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The joy of the P


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I learned to play bass in the early 1980s when I was a teenager.  In those days, the only good bass (to me) was active with multiple pickups and preferably headless.  My right hand would always have been close to the bridge, and I was chasing "the honk" as much as possible.

 

I've returned to the bass in recent years, and through GAS ended up with a Jazz, a P, and a PJ.  The P, in particular, has encouraged me to rest my thumb on the single pickup, further from the bridge than I was used to.  What a revelation!  I really feel the feedback I get from the less rigid string at this position makes me enjoy playing more.  Much more.  And the tone seems better there too.  I can't imagine heading back to the bridge now, except on the Jazz, and that makes me want to play the Jazz less.

 

I think I've been seduced by the P.  Teenage me would have turned his nose up at a single pickup passive bass.  Anyone else been through this?

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I found using only the tops of pickups for thumbrests to be extremely limiting, so my basses have ramps which enable me to play from the neck to the bridge.

I tend not to have, or use, tone controls on my basses, so for me it's all in the fingers.

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Definitely.. in my younger years I played only EB Stingray basses and thought they were perfect for rock 

 

I recall a visit to Ashdown and they had an old PBass laying around to use through their amps and I hated it mostly due to the weak ( in comparison) pickup 

 

Returning to bass a few years back I purchased a Fender PBass as I couldn’t afford the EB stingray 

 

I’m still tempted to go for the Sterling Ray34 which has a closer neck to a PBass but they are circa £1K new 

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I spent the first 10 years turning my nose up at Precisions and heading down the black-and-pointy 5 string path; BTBs, Warlocks, Vampyres etc. Then the P happened because I finally tried one and thought it was great, so I sold up and moved back to 4 string mostly-white Precisions for 10 years. Now for the last two years I've switched back to 5s, but this time it's smaller-bodied basses like Ibanez SRs and Spectors that look to be the likely flavour of the decade. I'm still keeping my favourite P (which ironically is a Maruszczyk rather than a Fender) so I can nip back for a bit whenever the mood takes me, but the others are shipping out.

 

So yeah, it kinda happened and then un-happened to me, but I'll always like the sound of a P and don't regret giving it a good run as my main bass. Play what you're enjoying for as long as you're enjoying it, and feel free to have a change every so often.

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I always used to think P's we're really boring. Everyone had one and they were just a bit big standard, so I generally stayed away from them.

 

My first bass was a Squier affinity P bass, complete with machine heads that rattled, a crackly jack, scratchy pots and strap buttons that didn't like being attached to the body. So that was probably why I wasn't too keen on them.

 

Then I picked up a really nice one (MIJ PB70US) and came to my senses. They just fit perfectly and there's a reason why they're a standard.

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I can relate to this, I started playing bass around 30 years ago, my first bass was a Vox Standard P type bass, I found that it was somewhat limited tonally and soon yearned for a Jazz Bass as one of my mates had one, and I thought it sounded just so cool.  I bought my first Jazz in '92, it was a USA Jazz Plus V and I loved it and gigged it solidly for around 12 years or so, that's when I started to buy a few nice basses as surplus money was a little easier - I bought among other things a US P Bass that had a Dimarzio pick up fitted, that's when I first really appreciated a P.  Now I've got a superb Sonic Blue AVRI '63 P Bass that is just lovely to play, sits well in the mix and is also nice and light weight.

 

I still like to mix it up when gigging and I do feel lucky to have a number of nice basses to choose from🙂

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I have owned a Precision since March 1969. Everyone I rated back then used one so when I had the cash, that's what I had to have.

 

IMO it's a timeless sound and fits so well into most genres.

 

My passive PJ5 is a perfect bass, but I also like a wider range, so I play my active Jazz on those gigs.

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I’m a bit different re this, all my fave players played Precisions, I loved the sound of them, so for some reason instead of buying one early in my playing career I bought different basses and tried to get them to sound like a Precision (none ever did btw). When I eventually got round to buying one it was like switching on a light. 

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Yup, been on that train ride and got off at every stop. Eventually made my way to the end of the line and arrived at Precision Central Station. 

It was worth the wait. It's a beautiful place to be.

Sometimes it's all about the journey and not the destination, but not this time.

It would have been so much cheaper to have bought just the one ticket to go all the way too.

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Interesting thread. It got me to thinking, when did I get my first P bass?

I played Arias pretty much exclusively from the 80s through to turn of the century. 

I have a bunch of Ps now and love them all, but I think it is a fairly recent phenomenon.

My Bruce Thomas Profile is the best one.

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Not the P bass per se, but I've always played over the middle/neck pickup.  I despise bridge pickups, I detest how they sound on their own, I hate that in 95% of the basses I've owned they've sucked the life out of the sound in a scooped, gutless way when combined with the neck pickup and I revile the twangy sound of playing towards the bridge.

 

Not content with simply ignoring the bridge pickup, now 3 out of my 4 basses are single pickup.  None of them are a P bass in the strictest sense, the G&L Tribute LB-100 comes closest, but even it can't help piddling around with the formula (chief departures are the 21st fret, the G&L bridge, the subtle reshaping of the body).  It's probably as close to an actual P bass as you'll ever find me (except for a bitsa Squier P I put together in my formative bass years) - in many ways it is what I think a P bass should be.


It took me many years to get this militant about it, but I've always subconsciously felt this way.

 

Still have a weird draw towards 3 pickup basses though.  Must be because they're unusal.  Would still play one over the middle pickup though.

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My first proper bass was a Manson Explorer. When I started gigging I didn't like the sound and traded it for an Aria SBR-150. I gigged this for a couple of years, then bought an Aria XRB , pointy headstock, passive P & J pickups. Then I bought a vox white shadow fretless (which I loved).

Then one day, in my local shop, there was a black P bass, with a maple neck. I swapped my Manson 335 for this bass. Absolute game changer.

 

I've had sll sorts since then too, Jaydee MK, Guild B301, Steinberger, status, Washburn, Ricks, Jazz basses but always come back to my now 49 year old '73 P bass which I've had 32 years.

 

But very recently I've switched to a JMJ Mustang. I still have all my various P basses though, including the Bravewood Sting replica

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21 minutes ago, police squad said:

My first proper bass was a Manson Explorer. When I started gigging I didn't like the sound and traded it for an Aria SBR-150. I gigged this for a couple of years, then bought an Aria XRB , pointy headstock, passive P & J pickups. Then I bought a vox white shadow fretless (which I loved).

Then one day, in my local shop, there was a black P bass, with a maple neck. I swapped my Manson 335 for this bass. Absolute game changer.

 

I've had sll sorts since then too, Jaydee MK, Guild B301, Steinberger, status, Washburn, Ricks, Jazz basses but always come back to my now 49 year old '73 P bass which I've had 32 years.

 

But very recently I've switched to a JMJ Mustang. I still have all my various P basses though, including the Bravewood Sting replica

I've been listening to a few P vs Mustang videos and the Mustangs seem to 'out P' the Ps on every occasion, whether full sized split or mini Mustang split pickup, at least to my ears. YMMV. Of course it might be down to strings, but in a mix, etc.

 

 

 

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I gigged for most of my playing career using a Status Eclipse. It was a great bass but I always wanted a Fender. When I finally got one I was blown away. Just simplicity and such a great tone without worrying about peaking or batteries going flat.

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36 minutes ago, ezbass said:

I've been listening to a few P vs Mustang videos and the Mustangs seem to 'out P' the Ps on every occasion, whether full sized split or mini Mustang split pickup, at least to my ears. YMMV. Of course it might be down to strings, but in a mix, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

I don't think that a fair contest as he clearly states that the Mustang has brand new strings and the P has old strings. You can hear the new string bark coming from the Mustang.

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I started out on a p bass, albeit a Hondo! Back in the late 70s, but I was never very keen on it, didn't like the string tension, nowhere to anchor your thumb, apart from the pickup, which I found had too much rattle, in that position. Went over to Jazzes, predominantly for the next 30 years. I now play mostly a p bass after trying a friend's a few years ago. Love them! With flats or rounds, they are amazing basses. When you hear people say that they sit in the mix really well..... it's true.

I think, with experience and technique ( I play with floating thumb style, anchored on the E) they are fantastic basses, simply by changing playing position, in front, over, or behind the pickup, rolling the tone up or down, you can get so many useable sounds.

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When I started I did not want a Precision. My brother, also a bass player & on here, had one and the neck felt enormous to me and I thought I wanted an Epi. Rivoli. When I finally got an EB2 I didn’t rate it at all. I am now on my 4th Precision and it’s just part of an arsenal, a very usable one but not an exclusive one. I am inclined to agree that simple is good, no batteries to die mid-gig, no extra knobs to twiddle in error and if you really want to vary the sound, get an external processor of some sort.

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22 minutes ago, Grahambythesea said:

I am inclined to agree that simple is good, no batteries to die mid-gig, no extra knobs to twiddle in error and if you really want to vary the sound, get an external processor of some sort.

 

 

Pah, just something else to go wrong!  More tat to bring with me, ooh me back.  When I were a lad...

 

 

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I’ve got some fairly decent quality basses at the moment, a Dingwall NG2, Warwick SS1, Yamaha Attitude Ltd, a Spector….so why oh why am I constantly looking at the ad for a Mexican P bass deluxe which is for sale locally?! I have a strict policy this year, any purchases have to be funded by gig earnings, or something has to be sold to fund it, it’s gotten so bad that I’ve even contemplated selling the Dingwall to buy a Mexican P bass which is under £500. Even more stupid is the fact that, if o roll off the front pickup on the Yamaha, I’ve basically got a DiMarzio loaded P bass. GAS is a strange mistress, I tell thee! 

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I like the classic P bass (and it’s responsible for some of my fave bass playing on various songs by various folks) but never enough to own one. Body’s too big for me, and whilst the sound of the pickup is great I find split designs get in the way of my fingers - terrible technique, I dig in far too hard!

 

Fender’s Dimension on the other hand will be buried with me. Just enough of a P sound with better ergonomics and no split.

 

And yeah despite all my basses having them agree with the bridge pickup being no use (for me). Likewise plucking near the bridge. Nah.

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