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One Pickup - Basses


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Well, the Fender P-Bass has always had just one pickup, and it has defined the electric bass from the start.

Then again, it will only have the "P-Bass" tone.

The biggest issue is versatility. I had a G&L one-pickup bass (single coil), and I loved the tone of it to death. However, it only had that sound. My new bass has the EMG P-J set, and its tone is good too, -and- more versatile.

Basically, if you only need one sound, a single pickup will do fine. If you want more tones, get more than one pickup. Obviously, every pickup will sound different, so that will factor into the tone as well. Even where you place the pickup in relation to the bridge will sound different. It's all about the versatility when you talk about more than one pickup.

FWIW, I play a lot of styles with my bass, so I find two pickups rather handy. For my next bass, I'm using G&L brand pickups (two humbuckers) to get the best of both worlds in tone -and- versatility.

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I used to be addicted to EMG DC pickups with the VMC control and had no need for two pickups. I grew up and realized what a sterile sound I was putting out and tried several multi-pickup setups (MusicMan rules) until the Anguilar 3-band preamp was dropped on my head. One pickup is fine right in the sweet spot with this preamp. Wish it was as cheap as another pickup.

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Soapbar strat: Yes, an example of a bass soapbar pickup would be EMG humbuckers.

Moreau: The place where music man pickups are placed is called the "sweet spot." I'm guessing that its the spot that allows you to get the best of both worlds between the sound of a pickup in the neck position and the sound of one in the bridge position.

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Maybe I should try to take a pic of a bass in an old guitar mag. I think it's called a " rail bass" or something like that. It's a little steinberger type instrument, but imagine the body having a large section between neck and bridge totally cut out, then the little part of the body at the neck, and the little part at the bridge are held together by two thick metal rods. Then , attached to these two rods, is a little section big enough for a pickup to be mounted on. And that pickup section can slide along those metal rods from the neck to close to the bridge.

Maybe there's info on the net about it.

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Sweet-spot is between 1/8 and 1/6 of total scale length from bridge depending on how many usable frets you have(or use). If you play mostly toward the nut with a lot of opens go for 1/6. If you are an acrofret, use 1/8. It has to do with string acceleration and excess harmonic nulls at different places at different times in seperate time zones. In other words, I remember but I don't understand. I also have a bass body I can move the pickup on while I try playing. I have found my own preference to be an angled pickup that damn near follows the intonation slant of my bridge. Wouldn't think it would make that much difference but it does.

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Here's how it works with the harmonics thing; it is good to place the pickups where they will pick up various harmonics of the notes being played. In the case of open notes, the best places for pickups are at the first harmonic (12th fret - can't do), second harmonic (24th fret - Strat neck pup position), 4th harmonic (36th fret - Strat mid pickup position), 8th harmonic (48th fret - Strat bridge pup position), you get the idea.

All of those positions move closer to the bridge the higher up the neck you fret the string, but the amount they move (in inches) gets smaller at higher harmonics. So the idea is to either (A) find a sweet spot that will pick up the most harmonics at the fret positions you tend to play most, or (:D play in the fret positions that will move the sweet spot over the pickups you already have.

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