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funkle

Dual P Pickup Bass - Modding a Mexi Fender

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Not quite a build diary. But I guess such an irreversible mod that it may interest others. 

I scored a relatively cheap 2005 Fender Mexi Precision on here with the explicit purpose of making a dual P bass. Having listened to many of these on various videos, I became infatuated with them, though not the price that many command on the secondhand market (especially the BC Rich Basses). So I decided to make my own. 

Here’s a workbench photo from my local luthier, who I asked to do the routing. I also had @KiOgon make me up the electrics, and scored some other bits secondhand on here.


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The main P/U is a Mexican P, the bridge is a secondhand Aguilar Hot P. Put on a secondhand Hipshot bridge as well. Dual V/T setup and series/parallel switch.

Didn’t help that the pickups were out of phase to each other at first.....Had to flip the leads on the Mexi P pickup to get everything working right. I was confused until I figured it out though - the lows thinned out when I blended pickups, though each pickup individually soloed was fine.

I thought carefully about the pickup placement and whether it should be reversed. I ended up putting the EA bridge coil at the location of the coil of a rear 60’s Jazz Bass pickup, non-reversed - controversial....but I didn’t want to reverse the main pickup, and I feel that both pickups should be oriented the same way after listening to a lot of dual P videos, so...

Both pickups in parallel sounds great. The Aguilar Hot P is a little dark for my taste, though great output, and will be changed. I really like how the typical Precision character is kept by keeping the main pickup in usual location and orientation. Rolling in the bridge gives a meaty Stingray/Jazz-ish type flavour without really sounding quite just like either of those. I dig it. The mid scoop from both pickups full on together sounds good too; different place to a Jazz though. Bridge pickup on its own is meaty Jaco type tone with a little touch of more ‘quack’ on the D/G strings, due to the coil location. The amount of this can be varied quite a lot depending on where I play. I like it, others may differ. I never play bridge pickup solo only, so it makes little odds to me, as the blended sounds with the main pickup are what I’m after.

Both pickups in series is a gloriously dark, middy, thick, rich beast of a tone. I think it would work great with distortion. It sounds fabulous with a pick. 

I can match pickup output levels with height adjustment but impedances of these pickups are wildly different. That may have an impact. I still have my sights set on a dual DiMarzio Model P setup - like the BC Rich basses of old - we’ll see how that sounds when I test it. I also plan a swap from rosewood to maple neck - rosewood just sounds a little dark for my taste, at least for this bass.

The joys of modding!

Edited by funkle
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By the way, here's a couple of videos that served as inspirations to me. Maybe they inspire someone else too.

 

 

There were plenty of others I ended up researching, but these two really show what is possible with a dual P setup - and with the same pickup set-up too, spacing and all. 

 

Edited by funkle
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Ok, an update. 

After a lot of testing, I ended up with dual DiMarzio Model P pickups in the bass. They are much grittier in the mids than the typical Fender/vintage type pickup, and two of them together is pretty beastly. I definitely won’t have any problems being heard in the mix, that’s for sure. 

They look cool as anything as well, lol. 

I’ll try for some pics soon - it’s not with me at the moment. Maybe some video as well.

Next up, I’ll try out a Fender roasted maple neck. That will be a month or so yet. But it should give me even more treble, I think...not that this setup lacks it!

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Yep. Allen head poles. 

I did check out Billy’s - great sounding pickups, perfect for distortion! 

I’m a DiMarzio fan for sure. 

Edited by funkle

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18 hours ago, funkle said:

Yep. Allen head poles. 

I did check out Billy’s - great sounding pickups, perfect for distortion! 

I’m a DiMarzio fan for sure. 

Next up try the DiMarzio Split P all you have but much more of everything,  a huge sound.

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It’s odd, the videos I have found online of the Split P seem to have much less high end than the Model P. It’s not what the EQ graph shows for it on DiMarzio’s website, but from video, the pickup sounds nothing like the EQ curve shown on their website. 


 

Edited by funkle
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Does the P at the bridge overcome the problem with some passive PJs where the J is noticably quieter than the P?

Edited by Cato

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Yes. The pickups balance easily with height adjustments. It turns out I prefer the neck pickup slightly louder anyway, so I have kept it a little higher than would otherwise. But equal impedances/outputs makes it easy.

To be fair I found balancing the Mexi P pickup with the Aguilar Hot P pretty straightforward as well - pickup height worked fine there. But there may have been tonal effects from the differing pickup impedances.

For PJs, I have found using a DiMarzio Ultra Jazz bridge pickup a very good solution. It’s so powerful that it can actually overwhelm the P!

Edited by funkle
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Man. This is such a great bass now. I’m almost tempted to go the whole hog and add a neck humbucker like a DiMarzio Model One....lol....overkill though...

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On 16/10/2020 at 20:46, funkle said:

 

 

There were plenty of others I ended up researching, but these two really show what is possible with a dual P setup - and with the same pickup set-up too, spacing and all. 

 

TUNE!! Thanks for sharing this.

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I’m no longer certain that a maple neck is required. The DiMarzios seem to have plenty of top end...might just be wasting my money! 

I’m also toying with routing out the bridge pickup space further to allow me to swap around to reverse P there. And then using a surround of some sort to allow me to make it look good. The D and G strings are a bit clavinet-esque with the current layout, though I knew that would be the case going in. 

Anyone know if it’s easy to get someone to 3D print stuff? A custom pickup surround would be a natural thing to get printed...

 

EDIT. Ok, played around with pickup heights some more. This made a huge difference, more than I had realised was possible. I lowered the bridge pickup a touch for DG coil - and much of the clavinet-like quality disappeared from that coil. The rear pickup now sounds more like a beefier Jazz type pickup. Lowered the neck pickup to match outputs with the bridge more than I had previously and the blend quality of both pickups full on changed a lot as well. I may still tinker with this more just to experiment - especially as the Dimarzios have easily adjustable individual pole pieces - but this will do for now.

Lesson for me - pay more attention to pickup height.  

Edited by funkle

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Love this. I was super keen to do a dual p but didn’t want to mess with my number 1 p bass any further having routed it for a TBird pick up. 
I was inspired by the Alien Audio basses. Not sure if you’ve seen them but Chopper used reverse p for his bridge position. 
 

It’s been good to read the journey with this one. 

Edited by krispn
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I love the Alien Audio basses. They sound fabulous in all the videos I have found of them.  The Tim Akers band has a bassist called Gary Lunn who plays one; he sounds fab. 

Of interest, the Alien Audio basses actually change the pickup locations quite a bit. I attach below a table I made of all the different basses I had and how pickup locations compare. The Alien Audio basses don’t have the middle coils in the classic location - the front pickup is moved quite a bit towards the neck, and the rear reverse P has its EA coil line placed in the 70s Jazz position.

The research may be of interest to all folllowing this thread. 
 

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Edited by funkle
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Hmm. After a lot of playing the bass, I think I will swap the bridge pickup around to being reversed. There is still just a bit too much ‘clavinet’ to the sound on the DG strings. So I guess I’ll end up the the ‘John Entwhistle’ solution - as on his Buzzards etc - main P non reverse, bridge P reversed. 

I will fill pickup gaps with a solution that lets me reverse things if I wish - I’ll take some Precision pickup covers (closed top) and trim them to size and screw them into place. I’ll post again once I’ve made time for the mod and can post pics. 

Wish me luck!

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How about keeping the bridge e/a pickup in the same place and just adding a reversed half p pickup that you can switch between for the d/g? Best of both worlds for when only that clavinet sound will do! :)

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Clever! Could do. Let me look at that...might eat into the pickguard though

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