- Best Bass Humbucker Pickups
- Best Precision Bass Replacement Pickups
- Best Jazz Bass Replacement Pickups
Best Bass Pickups
Bass pickups may be the unsung heroes in the world of bassists. While other factors such as the type of bass guitar, strings, and amplifiers obviously all make a significant impact on the sound and tone of the instrument, the type of pickups used play a much more subtle yet no less important role in the end result. By capturing and processing the vibration of the bass guitar strings and routing that signal so it can be processed, amplified, and heard by the human ear, these small devices are an undeniably crucial component of the signal flow. There are quite a few options available on the market for bassists looking to purchase bass pickups, so we’ve outlined some important factors to keep in mind in our buyer’s guide below.
Best Bass Humbucker Pickups:
Bass guitars equipped with humbucker pickups have an advantage over their single coil brethren for a few reasons. For one, the design of wiring two single coil pickups together out of phase eliminates the hum that sometimes can prove to be a pesky nuisance for single coils. Beyond that more utilitarian function, bass humbuckers also offer a fatter sound that is often synonymous with an old-school, vintage vibe. Here are the best bass humbucker pickups, with each one we've chosen built to thicken up both the high and low-end of your bass guitar’s tone, they're all ideal for rock bass tones, and these picks are all designed to be easily installed onto most bass guitars.
Nordstrand’s Big Split bass humbucker pickup is not only ideal for players of multiple styles of music, but it can also be used with 4, 5, and 6-string bass guitars. These split-coil pickups offer a wide tonal range but also eliminate any unwanted noise that sometimes can occur with the single coil equivalent to this setup. Read Full Review
Seymour Duncan’s Music Man SMB4A bass humbucker pickups provide a strong low end and clear high end that can truly make your Music Man bass guitar sing. Working in conjunction with the MM preamp, this pickup provides a wide tonal range and eliminates any noise from your signal. Read Full Review
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Built to fit the powerful needs of rock bassist Billy Sheehan, DiMarzio’s Will Power bass humbucker pickups offer a great, deep-sounding tone. If you’re looking to add the type of power to your bass rig that can shake stadiums, these pickups are definitely up your alley. Read Full Review
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Bass can already be a thick and beefy sounding instrument, but using DiMarzio’s Model One humbucker pickups in the instrument takes that sound to a whole new extreme. Get ready for a sound that’s warmer, fuller, and also clearer. Read Full Review
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Best Precision Bass Replacement Pickups:
The Fender Precision bass is a staple in the world of bass guitars, and while many players enjoy the sound of the instrument’s stock pickups, others have found that attaining their perfect tone requires some swapping of electronics. To that end, there are many precision bass replacement pickups that are available on the market today – some harken back to the vintage sounds of the past, others crank the signal up or smooth it out, and still others take the instrument in a completely new and different direction tonally. Here are the best precision bass replacement pickups, with each set we've chosen featuring two pickups, they're bolstered by an Alnico or ceramic magnet to increase responsiveness, as well as designed to increase the warmth of the tone produced by a precision bass guitar.
If you’re looking to channel a vintage tone with your precision bass, look no further than Seymour Duncan’s SPB-1 Vintage Precision Bass pickup set. This pair of pickups offers a warm tone that sounds right in line with the sounds of the 1950's. Read Full Review
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The sounds that Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler created inspired an entire generation of musicians, and EMG has captured that influential tone with their custom P-Bass pickup set. Get ready for a classic sound enhanced by a few modern touches. Read Full Review
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Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to stray too far from the source when it comes to finding a way to channel incredible tone out of your Precision bass. In this case, Fender’s Custom Shop ’62 P Bass pickups are a perfect choice for players looking to achieve that distinct punchiness to their sound. Read Full Review
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DiMarzio’s Split P bass pickups offer a unique spin on the traditional humbucker design. Explore a wider range of tonal options and notes that will seem to resonate longer than what you might get with a standard pickup. Read Full Review
Best Jazz Bass Replacement Pickups:
The jazz bass (also referred to as j bass) became popular with bassists because of its brighter high end and midrange, offering less of a focus on the low end low midrange. The jazz bass has been a staple in the development and evolution of a variety of styles since its creation by Leo Fender in 1960. Many bassists opt to replace the stock pickups of the instrument with replacement pickups, either to enhance the natural tone that the jazz bass already produces, or to alter the character of the sound altogether. Here are the best jazz bass replacement pickups, with each one we've chosen built with Alnico 5 magnets to provide a distinct bite and tighter low end, designed to provide an even sound from string to string, and is able to punch up the midrange of your tone while also producing a clear and distinct high-end.
Fender was the company that brought the jazz bass to the masses in the first place, so it only makes sense that they would have a firm handle on how to make their instrument sound great. The Custom Shop Custom 60s Jazz Bass pickups deliver a high output sound that provides tone with some serious bite. Read Full Review
EMG’s JVX Jazz Bass pickups offer an increased headroom and more growl than what you get with standard Jazz Bass pickups. These active pickups are easy to install and will definitely transform your sound. Read Full Review
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Bring in the noise and take out the hum. This very well may serve as the perfect mantra for the DiMarzio Ultra Jazz pickups, electronics that open up the natural sound of the Fender Jazz Bass while eliminating any hum. Read Full Review
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The sound of the 1970’s is one that many bassists still aspire to reach today. Now it’s possible with Fender’s Pure Vintage ’74 Jazz Bass pickup set, which captures that traditional Fender tone and opens up the tonal possibilities for a variety of musical styles and directions. Read Full Review
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A great bassist cares about the full spectrum of their sound; all of the dynamics and nuances of their playing should be properly captured by whatever pickups they choose to use. The Aguilar AG 4J-60 pickups are made with that kind of bassist in mind, offering an incredible boost to the sound of any jazz bass. Read Full Review
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Bass Pickups Buyers Guide
Although all bass pickups essentially perform the same task, differences in the make-up and execution of the process can alter the sound and end result of your bass guitar tone. Having a firm idea of what type of sound and style you’re aiming for will enable you to make a more informed decision about what bass pickup is best for you. Of course, there’s no better learning experience than actually playing instruments which utilize different bass pickups and hearing the difference for yourself, so it’s always advisable to try before you buy. Nonetheless, even if you’re not able to do this, these are some concepts that will help you in selecting the right choice.
Also known as jazz pickups, J pickups fall under the category of a magnetic pickup. Magnetic pickups are characterized by their magnetic pole pieces placed in exact alignment underneath the strings of a bass guitar where they capture the sound through the air. Using their magnetic fields, the signal is captured and transmitted out of the instrument, through the connected cable, and then amplified.
The sound of a J pickup is bright and often-times aggressive, so it’s most often favored for rock music and other “in-your-face” styles. Of course, as the name indicates, they are also popular amongst jazz bassists.
Most J pickups are configured in a pair, with one pickup located in the bridge position and the other in the neck position. The neck position is usually wide whereas the bridge is a bit tighter and more punchy. Bass instruments utilizing the dual J pickup configuration provide a knob allowing bassists to mix the signal coming from each pickup, allowing them to dial in the right combination of sounds coming from the two separate sources.
P pickups (or precision pickups) have a deeper and heavier sound preferred for funk music, heavier types of rock, and anything requiring a deeper bottom-end. The configuration of a P pickup bass is also split into a pair, with one pickup covering the lower two strings and the other capturing the sound of the higher strings. These two pickups are set up in a staggered form and also can be referred to as a dual coil humbucker setup.
In contrast to magnetic pickups, piezoelectric pickups are most commonly used to amplify the signal of acoustic bass guitars; they can be occasionally found on electric bass guitars as well. Rather than reading the signal through the air as the magnetic pickup does, piezoelectric bass pickups sense the vibration of the string through contact with the string at the bridge.
Although this kind of pickup has the advantage of completely dodging some of the hum and buzz which sometimes occurs when using magnetic pickups, the downside is they sometimes sound thin and weak compared to magnetic counterparts. To work around this factor, some bass guitar setups combine both magnetic and piezoelectric pickups in an effort to deliver a sound whichcaptures the best of both worlds.