Upgrading pickups????

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Jul 10, 2001.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    From time to time I consider upgrading the pickups on one of my basses. My question: How the hell do you guys choose a pickup?

    How can I have a clue what a pickup is going to sound like in my bass? I have a P-deluxe and the bridge pickup is kind of thin sounding for my purposes. How would I know before buying a new one and having it installed that it would be an upgrade on the present, and not a downgrade. Same for all my basses - how could I possibly know the difference in sound between an MEC and EMG jazz pickup. Pickups are going to sound different in different basses, so checking the sound in another bass would seem pointless to me.

    Any thoughts or help would be appreciated. Thanks.
  2. This is a very good question, and I'm not quite sure what other people do, but this is me:

    I'd read about their properties. Like, on the respective sites, look at how they are described(fat and warm, punchy and focused etc) in comparison to the manufacturers other pickups. Also, read reviews on places like Activebass.com and HarmonyCentral.com about what people noticed about their tonal properties. Then, I'd look at specs, like coil windings, magnet material(alnico, etc.) and see what type of sound these features add to a pup.

    That's all I can think of.
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I used a few resources for my custom;

    - Use search engines to do as much research as possible and see where opinions are in synch. Get out old bass magazines.

    - Use the Talkbass "Search" function to see what's been said in the past and contact other TalkBassers who mention using a paticular make/model.

    - Contact the makers and see if they speak my language, figuratively, not literally. For instance, Lane Poor talks about his MM-style pups "blowing pants legs." That's what I'm thinkin', (unfortunately he doesn't seem to be back among us as yet).

    - See if they will take the pickups back if I don't like them, like Basslines/Seymour Duncan. Being that confident of owner satisfaction says a lot to me.

    What I don't rely on - Endorsers. Big name players can have the manufacturer or their bands' sound techs goose and juice them so much they don't resemble what you and I get. Plus, they have tons of gadgets/stomp boxes and a lot of times their amps are hot-rodded.
  4. Actually, rickbass's method makes more sense. If you do it my way you'll end up knowing how to wind your own goddamn pickups:D
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Rex, I mean Pantera - Funny you should say that. I've been considering buying this video that's available on making your own pickups, (Luthiers Mercantile has it, if I remember correctly).
  6. Rickbass Electronics Ltd. has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Yeah, a guy who doesn't even own a solder gun. I can rewire a lamp and replace a fuse. That's about it.

    I just want to understand them better so I can cut through the marketing hype.
  8. Makes sense, especially if you're prepared to drop an extra $200 into electronics...you can buy whole new basses for that much!
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Or worse! I was getting some info from a person with Lightwaves and a pair of Aeros on two of his basses. He said the Aeros cost him $550 and the Lightwave system was $2500 :eek:
  10. *choking on food*