Looking for good advice regarding Bass VI pick ups

For help with setups and other technical issues.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 4011
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 5:01 am
Location: Belgium

Looking for good advice regarding Bass VI pick ups

Post by ohm-men » Wed Jan 01, 2020 3:34 am

Hi All,

I have asked this question before, but I didn't got the answer i was looking for.
I know the topic is personal and in the ear of the beholder, but still, I hope to get to understand a few things about pick ups and how they respond to high and low sound signal.

Here's the deal. I play a DIY Bass VI. Maple neck, maple fretboard (Squier Bronco Bass) on a Mahoganie/Spannish Cedar body. The sound of this instrument can be best discribed as trebly and rather tight sounding. It kind of lacks the natural "vibrato" you usually get. Sustain is not bad but without the usual "woble" as it dies out.

The this is currenly loaded with ceramic strat single coil pick ups. They don't sound bad, but nothing special. Strings are roundwound.
I'm able to get a good "P", "J" and even a "Mustang" kind of sound (with just the middle Pu switched on. So far, so good.
My rig consist of a Ampeg SVT 350 (Solid State amp) on a SLM 15" single speaker. I like the sound this makes.

Now, what do I want? I want a replacement for the ceramic strat pu's. I'm leaning towards a set of "Tonerider" strat pu's. They get good revieuws, are affordable and will hopefully fit the bill.

There are 3 kinds of sets (generally speaking, they have more set's, but that not the current scope)
- Alnico II set (called Blues, I think)
- Alnico III set (Called "Surfari" and is a kind of based on a '54 strat set)
- Alnico V set ( vintage something, they call it a take on the strat tone but modren modified, blah, blah)
All have vintage kind of output (arround the usual 5 to 6K output and between 2.5 and 3.4 Henries, whatever that might be….)
the discriptions of each set are to generic to me to make up my mind. Especially since I will use them for Bass/Baritone kind of sound.

So, now the question? What set would be most suitable for my snappy bass VI? And what do the different AlNiCo magnets do soundwise?
I'm looking for less tight sound and if possible add a bit of that natural "tremolo" to the sound.
Also, what would you suggest to use for a tone cab on the tone pot?
My bass VI does not have the strangle swithc as this switch is now used to put the neck/middle and middle/Bridge or All 3 pu's in serries.

Anyway, thanks for your time reading this and your advice :-)

User avatar
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 8225
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:08 am
Location: Ontario, CANADA

Re: Looking for good advice regarding Bass VI pick ups

Post by parry » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:55 am

Just a thought...
Have you ever tried a set of flatwounds on that VI? I kinda think once they settle in, you might get the sound you're after. And trying them might be cheaper than a new, full set of pickups.
ohm-men wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 3:34 am

I'm looking for less tight sound and if possible add a bit of that natural "tremolo" to the sound.
Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.

User avatar
Posts: 10542
Joined: Mon Sep 11, 2006 6:47 pm
Location: Melbourne Australia

Re: Looking for good advice regarding Bass VI pick ups

Post by sookwinder » Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:48 pm

when I bought my vintage 67 Bass VI years ago I almost hated the sound, it was just blerrrraaahhh.
Then I bought some flat wounds and that IS the sound.

So before changing PUPs I would invest in a set of flat wounds.
I use La Bella flats, but I am sure there are other brands out there as well.
relaxing alternative to doing actual work ...

User avatar
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 333
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:56 am
Location: NY

Re: Looking for good advice regarding Bass VI pick ups

Post by CorporateDisguise » Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:57 am

Take in mind that all the comments I’m about to make are generalizations, and the sound of any type of magnet can be altered by the winding technique.

Ceramic magnets are usually The brighest with the tighest, most controlled low end.

The AlNiCos, I find the higher the number the more high end content they have. I think that it is due to alnico V being a bit stronger of a magnet than alnico 2.

So alnico 2 is a bit darker with a looser low end.

Alnico 3 will fall somewhere in the middle.

Alnico 5 will be the brightest with the tightest bottom end.

I think alnico 5 is the most commonly used magnet in modern pickups if that means anything to you.

PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 1061
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:59 pm

Re: Looking for good advice regarding Bass VI pick ups

Post by N0_Camping4U » Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:16 pm

So, you're going for a more guitar tone, as opposed to a bassier tone? Only asking because you say you can get bass sounds, but it sounds like you may want more of a guitar sound - if I am understanding that correctly.

I'll say, to echo someone above, flats is the way to go. I'd try that first and see what you're looking for after that. If still not happy, and able to narrow down if you want more bass or guitar type sounds... Perhaps message Curtis Novak and explain the tone you're looking for. He will do custom winds and may have an answer. Or may even suggest different windings per pick up so you can have different tonal and blending options.

Also... post pics!!
Eric Harris: I’m sorry I have so much rage, but you put it on me.

User avatar
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 5125
Joined: Tue May 24, 2016 5:07 am

Re: Looking for good advice regarding Bass VI pick ups

Post by mbene085 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:05 am

I'm not quite understanding, you say in a couple of places in your post that you want a natural vibrato or tremolo to the decay of notes?

Vibrato is variation in pitch. Tremolo is variation in amplitude (volume). Neither are normal, inherent characteristics of a guitar or bass string and no pickup in the world will create that.

I'm taking a bit of a shot in the dark, but if you're referring to harmonic overtones, I'd go with the alnico V of those options you listed since it is brighter and would be expected to have more high-frequency content, which is where those overtones "live."

And, if you're looking for overtones, I'll give the opposite advice to the posters above me and say that you should stay away from flatwounds. They're very popular on Bass VIs but they emphasize the fundamental frequency more than the overtones compared to rounds.

That is, unless I'm misinterpreting your question.

User avatar
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:23 pm

Re: Looking for good advice regarding Bass VI pick ups

Post by Sweetfinger » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:41 am

The only thing I can think of that would add "tremolo" or some similar effect to the decay of a string is "Strat-itis". The pickups are too close to the string and pulling the fundamental note flat, leaving upper order harmonics closer to pitch, all while reducing sustain.
As far as getting a Bass VI pickup sound? That's in the positioning of the pickups in relation to the scale length, and the pickups are essentially Jaguar pickups. You need a claw to get those tones and if the strangle switch sound is what you identify as a Bass VI sound, you'd need to add that function.
Putting three Strat pickups on a Bronco won't get you to Bass VI town.

User avatar
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 2120
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 1:53 am
Location: bath, UK

Re: Looking for good advice regarding Bass VI pick ups

Post by jorri » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:21 am

The only tremolo youd get from an untremoloed note is beating.
(wave interference between notes that stray from the first few harmonics)
This happens lower in pitch usually. Its more pronounced with distortion. It can happen on a VI easily because the behind the bridge string can interfere.
As mentioned already stratitis can cause similar sounds as the magnet can pull a string when its on a down cycle or something like that.

So i dont know how a pickup would affect that other than more bass/low mids, and i guess driving an amp harder because its hotter.

Another solution is overwound too. Or just- LOWER THE PICKUPS. I FOUND MY VI (or any guitar) WAS ICE PICKY SO i backed off the proximity to strings

Post Reply