#1
Electric bass pickup positions: Neck or middle?

It seems like not all basses/bass pickups are advertised across the board with a consistent type of pickup position.

From what I have observed, most jazz basses are advertised as having a bridge and a neck pickup, not a bridge and middle pickup. Although if you look at jazz basses, the neck pickup really isn't positioned by the neck, it's positioned where most P bass pickups are. In the middle. Why are most jazz basses are advertised as having a bridge and neck pickup, when really it seems like they have bridge and middle pickups.


For P basses, in general it seems like there really isn't any consistent way they are advertised. Some brands say they have middle pickups and some brands say the have neck pickups.

For PJ basses, in general it seems like there really isn't any consistent way they are advertised. Some brands say they have bridge and middle pickups and some brands say the have neck and bridge pickups.

Anyone have any insight on this?

Thanks.
#2
Basses don't generally have three pickups. Out of two, you can't have a middle position - you'll have one closer to the neck, another closer to the bridge. The pickups aren't named for their physical position, but for the arrangement. Any company/shop that labels a one or two pickup bass as having a 'middle' pickup probably needs to go back to middle school.
#3
Quote by Deliriumbassist
Basses don't generally have three pickups. Out of two, you can't have a middle position - you'll have one closer to the neck, another closer to the bridge. The pickups aren't named for their physical position, but for the arrangement. Any company/shop that labels a one or two pickup bass as having a 'middle' pickup probably needs to go back to middle school.



Yeah.. I thought about that too. But all the Fender listings describe the pickups for their P basses as Middle Pickups, such as the American Standard, which is described in the specs as "MIDDLE PICKUP: Custom Shop '60s Split Single-Coil Precision Bass"
#4
They also say that the split coil on the Reggie Hamilton bass is the "middle" pickup, even though there are two pickups and the split coil is 1/2" closer to the neck than your standard placement. I think it's just laziness and logical fallacy on their part.
#5
Quote by Deliriumbassist
They also say that the split coil on the Reggie Hamilton bass is the "middle" pickup, even though there are two pickups and the split coil is 1/2" closer to the neck than your standard placement. I think it's just laziness and logical fallacy on their part.


Think so?

I don't know.... I mean there is some logic to it. I agree with you though about wanting to base the terminology on the arrangement. However if the pickups are arranged based off of the physical position of the bass, than it would make sense that the arrangement terms would want to follow which position the position is based off of.

Because the placement of the pickup in the middle of the body instead of being closer to the neck effects the sound differently, than it would sort of make sense that a precision pickup is considered a middle pickup and not a neck pickup, even if there are not 3 pickups to give the naming of the position any relevance in that aspect.

I don't know. I think both arguments could be considered valid, but I would love to see what sort of thoughts the actual manufacturers have about this.
#6
How about this - look at the Warwick Corvette $$. Two pickups, both pretty much smack bang as central as they can be when having two pickups on one instrument. Would they both be middle pickups? That would just get confusing. Would one be middle? Then which one?
#7
Quote by Deliriumbassist
How about this - look at the Warwick Corvette $$. Two pickups, both pretty much smack bang as central as they can be when having two pickups on one instrument. Would they both be middle pickups? That would just get confusing. Would one be middle? Then which one?



I suppose you could say they are both middle pickups if based off of position on the body. But yeah, in reference to position based off of the pickups I guess neck and bridge would also apply.
#8
It's more intuitive to name them based on the individual instrument. On a Jazz, there are two pickups - naming one of them the "middle" pickup without a pickup either side of it would be confusing to a new user.
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#9
Quote by Ziphoblat
It's more intuitive to name them based on the individual instrument. On a Jazz, there are two pickups - naming one of them the "middle" pickup without a pickup either side of it would be confusing to a new user.



Yeah.. For jazz basses it's a little more clear that those are bridge/neck not bridge/middle. But going back to percision, what position would you say a 50s p bass has?

The pickup is closer to the neck than the bridge, but really it's positioned closer to the middle of the body than the neck portion of the body. Is this a middle or neck positioned pickup? Again Fender calls it a middle pickup..........???
#10
Quote by bachfantasia
Yeah.. For jazz basses it's a little more clear that those are bridge/neck not bridge/middle. But going back to percision, what position would you say a 50s p bass has?


A pickup.
With there just being the one I don't see the need to worry about how it's classified. This is speculation, but perhaps Fender's clarification of it as a middle pickup stems from the time when this (the 50's Precision) was their first electric bass and they simply hadn't put too much thought into possible future pickup arrangements.

Personally I would just describe it as a neck pickup, because as a bass player I've become accustomed to the two pickup setup and in my mind "neck" pickup refers to the pickup on the left of the instrument and "bridge" pickup to the pickup on the right (this is from the players perspective). The only time you'd need to refer to a middle pickup is the anomalous occasion where a third pickup exists. I've only owned one bass with three pickups and could only name two basses off the top of my head with that configuration (the EBMM Big Al and the Gibson G3). Neither of these basses are particularly prolific.
Spare a Cow
Eat a Vegan
Last edited by Ziphoblat at Mar 19, 2015,
#11
Precision needed no nomenclature on position when it was created. It was the beginning of the definition and singular.

Jazz came, and unfortunately, it created the nomenclature in relationship to the events at the end and beginning of the body, Neck and Bridge.

Plainly, in relationship to the face of the body, the J-B pup is at the Bridge, the P pup is in the middle of the face of the instrument, the J-N is towards the Neck but really more to the Mid but not quite mid.

Then Leo redesigned again, and Stingray gave you the MB position.

I love the sound, but the necks are like bats. Nevertheless, the tone is superior.

While the N pup provides more power due to the wider resonant movement of the string at the center line at the lower neck, MB captures a balance of the tight punch at that position near the bridge.

I am about the punch, and had to play a KS top of the line NeckThrough to realize I must have a bolt on.
Ibanez BTB 1006 Fretless and 405 (no Barts)
456 & 455(w/Barts)
Genz Benz NeoX400 112T & NeoX 112T cab.
Digitech BP-8 (x2)
Yamaha PB-1
Boss: SYB-5, PS-2, OD-20, EQ-20, PH-3,BF-3, CE-20, DD-20
Morely A/B
#12
Well; there's always this:



Neck pickup? Bridge pickup? Or one or more of the three middle pickups? Take your pick!
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
#13
Bootsy went over the top.

Why not just one huge winding covering the entire span of the face under the strings?

Cost is the main reason.

Leo moved the idea of the instrument into the mainstream and made a successful and sustainable Line.

He then redesigned the idea taking a shot with the Jazz.

After selling out he made another single pickup bass to get MusicMan started.
Whether we like it or not, the MM StingRay with one Pickup impacted Bass Tone from the 70's and beyond in a massive way (thanks Mr. Levin) that has made the P and J have to move over and make room at the table.

I find his final defining design to really irritates my fast held dual pup philosophy. I love the tone.
Ibanez BTB 1006 Fretless and 405 (no Barts)
456 & 455(w/Barts)
Genz Benz NeoX400 112T & NeoX 112T cab.
Digitech BP-8 (x2)
Yamaha PB-1
Boss: SYB-5, PS-2, OD-20, EQ-20, PH-3,BF-3, CE-20, DD-20
Morely A/B
#14
Quote by Sliide90027
Bootsy went over the top.


Now, does THIS look like a man who has gone over the top???



The man is the epitome of understatement!!!
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
#15
Dripping and oooooozing subtlety.
Ibanez BTB 1006 Fretless and 405 (no Barts)
456 & 455(w/Barts)
Genz Benz NeoX400 112T & NeoX 112T cab.
Digitech BP-8 (x2)
Yamaha PB-1
Boss: SYB-5, PS-2, OD-20, EQ-20, PH-3,BF-3, CE-20, DD-20
Morely A/B