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Why the split-coil P-bass pickup?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Hamlet7768, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Hamlet7768

    Hamlet7768 Here to chew gum and rock. Still have gum.

    Jun 5, 2011
    This has been bugging me lately. Why did they go with that shape?
  2. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    The original P pickup (being a single coil) had a lot of hum in it, so Leo split the pickup and reverse wound one coil to make it a humbucker.

    They had to be staggered because the coils are too large to go end to end inline.
  3. /Thread.
  4. and all these years I thought they did it because it looked cool.:D
  5. That, too. :bassist:
  6. That + the staggering was necessary because in fact the splitcoil is a humbucker (two coils in series, reverse wound), but Gibson (Seth Lover) had patented the humbucking pickup several years earlier*, so Fender needed to work his way around that. He did it by splitting the coils in half, and stagger them.

    *That's also the reason why the Fender WideRange Humbucker (which was ALSO invented by Seth Lover, when he started to work for Fender) looks different than a Gibby bucker. Gibsons bucker had the patent for 6 adjustable polepieces on 1 coil, and 6 non-adjustable on the other, and Lover/Fender countered that by staggering the polepieces to a 3/3 setup (or 2/2 for the bassbucker).

    The reason why the pickup onderneath the E & A strings is located closer the the neck than the pickup onderneath the D & G strings is for sound reasons. That gives the lower strings some warmth and depth, while giving the higher strings some definition and punch. The P-series on Sandberg has it the other way around, and that plays and sounds very awkward.
  7. LowB-ing


    Aug 3, 2005
    Yes. The famous "PAF" humbuckers from Gibson, for example. PAF = Patent Applied For.


    A lot of people prefer the sound of reverse P-pickups over "normal" ones, Lee Sklar for example, as it is more even from string to string. Lee actually had his bass modified this way to improve the tone. That configuration has also been used on stock basses since at least the early '80s by Spector, B.C.Rich and others.
  8. hellboy


    Nov 5, 2002

    Vintage Yamaha BB's (like my BB1200S's) use the reverse P for slightly warmer highs, tighter low end, and (supposedly) better string-to-string balance. I don't know that the difference is very pronounced, but there's nothing remotely awkward about it.
  9. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    agreed (if that's "+1" also, does it all add up to "+1"?)

    the early fenders (strat, tele, P-bass) were "biased" with the pickup towards the neck on the bass strings and towards the bridge on the high strings to try and "expand" the range (higher highs and lower lows) through the weak little tube amps and fragile lo-fi speakers of the day.

    nowadays, amps have all the range we could ever need, so reversing that angle evens out the sound, aiming towards tighter lows and warmer highs.
  10. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    that's funny, because from what i've read, seth lover didn't even have adjustable poles on his original design for gibson, but gibson's marketing guys wanted them so they could be more like the already established P-90 pickups.

    so basically a design afterthought is what got patented?
  11. LowB-ing


    Aug 3, 2005
    I think the main patent was for side by side humbuckers in general. The pole piece thing just came along for the ride, or something.
  12. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    I thought everything Fender did was a mistake that ended up becoming the holy grail, as some old-timers told me.
  13. 0+(-1)+1+1=1
    And I'll throw in a +0.5, because I've heard people rave about reverse Ps and reverse-angled Strat and Tele bridge pickups for years now, though I've never tried it personally.

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