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...and you wanted to put up sound files online, would you put them in a P Bass, or a PJ?

I have one of each, and I may put these pickups in the PJ if I like them, as the P Bass is set up perfectly.

If I want a recording to accurately reflect the sound of the pickups, good or bad, could the PJ affect the sound, even with the J pickup turned down?



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What is the purpose of the sound files?
Are you putting up sound files for a strict comparison basis of these against another P-bass pickup? For "historical" purposes? For kicks? In the first two cases, I would say use a "real" P bass.
If you intend to put them in the PJ for regular use, just go ahead and do that and record it. Maybe do a before & after for comparison.

I'm sure a true audiophile will advise you better than I.


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There are factors that will change the sound, whether you use you use a P-bass or a P-J.

Maple or rosewood fingerboard? If maple, one piece neck? Which version of the bridge? Ash or alder body (or other wood)?
Squared off body like the original or sculpted like later in the 50's? Plastic pickguard (with or without shielding for the pots and jack) or the gold anodized aluminum?
Bone nut, plastic, brass? Width of the neck at the nut? Traditional wider P neck or Jazz neck?
Truss rod adjustment at the headstock, or at the base of the neck?

All of those make a difference in the tone, regardless of pickup. I would just put it in the PJ and see what happens. If you love it then who cares what the cork-sniffer crowd has to say? They won't be able to agree on a definition of what a "real" P-Bass is anyway.


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Thanks, both. smile

The purpose of the audio files is primarily historical and also for curiosity's sake.

These PUs were made, commercially in the late 70s, and are one of what may be only 50 or so sets made. There may be a few more, as exact numbers are unknown, but, they are quite rare. There is no audio of these PUs anywhere on the web, that I can find. There's some for the guitar PUs, but not bass. The manufacturer made 8 different guitar PUs, but only one for bass.
That said, even the guitar PUs are pretty rare, with most seeming to be Telecaster, then humbuckers, then rarer Strat-type. Even "non-functional" ones are listed for a couple hundred bucks, it seems


The bass I will use is a 1983 MIJ Squier Precision bass. The body is Sen, a wood very much like Ash, in the rounder post-57 style. The neck is maple, with a RW 'board, standard dimension, typical plastic nut. Bridge is vintage threaded saddle type. The pickguard is anodized aluminum. TR adjusts at the heel.
It currently has an unknown alnico PU that is at least 20 years old, and sounds every bit like a P Bass.

[Linked Image]





I am definitely aware of the "cork-sniffer" crowd, and, tbh, I've already had some interest in buying these. But, I kinda wanna be the one to do the first audio. grin

Last edited by wraub; 07/11/20 04:35 PM.


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For decades, I've called Fender guitars (and basses) "screwdriver guitars", this is not a knock. I play a Strat, a Tele, a Frankenbass - Zolla P body, EMG P-Bass pu, Schaller bridge, Schaller tuners, Warmoth Jazz neck with ebony fretboard, frets pulled and slots filled. I also have an early 80's Peavey Fury "Handcrafted in the USA" with a bi-laminated maple neck, the big heavy Schaller bass tuners and an EMG Pa (alnico) pickup.
I love all of them! They sure are easy to work on.

First thing to do is record your bass as it is now. Go direct if possible and leave all of your settings the same so you can record another track under similar conditions with the new pickups.

Then, just loosen the strings, note the height adjustment of the pickups (i'd just mark the covers with masking tape right at the pickguard level), take out all thei pickguard screws and the pickup mounting screws.
Unsolder the 2 pickup wires, solder in the new pickup and put everything back together. The new pickups may sound better at a different height than the current pickup so experiment a bit and find that sweet spot.

Make your second recording, done. If that's all you wanted and you are planning on selling them, put your bass back as it was, remove the masking tape and mission accomplished. Shouldn't take more than a couple of hours including the recordings if you have the tools and a place to work.

Don't be surprised if there isn't a profound difference. There could be, but there might not be. Lots of things become "cult classics" without really being much different than the usual stuff. Other things are more or less "one-off", the variations in vintage Gibson P-90 pickups are vast. Some of them scream and some don't - totally random in my experience. All of them hum, I don't use them. Cheers, Kuru


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Yes, I am prepared for the sound to be not great, but, good, or bad, I want to do it. I fully anticipate them being good, but not great, with a reputation hyped in the mystery of absence.They may have been remarkable then, but, it was a long time ago. We shall see.

I will use a 6 foot cable, and I have a good interface and decent software, so a good recording is not a problem.

The bass currently has old strings, and I have a brand new set of the same strings.

I thought I would record with--- old PU/old strings, then oldPU/new strings, then new PU/new strings, then new PU/old strings. All at different settings, with and without a pick.

Unless they are terrible, I would probably keep them, just because.



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Originally Posted by wraub
Yes, I am prepared for the sound to be not great, but, good, or bad, I want to do it. I fully anticipate them being good, but not great, with a reputation hyped in the mystery of absence.They may have been remarkable then, but, it was a long time ago. We shall see.

I will use a 6 foot cable, and I have a good interface and decent software, so a good recording is not a problem.

The bass currently has old strings, and I have a brand new set of the same strings.

I thought I would record with--- old PU/old strings, then oldPU/new strings, then new PU/new strings, then new PU/old strings. All at different settings, with and without a pick.

Unless they are terrible, I would probably keep them, just because.


Keep us posted!


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I don't see this question and I'm curious; what makes these pickup different from the ordinary P Bass pickup? I never heard of any special set of pickup that came out ion the 70's. What are they called?


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Vintage is not always better. That's right I said it. Somehow though, I think bass players would be more apt to agree than guitar players.

I hope all goes well with your experiment. Myself personally, I prefer the test of time to see if I like something bass wise. Thankfully I don't have rich tastes. I got a jazz sister copy of of my favorite MIM P. Loved it at first. I wrote a good framework of a song within seconds of having it in my hands. Played it and played it at first and grew to love it less and less as each day went by.

If you have a meter it may be interesting to get readings on the pickups as you go. Difference in output level, how that effects the sound and if you prefer more or less would be my concept.


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Velvet Hammer, by Red Rhodes.


Originally Posted by picker
I don't see this question and I'm curious; what makes these pickup different from the ordinary P Bass pickup? I never heard of any special set of pickup that came out ion the 70's. What are they called?



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In looking for info online about these Velvet Hammer pickups, it seems that the vast majority of the very little info available is about the guitar pickups made by Red Rhodes. Rhodes was a well-known steel guitar player with a lot of credits, but also a skilled amplifier repair guy. He did amp repairs out of a storefront in L.A. and guitar repairs, mostly done by others. He also did make several guitar pickups, wound in the back of the store,. A semi-legendary amp tech, he also apparently designed the PUs in the Peavey T-60 guitar.

He is said to have made "a very few" guitar PUs, in eight different styles, but no exact number known. Even with help in making them, there probably aren't more than a couple hundred guitar pickups known, in 8 different styles. Joan Jett has a few, Clarence White had one, so did James Burton. His Velvet Hammer company made different guitar pickups, but only one bass model- the VHPB.
As you may guess, it was a P Bass replacement model. By all accounts, there were significantly fewer P Bass PUs.

Apparently Rhodes' son tried to jump start the business again a few years back, using the tools techniques he had learned building PUs with Red, but I have yet to determine that he made P Bass PUs.

In looking for more on this model, I found several Talk Bass threads, across several years, that mention these, but- almost all of these threads seem to be talking about the same set, one that came from Juan Alderete of The Mars Volta. They apparently made the rounds on TB, moving through several members and then, apparently, finally landing a good home. They stopped moving at some point, I don't know what happened to them.

I found a set on Reverb, as well as a set in Hungary, and one in Germany. I guess this is 4, counting the Alderete model. All the pics appear to be actual different sets, so I'm pretty sure there's no overlap.
Some other mentions throughout TB and elsewhere claim ownership, so lets say a dozen, total. Throw in the people who may not be online talking about gear grin and there's, what... 50 sets of Velvet Hammer P Bass PUs? Maybe 100? In the world?


It would seem that I have the set that was on Reverb. They were in Oklahoma then.

Is it possible there's only a dozen or so that keep changing hands, everywhere? smile


I have no preconceptions, as I literally don't know what to expect. I am genuinely curious to see how they sound, "good" or "bad".

All this and I still haven't even put them in a bass. I probably should...



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I do have a meter, and will use it. grin
And, I agree about vintage...sometimes it just means old.

Originally Posted by butcherNburn
Vintage is not always better. That's right I said it. Somehow though, I think bass players would be more apt to agree than guitar players.

I hope all goes well with your experiment. Myself personally, I prefer the test of time to see if I like something bass wise. Thankfully I don't have rich tastes. I got a jazz sister copy of of my favorite MIM P. Loved it at first. I wrote a good framework of a song within seconds of having it in my hands. Played it and played it at first and grew to love it less and less as each day went by.

If you have a meter it may be interesting to get readings on the pickups as you go. Difference in output level, how that effects the sound and if you prefer more or less would be my concept.



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A friend built a guitar with a Velvet Hammer Strat pickup in the bridge position. If I recall correctly, it had a bar magnet instead of pole pieces.

I remember that it was a bit hotter than a Strat pickup but still hummed. It sounded fine, more coincidence that he had it than any other cause (another guitar tech, we end up with some "interesting" things sometimes.)

That said, a good set of P-Bass pickups is nothing sniffle about, it's a classic, iconic tone on countless records.


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The Velvet Hammer is in my bass... smile



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Originally Posted by wraub
The Velvet Hammer is in my bass... smile


How do they sound?


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i'd suggest using the PJ, and since you'll be soldering you can temporarily bypass the J pickup and volume pot entirely. the only real difference then is the P pickup location. i believe PJ are a little further from the bridge. that's what i'd do, and i'd call it good enough, given the scope of the experiment.

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I put it in my P bass, for the following reasons-

It's appropriate, time wise, for the era the PU was released

The PJ is actually in a pretty good place, tone wise, and I really don't want to mess with it too much

I wasn't completely happy with the PU in my P bass.



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I am not displeased. wink





Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Originally Posted by wraub
The Velvet Hammer is in my bass... smile


How do they sound?



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Cool. May take a bit of tweaking to find the best string balance and then the amp settings. For me, that is small improvements over time, maybe just a few days.


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I've been at it for about a week, playing through different amps and my interface, solo and along with professional recordings and my own.


First impressions- The Velvet Hammer pickups seem to be very sensitive to height adjustments, so have a range of sounds. I currently have them set the same, relative to string height, as the old pickups. The old pickups metered at 10.55 K, the VH meters at 9.16 K.

There is a noticeable difference in the sound, as may be expected, but it's the quality of the sound- defined and clear, but not crisp or harsh, with a hint of something like compression that adds a sort of sweet control to the notes that's the most noticeable thing. It's almost like having active pickups without any extraneous noises, you only hear the strings.
I think this is from the magnet layout, which is different from typical P bass pickups.

I also note this, in the product description- "Red's specially designed isolating bobbins are wound in the same direction like a typical humbucking pickup, then wired in series and out of phase to improve hum rejection."
Whatever it is, the name Velvet Hammer seems well chosen.

I kinda wish I'd gotten more audio before I switched pickups, but I was in a hurry... It is what it is.

Soundfiles will, hopefully, be up today. smile



Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Cool. May take a bit of tweaking to find the best string balance and then the amp settings. For me, that is small improvements over time, maybe just a few days.

Last edited by wraub; 07/26/20 03:14 PM.


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Originally Posted by wraub
I've been at it for about a week, playing through different amps and my interface, solo and along with professional recordings and my own.


First impressions- The Velvet Hammer pickups seem to be very sensitive to height adjustments, so have a range of sounds. I currently have them set the same, relative to string height, as the old pickups. The old pickups metered at 10.55 K, the VH meters at 9.16 K.

There is a noticeable difference in the sound, as may be expected, but it's the quality of the sound- defined and clear, but not crisp or harsh, with a hint of something like compression that adds a sort of sweet control to the notes that's the most noticeable thing. It's almost like having active pickups without any extraneous noises, you only hear the strings.
I think this is from the magnet layout, which is different from typical P bass pickups.

I also note this, in the product description- "Red's specially designed isolating bobbins are wound in the same direction like a typical humbucking pickup, then wired in series and out of phase to improve hum rejection."
Whatever it is, the name Velvet Hammer seems well chosen.

I kinda wish I'd gotten more audio before I switched pickups, but I was in a hurry... It is what it is.

Soundfiles will, hopefully, be up today. smile



Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Cool. May take a bit of tweaking to find the best string balance and then the amp settings. For me, that is small improvements over time, maybe just a few days.


You have 10% fewer winds, more or less. That in itself won't make a huge difference since you are in the 10k range (or 5k per coil), more or less.
Your observation regarding the magnet layout is certainly a factor, the type of magnets used in each pickup can be a factor as well.
Alnico magnets can change over time as the magnetism slowly reduces and they sound different than ceramic magnets from the get-go.
Magnetized pole pieces sound different than having magnets on the bottom of the pickup, the magnetic field is much different.

Note that I am saying "different", not "better or worse". Very subjective!!!

ALL pickups respond in a more or less similar fashion when lowered, not all are the same when raised but generally speaking lowering the pickups will smooth out the attack a bit and even up the response. The low E has the most ferrous metal to excite the magnets and is usually louder than the other 3 strings. One of the beauties of a P-bass system is that each pickup can be adjusted on each end and you are dealing with 2 strings so a near perfect balance is well within reach.

It's not wrong to go "too far" when defining the boundaries of your sweet spot, it can speed up the process sometimes.
You have the ideal situation, adjusting your own bass. If it takes a month to find your happy place, so what? It is time well spent.


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Hello there... been a minute. Work days and insanely hot weather has kept me away from this... But, today is today.

A quick note- digging more into online stuff, I believe that, counting the 4 sets I have described above, I have now found 5 other claims of ownership, bringing the "known" number of Velvet Hammer P bass PUs to 9.

Below- first impressions, randomly typed as random thoughts occurred - Audio will be soon. smile (don't expect too much) wink
------------

"Very sensitive to height and string position, almost overly so, but perfect when "right"

Clarity string to string unlike any other passive P bass pickups I have played, and absolutely as good as any passive P Bass pickup I have ever heard old or new, rivals many active basses. Typical adjectives are typical but without saying "bell like"- open, ringing, defined, warm, rich.

Clarity has an open brightness, into the highs without a hint of the piercing shrillness hiding in the highs of a lot of bass sounds.

The clarity extends into the lowest registers, where even block chords using the E and A are well defined. There's also a sort of... "compression"? that seems to reject a lot of extraneous string and fingering noise in favor of the actual note and its component parts. Each note is well and distinctly voiced, whether picked, slapped, tapped, in all registers.

It still captures a badly fretted note accurately, but well played notes sound fantastic. almost 3-D, depth and richness.

Dub deep, Motown thick, 70s smooth, weed funk, coke disco, whiskey blues... any and every P bass sound, even a couple of Jazz sounds too.

recordings need almost nothing added-- gonna make me a better player

Possibly more made than I thought?, used as recording studio "secret weapons" by "those guys" and kept in private, busy recording situations?

tone knob at zero, thick, not muddy... up to half, more clarity and definition great for most gigs, from there tone knob almost like a second volume knob, adding more clarity and definition and harmonics

Roommate comments- "before it sounded like cherry cheesecake, warm with a brightness... Now its like flan, warm with a sweetness"

Very accurate to player input- pick, finger, slap, tap defined and distinct

I want more of them."



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Very cool, thanks for bringing back a review!


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Interesting, especially the comments about the tone pot.


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Yes, I found this interesting as well.

Apparently, it's a hallmark of the Velvet Hammer Tele pickups, that the tone knob acts almost like a boost... But, those PUs are 4 wire, with a coil wrapped inside and outside (!!) of the main coil, reportedly. I wasn't expecting similar on what looks like a simple 2 wire P bass PU, but, it's definitely a thing.




Originally Posted by Danzilla
Interesting, especially the comments about the tone pot.



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Hi again...

Having an issue- I am unable to capture the variety and complexity of the sounds from these pickups in a simple recording. I have considered making a video (my first!) but I wonder if that would be sufficient.

The tone and volume controls work together, and a tiny turn of a knob can totally change things. It's hard to capture in a mix, and I don't know if anyone really wants to just hear one simple line played at a hundred different settings for 5-10 minutes. wink

I have a couple of days off coming, I do want to post...something.

Suggestions?



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Maybe do a very simple mix - 3 pieces. Drums could just be a shaker or something else to stay out of the way. Acoustic guitar or keys with a HPF on it. Leave lots of room to make the bass the star of the show. Make sure it grooves.

Make a loop, long enough to listen and short enough to prevent insanity. Track different bass sound on maybe 2 or 4 times through each loop, play more or less the same bass part using the same technique so we can really hear the difference the pickups make. Keep it around 6 total sounds, subtle is subtle but you'll need to show a broad range if possible. Most of us can get a pretty broad range of subtle just with playing technique so it's important to try and eliminate that as much as possible.


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Originally Posted by wraub
Hi again...

Having an issue- I am unable to capture the variety and complexity of the sounds from these pickups in a simple recording. I have considered making a video (my first!) but I wonder if that would be sufficient.

The tone and volume controls work together, and a tiny turn of a knob can totally change things. It's hard to capture in a mix, and I don't know if anyone really wants to just hear one simple line played at a hundred different settings for 5-10 minutes. wink

I have a couple of days off coming, I do want to post...something.

Suggestions?
Listen to things I have posted in the past. Do the exact opposite.


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Lug grin



...and, it is done. It is not pretty, and it is not great (...they should have sent a poet wink ) but, in an effort to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good (enough, one hopes), it is done.

Let me find a thumb drive, and I'll be right with you.



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Here... 100% unmodified, recorded direct to Studio One with a 6-foot long cable.

..............please be kind. smile

https://soundcloud.com/wraub/velvet-hammer-p-bass-pickup-demo

Also, here's a "tune"-

https://soundcloud.com/wraub/vhtunea



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