Bass Pickup Placement
Where the pickup is located along the length of the string plays an important role in the tonal characteristics of the pickup. As you get closer to the bridge, a string’s sound is thinner and brighter. As you near the neck, the tone is fuller and warmer. The tone put out by each pickup depends a lot on where the pickup is located beneath the bass strings.
Number of Pickups
Some basses, like the Fender Precision bass, have only one pickup. Many bass guitars have two pickups. With two pickups, the pickup nearest the neck is called the neck pickup and the one nearest the bridge is called the bridge pickup.
The neck pickup gives off fatter, warmer tones while the bridge pickup has a brighter, thinner sound.
You can emphasize or de-emphasize either pickup to get a wide range of tones.
Bass Pickup Summary
If you are buying your first bass, I would suggest getting a P-J pickup configuration. This means one humbucking P-bass (Precision bass) style pickup near the neck and one J-bass (Jazz bass) style pickup near the bridge. This way you get a wide variety of tones and you can get an idea of the sonic qualities of each type of pickup. If you don’t want a P-J setup, at least be sure to get something with two pickups. You want the tonal variety that will give you.
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