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three pickup question

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by kimstevens, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. kimstevens


    Nov 12, 2002
    So, I'm putting together (from parts) a new bass, and would like to use a selector switch for pickups rather than balance or multiple volume pots. I've read (here) that there would be a difference between having a single pickup midway between bridge and neck pickups vs. balancing the output of both, but is the difference very large? Understanding that you can't say one approach is better than the other, aside from weight and cost, are there any opinions on the benefits of having 3 pickups? One drawback could be the added magnetic pull on the strings, but I don't know if that would make a noticeable difference.
  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    To my knowledge, neck + bridge combined results in phase cancellations between the pickups, which is what gives it that characteristic "scooped" sound. A single mid-position pickup, by itself, would not suffer from those phase cancellations. In my experience, a single mid-position pickup is strong in the mid-frequencies, which is just the opposite of the "scooped" sound. I think it's a great option! I vote for on/off mini-toggles for each pickup.
  3. Right, there is a HUGE difference between neck+bridge and soloed middle. A simpler option for pickup selection is a six position rotary toggle, however. Most people wouldn't care to have three pickups in parallel, so six positions gives all combinations of one or two pickups at a time.
  4. radrack


    Nov 10, 2012
    Portland OR
    Running the pickups in series will actually produce more in volume/output.
    I did that mod on my Jazz Bass. HUGE difference than the 2 in parallel (stock) configuration.
    Of course wiring 3 pups with all possible configs will be somewhat challenging. Good luck
  5. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Any time you combine two pickups you get phase cancelations and reinforcements. The distance between the pickups changes this comb filtering. Having three pickups will allow quite a few different combinations, and having all three on sounds pretty cool too.

    I've had basses with three pickups on a number of occasions.
  6. kimstevens


    Nov 12, 2002
    That was incredibly helpful -- thank you all for the thoughtful replies. I might need to get this professionally wired, though. Any opinion on the added magnetic pull? My plan is to use Lace Alumitones, which have quite strong magnets -- because of this on another bass I have mounted them quite far from the strings, which is a plus for pickstyle playing.
  7. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Exactly. The answer to too many pickups (see Bootsy) is simply to mount them farther from the strings to cut the total pull.

    I happen to have a Modulus with three Barts. Neck. Bridge. Sweet spot.

    It originally came with three toggle switches one for each pickup. This allows quite number of nice combos, but I can tell you in advance that you end up mostly using the standard bridge/neck or sweet spot only. In this setup, pickups were always connected in parallel.

    But wanting a bit more complex control given the fact that I usually mod basses to include a series wiring option (usually on a push-pull volume or tone control). I came up with a very elaborate wiring scheme that uses three toggle switches. Each switch has three positions center off, and series one way and parallel the other way. When you choose "series" it puts THAT pickup in series with whatever pickups are on. For example if you set all three pickups to "series" then all three are wired in series If you set all three to parallel then all three are in parallel. If you set two series and one to parallel then the two are in series which is paralleled by the third and so on.

    I'm not sure where my diagram is right now, but I DID post it to this forum some time ago if you can search it out.

    And let me add that in my opinion, three selectable pickups: Neck, Bridge, and Sweet Spot, are the Shizit!
  8. kimstevens


    Nov 12, 2002
    That's quite a setup -- thanks for the inspiration, hadn't thought about series vs parallel.
  9. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Funny that you mention this today. I've got a bass I've been contemplating putting 3 single coils on. I was having brain fart out trying to come up with a wiring scheme.

    Anyways, I found your old post and diagram:



    I'd need to find a cheaper source for switches. That mod can get expensive in a hurry.
  10. bigsnaketex


    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    I have a strat and a jazz wired like this. Its quite amazing and I love mini toggles!