P Bass Vs StingRay Pickup Review [Differences & Which is Better]

Bassists have argued for many days whether P Bass or StingRay is superior. In reality, the answer is – personal preference. More briefly, it depends on the tone you prefer. Then one question might have popped up in your mind, what is the difference between P Bass vs StingRay?

Although both bass types have a double coil, the P bass has a split coil, while StingRay is designed following the humbucker style. Thus, the StingRay offers a crisper sound, and the P bass delivers a warm tone.

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the difference between p bass vs. StingRay pickup. You will get an idea of why people choose one over the other.

P Bass vs StingRay

Comparison Table:

Find the key differences between two popular pickups, P bass, and StingRay, from the below chart.

ParametersP BassStingRay
Coil TypeSplit coilDouble coil
Tone QualityDuller, warmerAggressive
Suitable forMany rock songsRock and heavy metal genres
Humbucking EffectMinimalLesser than P bass
PlacementNear the NeckWay back towards the bridge

P Bass vs StingRay – In-depth Discussion of Differences:

In this section, I discussed the working mechanics, tone quality, humbucking effect, and placement in the guitar of StingRay and P bass.


The working mechanism of P bass and StingRay is pretty different. Read below to learn more.


P Bass Pickup Mechanics

P Bass pickups are an impressive piece of work. They are designed with 2 magnetized pole pieces/strings. Moreover, they are cut in half and reverse-wound, making them exceptional. However, the design wasn’t similar earlier. In 1957, the P bass was introduced with an improved design to compete with emerging humbucker pickups and eliminate the humming sound of single-coil. The split-coil design is allowed to create a precise tone.

In P bass pickup types, you will basically have a single-coil pickup split into 2 parts. Four magnetic slugs are available in each part and 2 for every string. You will get the greatest range and tonal balance due to these slugs. Often, they match the bass neck radius. For this reason, the slugs of E and G strings are lower in comparison to the slugs of A and D strings to balance each string’s pickup response.

The coil in one-half of this pickup is counter-clockwise winding and north-up magnets. Meanwhile, the other is vice-versa; the coil wound follows a clockwise direction with south-up magnets. Though 2 parts are separately placed, they are wired together, functioning as a single pickup.

Here, background noise or humbucking effect gets eliminated because of the reverse-winding and reverse-polarity.


Stingray Pickup Coil System

Are you a serious bassist? StingRay pickup will be an ideal choice for you as it is considered a go-to instrument. In fact, it is game-changing, simply perfect for hard rock, funk, and slap scenes. These pickups are one of a kind with active electronics. With them, guitarists can control their tone precisely. Players can cut and boost their bass and treble frequencies without trouble.

StingRay takes a revolution in the music industry when it is placed under the strings, producing an incredible cut and power. The bass tone of StingRay is unbeatable.

Moreover, the wiring of the StingRay pickup is also unique. Traditionally, these pickups are wired parallel. This means that each StingRay coil sends its signal independently to the bass electronics, resulting in an iconic sound.

Tone Quality:

A bass guitar’s tone highly relies on the pickups. Both are good at creating quality tones, but they also have differences.


With the name of this pickup type, you might think that P bass creates a precision tone, doesn’t it? The name “Precision” is given because they were fretted basses. In contrast with fretless stand-ups, they were marketed as replacements.

In reality, P bass tone can be described as “less precise” compared to J pickups. The tone is basically duller, warmer along with fundamental focus. P bass pickups are engineered to give an extraordinary ability to the bass sound to fill out and strengthen the backbone of a band. Its low-end and high-end songs sing sweetly. Moreover, the mid-range has significant power, making a rounding and well-balanced sound.


As you already know, StingRay consists of 2 magnets, which significantly boost signal strength. This way, you will get aggressive and high punches even in the mid-range. StingRay also features face-cancellation, which means you will lose some tone when playing bass guitar at the high end. But in exchange, the output will increase.

Happily, StingRay pickups come with a different build. This means you will get a variety of tones from them. Based on the placement of the bass and specs, 2 StingRays will deliver a completely different tone. I recommend you listen to as many StingRays as you can. Then choose one that fits your music taste.

Suitable For:

No doubt, P bass, and StingRay pickups are not used for the same music type. It uses for different genres of music.


P bass is less versatile than StingRay, but it is good in creating the most perfect tone, what I might call – bottom-heavy, booming, and big. P bass will be the best option if you want minimal background noise or hum while rumbling in the low-end.

Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt uses these pickups. Also, Foo Fighters Nate Mendel is fond of P bass pickup. Additionally, legendary bassists James Jamerson, Willie Weeks, and Leland Clark used them in many rock songs.


StingRay pickups are popular in the rock and heavy metal genres. The StingRay-equipped basses offer heavy music. These pickups are powerful and gritty. They can do anything with the tone, from melodic to blistering speed metal riffs. More importantly, the sound is clear and clean.

You will find these pickups everywhere. AC/DC, Pino Palladino, Bernard Edwards, and Louis Johnson used StingRay on their guitar. Although their historic popularity is less than P bass, they have already made their mark in the music industry.

Pickup Placement:

Pickup Placement

The tone of a guitar significantly depends on the pickup placement.


Leo Fender, the designer of P bass, placed it further up the body near the neck. This position gave an excellent tone with minimal hum. Since then, most guitarists have followed the same work for placing P bass pickups.


On the other hand, StingRay is positioned back toward the bridge. With this position, most pickups will deliver terrible low-end. Happily, StingRay adds more punch, providing tremendous bass. That is why StingRay pickups are different from other pickups.

StingRay vs P Bass – Which Pickup to Choose?

So, what is your decision? Which pickup do you prefer for your bass guitar?

Choose P bass, if

  • You want to create warmer and duller music

Choose StingRay, if

  • You prefer an aggressive tone

It seems that choosing between P bass vs. StingRay entirely depends on the bassist’s personal choice.

P bass vs StingRay – both pickups are good at creating high-quality tones. However, their tone quality is different and suitable for different music genres. They are popular among many hard rock and heavy metal bassists, including Mike Dirnt, James Jamerson, Willie Weeks, Leland Clark, AC/DC, Pino Palladino, Bernerd Edwards, and Louis Johnson. Choose anyone that meets your music genres.

FAQs –

Question: Is StingRay bass a Precision bass?

Answer: The fingerboard radius of StingRay basses is larger than P bass. As a result, the StingRay fingerboard feels flattered on hand, and most players can easily bend the strings. Precision basses come with 20 frets, while StingRay consists of 22 frets. Moreover, precision basses are 1 – 2 lbs. bulkier than StingRay basses. So, StingRay bass is not a precision bass.

Question: Is a StingRay a good bass?

Answer: StingRay bass is a combo Jazz and Precision bass model. The bass is more aggressive, much deeper, and has a prominent midrange. Also, it comes with a brilliant treble that helps a player make a seemingly 3-dimensional and more significant tone.

Question: Is a StingRay AP bass?

Answer: No, StingRay is not an AP bass. The biggest difference between StingRay bass and AP bass is their pickup. You will find a single coil pick in the middle of an AP bass. Meanwhile, StingRay holds an active humbucker in the bridge position. Also, their sound quality is not the same. A StingRay creates clearer sound, but an AP bass sound quality is warmer.

Question: What is the humbucking of a pickup?

Answer: In simpler words, humbucking is background noise. Additional sounds will disturb you when playing the guitar. Which is eliminated using P bass pickups. StingRay pickup is also a good choice for minimizing humbucking.

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by Perry Garner

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