Here are my subjective reviews of some bass pickups that I recently tried.
Aguilar AG 4P-60
This is the 60’s era pickup from Aguilar. It has a vintage vibe with a little more top end than usual. This pickup sounded good with 45-100 Chromes (flat-wound), but a little weak with 40-100 nickel Dunlops (round-wound).
This is a good pickup if you want a vintage vibe with highs at the expense of some low-end. It is fairly balanced across the spectrum.
Demo 1: Aguilar AG 4P-60 with 45-100 Chromes (flat-wound)
Demo 2: Aguilar AG 4P-60 with 40-100 nickel Dunlops (round-wound)
Fender Custom Shop ’62 Precision Pickup
This pickup is considered one of the industry standards, and is listed among the top 5 pickups on various sources. And I can see why. It is a bit scooped, but has just the right balance of bass and treble. It sounds full yet clear at the same time, but lacks some low-mids.
Even with D’addario 40-100 SuperBright nickel strings (round-wound), this pickup sounds clear and full. I didn’t try it with flats, but Aguilar AG 4P-60 or Fender PV’63 seems to be naturally better choices for that orientation.
Those pickups are the Precision correspondence of Fender’s ’74 Jazz pickups.
Demo: Fender Custom Shop ’62 Precision Pickup with 40-100 SuperBright nickel strings (round-wound)
Fender Pure Vintage ’63 Precision Pickup
This is the most vintage-correct pickup in this list, in my humble opinion. It can be considered in the same category like the Aguilar, but has less treble and more low-end. Just like a warm vintage P bass should.
When I had these on my American Original 60’s P with 45-100 Chromes (flat-wound), the bass thumped like nobody’s business and filled the low-ends like a sonic pillow. Very satisfying.
Those pickups are the Precision correspondence of Fender’s ’75 Jazz pickups.
Demo: Fender Pure Vintage ’63 Pickup with 45-105 SuperBright nickel strings (round-wound)
Seymour Duncan SPB-4 (Steve Harris)
This pickup is endorsed by Steve Harris (bass player for Iron Maiden) and is praised on many forums as a versatile pickup. Although I agree that it can be used out of metal context, it has a certain “low-mud” fatness that can’t be dialed out easily. Also lacks a little clarity for my taste.
I hoped this pickup to make my light NYXL 45-100 nickel strings (round-wound) a little thicker, which it did – but the excess fatness and lack of clarity was still there.
I could consider using this pickup if I would be playing heavier styles of music or was targeting a very warm sound. Neither is true, so I let this pickup go.
Demo: Seymour Duncan SPB-4 with NYXL 45-100 nickel strings (round-wound)
Aguilar AG 5J-HC
Selling point of those pickups is being noiseless. They don’t sound as organic and lively as pure single coils, they have a rather modern hi-fi sound – not unlike some 70’s era pickups. But they don’t hum either. You have to decide for yourself if you like their sound or not. I must say that noiseless pickups aren’t my initial choice. My former review of those pickups can be found here.
Fender Pure Vintage ’74
Do you like slap and/or funk? Do you like Marcus Miller? In that case, those are the Fender pickups I’d recommend. Especially for an ash+maple Jazz Bass with a hi-mass bridge. They have an emphasis on high-mids & treble and have a strong bottom.
Those pickups are the Jazz correspondence of Fender’s ’62 Precision pickups.
Fender Pure Vintage ’75
Those are the siblings of ’74. They sound a little warmer and have more emphasis on low-mids. If that’s your sonic goal, I’d recommend the ’75 pickups. If you want to cut through the higher frequencies a little better, I’d rather recommend the ’74 pickups.
Those pickups are the Jazz correspondence of Fender’s ’63 Precision pickups.
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