The pickup is a component that converts the mechanical vibrations of the strings into an electrical signal so it can be amplified and reproduced by an amplifier, which in turn transfers these vibrations to speakers and creates sound.
The bass guitar, like all stringed instruments, has pickups at its end because this is where the vibration happens. There are several different types of bass guitar pickups and we will tell you about them.
What are the pickups on a bass guitar?
A pickup is a device that converts vibrations into sound by converting the vibrations of a bass string into voltage fluctuations in a copper coil. When the magnetic field of a magnet is disturbed, little voltage fluctuations occur within the copper coil as a result of the bass string's vibrations disturbing it. These changes are then sent to the bass amp and amplified before being turned into sound.
There are several different types of pickups on a bass guitar, each with its own characteristics and uses.
One popular pickup type is the single-coil pickup design. This consists of a magnetic bar wrapped in copper wire that generates an electrical current when disturbed by vibrations from the strings. Single-coil pickups tend to have a bright and clear tone and work well for playing funk, slap bass, and other styles where fast picking is required.
Another common pickup for bass guitars is the humbucker pickup design. As its name suggests, this type consists of two individual coils placed next to each other, which reduces interference between them due to electromagnetic induction canceling out most noise from surrounding electrical equipment in your setup.
Humbuckers tend to have a darker, more mellow tone that is ideal for playing heavier styles of music such as rock and metal. They also offer better sustain compared to single-coil pickups, making them the preferred choice for bassists who want to play long, legato lines.
Other common pickup designs include dual-coil and piezo pickups, both of which can be used in combination with other types of pickups or by themselves. So depending on your preferences and playing style, there are plenty of options when it comes to choosing bass guitar pickups.
Do bass pickups matter?
In fact, pickups matter a lot when it comes to choosing a bass guitar. Different pickups offer different tonal characteristics and can be used for different musical styles, so it's important to consider what kind of sound you want from your instrument before deciding on which one to buy.
Some players may prefer single-coil pickups as they tend to have more clarity and definition in the midrange, making them ideal for funk, slap bass, and other fast-picking styles. On the other hand, humbucker pickups offer better sustain and are preferred by players who play heavier genres such as rock or metal.
So depending on your needs as a player and what type of music you want to play, there is no "best" pickup design for all situations. In general, pickups matter because they have a significant impact on the tone and character of your bass guitar's sound.
Why do bass guitars have 2 pickups?
Bass guitars often have two pickups because the different pickup design allows players to choose between a variety of tonal characteristics depending on their needs and preferences.
When a single coil (on a Jazz) is cranked up loud enough, it produces a faint hum from the open circuit. Split coil pickups were designed to eliminate this problem altogether. While they have an intriguing feature, they do suffer in terms of range. A humbucker is two single coils wired in series, with the poles opposite each other. This design provides a much fuller sound and doesn't have the 60-cycle problem.
A piezo pickup works by converting string vibration into an electrical signal via a piezoelectric crystal. These are often used in acoustic-electric guitars but can be found on electric guitars as well. They are less common because they don't amplify as well as other types of pickups and can be more expensive.
Dual coil pickups are simply two single-coil pickups placed side-by-side. These are popular because they offer a wide range of tones, from sharp and twangy to smooth and mellow. Many players prefer them for their versatility.
So if you wonder why bass guitars have two pickups, the answer is that it's because different styles of music often require a specific tonal character that can only be achieved with certain pickup designs. Whether you prefer single-coil or humbucker pickups, there are plenty of options to choose from when picking bass pickups for your instrument.
Why are bass pickups offset?
Bass pickups are often offset because they need to be in close proximity to the string while also being spaced apart enough so that they don't interfere with each other's magnetic fields. This allows them to pick up the string's vibrations more efficiently and produce a clearer, more defined sound.
Offset bass pickups are also less likely to be feedback than non-offset pickups, making them ideal for use in live settings where higher levels of volume are often required.
So if you're looking for a pickup that will give you the best possible sound quality and performance, an offset bass pickup is a good option to consider.
What are the different types of bass guitar pickups?
One common type of bass guitar pickup is the magnetic pickup. This consists of a bar magnet wrapped in a coil of wire and is placed very close to the strings under the bridge plate. As the strings vibrate they create an electrical current that is sent through a cable to an amplifier or speaker system. Magnetic pickups are known for their warm, rich tone and are commonly used in both electric and acoustic bass guitars.
Another popular type of bass guitar pickup is the piezoelectric pickup. Like other types of pickups, this one also converts string vibrations into an electrical signal, but it uses materials with built-in piezoelectricity instead of magnets. One example of these materials is Rochelle salt crystals - these are used in the bridge plate of acoustic bass guitars, and the materials can also be placed directly under the strings. Piezoelectric pickups are known for their bright tone and responsiveness, which makes them a great choice for both electric and acoustic bass guitars.
There are also other types of pickups that are used by some bass guitarists, such as active pickups or transducer pickups. These can offer additional tonal options and are often used by more advanced players who want to fine-tune their sound. Whatever type of pickup you choose, it is important to remember that your playing style and personal preferences will ultimately determine which one is right for you.
So there you have a basic overview of some of the different types of bass guitar pickups. Whether you are looking for a warm and rich sound or something more bright and responsive, there is sure to be a pickup that is right for you. So why not experiment with different types and find the one that really works for you? With so many options available, the possibilities are endless!
TOP-10 bass guitar pickups
- Seymour Duncan SPB-3 Quarter Pound P-Bass Pickup
This is one of the most popular bass guitar pickups available on the market today. It is made by one of the leading manufacturers in this industry, Seymour Duncan, and delivers a warm and rich sound with plenty of punch. The benefits of this pickup include its versatility and ability to handle a wide range of different styles, as well as its high-quality construction that ensures long-lasting performance.
- Fender Custom Shop '60s Precision Bass Pickups
If you are looking for vintage tone and feel, then the Fender Custom Shop '60s Precision Bass pickups might be just what you need. These pickups deliver the classic sound and style that helped define this instrument during its early years in the 1960s. They feature Alnico 5 magnets and enamel-coated wire for extra clarity, making them perfect for blues or folk music.
- DiMarzio DP 122 Model P
For those who prefer high-output pickups, the DiMarzio DP 122 Model P is an excellent choice. This pickup is designed specifically for precision bass guitars and has a strong mid-range punch with plenty of definition. It also delivers great clarity and definition at higher volumes, making it ideal for both live performance settings and studio recording. In fact, this is the cheapest, most common pickup for 5-string all-rounders.
- EMG PQS System for 5-String Bass Guitar
If you need a pickup that delivers smooth, quiet operation and high output power, then the EMG PQS System for 5-String Bass Guitar might be just what you are looking for. This system comes complete with a dedicated preamp and phase reversal switch, along with easy installation instructions. It is ideal for those who play metal or other genres that require fast playing techniques and heavy strumming patterns.
- Aguilar 4P-60 P-Bass Pickup
The Aguilar 4P-60 P-Bass Pickup is designed specifically for 4-string bass guitars and delivers a wide range of tones to choose from. It features two ceramic bar magnets that produce a clear and articulate sound, while the Alnico V slug magnets add warmth and depth. This pickup is also known for its excellent string-to-string balance, making it perfect for those who need a versatile pickup that can handle any style of music.
- Seymour Duncan SJB-3 Quarter Pound Jazz Bass set
Jazz bassists will love the Seymour Duncan SJB-3 Quarter Pound Jazz Bass set. These pickups are designed specifically for this type of bass guitar and offer a warm and rich sound with plenty of punch. The Alnico 5 magnets provide excellent definition and clarity, while the enamel-coated wire ensures long-lasting performance.
- Fender Custom Shop ‘60 Jazz Bass Pickup set
This choice is perfect for those who are looking for a classic jazz bass sound. The Fender Custom Shop ‘60 Jazz Bass Pickup set is designed to replicate the tone of the classic basses from the 1960s. They feature Alnico 5 magnets and enameled wire for extra clarity, making them perfect for blues or folk music.
- DiMarzio DP123 Model J Jazz Bass Pickup set
If you are looking for high output pickups with smooth, quiet operation and strong attack, then the DiMarzio DP123 Model J Jazz Bass Pickup set might be exactly what you need. These pickups feature a dual coil design and can handle aggressive playing techniques while still delivering excellent clarity and definition.
- Lindy Fralin Jazz Bass Pickup set
The Lindy Fralin Jazz Bass Pickup set is perfect for those who need a versatile pickup that can handle any style of music. They feature two ceramic bar magnets that produce a clear and articulate sound, while the Alnico V slug magnets add warmth and depth. The advantages of choosing this pickup set include the excellent string-to-string balance and the fact that they are hand-wound for extra precision.
- EMG 35 HZ pickup
The EMG 35 HZ pickup set is designed specifically for 5-string bass guitars, making it an excellent choice for players who need a high output pickup that delivers smooth and quiet operation. These pickups feature ceramic magnets and noise-free shielding to prevent interference from other electrical devices. They are also known for their exceptional clarity and definition when playing fast rhythms or heavy strumming patterns.
Choosing the right bass guitar pickups can be a daunting task, but it is important to choose the right ones for your specific needs. Whether you are looking for vintage tone, high output, or versatility, there is a pickup set out there that is perfect for you. With so many great options to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect set of pickups for your bass guitar.
When choosing bass guitar pickups, there are many factors to consider, from output power and noise-free shielding to string-to-string balance and clarity. Some of the best bass guitar pickups on the market today include the Aguilar 4P-60 P-Bass Pickup, Seymour Duncan SJB-3 Quarter Pound Jazz Bass set, Fender Custom Shop ‘60 Jazz Bass Pickup set, EMG 35 HZ pickup set, and Lindy Fralin Jazz Bass Pickup Set. So whether you play metal or blues music, there is a pickup that will suit your needs perfectly.