Bass Pickup placement query

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JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2505
What's the thinking behind having two pickups sited close together in the neck position? The most notable example is perhaps the Hofner 500 from 61 -



There's also the Epiphone Allen Woody model. Is this a sweet spot in terms of harmonic response or some such thing? I had an Allen Woody a few years ago, it was the first bass I got after taking it up again after a long break and I found the pickups generally to be pretty bland with no notable difference between the two. Did I have a poor example or is that it?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 33342
    Might just have been poor pickups. There should be quite a difference between those two pickup positions, although obviously not as much as a neck and bridge.

    Play a Strat and compare the neck and middle pickups, or try a Gibson Grabber bass - the one with the sliding pickup - and see how much difference even a small position change can make.

    I've always thought that version of the Violin Bass was by far the coolest, and not just because of the McCartney connection.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • The end of the fingerboard was the conventional place in which to add a magnetic pickup to a fully hollow bodied, archtop F-hole acoustic guitar. (Hence, the Acoustic Electric nomenclature.) Often as not, the pickup ends up where a 24th fret would have been if the instrument had that many.

    The position of the second pickup in the examples you have cited is more difficult to explain/justify for the sonic properties. That leaves practical explanations - not obstructing the signature artiste's fingers or plectrum - or cosmetic reasons.

    Some instrument designs are simply what somebody thinks looks cool. (The Höfner 500 would look cool as with a third pickup, spaced the same distance from the middle pickup as the middle pickup is from the neck pickup.) Sod what it sounds like.

    Obviously, there are nodal points along the strings that would be understandable locations for pickups. Wiring a pair of pickups is through a Balance control should make possible a blend of deep and clear


    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 33342
    Obviously, there are nodal points along the strings that would be understandable locations for pickups.
    Until you fret them :).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Oh. What a terrible compromise. Mr. Fender's new-fangled electric bass kayak paddle will never catch on. ;)
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 33342
    Ha :). I just think it's funny that people go on about the positioning of pickups under string nodes... like the supposed justification for why a 22-fret guitar sounds better than a 24, because the pickup is under the 2nd harmonic node. Firstly that would mean that harmonic is actually *absent* from the tone, and secondly it all goes out of the window when you play anything other than an open string!

    Obviously the position of the pickup is important and affects the mix of harmonics - and I do think that a neck pickup generally sounds better on a 22-fret guitar - but it's *not* because they're at specific nodes.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2505
    Thanks guys. The Allen Woody was, as I mentioned, my first bass after a long layoff, so it may be there were differences between the two pickups that my ears weren't attuned to pickup :). I wonder if Woody decked out the Epi in homage to the Hofner original; I can't bring any other basses to mind that share the layout.

    I'm gassing for a fretless violin bass atm. Hofner's own version is very pricey, so I'm thinking I might defret one of the budget models and was considering the model pictured above as a possible. I did get one of the Harley Benton fretless violin's as a tryout but on arrival it was so horrible that I sent it straight back (scratches on the fretboard plus generally really poor fretboard condition).
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  • JezWynd said:
    Harley Benton fretless ... was so horrible that I sent it straight back (scratches on the fretboard plus generally really poor fretboard condition).
    You have to wonder whether that fingerboard was earmarked for a fretless instrument because it was deemed unsuitable for slotting and fretting.

    On a more general level, you have to wonder whether an instrument that is not noted for its mechanical sustain lends itself to legato fretless applications.

    JezWynd said:
    I wonder if Woody decked out the Epi in homage to the Höfner original.
    Read these. :)

    http://www.flyguitars.com/interviews/allenwoody.php
    http://www.flyguitars.com/interviews/allenwoody2.php
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2505
    edited September 29
    JezWynd said:
    Harley Benton fretless ... was so horrible that I sent it straight back (scratches on the fretboard plus generally really poor fretboard condition).
    You have to wonder whether that fingerboard was earmarked for a fretless instrument because it was deemed unsuitable for slotting and fretting.

    On a more general level, you have to wonder whether an instrument that is not noted for its mechanical sustain lends itself to legato fretless applications.

    Yeah, my thinking in going for the HB was to find out if the format worked with that style of bass but the neck was so horrible it didn't seem like a fair test. The board appeared to be exuding a powdery substance. Possibly something they use to stain the fretboard had a reaction.

    Perhaps I'll stick with the solid body Epiphone violin. Now that I've ironed out it's quirks and buzzes it's a nice player and used with an eq it has a surprisingly broad range of tones. A big part of the Hofner allure was the short scale. I find long scale fretless to be hard work, the Epi at 32.5 is a good fit. My thinking is that a short scale bass, that naturally has a double bass like vibe, might work really well in the fretless format.

    Interesting article btw, thanks for the links. 450 basses! That's serious gas. :)
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3401
    edited September 29
    JezWynd said:
    The board appeared to be exuding a powdery substance. Possibly something they use to stain the fretboard had a reaction.
    I once owned a Gibson ES Artist that did that. I suspect that a fungus or mould had attacked the fingerboard. The gritty powder that I cleaned away turned out to be fragments of the ebony fingerboard. 

    JezWynd said:
    Hofner ... short scale ... double bass like vibe, might work really well in the fretless format.
    How's yer bowing technique? That is the only way to extract worthwhile sustain.
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • I remember some reading after I bought my VM Jazz that Fender had pickups placed under harmonic nodes in 70s or for the VM. 
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  • The repositioning of the bridge position pickup on the Fender Jazz Bass during the CBS era was purely for cosmetic reasons. I happen to like the way that it makes the instrument sound. Not everybody does.
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