Bass guitar pickups

Need suggestions

Hi guys (and gals iif there are any),

I am looking to upgrade the pickups in my Fender standard P bass. I am a guitar player that hacks around on the bass when I am recording and don’t have a bass player. I also want to the bass available for bass players that show up without their own. My bass is only used in my home studio and for recording.

I play mostly original rock style music and want a smooth bass sound, no slap, grunge, or anything like that. I prefer the bass to accent the music, not be the music. Any suggestions?

Thanks!

Go active.

Or just get a SansAmp Bass Driver

Will not only pump up your bass, but is great for recording as well.

Microphone inputs on preamps and soundcards are not of the correct impededence for a Bass guitar, if you cant afford a line 6 POD type unit buy a good DI box, when you hear the difference through the DI, you mat have no need to change the pickups. - i have two Behringer DI boxs which are powered by battery for normal use or by the phantom power from my mixing desk - about £20 each in England - great for std electric and accoustic with a pre as well -

Dr J

I bought some Seymour Duncan SPB-2s for my Ibanez Blazer P-Bass copy, but unfortunately it’s a bit of a struggle trying to keep distortion down with them, so I’d advise going SPB-1s if you were going to take that route. I’ve also had good experiences with Curtis Novak who does direct P-Bass replacements and custom orders - link here.

Ta John

nubs, you have a pretty respectable bass there. What is it that you don’t like about the sound? What sound are you searching for?

Like the others have said, finding something (stomp box, preamp, etc), that matches the bass’s impededence will make your instrument come alive. You may spend hard-earned cash on new pickups to find that they still don’t give you what you want.

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The stock pickups should be great sounding unless there is a problem with them (that can happen with older basses of course) or something else is going on, as some have suggested.

I personally like EMG pickups, but that active ones (YEAH, TOM). Unfortunately, Musician’s Fiend only has the passive versions. MF does have a good stock replacement – a 1962 P-Bass replacement.

I doubt what you describe will be much better just by replacing the pickup though. I think the other suggestions are a very good.

Hi,

Great feedback guys. The current stock pickups sound ok but they just sound muddy to me. I’m sure part of it is my bass playing capabilities, which as I indicated before is not too good.

I already have a Sans Amp and it does reasonably good at recording. I was just hoping to get a little extra “umph” outa my bass for a little cash. When I record it always seem to be the bass that is not quite up to snuff. It is hard to describe in words, but it just doesn’t sound like I want it to. As indicated before, I prefer a smooth bass sound which doesn’t take over the song. My current bass doesn’t sound clear and smooth.

Thanks again for the great feedback!!!

Could be that’s the sound of the bass and not the pickups. Go to your local guitar satan or whatever and try out several basses through a decent amp, and make sure you try a fender jazz with active electronics. :)

Just my 2 cents worth.

With the sans amp and a little compression you should be able to get any sound you want out of that bass. New strings are good too.
Try letting a bass player friend play it and get some first hand advice?

Here’s a thought. Since you are a guitar player first I’m going out on a limb and say you may be playing the bass like it’s a guitar. Try altering the way you look at the instrument. If you use a pick try your fingers. If you are using your fingers already try using your thumb. Look at the direction you are picking. Look at the direction the strings are being plucked initially. If they are being picked so that they vibrate side to side relative to the pickups change the way you are playing so the initial pluck makes the strings move up and down towards the pickup.

Keep in mind that I’m a drummer and have no idea what I’m talking about, but am throwing out random thoughts based on watching folks I’ve recorded over the years. Many have been guitar players on bass, and they almost always sound like guitar players doing lead lines an octave or two low. A few sounded like real bass players and they didn’t play the bass like the others. They looked like bass players, using fingers or picking much harder than the other folks.

:)

Active pickups alone may not help you that much. The trend in active basses is to use passive pickups and an onboard preamp. As someone who used to work for “Guitar Satan,” my opinion is that active Fenders are overpriced compared to more “modern” (not really the word I want, but the one that comes to mind) brands like Ibanez, Yamaha, Schecter, Cort - but it’s a matter of style, or lack thereof.

One thing that comes to mind is that your playing may be more of a factor in your dissatisfaction than you think. While pride prevents me from ever fixing a guitar track (slicing up in n-Track and using crossfades) no matter how many takes I have to record, I’m a mediocre bass player at best and I will fix bass parts if I’m having a lot of trouble. Sometimes it’s just not worth the time or blisters.

ETA: Phoo and I posted subsequently with similar thoughts. Bass and guitar are different instruments.

Just wanted to add a vote in support of the playing idea. You can get a huge variation in tone just from playing your bass in different ways. Try them! Vary your location along the string, use different kinds of picks.

But specifically, for a good supporting bass sound, I’d say to use a heavy pick and play pretty sturdily. Don’t play as hard as you can, that will make the bass sound choked, but don’t play softly either – if you’re not confident as a bass player and are trying to play softly, that probably just makes you play less consistently, which will make the bass part stick out.

Yes… to the tone in the fingers and the “don’t play like a guitarist” ideas.

Study bass on pro recordings, and try to work with the drums - particularly the kick. When the kick and bass are working together the bottom end sounds tighter and the bass sounds more “solid”.

The good Captain is certainly correct about the relative prices of Fenders vs. some of the others, but still - give an active jazz bass a try.

My brother in law visited last month with his Warwick bass - now, that is a fine sounding bass. :)

Sorry, I certainly didn’t mean it to sound like I meant “don’t even try a Fender.” I was just giving an opinion based on my own comparisons. Truthfully, there’s a reason Fenders are classic. If you are in the market for a new bass - and you’ve said you’d prefer to upgrade your present instrument rather than buying a new one - I’d encourage you to try everything you can get your hands on. I think this is especially true if you’re a guitarist who only plays bass occasionally. You won’t be playing enough to really get used to it, so you want to find something that feels good and is a natural fit to your hands from the start. This will ultimately have a much more positive effect on your sound than, well, your sound.

At our church we also have a problem with no dedicated bass player, so the church got us a bass guitar so that we can rotate through the bass duty as need be (we’ve got a Cort Artisan 4 string). We had lots of problems with the sound not being good. We always thought that it was our bad playing style. One day (to save our poor guitarist’s soft little picking fingers (we go 'plectrumless)) we decided to put flat wound strings on it. Wow.
Apart from the obvious ‘saving our fingers’ bit we found the sound to be more defined, warm and waaay less ‘buzzing’ (and also less fretnoise) Overall a very good upgrade. (We DI the bass through a stage DI btw)

It is worth checking out before you replace pickups/bass guitar.

Also - if you are a rhythm guitarist I would think that the transition to bass wouldn’t be that traumatic, but if you play lead you would have to ‘forget’ what you know on the electric before you look at the bass guitar. I had the issue. I ‘overplayed’ all the time.


My .02

W

Quote (Captain Damage @ Jan. 02 2007,00:29)
Sorry, I certainly didn't mean it to sound like I meant "don't even try a Fender." I was just giving an opinion based on my own comparisons. Truthfully, there's a reason Fenders are classic. If you are in the market for a new bass - and you've said you'd prefer to upgrade your present instrument rather than buying a new one - I'd encourage you to try everything you can get your hands on. I think this is especially true if you're a guitarist who only plays bass occasionally. You won't be playing enough to really get used to it, so you want to find something that feels good and is a natural fit to your hands from the start. This will ultimately have a much more positive effect on your sound than, well, your sound.

Oh, no apology necessary, you are absolutely correct - I mean, Fender still doesn't bother to use sheilding as a regular thing. I just really love a J-Bass with active pickups. :)

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Yes… to the “don’t play like a guitarist” ideas.


Ignore that advice, I play bass and everything else the same way as I play guitar,

even piano, although to be honest, it’s sometimes very worrying the number of picks I lose down the cracks between those white rectangular things. ???