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Bass Pup Question

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Hi guys

Building a 34-ish bass at the moment and will be using DIMARZIO DP149BK pups.

I was just going about my build as normal and then looked at where I had planned on putting the neck pup, right below the fb like a guitar, and think it might be a bit too 'bassy' there. I have never played bass before (but am stoked to have a go, cue the Rush songbook) so I don't have anthing to compare it with.

Other longer scale basses I've seen have the neck pup a considerable way past the the end of the fb, I assume there is a good reason for this.

Any thoughts, guidelines (without opening the harmonic points discussion) on where to place the pups.

Thanks as always.



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Google a bunch of bass images or look through bass listings Ebay or something. They come in all flavors! Offhand I can think of the tele bass, Ric 4001/4003 and EB-0 that have pickups close to the neck. Sounds like you're already aware of the tone difference pickup placement can make so best bet would be to look at placement of pickups on basses you like the sound of. For reference, a Ric 4003 has the pickups at the 24th and 36th fret locations (or so I've read, I've never measured it!). In the case of Geddy Lee, technique seems to trump pickup placement since he can make a Ric 4001 and a Fender jazz sound almost the same so I guess you can pretty much do whatever you want and it will be ok!

For the record, I prefer not to be real close to the neck OR bridge and am very happy with the tone I'm getting from this bass with DiMarzio Ultra Jazz and Split P pickups..


Edited by Wademeister
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I wouldnt go right next to the end of the fretboard. If you want the smooth bassy tone of that position it's much easier to rest your thumb on the top of the FB at the 21/22 fret and play there.

It does depend on what sort of sound you want to achieve. My experience playing lots of different basses is that it's a combination of your hand position and the pickup position that gives you the characteristic sounds.

If it were me, Id put the neck position quite close to the position of a p-bass pickup and have the bridge pickup a little further back than on a jazz. The extra tension closer to the bridge helps to give that bit of bite to the sound and more for the fingers to work against when you really dig in on the funk stuff. Like I say though, its all pretty subjective

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Type of body wood and scale length would be a huge factor for me. Let's say we're going full scale length and maple for a body (or Northern hard ash or even Oak), I'd have no problem putting a neck pu as close to the neck as possible.

Want to go a bit "safer" but with a bit of a twist ? I like the reverse P-bass set-up if we're talkin split P-bass single pickup. Rocco Prestia reverse pickup makes sense to me (A and E pickup closer to bridge and the G and D pickup closer to the neck)

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I personally would put the pickup(s) on the instrument somewhere.

On a serious note, I would test out a few instruments in a shop to see different placements. True, they'll all give you different sounds with the different pickup shapes (p, j, hb, ex-housing etc.) but you can get a basic feel for it that way. Another thing you can do is try picking at different parts on the neck to see where you can get a desirable acoustic sound out of it. Developing an ear for bass on a record helps you figure out what sound and placement you like as well, because you can figure out what bass the artist is playing, where the pickup is and what kind of pickup it is.

Towards the bridge will give you a brighter, less bassy sound.

Toward the neck will give you a lower sound, with less distinguishable highs.

Also keep in mind, where do you feel comfortable picking? With a bass, the size of the strings makes it a little more difficult to pick consistantly, so when you switch basses, its scale, action, string spacing, guage and a bunch of other things can affect the way you play. If you're planning on playing finger style, and you plan on pivoting off of the pickup with your thumb, then take that into consideration when deciding your placement. If you really like a certain place to pivot with your thumb, but you like the sound of the pickup in another place, you can install a "thumb rest" or build one into your bass with the shape of the wood. David King does some pretty elaborate thumb rests.

Good luck!

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