What's the pickup with the most growl?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by kcducttaper, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. kcducttaper


    Jul 1, 2019
    Subjective, I know, but as I'm bouncing around thoughts in my head about my next bass, I've decided I want a nice, big, growl out of my bass without any effects just so I have have a nice color in my tone without having to run a preamp all the time. I mostly play finger style (occasionally pick) in a large church, so while we're not djenting everyone's face off with mosh pits and blast beats, we do get after it a little bit. I always run round wounds (tried steel once), but I'm not sure I've tried cobalts yet. Curious if anyone's tried those...

    My current basses:
    + Ibanez SR 505 (Bartolini MK-1 everything) - Kinda growls a little bit, but isn't very bold in the mids or clear in the lows. It feels more warm and round than I'm after.
    + Ibanez SR 755 (Nordstrand Big Splits, but I have an Aguilar OBP-3 that I could wire in if I get ambitious) - Literally only just wired the pickups in today and I can already tell they're a good step up from the stock MK-1 pickups in terms of clarity, punch, and definition, which definitely helps, but is still not really a growl machine.

    I'm a smaller guy with smaller hands, so I love the Ibanez SR series for that reason. That said, I've been interested in spec'ing out a nice Keisel or perhaps a higher end SR series (though that's basically what I'm turning my SR 755 into). Basically, I'm looking for a bass that I can just plug straight in to FOH and have enough growl that I could swear Bigfoot was standing behind me. :D
  2. P Cheen

    P Cheen Alembics and parametric mid knobs scare me.

    Apr 4, 2015
    Southern Oregon
    The Music Man StingRay comes to mind. Expensive or cheap they should give you the growl you need. If you don’t wanna mess with on-board preamp EQs you can always set everything flat, and the StingRay will still sound killer.
  3. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Someone should probably define GROWL, otherwise we may not all be commenting about the same thing.
    Big Splits should have more upper-mids growl than anything Music-Man makes, but the Big Singles will have a little more.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
  4. James Collins

    James Collins Guest

    Mar 25, 2017
    I think growl is a multifaceted result of many nuanced construction choices, of which pickup type is one of.
    _jaxon5 and nbsipics like this.
  5. P Cheen

    P Cheen Alembics and parametric mid knobs scare me.

    Apr 4, 2015
    Southern Oregon
    Pickup goes rawr :woot:
    James Collins likes this.
  6. I was going to say big singles, J blades have a lower focused growl, or MFD pickups.
  7. Coolhandjjl


    Oct 13, 2010
    Basses with two pickups have phase cancellation which is a big component of growl. Strings, playing style and pre-amp gain are also contributing factors. However, in the right hands, a P Bass with flats could certainly be growler than a Tobias Growler in the hands of an unskilled player.
  8. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Agreed- strings, set-up and technique are all major contributors to growl in my experience. Pickup height and type, electronics, etcetera. So many factors at play
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  9. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Yeah, you should be able to get Big Splits to growl...with right strings, good setup, and technique!

    what I learned can also help is a small cap in parallel with the pickups, although perhaps simply boosting high mids can help too...
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  10. kcducttaper


    Jul 1, 2019
    Yep! After playing a set with my Big Splits, they do indeed have a lot more growl than the Bartolini's! I might have to do something similar for my SR 505 now!

    I just rant them totally passive. I may have to take it to a guitar store to get my Aguilar OBP-3 installed. I can rebuild a motor or design my own speakers, but I apparently just absolutely hate wiring up guitars for some reason. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  11. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    No one defined growl, so here we are commenting abstractly.
    TBH I think a single Big Split would have plenty of growl in the right position & the comb-filter of TWO pickups would actually be counterproductive to upper-mid growl.
    iiipopes likes this.
  12. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Yes, among pickups I have heard and played, Nordstrands do also seem to me to have more growl than a lot of other pickups.

    The "most growl" moniker used to belong to DiMarzio Model J pickups, but, now, by comparison, they sound like an irritated bobcat compared to the Nordstrands.
  13. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    This pickup, I would think.



    Jun 13, 2005
    L2000 MFDs here's a clip of me playing with some friends. So much growl, however a lot of growl is in the fingers. In my opinion the key to growl is light gauge strings played hard fingerstyle towards the bridge.

    kcducttaper likes this.
  15. bigsnack


    Aug 24, 2005
    Los Angeles
    Give an example of what growl is and we can advise you from there! Pick a song with exceptional growl, I can discuss growl all day!!

    For me, growl is this:

    But it might be something different for you!
  16. Kawai2g4b


    Oct 7, 2018
    A G&L SB-2. Nothing but growl.
  17. I like the growl from my Ray34 when I crank the M and tweet the T and B.
  18. Thundar

    Thundar Supporting Member

    An EMG reverse P and an EMG DC....Nothing growls like a Spector, Baby!

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Check out the G&L MFD pickups.
    Kawai2g4b likes this.