Single Coils sound week?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by lovethegrowl, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    Why is it whenever I play a bass w/single coils (Rickenbacker or Fender Jazz) I miss the wallop of a double coil. When I listen to name bassists on recordings using a Jazz bass (Marcus Miller, Joe Osborne, Brian Bromberg) their sound doesn't seem deficient I'm terms of depth. Nor does my jazz bass lack depth & punch when I play along with recordings at home. (My bass was upgraded with Carvin j99a pups--big improvement over the MIM ceramic pups.)

    However, when I play live there doesn't seem to be enough...... BOTTOM for my liking, & I miss my humbucker equipped Ibanez bass. My band mates do notice the difference between pickups & basses, but like anything I bring.

    I experienced this same phenomenon 40 years ago (!!) when I played a Rickenbacker 4001. I loved the sound of that bass growl, but at performances I felt buried & lost. I felt compelled to get a P bass. (Those old 4001s were weak, with the 4003 pups being a big improvement.) My Jazz bass (with those Carvins) is like the old Ricky on steroids, punchy & robust. But when I play live the Jazz bass it seems to lack the solid foundation of the Ibanez w/humbuckers.

    Is this problem somewhat of an illusion? Is it something that peeves performing bass players more than anyone else. As a spectator I've never bitched that a Jazz bass sounded weak & said, " that bass player should've used a Precision". But I think that of myself when I play any single coiled bass. I love the sound of single coils until other people are playing, then I feel buried.

    To remedy the "problem" would purchasing Bartolini double coils (shaped like single coils) give me the best of both worlds? I hear that those 59s & 69s do growl. Do they growl like a single coil?
  2. ggoat!!!

    ggoat!!! Banned

    Apr 6, 2008
    It's Single Coils Sound Week? Wow, I didn't even realize...I'm still hungover from Humbucker Holiday Weekend, and now it's almost St. Patrick's Day! The only problem this year is that St. Patrick's Day is on the same day as Mudbucker Monday...

    I can't wait for Split-P-In-A-J-Housing Thursday!
  3. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    I had a long frustrating rehearsal, what do you expect?
  4. FunkyMan


    Nov 27, 2007
    Strange. Is your bass Passive? things like pickup heigth, a bad wiring, poor quality strings etc could be the problem, if not, you should try some overwound pickups like Seymour duncan quarter pounders, they have tons of output, and still sound like single coils IMO!
  5. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    Yes the bass is active. I didn't mention that my strings are DR Hibeams cuz I want the treblish Marcus Miller growl. (On recordings his bass sounds beefy too, but so does mine until other people are playing.
  6. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    You are right, I did borrow a Squier Vintage Modified bass with "Duncan designed' pups & it was sufficiently beefy. But, lots of it was the hex core D' addario strings too. In theory my Carvins could get that too. If Fender would sell vintage 60s pups in the 5 string version I'd have bought those. It would be nice to get the best of all worlds. My Ibanez has TI Jazz Rounds strings that are relatively light sounding, but still are deep & punchy using just a neck humbucker. I am leaning towards those Bartolini 69s if I can get lots of growl.
  7. Humbuckers have more low mids, whereas singles have more treble and deep low end. Generally. Keep this in mind when EQing your bass.
  8. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    Really, singles have more deep low end? I don't perceive it in that manner. However, come to think of it, my .135 Hibeam (single coil) doesn't require a 30 hz boost, where as the .118 TI (humbucker) does. Yeah, I have an MXR M-108 EQ unit. At tonights rehearsal I will try giving the low mids a boost. Could be am easy remedy. Thanx.
  9. bass_case

    bass_case Maintain low tones. Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2013
    Miami, FL
    I have 70s P with an old Dimarzio J, and a 69 Tele. I never run the J by itself, so there was never an issue. I found it harder to get a meatier tone on the old Tele single coil, you had to rely on that snarly SC attack to provide the punch.

    i just installed the Seymour Duncan stacked SC on the Tele, and it's amazing. Have not played out with it yet, but it is dead quiet and has higher output (pretty sure the magnets were getting tired on the original pup.) I would say that it sacrifices only a small amount at the upper end... BUT I added a switch to split the coil. This gives you more output and it snarls like a gutshot mountain lion. I imagine their stacked J pickup has similar qualities.
  10. Try a set of DiMarzio Model Js.
  11. bunkmunk


    Dec 27, 2004
    Bellingham, Wa
    Man, when I'm listening to my iPod, a lot of the players I really like play single coils or jazz basses. So I figured I must really like that sound and it probably suits my playing. In '06 I bought a TBC and it sounded great by myself and playing along to songs. Even recording. But playing in a band it sounded thin and seemed to get lost and had no balls. I put Dimarzio Model J's in it. Sounded beefier, but no longer sounded like a single coil jazz bass... not my thing, sold the bass. Funny thing is it sounds great when the guy I sold it to plays it in his band.

    In '09 I came to the realization again that I should be playing through a jazz bass for the same reasons above. Bought a Squier VM Jazz. Sounded great. I liked it more than I liked the TBC for sure. Same thing. Sounded best playing by myself and to songs on my iPod. Playing with a band I wouldn't say it was really all that weak-sounding but I missed the fat beefy sound of humbuckers and the squier was no longer doing it for me. Let's say it was weak for my own personal taste. Again, it sounded great to me when other people played it in a band setting. Just decided it wasn't for me. Moved on to humbuckers.

    THEN in 2012 I was REALLY gassing for a Fender Jaguar Bass. I remembered my previous experience with single coils and tried to talk myself out of it. BUT the Jag has that series/parallel switch. I was sure that was gonna solve my problems... so I bought a Jaguar.

    Now, here's the thing... that Jag is my favorite bass ever that I have owned. Love it to death. I RARELY ever use that series/parallel switch. For whatever reason this particular single coil jazz-style bass sounds fat and clear and articulate in parallel. I don't feel it lacks in a band setting or by myself or any setting, really. I think in series it can sound TOO fat and beefy.

    Maybe it really just depends on the bass. I'm sure there are humbucker basses that don't float your boat too. I think certain basses sound good in certain peoples' hands and not others. Depending on playing style. But just keep trying til one works for you, I guess. Sorry for the long post, it's just I really related to your post and had a similar experience. But that's my story, hope it helps in some way!
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I've never noticed that with single coils. A Jazz Bass with both pickups on full does tend to sound mid scooped, as do most pickups sets with both on full, so that might be what's bugging you. Or it might be you haven't found the right pickups yet. But in today's day and age with eleventy hundred different types of J sets out there, I'm sure there must be at least one that will suit you. And if not, just stick to what works.
  13. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    Part of it is those Hibeams too. They're not hex core & don't have that punch. I am using just the front (neck) pup accompanying.
  14. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    I'm glad that bunkmunk verified/validated my observation that some jazz basses sound great at home playing along w/recordings, but then don't cut it when you're playing live.

    Something did occur to me. I have been attempting to play accompaniment with the active EQ settings "flat", using just the neck pup. maybe I should try EQing as dmusic148 suggested.

    My bass is a super modded Squier DAJV (now a 6 stringer). The only thing that's stock is the active electronics & a "slap" switch that boosts the mids & highs, but also gives a boomy low mids/upper lows. I had reserved this slap switch for soloing only, augmented with a huge treble boost to bring out the growl of the Carvins. Without that huge treble boost (in the soloing mode) the slap switch's low mid/ upper low boost seemingly made the bass seem boomy.

    So I seriously considered what dmusic148 wrote, & at tonights rehearsal I gave the slap switch a try (in the accompaniment mode) w/o the huge treble boost & bingo! Big improvement. Not too boomy (as it seemed at home) not quite as deep as the Ibanez, but good enough. I'm sure that I can refine the sound further with my MXR M108 EQ.

    last night was my first night using that Squier DAJV bass live. Now I have to say that bass was one heck of a bang for the buck. Very versatile & really lends itself to modifications.
  15. RedMoses

    RedMoses Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2012
    Good a good Pre Amp and Compressor, your single coil's will sound fat and have more definition than a huckbucker. I know how you feel as i was a humbucker guy for years but over time i found that i prefer the mids and definition of a single coil.
  16. Singles sound less deep/round vs. doublecoils. thats the way they are, crisp, punchy, edgy, vintage. There's no way to sound like a double coil with single coils, and that thing you call "weakness" is just the difference between them...
  17. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    OK, but why is it that single coils sound punchier on recordings (e.g. Marcus Miller, who also uses round core DRs) on which you seem to get the best of all worlds--crisp growl AND a hard deep sound? (I really should see Miller live). I'm also not sure why the single coil's lack of punch is less apparent playing along with recordings too, as opposed to live ensemble playing.

    Yes, it's the inherent "nature of the beast" for singles to be less deep sounding than doubles. However, I suspect that some single coils are better than my Carvins. The day Fender makes the 60s vintage jazz pups for 5 strings available, we'll see.
  18. I think he uses a good bit of compression. On recordings it's nearly always squashed pretty hard.
  19. tylerwylie


    Jan 5, 2008
    Dunwoody, GA
    No offense, but ever consider it could be your hands?
  20. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    **** You!