Bass Guitar Single Pickup Wiring

bass guitar single pickup wiring

The wiring of your guitar pickups can have a major influence on the tone of your bass guitar. Fortunately, there are various methods available for customizing your wiring so it sounds exactly the way you desire.

One way to accomplish this is by wiring your pickups in series or parallel. This can significantly boost your bass’s output, so it’s worth learning how to do it correctly!

Neck Pickup

Bass guitar single pickup wiring is essential in producing the desired tone and volume. If the wiring isn’t functioning properly, you may experience difficulty hearing your instrument clearly.

Your bass guitar’s sound depends on a number of factors. But the three most crucial ones are the wire used, magnet, and cover.

Electric guitar pickups are essential to the sound they produce. Each has a specific type of wire wound around a magnet that creates an electromagnetic field, which amplifies string vibrations into sound.

Essentially, the more copper wraps that surround a magnet, the greater its output. This explains why pickups are calibrated differently based on their relative positions.

Due to their closer proximity to strings, neck pickups typically feature fewer turns than bridge pickups. This helps compensate for the fact that these pickups are closer to the strings and thus generate more vibration than their bridge counterparts.

However, this can make the neck pickup sound weak and muddy. That is why many guitarists prefer using their bridge pickups for riffs and lead lines, then switching over to their neck pickup when playing melodies or rhythm.

Most modern P and J basses feature a switch that lets you choose between using the bridge pickup or neck pickup. This switch may be simple toggle or it could include active EQ for controlling each pickup’s sound.

The bridge pickup can be set to produce a bright, sharp sound perfect for riffs and metal rhythms. On the other hand, you can set up the neck pickup to sound warmer and thicker – ideal for lead solos or melodies.

To determine which pickup is best suited for each position, it’s wise to try both in each key and see which one you prefer. It’s essential to understand the subtleties between each pickup so that you can select one specifically tailored to each song or style of music you play.

Bridge Pickup

When wiring and customizing your guitar’s single pickup, you have many options to choose from. As with many things in life, select the type of pickup that produces the tone you desire most.

Electric guitars typically feature two primary pickup types: neck and bridge. The neck pickup tends to be warmer and smoother than its counterpart, making it a great choice for soloing and melodies while the bridge pickup offers brighter tones with greater piercing edge.

A neck pickup is often employed for lead lines and mellow melodies, while the bridge pickup is more frequently found in different genres such as rock, blues and metal. When combined with a humbucker for increased power and dynamic sound quality, this pickup can provide an unmistakably powerful presence.

Both pickups utilize cylindrical polepieces (magnets) wound with wire to produce a tone. However, due to varying string amplitude, they must be calibrated differently according to their position on the guitar.

For example, bridge pickups typically feature 4 to 50% more turns than neck pickups in order to compensate for the smaller string amplitude in this position and boost output.

The bridge pickup has a higher resistance than its neck counterpart due to this extra wire wrapping, increasing power output and making the pickup louder – especially on guitars with larger soundholes.

In most cases, neck and bridge pickups can be connected to the same amplifier, making them interchangeable. However, if you alter settings on your neck pickup, it may cause instability with your bridge pickup as well.

Another way to achieve a balanced sound between your neck and bridge pickups is to use an equalizer pedal or adjust the volume on your amp. You may also experiment with different picks and picking techniques in order to find what works best for your guitar.

A bridge pickup is ideal for hard rock and metal music, due to its heavy and bright sound. It also works well when creating riffs and rhythm tones due to its balanced frequency response. Furthermore, this pickup can easily be distorted to produce high gain sounds.

Volume Control

The volume control in bass guitar single pickup wiring is used to adjust the sound of one pickup. Depending on how it’s wired, you could even use it for tone shaping!

Bass guitar tone control can adjust high-range frequencies to produce a mellow sound. This feature is often employed when performing solo or recording an album track.

When playing guitars with two pickups, each pickup typically features its own volume control. This enables you to set each pickup’s volume independently and blend them together seamlessly.

However, many people prefer using a blend potentiometer instead of individual volume controls for each pickup as it offers more versatile tone options. Furthermore, installing this solution is much simpler as there are no extra switches or knobs needed – just turn the potentiometer!

In this instance, the neck pickup is connected to the first volume control and the bridge pickup to the second. This method is often employed on Fender Jazz basses where each pickup is wired in parallel for a fatter, fuller sound.

Vintage or custom-built instruments often employ this type of control, as it offers a more realistic feel and response than standard audio (logarithmic) pots on modern guitars. Furthermore, this type of control can be set with an audio:10 ratio that better matches human hearing than the 90:10 found in most modern guitars.

Bass guitar single pickup wiring also includes treble control, which adjusts high-range frequencies. Typically, this control is set to maximum for harsher tones or reduced for more subtle tones.

The treble control can also serve as a kill switch, cutting off the signal when not needed. This feature is often employed by professional bassists who wish to eliminate noise and bleed from their signal. In such cases, it should be placed directly above or connected to the pick up jack through a tone cap.

Tone Control

The tone control on a bass guitar allows users to customize how a pickup sounds. It is typically used for cutting or boosting high frequencies, as well as blending both pickups together.

Tone controls typically use a pot and capacitor to filter out frequencies. A tone control differs from volume controls in that the capacitor only passes or bleeds a small percentage of the signal to ground, which reduces treble loss and makes an instrument sound more vibrant and vital – exactly what you want when choosing tone control!

Some tone pots also allow you to reverse the phase of two single coil pickups for a unique sound. This mod is incredibly straightforward and will give you an endless range of tonal possibilities.

Tone pots can be mounted either stacked, like a volume control, or in their own circuit to provide independent control over both neck and bridge pickups. This setup is known as a tandem tone pot and you may see it on some Fender bass guitars.

Another type of tone control is a blender pot, which combines both neck and bridge pickups into one signal. This is an effective way to get more variety out of your bass guitar’s tones.

For instance, you can blend the bridge and neck pickups together to produce classic “Mark Knopfleresque” bell-like strat tones. Additionally, pulling out a lot of midrange frequencies creates an almost acoustic-like sound that’s warm and thick.

The only disadvantage to tone control is that you must ensure your bass guitar is adequately shielded from RF and EMI interference. Doing so will not only keep the sound clean, but may even prevent hum-inducing pickups.

Start by using a low capacitance tone cap, such as the 3300 pF. This will pass the least amount of treble chime to ground so that when you roll back the pot, only a subtle shift is heard in the highs.

Installing bass guitar pickups can be a complex undertaking, with various designs and options available for installation.

Single coil pickups are one of the most widely used, offering brighter sound than their counterpart humbucking types.


There are various types of pickups used in an electric bass; two of the most widely used are P bass pickups or precision bass pickups with split coil designs and J bass pickups with single coil designs; both offer wide ranging tonal characteristics while differing slightly in output and response time.

No matter your playing style, it is crucial that you select an ideal pickup. A suitable one should be capable of handling bright chords with full sound as well as high notes. Furthermore, it must accommodate various tonal levels ranging from warm lows to rich, bright treble.

Consider whether or not a smaller or larger pickup will have an effect on how your bass sounds; choosing either will impact its sound. A smaller pickup may be less bulky and easier to transport around on stage; while a larger one has higher output and overall superior sound qualities.

Wiring your pickup correctly is also vitally important, as it will have an impactful influence on the sound and tone of your bass guitar. Series wiring usually gives thicker and more powerful sounds with increased mids.

Parallel wiring provides you with a brighter and crisper sound with more highs but reduced bass frequencies – often found on single-coil guitars like Telecasters and Strats.

Parallel wiring allows the signals from each pickup to combine at the beginning of a signal chain, before traveling through guitar controls and eventually reaching its output jack for amp. Although not commonly found on standard guitars, Danelectro single-coil models feature this form of wiring; Brian May’s Red Special featured three series-wired Burns pickups which responded extremely responsively to amp settings and effects settings.

Wiring your guitar can have a major effect on its tone, yet is one of the more overlooked components of creating an effective electric bass. Understanding how your wiring affects its tone opens up a wealth of new opportunities.


Pickups are at the core of any guitar’s tone and how they’re wired can have an enormous effect on its sound. No matter whether your taste leans toward country, rock or punk music, there are numerous pickup options that will set your instrument apart from others.

Switching out the wiring of pickups is one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to alter a bass’s tone, opening up new tonal possibilities for players.

Series and parallel pickup wiring are two options used to modify a bass’s tone. While many players opt for series wiring in order to optimize its sound, parallel pickups offer more tonal possibilities for those seeking new sounds.

Each pickup in a series pickup arrangement is wired so that its ground is connected directly to that of its neighboring pickup. This combines each signal at the beginning of the circuit before sending it further along until reaching the output jack, creating an increase in volume and enhanced low/midrange tones.

However, this method can diminish some of the high end of the sound; this is particularly noticeable among bassists who play high F and E notes.

Parallel wiring offers another alternative that combines all pickup signals at the end of each circuit to produce a cleaner and brighter sound reminiscent of single coil pickups. It has become standard practice among manufacturers like Gibson and Fender.

Fender guitars often utilize parallel wiring of their humbuckers, creating an airy and bright tone perfect for various genres of music.

Parallel pickups allow you to add additional coils for greater bass guitar sound grit. They’re great if you want more aggressiveness in your sound.

Parallel pickups can be constructed using various materials, including ceramic and plastic. While these tend to be cheaper than anodized aluminum pickups, they’re still durable enough for prolonged use. No matter which material is chosen for the pickups you buy – especially if you intend on performing in front of an audience!

Coil Tap

Coil tap is an advanced wiring option that enables musicians to switch the output of their pickup from full to reduced level – an invaluable feature for those seeking two distinct sounds or voicings from one pickup. Some of the top electric guitars under $500 already include this option.

The coil tap feature can be activated using the same push-pull pot that controls coil splitting, making it easy to switch between high output, heavily wound pickups and vintage sounding lower output ones – perfect for those wanting to experiment with pickup voicings!

Coil tapping can be performed on both single-coil and humbucker pickups, although single-coil pickups are the more prevalent choice for coil tapping. Some bassists who play bluegrass or country music may prefer an upbeat tone from their single-coil pickup for greater funkiness and brighter tones.

Humbucker pickups provide a deeper, bassier tone that can help jazz and rock guitarists craft signature tones, but humbuckers tend to pick up more hum than single coil pickups, so those seeking to avoid it often opt for single-coil models.

Some humbuckers are wired in series while others are parallel wired; either type can hum cancel, but neither produces the same single-coil style tones that an active single coil pickup does.

Humbuckers work because their two coils are wired in opposite polarities, effectively cancelling each other out to prevent an unwanted hum or noise from being picked up by the pickup.

Humbuckers offer many advantages over single-coil pickups, such as higher output and flexible sound morphing capabilities for various musical genres and musical styles. Furthermore, they feature smoother and richer tones in the treble and midrange regions than single-coil models.

Coil taps can also be reversed when necessary; some pickups feature fail-safes to protect insulation against cracking or shorting out, making reversing coil taps easier in certain instances; it is therefore wise to understand your pickup’s wiring before making your decision regarding coil tap options.

Phase Reversal

When two pickups are in phase, they work in unison to cancel out each other’s hums and create an even sound. Conversely, when out-of-phase pickups interact negatively, creating harsher and less-focused tones.

One of the easiest ways to tell if your pickups are out of phase is by testing their individual polarities with a simple voltmeter and piece of ferrous metal (anything that will stick to a magnet).

If all your pickups measure upward, that indicates they are in phase. Otherwise, if some meter higher and some lower, this indicates they are out of sync.

Another method for testing pickup polarity involves taking advantage of wire and pulling it away from the pickup. Current should flow more quickly when pulling than when you bring in.

An additional easy way to check if your pickups are out of phase is using a reversing switch, available from any guitar store or online.

Installing a phase reverse switch requires unsoldering both pickup leads, connecting “hot” and “ground” wires from the switch to their respective positions on your pickups, then attaching your pickup leads to “From Pickup” terminals on the switch as shown below.

Phase reverse wiring can add an interesting and distinct sound to your bass arsenal. While not intended as a replacement for humbuckers, phase reverse wiring provides an interesting and unique option to consider for many players who seek something other than traditional humbucker sound. From Brian May’s signature edge tone to Peter Green’s thick and deep tone – phase reverse wiring offers something new in minutes for use across many musical genres and styles.