Fender precision pickup location

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Justin Tugaoen
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:44 pm

Fender precision pickup location

Post by Justin Tugaoen »

Hi, I'm planning on building a 5 string fretless, bolt-on, using a precision pickup and a jazz pickup at the bridge. I was initially going to guess as to the location of these pickups, looking at a Fender bass picture online, but thought to ask here if it is super-critical? Anyone have a P bass with the exact pickup location (measured from the bridge) for the precision and the jazz pickup? Thanks!

Markku Nyytäjä
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Re: Fender precision pickup location

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

In a twin-pickup setup the distance from the nut is usually 710 mm/ 28" to the neck pickup and 810 mm/32" to the bridge pickup.

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Greg Robinson
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Re: Fender precision pickup location

Post by Greg Robinson »

Hi Justin,
Not critical at all. Some people place belief in the idea of harmonic nodes: i.e. placing the neck pickup at the 24th fret harmonic node. But when you consider that as soon as you fret a string, all these nodes shift, not to mention the effects of string stiffness and the compensation required to alleviate its effects, it quickly becomes apparent that there is no "magic" to this particular placement.
The only effects that hold true are that amplitude is greater closer to the middle of the centre of the vibrating string length (more output from the neck position), and greater harmonic content towards the end of the vibrating string length (bridge pickup sounds brighter).
There are practical considerations though, too close to the neck can lack definition and clarity, too close to the bridge can lack output and sound "thin" and "brittle".

You can always try your pickups before permanently mounting them by suspending them above the strings upside-down. You can easily make a simple fixture from scrap to hold them in place while you do this. This way you can try it out and find where you think they sound best.
MIMForum staff member - Melbourne, Australia

David King
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Re: Fender precision pickup location

Post by David King »

On some P passes the distance between the center of the G string saddle (34" from the nut) to the center of the treble side (D and G string ) pickup pole pieces: 4 13/16". Bass side is 1 3/32" further towards the neck.
Note that there is some variation from year to year, model to model, and country of origin to country of origin.

Justin Tugaoen
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Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:44 pm

Re: Fender precision pickup location

Post by Justin Tugaoen »

Great, thanks for the suggestions. One other thought; With this being a 5 string fretless with a low B, would it be better to make it 35" scale or just go with 34"? I read a lot about some 5 strings where the B is not focused or whatever because the length isn't optimized, so is this high probability? The other issue is my hands already feel too small for my other basses as it is. But I'm willing to do 35" if that means it'll be more functional. I built a 5 string bass years ago (fretted), 34" scale and have found that the B does seem a bit floppy and not that clear. Even so, I still enjoy using it. Who knows maybe it's the setup. And would the fretless part of it be an issue as far as the optimal scale for a 5 string?

Mark Wybierala
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Location: Central New Jersey

Re: Fender precision pickup location

Post by Mark Wybierala »

My number one priority for an instrument that I was building for myself would be to make it functional for myself. If you have small hands and you think that this may be an issue for you as a bass player, go with the smaller scale. If it isn't an issue for you as a player, go long. Be careful about longer scales and being able to find strings long enough. Normally this isn't a problem but I did a long scale a few years ago with a custom made aluminum string-through bridge and the fact that I made the bridge string-through with ferrules on the back of the body caused a problem with available string length to the nut.

I'm currectly building a 30" scale telecaster style bass for myself. It will be my second 30" scale

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