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Seymour Duncan Hot (SPB-2) vs Quarter-Pounder (SPB2) for Bright P/J Tone

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by TheChip94, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. TheChip94


    Aug 27, 2013
    I am looking to purchase a Warmoth Bass build and was wondering which pickups would be more suitable for creating my desired tone.

    I am trying to create a bright and clear punchy tone that really cuts through without being too growly. The sound of my band is comparable to Rise Against, and the sound I'm going for is my attempt at emulating Steve Harris' awesome bright tone. The two pickups I have narrowed my search down to is the Seymour Duncan SPB-2 and SPB3 pickups. Any reviews you have for one or both of these pickups, would be awesome. I've heard that the Hot pickups have more low end, but I have heard very mixed reviews for the QP pickup, so some clarification for what it does with a Bass' tone would be especially great.

    If it helps, my bass setup will be Alder body, Maple Neck (Ebony Fingerboard), Hipshot A Hardtail Bridge, D'Addario Chrome Flats, and a P/J configuration, with the Bridge Pickup being a Hot Jazz Stack (STK-J2).

    Thanks in advance!

  2. I haven't tried the SPB-2, but have owned the SPB-1 and the SPB-3.

    Initially I was very wary of the SPB-3, as others had described it as "modern" and "scooped" and "aggressive". Well, two of those adjectives are utterly subjective, and it certainly isn't mid-scooped. It's a relatively high output P pickup, but I like it's mid-presence, which I'd say it has a little more than, compared to a "vintage"-style P pickup. I think it's a great balanced pickup for modern "Punky" and more vintage style tones. With a half decent ear and EQ, you'll be able to get them all.
    It's actually my favourite passive P pickup.
    The only issue in a PJ is to get a really high output J pickup to compete with it. A Dimarzio ULtraJazz does the job nicely IMO.
    I have not owned the J pickup you are proposing to use, but aren't the SD noiseless J pickups rather low output, as they use a top/bottom approach to the coils, as opposed to DImarzio's side to side ??
  3. I agree with the above, altough I found that the SPB-3 was scooped. Not a huge bunch, and it does sound great for the abovementioned styles.

    But I switched mine out for a Fender Originals '62 and couldn't be happier. But then again, I rock the flatwound boat.
  4. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    Neither of them are bright as such, they are both heavy wind, the hot being even heavier than the QP. There is a reason why Steve Harris uses a vintage wind. The QP can show some nasty kind of high pitch and often requires working the tone pot to make it pleasant but it really isn't "bright" as you normally use the word.

    I would recommend to stay with some pickup that is not overwound (awg42 wire) and only go hotter after you confirmed you need to. The Steve Harris model or SPB-1 are the usual starter point. If you really want silkier highs you can go with the Antiquity II, but there's a question whether it creates the required pressure for your needs.
  5. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    In my opinion the SPB-3 Q-pounder is a terrible sounding pickup. Very boomy in the low end and nasty shrill sounding on the high end. I haven't tried the SPB-2 Hot, but of the two I would recommend it over the SPB-3 based on how bad that pickup was.
  6. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Well, if you want Steve Harris's tone, you probably should get this:


    If you want bright and punchy, you definitely do NOT want the SPB-2 Hot. It's an excellent pickup for what it does, which is fat, creamy-smooth, old-school goodness, with huge emphasis on the low mids. It is punchy, but not bright in the least. It was a little too boomy for me, and I missed that ringing treble of a more vintage pickup.
  7. TheChip94


    Aug 27, 2013
    I actually was considering going with the Steve Harris Pickup, but I usually try to avoid anything that's a signature model, because I feel like I'd rather find my own tone based in my worship of 'Arry than just to copy his own pups. I may have to swallow my pride this time hahaha
  8. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Well, you could avoid any "signature stigma" by using different pickup covers! :D I probably would. I bet the SPB-4 is a cool pickup, so if I wanted the Steve Harris tone I'd be willing to try it. If you want clear punch with some brightness, I bet a Nordstrand NP4 would fit the bill.
  9. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    you can't lose with the spb-1, the vintage pickup. that'll be the brightest and clearest of the three, especially with 500k pots, and will be closest to the steve harris pickup without being the signature model.

    pair it with an ultrajazz or especially an area J and you'll have noise-free, clear grindy goodness.
  10. Arvin

    Arvin Underwound Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    On the bench
    Another vote for the SPB-1. It's a great pickup, and very versatile. Don't let the "vintage" descriptor scare you off. You can fill just about any musical niche you want with that one.
  11. TheChip94


    Aug 27, 2013
    So now that I've got the p-pickups down to the SPB1 or SPB4, does anybody have any experience with the Dimarzio j-pickups? Which of the two (Area J or Ultra Jazz) would be a better sounding pickup for the clear bright tone I'm going for? I'm thinking maybe ultra jazz! but I'm not sure...
  12. Arvin

    Arvin Underwound Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    On the bench
    I've got a set of Area J's in one of my jazz clones right now, and they sound quite remarkably like vintage-wind single coils. They're missing a little bit of the "zing" I get with singles, but very clear and bright. I'm quite impressed with them, and I'm about to upgrade a P/J fretless of mine with an SPB-1 + Area J combo. That should get you where you want to go, I would think.

    I don't have any experience with the Ultra Jazz, though. Perhaps someone else who does will chime in here.
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    The hot pickup is not clean sounding. Because of the boosted mids it will break up and distort sooner than most pickups. The 1/4 pounder is a nice pickup and I like it a lot. But I am not sure that is the tone you are looking for.

    Maybe what you want is an underwound humbucker with a 3 band preamp.

    Perhaps a bartolini with an 18 volt preamp.
  14. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    I'm not fully answering your question but as for the SPB-3 which I have in one of my P basses, IMHO it's pretty much like the SPB-1 and Fender's Original P Pickup Set except that it's about 10% fuller in sound with the highs staying about the same and of course it has higher output.

    Interestingly, the SPB-3 has the same ohm rating as a stock P pickup about 10.5K. The difference is the larger pole magnets.

    Pickup height is crucial with all pickups! Closer to the strings = higher output and a more aggressive sound. Farther from the strings gives a sweeter and nicer balanced sound.

    Experiment with pickup height. Just one or 2 millimeters makes a big difference!

    I pretty much agree with the rest of the guys here that the SPB-1 and Fender Original P are the better sounding.

    About 10 years ago, the SPB-3 was the #1 selling accessory for bass guitar and was for many years. It's an excellent p/u too!

    Generally speaking, the hotter a pickup (higher ohm reading) the muddier the sound. Lower ohms = brighter sound. Higher ohms = darker sound.
  15. Tim Marshall

    Tim Marshall

    May 26, 2012
    i am using the spb3 now, it took a little while to figure out the sound i was looking for.i have the vol. wide open then pull it back a little and work the tone to find what i was looking for, then work the amp. this is a balls out pickup, you can get any sound you want. i am talking p bass here, my jazz is a whole different story i use bill lawrence j45's front and back.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015