Gibson SG vs Fender J-bass

When I was a kid, I saw Jack Bruce (in concert with West, Bruce and Laing) playing his Gibson SG bass and ever since then, I’ve wanted one . . . :slight_smile:

Of course, we all know that it’s not the guitar, it’s the guy playing it and I really like that bright, clear, “Fender-y” sound :+1: I’m also very happy with my Squier bass, and after watching a number of videos, I keep coming away with the impression that the Gibson is just way too dark and muddy-sounding. I’m also aware that Gibson just doesn’t seem that popular these days . . . unless someone is looking for a short scale bass, and even then, the Epiphone is about $1000 cheaper. I can’t think of anyone playing one today except for a link that @Gio posted:

So . . . does anyone here have one? . . . I’m just curious whether or not the Gibson sound could be brightened up a bit.

Post your thoughts here!

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I don’t have one, haven’t played one and can’t rightly recall if I’ve ever heard one. :smile:

But it’s an electric instrument with magnetic pickups so there is a lot of tweaking you can do. Most obvious probably is changing pickups to something brighter. You could also use higher resistance pots (like going from 500k to 1meg). You can also put a .047uF capacitor in series with the pickup’s hot wire to remove some of the bass frequencies.


How easy is it to mod pots, pickups etc? Much scope for wrecking ones gear? :grimacing:


Thanks @Korrigan and @Chris . . . :slight_smile:

I guess you could replace or tweak pups and pots, but I think the darker tone has a lot to do with the scale length (which of course can’t be changed).

Was thinking that with all the advances in amplifier technology, the tone could be modified via the amp settings.

Anyway, that Gibson DOES sound mighty fine in the video . . . :metal::metal: . . . and If I ever get a second bass, I’m leaning toward the SG.

Thanks again and all best, Joe

Yeah, that’s the sound of a big ol’ pickup placed in that position. Because it’s even closer to the center of the string (length-wise) than a P bass pickup, you get a lot more fundamental response (subby/bassy sound) and less growl (mids), because there are less harmonics toward the center of the string.

It’s the same effect you get by moving your plucking hand around - if you pluck over the 12th fret, you hear mostly fundamental, and as you move your hand towards the bridge, you hear more and more overtones, which makes it sound more defined - growly, punchy, quacky, bright, and other words like that depending on your setup.

So it’s not a good pickup to try to brighten up, IMO, just get a bass with a pickup closer to the bridge!

All that said, I LOVE the sound of those big fat super necky pickups. I just played a couple 60’s Gibson EB0’s in a vintage guitar shop a few weeks back (More Music in Santa Cruz CA), and they were really really fun to play, and I love the super bassy sound. But not a good bass for trying to get another sound out of!

Actually, there were two EB0s in the shop, one with flatwounds and one with roundwounds… and the tone was so dark that I literally couldn’t hear the difference (and neither could the guy working at the shop). Crazy dark.

It can, but it’s hard to add information that isn’t there in the first place. If your bass only produces frequencies up to 1kHz, then boosting it at 3kHz on the amp isn’t going to do much. It’s easier to darken a bright signal, because there’s more info to work with.

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That’s a really good point, @JoshFossgreen . . . I hadn’t considered that. Just figured that the shorter scale provided more bass, but yeah, that, plus the larger pickup moved closer to the neck gives it that sound. Good for you! :+1:

In conclusion, I guess you could say that the Gibson SG doesn’t have the versatility that the J-bass has, right? :wink:

Nonetheless, if/when I get a second bass, I’d be interested in the SG . . . I’ve always liked the sound of Mountain and The Cream, and that bass might make a complementary addition to my Squier.

All best, Joe

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Where’s your sense of adventure Josh? I think it’d be a fun challenge to rewind a pickup. :slight_smile:


Ha-ha! . . . or maybe to unwind one just to see what’s at the end? . . . :yum:

All best, Joe


Jazz bass, have you considered a Fender P J setup? It has a lot of tone options. I like the aerodyne.


Thank you, @nicholas.richino . . . :slight_smile:

But I’m very happy with my Squier Jazz bass . . . I was just curiously wondering why the Gibson SG tone is so dark and if it could be lightened a bit. They don’t seem to be as popular as they were years ago, either. I’ve always liked them though, and might be interested in getting one later on.

And who knows? . . . they might become a real collector’s item! :wink:

Thanks again and all best, Joe

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