Some of you may remember my JAF bass.
It is a beautiful and very peculiar instrument. Amongst other things, it is equiped with a Lightwave system and has an awesome sculpted 3D thumbrest.
It saw a lot of playing but for a couple years I rarely ever used it. I'm getting bored with the tone of the Lightwave system. When it comes to basses, I really prefer passive electronics, straight to the point. I mean, these electronics were built by rocket scientists.
The bridge contains the electronics, it is a part of the system. I love the thumbrest, I love how light it is, how if feels and how it plays. It was a well thought, lovely project.
These days, for 5 strings I mostly play a Yamaha BB5000.
I don't like owning a nice instrument that remains unplayed. Selling this one can't be a plan. I'm a proud owner of a JAF, we are a small club.
The low B is fantastic, very straight and ample tone magnified by the Lightwave.
I want to love the instrument again and need something that will keep its spirit hile giving me the features I like.
The first part was finding a way to fit a bridge pickup. I needed something with a straight, powerful output, able to fit in a narrow space.
I also needed to accomodate the string span, since the space between strings is 17.5mm, made much longer by the slanted position.
I went with a Delano inline humbucker, a custom order to get a 5 string pickup with extra wide spacing, basically a 5 string pickup in a 6 string case. I couldn't directly use a 6 string pickup because according to Delano, the middle string would be exactly between the coils and wouldn't work properly. This pickup isn't referenced on their site, it is called a JSBC5HE-L.
For the bridge side, I needed more power of course and there will be room once I dispose of the Lightwave bridge. It had to be a pickup that can be split without humming, since the neck pickup is a humbucker already.
It will be a Delano SBC 5 HE/S-4, 4 coils, matched to the neck pickup.
It has to be positioned away from the bridge, as to avoid a plonky tone, Warwick Thumb style.
Controls will be all passive. Volume, blend and a Dolgatone, which is a 10 position rotary knob with selectable caps.
Unlike a regular tone pot with a set frequency over which you choose how much you cut, this one cuts everything higher than a variable frequency. 1st position is bypassed, no leaking.
There will be a push-pull in the volume pot. The plan for now is for the pickup to be split diagonally in lower position, much like a P, which should be balanced with the neck PU.
When pulling it will go full 4 coils on, which should deliver a push more powerful tone.
Then there may be adjustments. Coils may have to be set parallel or series on one pickup or the other to get a balanced base tone.
If I can't get enough ooomph, I may add a switch to disable the blend and put PUs in series mode.
All positions will be full humbucking, no hum.
What was left to choose was the bridge, since the Lightwave is going away.
I needed it to be short to give space for the pickup, blend well into the aesthetics of the instrument but also allow a wide string spacing.
I chose a Schaller 2000-5 in Vintage Copper finish. Guess what, custom ordered.
Top loading which is a great feature, I almost got it with piezos but it would have brought me into another active project.
After months of wait I finally have all the parts. The beast went off to the luthier yersterday, I should have it ready in a week or two.
Taking off the Lightwave, preparing and shielding the cavity (which was not needed for the Lightwave), installing the pickups, cleaning and a few minor modifications and changes like making a marker groove in the pots.
The goal is to replace both the clean tone of the Lightwave and the ballsy boom from the BB5000. If successful, I will only need one 5 stringer.
I will let you know.
Oh yeah and I will soon have a full Lightwave system v2 available for sale, which as far as I know is impossible to buy retail anymore. Let me know if you're interested.
I hope this was an entertaining read.