How to Choose Bass Guitar Pickups

Pickups on your bass are one of the key components in shaping its sound, translating string vibrations to an electrical signal for processing. Here’s how you can select an ideal pickup for your desired tone.

Humbuckers are an increasingly popular choice among bassists, providing low-end punch with reduced mains hum. This type of pickup consists of two single coil pickups wired as polar opposites to cancel out interference and maintain clarity of tone.

Humbucker Pickups

Pickups on bass guitars play an integral role in its overall sound, translating vibrations to electrical currents for use by its pickups and amp. Pickups can create various tones ranging from traditional to modern; many musicians experiment with various options until settling on one with which they feel most at ease.

One of the primary considerations when purchasing bass guitar pickups is selecting either single-coil or humbucker pickups. Single-coils feature exposed poles which generate brighter tones; these tend to be preferred by players playing country or punk rock styles. Humbuckers provide fuller tones without as much interference from other frequencies, and may provide better noise cancellation and interference control.

Consider how you intend to use your bass before choosing between active or passive pickups for bass guitar pickups. Active pickups come equipped with an integrated preamp that amplifies signal, giving a more defined tone suited for cutting through other instruments in bands; on the other hand, passive pickups don’t possess this feature and offer more subtle yet natural tones.

If you opt for passive bass pickup, the first step will be removing all of the strings from your guitar using string cutter or wire snips so as to ensure there is no tension on them. Once this step has been taken, access is gained to two mounting screws for each pickup; once removed it’s time to assemble them!

As a quick reference, we have put together a guide that details all of the different types of bass guitar pickups currently available and their differences. Furthermore, this resource also includes tips on installing your new pickups successfully so be sure to give it a read!

Single Coil Pickups

Pickups play an integral role in shaping the sound of any bass guitar’s unique sonic character, so they should not be taken lightly when selecting pickups for their sound. With such high stakes involved, many players experiment with various pickup types until finding their ideal tone. With all this at stake, it’s crucial that all the necessary information be available when making this important choice; so in this guide we cover single-coil and humbucker pickup basics as well as active/passive systems so you can make an informed choice that fits both your instrument and style!

Single-coil designs are the most prevalent bass pickup type. These long, slender pickups can typically be found on J (Jazz Bass) and P (Pickup) bass guitar styles; more frequently seen with Jazz Bass than P bass pickups (because J can capture higher frequencies more effectively), yet both create big, booming tones perfect for solidifying any band’s aural foundation. Due to being more vulnerable to ambient noise and RF interference than their counterparts, single coil pickups should always be protected with proper grounding and shielding setup before use – always practice safe practice when setting up single coil pickups!

Beyond basic single-coil bass pickups, there are also different models which utilize specific construction techniques to mitigate noise and interference issues. Active bass pickups include preamp circuits which buffer audio signals before they reach speakers; this significantly decreases feedback issues caused by long cable runs and can significantly decrease ambient noise and interference levels.

Passive bass pickups don’t contain preamps, making them less vulnerable to hum and interference while also increasing noise when connected over long distances or with high output amplifiers. Some manufacturers employ special insulating materials designed to decrease noise production and increase output with passive pickups.

Neck and Bridge Pickups

When plucked, strummed, or picked the vibrations pass through a pickup and create sound vibrations which we hear as sound. These sounds vary based on several factors including frequency of vibration, length of strings, pickup placement relative to them and how close or far they are from them; positioning of bridge and neck pickups therefore plays a vital part in creating your bass guitar’s unique tone; closer positioning can produce higher-pitched sounds while further away creates bassier tones.

While many bassists favor one type of pickup over another, others enjoy mixing and matching to achieve different tones and sounds. For instance, using both single coil in the neck position and humbucker in the bridge offers both vintage and modern punch.

Some players also opt to utilize different magnets in each position – alnico 3 for the neck pickup and alnico 8 for bridge. These differences in magnets allow greater sonic diversity between neck and bridge pickups, making each more suitable to specific styles of music.

Active pickups provide more controlled output than magnetic ones and can be adjusted using your amplifier’s control knobs, making these pickups ideal for bassists looking to cut through a mix or want more control of their tone.

Piezoelectric pickups provide bassists looking to expand the sound spectrum with another option for adding variety. Most commonly found on acoustic-electric bass guitars, piezoelectric pickups sense pressure changes from strings and can produce full sounds without distortion – ideal for jazz, R&B or rock/metal genres alike! Plus they’re much less susceptible to outside noise than magnetic models while being much simpler to install and remove, making them popular choices with beginners.


Location is of great significance when it comes to bass pickup placement; for instance, having two neck-and-bridge configurations means one nearer the bridge will produce brighter sounds than its counterpart nearer the neck. Your type of music also determines where best to position them: for a slap bass style it might require closer to bridge placement whereas finger popping styles would benefit more from having pickups at both locations.

Piezo-electric pickups use “piezos,” small transducers containing crystalline materials which react to pressure or vibration by converting it to an electrical signal which is then amplified and converted to sound by your amplifier. They’re most often found under, on, or within an acoustic guitar but are becoming increasingly common on electric basses too.

Magnetic pickups differ from their counterparts by lying beneath the strings and using magnets to detect string vibrations, transmitting electrical signals through your bass and into your amp. Bass players who appreciate an array of tones often employ several bass guitar pickup types such as P-style in the bridge position and humbucker in the neck position for greater sound variety.

J-style bass pickups are often preferred in funk and rock settings due to their bright and jangly tone, making it suitable for cutting through dense mixes while emphasizing higher notes in playing styles such as jazz bassist. You might find bassists using one in the bridge position and another P-style in the neck position.

Picking out the ideal pickups for your bass guitar can be an exhausting endeavor, but having an understanding of all of its types and locations can turn it into an engaging journey to find your ideal tone. Armed with the right knowledge, it’s possible to transform your bass guitar into an impressive musical machine capable of standing out in any crowd. Best wishes! “Danny,” As the words go, they could mean anything from “Dan,” who has his first date with another girl to Danny who gets their heart broken over someone stealing from them to them leaving you penniless without money to pay their debts or go to college.” Danny doesn’t mind either way because their lives intersect so often in real time! -Dan is back and this time we don’t talk much but when we do we talk a lot. Here we see him talk a lot…