Which pickup!?!?!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by deathbloomslife, Jul 2, 2005.

  1. I'm planning out a "custom" warmoth project, and I can't decide on pickups.

    I know that I'll be using Bartolini (unless suggested to other) but I don't know what type of pickup I should use.

    I'm looking to get a really growly defined low-end with clarity. I play alot of heavy rock, so it has to be able to sut through anything.

    I was thinking a P/J set or even a P/H set, but I don't know if I should go with these or soap bars. Which is better for what, and what's the difference???

    :help: me please!?!?!
  2. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Nordstrand NJ4SE. This describes their sound perfectly. I suppose you could use a PJ combination of Carey's excellent pickups if you really don't want a JJ setup.
  3. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Always the same response for me - J/J. More J's made than all other pups combined. They come in splits, stacks, singles, HB's, hum-canceling, whatever. If you can't get tone you want from some J, the tone probably isn't out there. I've had much better P tone through J's than I've ever got from a P. J's are lean and clean and don't interfere with playing.

    Your tonal options are relatively severely limited choosing any other configuration.
  4. But what makes a soap-bar a soap-bar?? What distinguishes it from a humbucking pickup???

  5. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    any pickup style is just a shape and doesn't accurately reflect the contents or the tone - although P's tend to be more alike in construction by virtue of the fact that they're designed to fill a similar function - a parallel would be if all J pups were made to sound like a vintage Fender J (which most aren't and don't).

    Anything can be in a soap. The problem with soaps is they come in all sizes so you're limited by those available that fit your routing - unless you have a router. J's basically come in longs and shorts and manufacturers typically offer every pup model in both. Guy's typically like the looks of soaps but it's just a shape.

    There are limitations set by the shape of the pup but with few exceptions, most manufacturers have creatively worked their way around them and the shape for the most part doesn't make a significant difference in the end.

    Oh yeh, what makes a soap is basically any elongated rectangular pup with a smooth face = looks like a bar of soap.
  6. So basically, you could have a Precision pickup inside of a soapbar, and a jazz pickup inside of a soapbar, and so on, and so forth...

    So, a soapbar is just a shape, not a type of pickup, right?

    I'm still a little confused, but I think for my project, I will use two jazz pickups in the sweet spot near the bridge... Is this a good idea, or is there a better one? IE, the MM set up???

  7. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    yep, that's it, the appearance.

    By two J pickups near the bridge I assume you''re talking about locating them side by side in a humbucking (dual coil), MM looking setup. I've mounted a pair of J's that way and they sound like an MM pickup. A pup width in distance is not going to produce much variation in tone - if you split each pup in a side by side J - you'd be hard pressed to tell which was on unless you used two different model pickups.

    Most J's to me need a second pickup to either compliment the tone or fill them out. Two of them side by side would do it but a pair of them in standard J spacing would yield more tonal variation and accomplish the same thing. A pair side by side and 3rd neck position is not out of the question and would basically be the equivalent of an MM with a J or even something along the lines of Strat bass version is within reason. But more is often not better and you can always route later but ideally, you'd want to route before the bass is finished.

    For actual MM pickups you basically have 3 tone options, Bart, ceramic, and alnico 5. The original Ray and it's alnico 5 copies by various manufacturers sound so much alike I have to push to tell the difference. The ceramics sound basically the same but a little brighter. The Barts are not really close to either and sound more like a Lane Poor and basically exactly like two Bart J's side by side (depending on the Bart J). Good versatile tones but not much variety.

    Personally, if I was having a custom bass done I'd have them route a 3/4" x 4" x 7" path below the strings then you could stick any pickup anywhere you wanted till you got the tone you want, then have a pickguard fashioned to cover. All my basses are like that. I can and have basically installed every 4 string pup in all of my basses and several 5's. It may seem extreme on the surface but it's not that far removed from what Fender does. And it basically makes decisions like this pointless cause you're not limited to what you can install by a routing.

    Another thing I'd highly recommend on a custom bass is a large a control bay. I don't know what Warmoth's come with but something like an American Fender J control bay is pretty useless. You don't have to use it but it's there if forwhatever reason you decide later to drop in a 50 band onboard preamp with a diehard. It's a plus for resale and it drops the weight of the bass without altering the tone. There no disadvantage to a large control bay that I'm aware of.
  8. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    exactly, EMG do just this.
    There is no implied tone with a soapbar the way there is with, say, a P pickup or single coil J
  9. Wow, thank you both for clearing that up for me! Especially you luknfur for that very in-depth view on pickup placment. I think that I'll take that routing option to favor, but on a different body, like a test body, and take my desired placement from there, to the project body, very good idea, I never would have thought of that!

    This morning when I woke up, I was looking at a few of my sketches form last night, and realized that two J's in the sweet spot IS just a MM in paralell mode! Why didn't I think of that last night???

    One question though, why does the Warwick Thumb get that extremely distinct growl? Is it form the pickups, or the wood? That's where I got my idea for pickup placement, so that I was going to be able to reproduce that signature sound, but to my design.

    So, luknfur, and everyone else, what type of pickups should I look into for a really growly, yet clear and defined tone??? Would the Nordies do it???

  10. j3b3r


    Aug 19, 2000
    All you need is a MusicMan Pickup :bassist:, I'd preffer Basslines Ceramic MM for clear tone and growly low-end :p
  11. Theshortlist_to


    Apr 20, 2005
    im currently searching for a bit of advice on pickups and placement and other combos.

    currently i was opting for a bart EMG35 shape Soapbar
    which has a nice deep tone. (i was also considering piezos with this pup)

    with a bart 3 band active pre-amp.

    this, in my design is placed close to the bridge.

    now i am considering,

    the same bart soapbar and a single J pup side by side in the bridge position. Hopefully the J will add some punch and definition and increase the basses mid range.

    luknfur? any advice?

    also anyone know any manufacturers that supply j's by themselves? i would have liked to have stuck with both pups as barts but i cant see anywhere on their site that they supply single J's.
  12. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
  13. Theshortlist_to


    Apr 20, 2005
    thanks, i think i way opt for the J over the piezos.

    dont you just love this guy, good for some quick/reliable advice.
  14. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Have you considered William Villex or Kent Armstrong pickups?
  15. SubMonkey


    May 3, 2004
    Denver, CO
    While I haven't tried their whole product line I do have;

    1. A fake J loaded with a Bartolini 9-j set (p type split in a j enclosure) and the NTBT 2 band pre
    2. A Les Paul 5-string loaded with the 72m45 set (more traditional soapbar shape) and the NTBT 2 band pre
    3. A 5 string P-bass loaded with a w5 single (Washburn shape) passive.

    based on this experience with these reasonably different basses I can say that these Bart humbuckers all have a very similar "Bartolini color" to them.... a surprisingly similar tone between them.... If Barts are what you want, I'd feel pretty confident about any of the "shapes" the pickups are available in....

    FWIW I have no experience with the classic series pickups...