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Show us your 3 pickup basses!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Doner Designs, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    I'm a big fan of 3 pickup basses. Was searching for threads and pics of examples out there but its slim pickins. Love to see some pics of customs with three separate pickups. Comments on wiring and what you like/dislike also would be interesting.

    I have built three triples (pictured below). Two use a 3 way switch on the middle/neck volume with a separate volume for the bridge and master passive bass & treble controls.

    The J bass also has a series-parallel switching for the two J pickups and phase reversal on the bridge (push-pulls). It pains me to admit, but it currently does not have series parallel switching within each of the split J pickups.

    The Air Force Bass has on/off toggles and volume controls for each pickup along with master bass and treble. I like the VVV with three switch config best so far.

    Next on the project list are to swap the bridge pickups in the P and the J. The J will get a double J quad coil (I plan to glue two Dimarzio Area J's together). The P will get an 8 wire quad coil MM in the bridge (probably Nordstrand).

    Not sure about controls for the redone P and J yet. Would like to do the 10 option wiring thing on the quads which will probably require more routing and a bigger pickguard (to make room for rotary switch and/or 3 way toggle for each coil).

    Am also thinking about a new build with three quad coil MM pickups - each with all 10 combos and maybe with 3 separate jacks plus option to route all 3 to a single jack.

    Not sure about preamps. The AFB has a Bart TC-3 (boost only - no tone control). With three pickups you get so much tonal flexibility it almost seems unnecessary (did I really just say that).

    Unnecessary complexity and overkill is a design objective for me most of the time, so preamps for all (eventually) with bypass switches of course. :)







  2. Fenwick


    Dec 9, 2012
    Wow, cool thread! I'm curious, how does the Precision split and MM sounded blended together?
    When you activate all pickups on a bass, is it generally a very round sound because of the proximity of the neck pups?
    Are there sound files with all 3 pups active on any of these basses?

    Interesting stuff!
  3. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Again a ''3 pickup bass pictures'' thread? There was one not so long ago...
  4. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    How about posting a link. I could not find it. Did several searches. Would love to see it.
  5. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    The sound of each pickup is determined primarily by its location. So, the MM adds high end sparkle and growl. The P is kinda in between and the far-neck is very deep and round. There is some phase cancellation as with any multi pickup arrangement, but its not excessive. Each pickup has its own voice to be sure.

    Two of the basses use a Gotoh at the neck and one uses an Artec. The Gotoh tends to blend a little better and is more polite. But the Artec is easier to do surgery on and add 4 conductor wiring (you gotta be careful though - I wrecked one doing that).

    No clips but my son is getting a Zoom recorder for Christmas, so I'm hoping to do a collection of clips on the Air Force Bass and the Army Guitar to post on our website. Will post here too if/when we get to that. Never done it before.
  6. Papalampraina

    Papalampraina Need.More.Fez. Supporting Member

    May 13, 2009
    Athens, Greece
    Here's mine. A very cheap jazz style bass turned into a guinea pig.


    These days it even has a double muff nano inside. :)


    3 Volumes, no tone.
  7. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales
  8. M.Mannix3


    Jun 12, 2010
    Those are just beautiful! Doner, are those all vintage spec EB-0/EB-3 pickups they must sound nice and fat on fender basses. It looks like the jazz has two outputs do you bi-amp or how does your signal chain work?

    I've thought about popping an EB-3 pickup right up against the neck but have been too afraid to route the bass out. This make me think it might be worth doing.
  9. 2-Sticks


    Sep 8, 2008
    Vancouver B.C. Canada
    Endorsing Artist: S.I.T. Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, WB Gear,
    I only have live pics of my 3 pickup Pbass, I will try to get some better pics later. 1 P p/u and a set of J p/u (EMG) wired VVV @ 18 volts. This is by far my favorite Pbass to date, I can get just about any tone I can think of out of it.


  10. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    BlueAliceOasis and Immigrant like this.
  11. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    This puppy has a 5 position switch, like a strat. Lace Sensor pups with V/B/T controls. Switch positions 1-3-5 give the individual pups, with a single coil character, and positions 2-4 give the neck and middle or the bridge and middle, with a humbucking character. It's a very fun bass to play, narrow slim neck.
    meatwad, Immigrant and dgrizzly like this.
  12. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    Still in the works. I should have it in a couple weeks:



    BlueAliceOasis and Immigrant like this.
  13. jlepre

    jlepre Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    Immigrant and dgrizzly like this.
  14. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
  15. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Interesting matching of pickups with positions. How is the P at the far neck?
  16. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    '75 P modded to passive JPJ configuration by Mark Arnquist in 1980 using SD QuarterPounders.
    Stacked vol/tone knob for each pup. Also added BadAss II bridge, brass nut, & kill switch.

  17. Basvarken

    Basvarken Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2010
    Velp Rockcity
    Luthier / Gibson Bass Book
    Here's my three pickup bass.

    The two single coils are G3 pickups.
    The humbucker is an Artec AlNiCo Mudbucker.

    The chickenhead knob is a six position rotary switch
    1. neck pickup only
    2. middle pickup only
    3. neck and middle pickup wired as humbucker
    4. bridge pickup only
    5. neck and middle as humbucker plus bridge pickup in series.
    6. neck and middle as humbucker plus bridge pickup in parallel.



    Body mahogany with bookmatched flamed maple top.
    Set neck, also mahogany.

    I built it myself. The shape is copied from my favorite bass, my 1969 Gibson Les Paul bass.
  18. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Thanks MM3! The EB pickups are aftermarket replacements for Gibson basses. I like the tone but hate the feel and neck dive of Gibsons.

    The air force bass uses the Gotohs that are sold by Guitar/Bass Parts Resource. They also sell the Artec as does Allparts. I'm not sure which is more authentic but my guess is the Artec might be more like the original.

    Not sure what you are seeing in the way of two jacks - I do have an extra tone knob (for bass) on the J that might look like a jack. In the next round of mods however I'm seriously thinking of multiple-jacks just to tinker with it (and also include a single jack option). Not something I'd use much, but would be fun to try out.

    As for routing, my only advice would be to practice on an inexpensive or expendable body, but it's not rocket science. The first two times I did it with hand tools (drilled with a step bit and finished with a chisel and wood putty). After that I bit the bullet and got both a router and a dremel which both make the work far easier but a little scary, esp when there is no PG to hide slips.

    It was going to cost $80 to have somebody do it, so I figured it better to buy the proper tools instead.

    Go for it and have fun. To me cutting into the wood really makes a bass your own moreso than just swapping out the pickups. ;)