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What makes you pick a new pickup?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ebick, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. ebick


    Sep 3, 2013
    Let's say I want to upgrade one or both of the pickups on my bass. I'm not sure why yet, but that's part of the question.

    For me to know how the pickup works/sounds with MY bass, it MUST be in my bass, right? I mean, the wood, the strings, my amp, I'm sure other things that I am missing, are all going contribute to the sound I get, right?

    So, how does one "experiment", if you will with pickups, or, let's say I played another bass and I loved the sound that a particular pickup gave and I think I want to replace my pickup with that.

    There's no real way to try it out other than to buy it, put it in, and hope, right?
  2. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013
    subb'd I would like to know too.
  3. grinx


    Mar 24, 2003
    Raleighwood, NC
    you buys 'em n tries 'em

    and read lots of reviews
  4. bassistjoe93

    bassistjoe93 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2011
    I make sure I have a good idea of what I want from the replacement tone wise. I read tons of reviews, look them up on TB, maybe watch a few YT videos of people trying them. I also call and discuss with the builders. That's pretty well all I can do short of buying a lot of different ones and getting hosed reselling.
  5. Corevalay

    Corevalay Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    New Jersey
    Before I bought pick-ups I've always at least tried a bass with them. I remember I was in the market for a Geddy jazz. So i went to guitar center and played one. It was cool but I wasn't blown away. So while I was there I picked up a MIA with the Custom Shops and plugged that in. I was blown away with it. So from there I decided to get Custom Shops and put them in my jazz. I couldn't be happier!

    Also, you'd be surprised how many "reviews" are on youtube. It's a really great place to at least start. In the end though, trial and error is the best way!
  6. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Try your current pickups with different combinations of pots and tone caps first, it might save you a lot of money.

    Unless you're just keen to spend some money on something, in which case get whatever pickups you like the name of.
  7. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    It's a crap-shoot at best.

    You can read all the reviews, but they are full of subjective descriptions and generalizations. Furthermore, you are correct that tone comes from all aspects of your instrument so if you have a neck or neck joint that is less-than-rigid it may be absorbing your upper harmonics and changing the pickups might get you nowhere.

    Trying other basses with different pickups can give you a clue, but it can also be confusing at the same time.

    Just remember if you try some and they don't work out, you can always sell them here on TB. There's lots of other bassists trying to find their tone too. Fact is, I highly recommend the used pickup market.

    I got a used Lace Transsensor J pickup on eBay for $5 that turned out awesome. I figured I'd take a chance at that price without any real expectations. And I have a friend who replaced his MIM pickups in his jazz bass for some american ones and he went straight back to the MIM ones. They just sounded better.

    You never know.
  8. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    You can get some knowledge from reading specs, but...

    How do studio engineers pick microphones for different vocalists? Trial and error, and by referring back to past experiences utilizing those mics.
  9. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Might want to try those same pups with diff amps/cabs...or just diff strings-
    amazing diff's with other combos.
  10. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013
    Well, after subbing to this thread, I started playing around with the pickup height on my squier vm telecaster, with chrome lights. Started with factory spec pickup height of 8/64". Found that when I got really close to the strings I started to hear what I can only say sounded like "break up". Not clipping, or distortion. I then lowered it enough that it sounded the same, but louder than my starting point. I then realized that when I rest my thumb on the E string, it would touch the top of the pickup. It was only very slightly lower than the last fret. I liked the sound it put out. Plus when I really dug into it twards the bridge, I'd get this awesome growl, "GRRRT" accent.

    It's now that I realize I need a new p/up. One that can give me that driven sound when I did in, but sounds like it does now... so hahahaha where does one even begin to look for new p/ups? Youtube videos aren't helpful(nor audio clips) because of the discrepancies of the recordings. Thankfully I don't have many choices for vintage telecaster p/up's. I think Duncan makes a stacked one? But why would I want a stacked one. lol grrrrrr
  11. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    This may not SEEM like very much help. but to be totally honest...

    Since your bass is already producing much of the desired sound, I'd be looking at maximizing that sound through amp / eq adjustments.... maybe get a pre-amp? That "GRRR" sound is a product of a lot more factors than you think, and pickups don't MAKE sounds... they transduce what they're given.

    You have just about as good a chance that you'll ELIMINATE that "Grrrr" as enhance it just by swappimg pickups.
  12. bassistjoe93

    bassistjoe93 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2011

    I do pretty well all my custom pickups through Novak. He's super nice, quick turnaround and will wind them exactly how you want if you call and talk to him about it. He winds a lot of Fender Custom Shop's stuff afaik. If you don't go through him, you can at least get a good idea of what you are looking for in a pickup for when you go to ordering one.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Only times I ever changed pickups was when they were crappy sounding. Like I changed the pickup in my 09 AmStd Precision to a 62 Original because the AmStd P pickup was too scooped and I had a problem dialing in a good sound. And I changed the pickups in my P Lyte to EMG's because the stock pickups and preamp sucked out loud. IMHO ;)

    Never do mods unless you have a reason, otherwise you will be underwhelmed.
  14. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013
    I can't argue that. I don't have a problem with the balance of tone. I liked the sound of this p/up better than squer vm p's and J's. Perhaps I should look at replacing the pots, and caps. Being that this bass has the 3 way selector, perhaps I could have fun modifying the tone selector more to my liking. Funny thing is I usually keep tone knob all the way up, and only use the DB setting on the switch for softer music. The baritone switch I don't like. It sounds like I plugged my bass into a '20s am radio. Perhaps I just haven't found the song that it fits into yet.
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Baritone guitar usually is used as a guitar, that's why ;)
  16. RED J

    RED J Lol

    Jan 23, 2000
    Ayup. Crap shoot.
  17. chicago_mike


    Oct 9, 2007
    Chicago - LA - Rome
    Endorsing Artist : Genz Benz
    I like to pick new pickups and pickup new picks.
  18. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    The answer to your first question is..........."Yes!" and the answer to your 2nd question is.........."Yes!" and "Yes!" again for the 3rd.

    How do you choose a replacment pickup or pickups? Thank God for the Internet! Read reviews. Listen to sound clips.

    Even doing your homework first before buying........well, it's still a crap shoot. It's like asking the question, "What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? You're gonna get a ton of different answers about replacement pickups.

    What kind of pickups are you looking to replace? You didn't mention. P? Js? Other?

    The list of excellent pickups is very long! Rio Grande, Nordstrand, Fralin, Fender Custom Shop, Seymour Duncan Antiquities, Jason Lollar, Curtis Novak, Aero.............man!...........it goes on and on. You can't go wrong with any of these brands and many more.

    Buy used if ya can and save some bucks.

    Good luck with your quest and let your ears be the final judge.
  19. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I have yet to replace pickups so I guess nothing makes me replace them! I do have a passive fretless Jazz with single coil pickups that I would like to replace. I don't like being susceptible to 60Hz interference so I would like to swap in some split coils some day. The single coils haven't caused me any problems yet but then the bass has never been out of my practice room. So far.
  20. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Pick ups are a last resort for me. If you are chasing a different tone, I find that strings will usually do the trick.

    Otherwise, figure out what it is about your current PUPs that you don't like, and find some that don't have that characteristic.

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