Calling all Fender jazz bass-o-philes...A question for you
You know what?...This has been bugging me for a while. I keep hearing guys say they can blend the pickups on their (passive) jazz... but I wonder.
I've spent a lot of time playing jazz basses. I'm currently playing an 2012 American Std, but despite trying with all these instruments, I have never been able to discern a truly 'blended pickup sound' with any of them (except of course with both pickups on full). It's either back pickup on full, front pickup on full or both pickups maxxed out (the sound I really like). It seems to me that as soon as one pickup is favored over the other in an attempt to 'blend' the sound, the bass reverts to the sound of *that* pickup and cancels the other one out.
I have tested this by making milimetric shifts of each volume knob while the other is on full and there is no discernable blending until both pickups are on full. NONE. Up until that point, the bass simply sounds like the favoured pickup.
And yet...I've heard guys say things like "my favorite sound on a jazz is neck on full, bridge on 70%" or "my favorite sound is bridge on full neck on 90%"... My experience to date suggests this is bunk
Am I making sense or are my ears (which I think are very good) just different to everybody elses? If I'm wrong can someone explain to me why?
Thanks for your input
Ps..on my sadowsky metro (which has a p/up blend) I can really hear the two pickups blend.
Just my 2 cents on a passive middling CIJ bass. Those with active or high end basses may have more to offer.
Well, I've only ever played my active Jazz Bass and there's a dedicated blend knob in the preamp, so it works just like you said, i.e. you can do a ratio of sorts with the pickups (50/50, 70/30 etc.). Does make a huge difference. Passive, I don't know.
I have two passive jazz basses. The fretted has Dimarzio Area J pickups in it, and the Fretless has Nordstrand nj4sv pickups in it, and it's been a while since either of them had stock Fender pickups in them, so that may affect things, but I'd generally agree with your statement. I'm wondering if it has something to do with the volume pots not being linear. Mine (which are stock) definitely get have a quicker ramp up in the last 20% than they do in the first 80%.
But that last 20% makes a lot of difference. I generally don't play them both on full unless I'm slapping. I like mids, so I usually turn the bridge pickup down just enough so that the mids aren't cancelled out.
Long time jazz bass player.
IMO/IME, there is a significant amount of difference between the p/u mix in the last 25-30% of the rotation (this is very relative given tapers on pots).
It's hard to give you a scientific method to discern this difference. Perhaps try using a smartphone spectrum analyzer app (with a mic attachment for best fidelity).
I am one of those who use a neck pu/bridge pu mix for my usual gigging/recording sound (neck=100%, bridge=70-80%). If I push the neck pu up to 90% (or full on of course) there is a very distinct mid/high snap that comes back into the sound, when rolled off to my 100/70 mix, it is noticeably darker and deeper sounding, with more low mids (which is generally what is to be expected with a neck pu in a Jazz IMO/IME).
I have been doing this for 45 years (!), and have had at least one Jazz in my working bass lineup that whole time. Currently use an Am Dlx 4 (active with a vol/pu bal setup) and a Lull M4V (active/passive with a vol/vol control setup). Very distinctive difference to my ears. Hard to understand how you would miss the difference.
I currently have a MIM Fender jazz deluxe on lay away & have been gathering as much knowledge as possible on pickups & preamps verses passive tone ect. I'm wondering if there is a possibility of the pickups not being matched perfectly in polarity could be an issue, however having limited experience here I'll defer to you gentlemen.
I agree with you OP. to my ears, j basses might as well have a three way switch.
I use a Jazz bass as my "live" player. But I never got along with that V-V-T setup at all, for the reasons you detailed and the other oddities (like being louder with one pickup at 90% than both at 100% volume).
I changed mine to Master Volume, two way series/parallel switch, and master tone. I find it much more user-friendly now.
I have two active, two passive Fender MIM Jazz basses. Three have the factory pickups one has split coil Bart Jazz V pickups. The active basses are B/V/Treble/Mid/Bass the passive are V/V/T. One of the active basses is a PJ with an active/passive switch. The factory pickups are two single coil J, two noiseless J, and one noiseless J plus an American Standard P, all but the last MIM. That pretty much covers the gamut of available Fender Jazz basses and I hear the pickups blending on all of them as the volume or blend controls are adjusted. Most of the blending action does take place near the full on position as some others maintain and that probably is the result of the pot tapers Fender chooses.
I played a J for years. Bridge pickup 100% with 10-25% Neck was a tone I used all the time, basically that bridge pickup sound with a little "beef".
I have been using the same settings on my Fender CS 64 ltd, and I notice a big difference in tone.
What kind of amp are you using? I have never felt that I am not getting a nice blend of both pick ups on my passive J Bass.
Get a blend pot. Ditch the individual volumes. It might help
Good to hear. I thought I was going mad hearing a volume drop with both up full!
individual volume knobs don't allow for the dozens upon dozens of minutely different tones as a modern blend knob, but I do think there are some distinct and usable sounds along the way. to me, putting the bridge at 100% and the neck at 90% or 50% can give good sounds that are different from just soloing the bridge. same is true the other way around. I think this is mainly true for recording because you can hear nuances more easily. at a show or band practice most people will use both at max or one solo'd because those are the most distinctive sounds.
Every jazz or jazz type bass I have owned, I have modified to vol/bal/tone. Set the volume once. Find the right blend of pickups and go.
I think I did one gig with a jazz bass and got so frustrated riffling with volume knows that I modified it right away. It's a far easier way to nail the right sound immediately. I see no benefit at all to two volumes, unless you play with both run full.
On my Sadowsky, I favour the bridge pickup and dial in bass to give it girth.
There IS a blend tone. Like one poster has stated, often you only get it in the last 10-20% of the pot rotation. I use the blend, and the only time I had trouble getting it was when the pups were not balanced. Once I adjust the pup heights so that soloed, they produce equal output, a blend tone is easily dialed and heard.
Here's my take on the blended pickup thing.
I believe there are five discernable settings.
The first three are:
- both pickups 100%
- neck pickup 100% and bridge pickup off
- bridge pickup 100% and neck pickoff
The last two are the blended settings.
For the blended settings I:
- start with both pickups on 100%
- if I want a more P-like tone I leave the neck pickup at 100%, but roll back the bridge pickup until I can begin to hear some 60 cycle hum
- if want a more J-type tone I leave the bridge pickup at 100%, but roll back the neck pickup until I begin to hear some 60 cycle hum
Granted these differences are subtle, but I do believe they are foundationally different than the three basic settings above.
Guess I am in the minority. But, I'm too old any more to care whether anyone agrees or not.
Going from both pups full on and backing off one or the other a little bit very quickly brings harmonics into play without totally losing the pup that is being backed off. So, bridge full, neck backed off 10% makes the harmonics ring out but retains a good amount of the beef in the neck pup. Cutting the neck to 0 results in a completely different and thinner sound. Similar pattern on the neck pup full. A lot of the effect also has to do with where the low pass tone knob is set. This has been my experience with every J I have ever owned. IME, I can get pretty close to a P at certain settings all the way to finger funk on the bridge pup with the low pass all the way on (treble off). Plectrum and slap in the middle.
So, to me, the circuit is pretty useful. That said, J's tend to be a bit thin in the important lower mids and benefit a lot (read: require) one of the better pre's. And, I am perfectly OK with blend circuits; except that they kind of do other things which do not replicate the VV. I do think the VV is a bit fussier to adjust on the fly in cover situations where a variety of styles are being used.
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