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General info about basses

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Hi everyone,

I have some question regarding basses in general and I was wondering if some of you could help me out.

For starters, I'm not a bass player and so far I've only "played" about 15 minutes top with a bass I borrowed from a friend.

A funny anecdote is that I was going to purchase an Ibanez (GIO) 5-strings bass just before I took my decision to start building instruments, so my budget went in tooling and material instead. And I told myself that I'd make one myself at some point. Fast-forward a year later, and I still don't have a bass and my desire to learn to play bass is starting to bug me a lot :lol:!

So the last month I've been working on my bass design and I'm closing-in on the final version. Now I'm starting to look for the hardware and electronics and I've realized that I'm really out of my element. I have almost no knowledge of brands for bass component (mainly electronics) and how they compare. After some research now I know about some big brands like Bartolini and Aguilar, but they look to me like big/premium brands and I would like to know about more budget friendly brands (aka bang for your bucks).

So I would like to know more about what are the different brands of bass pickup makers and what is your experience with them.

I would also like to know more about pre-amps in general, but also what are the brands and how they affect/relate to the pickups (e.g. cheap pre-amps \w expensive pickups, or vice-versa)

Thank you in advance, any info is really appreciated.

And by the way it may help to clarify that I'm planning on making a 6-string fretless bass :rolleyes::D.

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I'm also not really a bass player but have actually ended up making a series of custom basses for our own band's bassist and various members of some of the UK forums.

There are actually some really good and ridiculously cheap bass pickups about at the moment.  However, it is still sometimes a bit of a lottery and does depend on what products are around in the specific markets you're in (ie UK vs Canada vs USA, etc) so I am loathe to recommend specific ones.  However, certainly don't make a blanket assumption that dirt cheap is bound to be poor. 

If you want very, very good at a decent price but with a pretty safe bet, then DiMarzio are well worth a look.  Their Model One is utterly stupenous, their PJ set is excellent too and, I'm told, so are most of their other products.  Seymour Duncan are also pretty good, although starting to get a little more costly for what extra oomph you might get.

However, for bass pre-amps, I think the Seymour Duncan STC-2P 2-band is stunning value for money.  The 3-band is also good but the 2-band is so simple to use and does pretty much what most people would want.  It comes pretty much plug and play with all the controls and even decent knobs!  Great blend with centre indent and proper bass boost and cut and treble boost and cut, again each with centre indent.  They do a specific one for active pickups (STC-2A) and a specific one for passives (STC-2P) - if you go for one, do make sure you've ordered the right one....

Hope this helps for starters



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Thank you Andy for the information. I'll check those parts.

I also had another question that I forgot to ask and is more related to the design:
What's the deal with pickups placement on basses?:D

For most guitars you have one near the neck and the other close to the bridge.
On basses I've seen them all over the place :D, but from what I get they are generally aligned more in the center.

Could somebody enlighten me on this? :lol:

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On any guitar - bass or otherwise, there will be a difference in tone depending where the pickup(s) are placed. Towards the neck will give a fuller, rounded tone whereas closer to the neck will give you a more twangy sound. Scientifically speaking it's to do with the relevant intensities of the fundamental note versus the overtones.

Different bass manufacturers will have their own "magic" spot that is relative to the scale length of the instrument e.g. a MusicMan bass pickup is usually slightly closer to the bridge than a Precision bass - which means it will pick slightly twangier tones. A Jazz bass has two pickups - the fuller neck pickup and the more "burpy" bridge pickup. The difference between an active or passive bass makes a lot of difference too (they don't HAVE to have pre-amplifiers fitted)

Have you got a particular bass sound in mind? Maybe listen to a few YouTube clips to see what you fancy - there are loads of demo videos out there. Then when you have chosen what you want, a bit of Googling will find you the pickup location(s).

If you are starting on your first build, it might be an idea to copy an existing instrument - a Jazz or a Precision would be a good place to start, and you are sure to find a set of plans somewhere on the Internet


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