurd?
  13. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Oh wait - the P pu is attached to the cavity… I got wires crossed w/another bass w/a large rout.


    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
    Will_White likes this.
  14. 100_2403.JPG Having built both quite a few hollows and slabs, I can emphatically state there is no difference in tone because of hollow v solid body.

    That's a hollow up there ^ and it sounds like every other Jazz bass I own or have built, pending string choice, pickups and playing technique.


    This is a slab body (doh!) and it sound pretty much the same, albeit the strings are not Elixirs, the p'up is a Fender antiquities clone from the earliest Tele-style.

    Really ....... bass players seem to play this snob game about wood v concrete bodies, hollow v solid, chrome tuners v nickel plated, etc., etc. It's destructive and nobody cares as long as you go "thump" at the right time behind the kick.

    What you're prolly hearing is the soft witness point (your finger) on the neck compared to a fretwire.

    If you stick a mic in the cavity, then all bets are off. Did you stick a mic in it? If not, blame your soft finger pads.

    There are no leprechauns either. A little pagan holiday humor.

    For me it's gotten to the point that I don't take pixs of new basses I build, but I kept meticulous notes on tone, voice/articulation...... and by now I've found that if the guitar-bass is not mic'd as an acoustic instrument - they go boom-boom pretty much all the same.

    Find your tone in your fingers, your strings or your very expensive 100_2403.JPG 100_1704.JPG élow oxygen instrument cables 'cause there's no show here except for beauty, elegance and design of the vehicle we call : a bass guitar.
 and ctmullins like this.
  15. Hey I should not post from my tablet. Sorry for the multiple images and broken syntax.