Posted by Oteil Burbridge on May 27, 2017 One for the Gear Heads
This one is for the gear head bassists… If you’ve ever tried a 1969 Gibson EB-2 bass guitar you know what an incredibly fat sound it has. It’s those humbucker pickups that are the key. It’s the same for the Gibson Les Paul and SG guitars: Humbucker pickups just produce a fatter tone. I cut the basic tracks for almost all of my solo record on that bass.
Well thanks to a man named Curtis Novak who custom makes handwound classic pickups I now have that tone in my 6 string basses. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to try this before but I asked him if he could make pickups for me that match the tone of the humbuckers in my EB-2 but in sizes that would fit into my 6 strings. Boy did he. I don’t even have words to describe how they have changed the tone of my 6’s!
I realized that Berry Oakley (original bassist for the Allman Brothers Band) figured this out a long time ago when he modified a number of Fender Jazz basses so that he could have both pickup options, single coil and humbucker. That’s how he got that fat tone you hear on the iconic intro of Whipping Post.
There are some great recordings of Phil Lesh taking this same approach back in the early days too…
I really wish that I had thought of this 10 or 15 years ago but oh well! It’s here now, and wow! My mind is blown everyday.
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