Replacement Pickups for a Fender P/J

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Road Bull, Dec 1, 2012.


  1. Road Bull

    Road Bull Supporting Member

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    So I recently picked up a used MIM Fender Precision Special, deluxe series (the passive VVT type) from GC. It seems there have been a few mods done to this thing, and I have yet to commit to keeping it. I have always liked the idea of a P/J, as I own a P and a J. But I am thinking the output on this bass is on the low side.

    If I were to replace the pickups, what would be your suggestion, keeping it passive of course. My initial though was to use whatever the Fender Custom Shop Precision Closet Classic Pro has loaded in it. I am not having the easiest time running this configuration down to ballpark a price.

    So, do you feel that this would be heading in the right direction, or do you think something else would work better?

    I get the concept of an over wound J and an under wound P pickup was the compromise that a lot of these passive P/Js were loaded with, I am just not sure if that is tried and true logic that should be considered if I end up replacing the PUs.
     

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  2. Jens Busck

    Jens Busck

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    I like Bartolinis, so that'll be my suggestion if you have the cash. Just put one of the new 8pcb's in an old Ibanez Roadstar P-style, and it sounds pretty damn good. Look and feel is also very nice. Don't know a thing about pick-ups electronics though..
     
  3. Road Bull

    Road Bull Supporting Member

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    How important do you think it is to get some sort of match set of P/Js vs. buying, lets say, a single Fender custom shop jazz bridge, PU and pairing it with a single Fender custom shop precision PU? Will the precision PU just walk all over the jazz PU?
     
  4. Jens Busck

    Jens Busck

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    There can certainly be huge differences in output between different types, but I have no experience with Fender custom shop PU's. Anyone else?
     
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  6. Road Bull

    Road Bull Supporting Member

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    I mention the Fender Custom shop pickups because Fender still makes the same configuration bass, albeit a much nicer version, and uses these pickups.

    Here is a short clip of the 2012 Precision closet classic pro.

    Well... an annoying video of a great looking bass with someone that would rather talk about it rather than plan the damn thing.

     
  7. fjadams

    fjadams Supporting Member

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    I like the Lace Alumitone. Lots of bottom and clean.
     
  8. dewbass4

    dewbass4 Supporting Member

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    I've been using Duncan SPB-1 middle position and Duncan STK-J1b in the bridge in my Precision Special for about a decade. I personally like the classic tones of each pickup individually. When used together they sound unique and really cut through a dual guitar or guitar/keys mix. The SPB-1 is classic vintage 57 sounding P-bass, STK-J1b is a stack hum canceling vintage voice Jazz bridge pup. They're both passive, mix well together and neither has any hum when soloed. The STK-J1b has a little less output than the SPB-1, but that is easily balanced by lowering the P-bass pup. The bass also has a BAII bridge and vol/blend/tone controls.
     

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  9. Aussie Player

    Aussie Player

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    How did you wire it?
    Mine has the same J plus a Qtr Pnder P wired with 2 stacked pots. Sounds good but the P is way louder and has to be mixed down.
    Also the tone controls dont make a huge difference.
     
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    Those look like DiMarzios. The output shouldn't be low. From your photo of the P pickup, you have it way too far from the strings. That will make the output low. You need to adjust it closer. Same with the J.
     
  11. joelb79

    joelb79 Supporting Member

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    Check out the screw position. Looks like the foam/mounting of the pickups are all off. I'd say that all needs attention to be optimal your right; but its gonna take new foam to get there.
     
  12. Road Bull

    Road Bull Supporting Member

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    Thanks guys. I bought this used, so this is the condition I received it in. I have some time today to break things down a bit, give it a cleaning it so desperately needs, and add some foam under the pickups. I will see where I am at after that.
     
  13. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    Good point. It could also be that the pickup has been pressed down and is hung up on the screw. Hard to say without seeing the bass in person. If the pickup moves up and down easily, then yes, it needs new rubber under it. Otherwise loosening the screw a bit should let the pickup spring back up.
     
  14. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    try and adjust the pickup fairly close to the strings. usually the bass side is a little lower because those strings are louder. Use you ear to balance the string to string output.

    You don't want the strings to hot the pickups, but the most they should be is about 1/8" from the strings.

    Also check to see if they were wired in parallel and not series. That will reduce the output but give a brighter tone.

    Here's the instructions for the model P and model J.

    http://www.dimarzio.com/sites/default/files/diagrams/ModelP.pdf

    http://www.dimarzio.com/sites/default/files/diagrams/ModelJ.pdf
     
  15. dewbass4

    dewbass4 Supporting Member

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    I simply replaced the bridge vol pot with a blend pot and followed the instructions. STEWMAC offers basic info about wiring a blend pot at their web.
    In your specific case using the SPB-3 Quarter Pounder P with the classic stack jazz, I think you're always going to have more of a volume balance issue than the one I experience. The P pup you're using has quite a bit more output than the classic voiced/output SPB-1 I'm using (and I experience a little imbalance). I tend to use the P soloed or a 50/50 blend a majority of the time. It is very rare that I use the jazz pup soloed and I notice a small volume drop when I do.
    Normally I run the tone pot full open, but have notice a little choking of the volume when I turn the tone all the way down. I assume replacing either the cap or both the cap and pot would help. On a standard P bass, I replace the stock tone cap with a .047uf Sprague Orange Drop Cap and it is very smooth and effective with no noticable volume change.
    I don't know if strings will make a difference. my bass has always had D'Addario EXL170 (nickel wound 45 - 100).

    My best advice is to experiment, lower the P pup and raise the J pup and see what happens. Another (more expensive) option would include replacing one or both pickups to achieve a more equal output.

    I hope this helps, this is my experience and realize YMMY.
     
  16. Aussie Player

    Aussie Player

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    Thank you for the info. It is very helpful.
     
  17. Road Bull

    Road Bull Supporting Member

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    Good info so far. Thank you. So I got her cleaned up this weekend, in hopes of getting to the root of the pickup issue. The good news is that the bass looks a lot better. The previous owner put stickers all over the dot inlays on the fret board. It had a lot of goop from the adhesive where someone put a minimal amount of effort into removing their bad idea. They did something similar with the pickguard as well. At least the body is in great shape, and with enough elbow grease, I was able to get it cleaned up, conditioned the fret board and change the strings.

    However, I hit a snag as a few of the screws for the pickups are stripped. So far as I can tell, i don't think the wood is stripped, but the heads of the screws are screwed. I ordered new screws, but I need to figure out if I can tackle getting the screws out, or if I need to hand it over for someone to remove. Being that they are very small screws, the traditional fixes of drilling and tapping seems far fetched. It might just come down to some needle nose pliers and a lot of patience. Any ideas there?

    From there, I can reassess what I want to do based on how the pickup adjustment goes. I have researched a few interesting options. One that got my attention was the Fender Super 55 Split Coil Jazz Bass Pickup, or at least the bridge PU. There seems to be little information except a quite youtube video,

    If I ever manage to get the screws out, I can begin looking at replacements.
     

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