- Find the best P-bass pickups for your style and genre
- We review seven aftermarket Precision bass pickups
- Fender Custom Shop, EMG, Lindy Fralin, and more
It’s facetious to claim I know the ‘best’ P-bass pickup ever. But given my vast P-Bass collection (non-Fender, too) and the possibility that one day someone will pry one from my corpse, I feel confident in sharing my insights to point you in the right direction.
IMO, there’s a three-pronged fork in the road to the best replacement P-bass pickup.
- The first leads to ballsy tones with high output – split coils on steroids.
- The second is authentic vintage tones or pickups that faithfully replicate the ’50s or ’60s P-bass sounds.
- The third is vintage tones with modern tweaks or, as some detractors call it – Clever Marketing.
The last one’s a little facetious, but note I said tweaks, not improvements. Some mods are sideways.
Anyway, here’s the lowdown:
- For authentic sounds, choose pickups with period-correct specs/materials.
- For big n’ ballsy, try overwound pickups (or ceramic magnets). As for “modern,” I put forth the best of them in the current market.
Comment down below if you need something else, and I’ll respond to the best of my ability.
For now, we look at seven fantastic but vastly different P-bass pickups to level up your instrument.
What are the Best P-Bass Pickups
The Fender CS ‘62 pickup is my top pick for the best P bass pickup, replacement or otherwise.
It nails the classic tone and sounds full-bodied, balanced, and gritty. It’s a definite upgrade and worth considering if you use flats strings on a fretted or fretless P-bass.
The EMG GZR P sounds powerful, thick, and punchy, making it a stellar (and affordable) choice for rock/punk/metal.
The SPB-3 and Model J are equally thunderous Fender precision bass pickups, but they do not reproduce the traditional P-bass sound.
Lastly, the Lindy Fralin Precision Bass Pickup is meticulously handcrafted with high-quality period-correct materials.
It delivers authentic and refined ‘50s or ‘60s Precision Bass tones with options to customize the pickup to taste.
Here are the seven best P-Bass pickups you can approach with buyer confidence.
- Fender Custom Shop ‘62 P-Bass Pickup (Our Pick)
- EMG Geezer Butler P-Bass Pickup (Best Value)
- Lindy Fralin P-Bass Pickup (Best Overall)
- Seymour Duncan SPB-3 Quarter Pound
- Aguilar AG 4P-60 P-Bass Pickup
- DiMarzio Model P
- Bartolini 8S P-Bass Pickup
1. Fender Custom Shop ’62 P Bass Pickup
The Fender Custom Shop '62 Precision Bass Pickup has been heard in the American Standard series since 2012 and is a faithful reproduction of the famous pickups from the '60s
- Rich lows and chunky mids
- Includes all installation hardware
- A great choice for any bassist
The Fender CS ’62 P-bass pickup was crafted to faithfully reproduce the sounds of the 1962 model.
It features Alnico 5 magnets with enamel-coated wire and period-correct materials like stamped fiber bobbins and cloth output wire. The pickup comes with installation hardware.
- ’62-style P-Bass Pickup
- Alnico V Magnets
- Period-correct materials
- Installation hardware included
The CS 62 delivers deep and rich lows, chunky mids, and highs, all with the gritty vintage P-bass character.
Imaginably, the pickup responds well to the tone knob on a Fender. It can go from mellow-muted-thump to why-so-cranky as you crank the tone.
The tone is fat, full, and consistent with flats and round wound strings.
You can tap into growly and aggressive sounds with a pick, too. The flush-mount pole pieces produce an even string response, and the tone is balanced across the frequency range.
These were the stock pickups in my Am Standard, so I have first-hand experience.
Fender uses V-mods in the Am Professional Precision Bass, which has more top-end spunk but isn’t as full-sounding. Swapping V-mods with the CS62 is a definite upgrade if you want a smoother tone.
The Fender CS ’62 Precision pickup is a reasonably priced upgrade for any Squire, mid-level Fender, or non-Fender precision-style bass guitar.
It’s a no-brainer for bass players who want a classic sound for a MIM or P-bass copy at an attractive price, considering how it can up-level those instruments.
2. EMG Geezer Butler GZR P
The EMG GZR P-Bass pickup delivers Geezer Butler's signature sound with custom wound coils and modern touches.
- Powerful, thick, and punchy
- Packed with modern touches
The metal legend Geezer Butler is known for his thunderous P-bass tone, something you can readily sample in Black Sabbath songs like “Paranoid” and “Iron Man.
The EMG GZR P-Bass pickup delivers his signature sound with custom wound coils and modern touches.
It’s quieter, punchier, and less muddy than any other aftermarket P-bass pickup at this price point.
- Rock-oriented P-Bass Pickup
- Alnico V magnets
- Custom-wound coils
- Solderless installation, hardware included
This love child of EMG and Geezer Butler is available for J, P/J, and P-bass configurations, each famed for classic bass tones.
The GZR P, in particular, delivers the sounds of a vintage ‘60s Precision bass with midrange bark and extra zing in the high and low-end.
This P-bass replacement pickup features Alnico V pole pieces with custom wound coils to eliminate noise/hum.
Yep, the pickup is dead quiet in a shielded bass guitar. Additionally, it is one of the best solderless pickups in the current crop, easy to install without technical know-how.
The low-end is thunderous, mids are assertive, and highs growl with the right settings.
The gritty sounds respond well to control knob tweaks.
The pickup costs roughly $110, but it’s on the money (read: a keeper) if you want a powerful and authentic vintage P-bass sound.
These P Bass pickups are a community favorite regarding replacement pups. There is little to fault if you dig the audio samples.
The build quality, balanced output, and fidelity are on point.
Also, the GZR P comes with mounting hardware and a solderless kit with a quick connection system, which makes installation a breeze.
3. Lindy Fralin P-Bass Pickup
The Fralin pickup is not as powerful as the SPB or as dirty as the Model P, but it sounds unmistakably gritty and more refined than the competition.
- Rich lows and clear highs
- Authentic tones
- Meticulously handcrafted
The Fralin P-bass pickup is famed for taking the original Fender pup and making clever tweaks to modernize it.
The pickup boasts era-authentic materials like USA-made Alnico 5 Magnets, 42-gauge Heavy Formvar wire, hand-wound coils, and fiberboard bobbins.
Thereof, this beauty has premium parts and equally first-rate sounds.
- Era-authentic Precision Bass pickup
- USA-made Alnico 5 Magnets
- Stock, 5% or 10% overwound, 5% under wound
- Handcrafted with premium materials
Lindy Fralin offers three versions of this pickup– the P Bass (‘60s P-bass tone), the 51 P-Bass (‘50s P-bass tone), and the 51 P-Bass (hum-free ‘50s tone).
You also select the cover (black, white, cream) and a stock version, 5% or 10% overwound, or 5% under wound.
All great choices for bass players, but I picked the flagship pickup with the ‘60s P-bass sounds.
The ‘60s pickup delivers fat, round tones with rich lows and clear highs.
Vintage in character, the sounds are clear within a wide frequency range, and there’s a lot of depth in the lows and highs.
It reiterates the manufacturer’s claim of a huge, well-defined low-end.
Clean and transparent, but not sterile by any means.
To summarize, the Fralin pickup is not as powerful as the SPB or as dirty as the Model P, but it sounds unmistakably gritty and more refined than the competition.
Moreover, with all the output preferences, you can easily find a perfect match for your style and genre.
I’ll leave you with this video that compares the Fralin to a Fender P-bass pickup.
The Lindy Fralin P-Bass pickup is a desirable upgrade over stock p’ups in any Fender or non-Fender bass guitar, except a high-end or vintage Fender P-bass.
With high-end, it would be a sideways mod, not better or worse, but different.
And, well, no one wants to swap stock pups in a vintage P and ruin the resale value.
4. Seymour Duncan SPB-3
For bassists, the Quarter Pound for P-Bass SPB-3 is a high-output true single-coil pickup.
- A cult favorite among metal bass players
- Great for aggressive genres
- Delivers a downright beefy sound
The Seymour Duncan SPB-3 pickup features Alnico 5 magnets, Forbon flatwork, and vacuum wax pots for noise-free performance.
The pickup is better known as the Quarter Pound in the bass community because the pole pieces have a quarter-inch diameter.
And, as Bass Spiderman once said, with great pole pieces comes blow-your-socks-off output. Don’t quote me on that.
- High-output P-Bass pickup
- Alnico V magnets
- ¼” diameter Pole Pieces
- Handmade in the USA
Let’s start with the basics – SD offers SPB1, SPB2, and SPB3 P-bass pickups.
SPB-1 is the closest you can get to a vintage ’60s Fender sound. SPB-2 is overwound, which means you lose some treble and gain more lows and mid-range.
SPB-3 has an aggressive everything-cranked-to-11 approach, except for the mids, which are slightly lacking.
There are better options for overwound or classic P-bass tones, which leaves us with SPB-3, the Quarter Pound. So, leave meek at the door and embrace its ballsy P-bass sound on steroids.
The SPB-3 is famed for its fat, massive tone, and ability to cut a dense mix.
The secret is rather simple, too. The pickup’s ¼” pieces expand the magnetic field and frequency range, which is why it has loads of lows and powerful highs.
It’s no surprise that the SPB-3 is one of the best P-Bass replacement pickups for rock.
The mids, however, are massively scooped, which can be a deal breaker for some bass players. But the price is attractive, and it adds a lot of punch and rumble for the money.
The SD SPB-3 Quarter Pounder may not be top of the line, but it’s a definite improvement to stock pups in low and mid-level P-style bass guitars, particularly for rock-oriented genres.
If you want thickness, fullness, and bang for the buck, this is a replacement P-bass pickup of value.
5. Aguilar AG 4P-60
Upgrade your bass guitar with the Aguilar AG 4P-60 pickup set for fat, round '60s-style bass tone.
- Warm character
- Exceptional thump and midrange punch
- Clarity across the spectrum
The Aguilar AG 4P-60 P-Bass pickup is crafted with period-correct materials like a cloth-covered single conductor, Alnico V magnets, and 42 gauge heavy Formvar wire.
The pickup is specially wound to recreate the tone of the ’63 Fender P-bass, famed for its punchy attack, midrange presence, and warm character.
- Passive Precision Bass pickup
- Alnico V magnets
- Period correct materials
- Vintage ’63 Fender Precision Bass Sound
Aguilar is the youngest player in the field of pickups.
Luckily, all their pups are as commendable as their line of amps, and cabs, which are famous for rendering big, bassy, warm, and articulate tones/sounds. Their P-bass replacement pickup is no exception.
The sonic character of the AG 4P-60 is smooth, articular, and big but not boomy.
The 4P-60, to my ears, has more depth in the lows compared to other P-bass replacement pickups.
It boasts a wide frequency response and clarity across the spectrum. This bass pickup is well-balanced across the strings and versatile.
It responds well to tone tweaks and can cover a range of rock, funk, and URB-like sounds.
From the pickups in this roundup, this is the one I’d use for funk, jazz, or a “modern” P-bass sound.
I’d say more, but Aguilar has one of the most awesome pickup demo videos ever. Here it is –
The Aguilar AG 4P-60 P-Bass pickup is a definite step up for Squier or non-Fender models and worth considering for MIM or MIA P-basses.
It’s a brilliant upgrade if you want a sophisticated purr. But if mellow is not your jam, you can milk more growl from the over-wound AG 4P-HOT.
6. DiMarzio DP122CR Model P
Accurately reproduce the sound of your bass with added gain and punch with the DiMarzio Model P passive bass pickup.
- Aggressive, rock-oriented sounds
- Sounds are evenly balanced
- Wallet-friendly price
The DiMarzio Model P Bass pickup has been around for decades and gained admirers with each passing year.
It boasts ceramic magnets, 4-conductor wiring, and adjustable poles.
It’s available in cream or black plastic molding with an option of white, gold, and black pole pieces.
- High-output passive P-Bass pickup
- Ceramic magnets
- Adjustable pole pieces
- Aggressive, rock-oriented sounds
The DiMarzio Model P dares you to use ceramic magnets, not something you’ll spot elsewhere in this list.
It’s not the best P-bass pickup to cop old-school sounds. Instead, consider this hum-canceling bad boy to wring big, dirty, and punchy sounds from a P-Bass.
The Model P sounds are fat, full, and evenly balanced across the strings. The pickup has a solid reputation for delivering powerful lows with mid-range bark.
More importantly, the high output ensures your P-bass will mow down a mix, regardless of genre.
Not for the meek at all.
You might complain about the pickup being too powerful, although it isn’t as over the top as the Quarter Pound.
Moreover, the thunderous output makes it a go-to rock and metal pickup, which also explains why the Model P was omnipresent in the ’70s.
The Model P and GZR P are comparable, both excellent choices for rock-oriented genres.
But DiMarzio may win you over with its adjustable poles and wallet-friendly price.
Consider it you are after a hot, slightly dark, and mid-forward sound. Skip if you want mellow or vintage.
7. Bartolini 8S P-Bass Pickups
The Bartolini 8S Original design gives you the timeless tone that started it all — full and warm for that vintage voice you've been craving, enhancing the natural voice of your bass.
- Vintage tones
- Rumbling lows
- Excellent definition
If you are game for a soap bar, this split-coil hum-canceling pickup might end your search.
It features Alnico V magnets with a blade core design instead of pole pieces, shielding to block noisy interference, and epoxy coating to eliminate microphonics.
This precision bass pickup delivers the classic tone – full, warm, and vintage – with rumbling lows and excellent definition.
- Passive P-Bass Soapbar Pickup
- Blade core for better string-to-string response
- Enhanced treble and active version available
- Vintage Fender Precision Bass Sound
These bass guitar pickups wrangle warm, fat, and punchy textures, the foundational tonal qualities of the original 60s Fender Precision bass guitar.
The response is even across strings, and the bass sounds retain balance and clarity no matter where you set the tone or volume knob.
At the same time, Barts have a distinct texture, best described as a burpy tone.
It’s as if someone dipped the classic P-bass tone in a wad of growl, slightly dark and farty. This distinct character is evident when you crank the tone control.
I hypothesize, but it ought to sound awesome with tube amps or the Ampeg SVT series.
It’s also one of the best P bass pickups for jazzy or URB sounds with flats because it’s not hot or trebly like modern pickups.
Moreover, it’s fairly versatile for a vintage-style pup. But skip this one if you want clean/transparent modern sound. It lacks the hi-fi character of Aguilar or Fralins.
Also, pick the Bartolini 8CBP if you want an active P-bass pickup or enhanced treble response.
The Bartolini 8S P-Bass pickup delivers a refined reproduction of the classic P-bass tone.
Its full-bodied sound and throaty growl suit a wide range of genres.
But it’s not just mean and punchy. You can dial sounds with soft characters, and they sound delectable.
Are P basses harder to play?
P basses are not harder to play compared to any other bass guitar for an average-sized musician.
Yes, a Fender Precision bass guitar is relatively heavy with a thick/chunky neck and wide string spacing, which misleads people to believe they are harder to play.
You may need to adjust your playing style if you have small hands or short stature, but they are as easy to play as any bass guitar once you get used to them.
Is P-Bass good for slap?
A P-bass is not as good for slap bass playing as Ibanez, EBMM, or Fender J-basses.
Slap-style bassists prefer bright/glassy tones associated with active or passive single-coil pickups.
It doesn’t mean you can’t slap on a P-bass, but the bass won’t produce the traditional tone.
Are P Bass pickups noisy?
P bass is fitted with split-coil pickup, which is not noisy if the bass is shielded and the pole pieces are grounded.
Split-coil pickups are inherently noise-canceling.
However, vintage or era-authentic P bass pickups may be subject to the 60-cycle hum, but that’s by design.
Is the Fender P bass pickup a humbucker?
The Fender Precision bass guitar pickup is a split-coil humbucking pickup and the J has a single-coil bass guitar pickup set (not hum-bucking).
A humbucker refers to any bass pickup that uses two wire coils to “buck the hum” or cancel out noise picked up by the coils, which is true for the split-coil pickups found in a Fender P bass.