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75 jazz pickups distorting?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by project_c, May 23, 2017.

  1. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    I've been obsessing over an all original '75 Jazz in a shop but there's something very different going on with it tonally. It sounds great, but the pickups are the most aggressive I've ever heard on a jazz bass, it almost sounds like the bass is going through a very mild distortion or dirt pedal. The tone is really rich and growly in the high mids, even with the tone knob rolled all the way off. I'm playing it through a clean headphone amp, it's not clipping and it's not particularly loud, the volume is the same as a normal jazz. It's not a clippy distortion, it's a very pleasing tone, more like a bit of grit or hair in the high mids.

    Has anyone ever come across anything like this? Is this just a characteristic of Fender J's of that era? Or is it a sign that there's something up with the pickups? If it's not the pickups, could it be something else?
  2. If you use a traditional Jazz Bass and turn both volume potis all the way up, you get the "humbucking" sound: less open but very full and a lot of bass and treble. If you turn the volume of one poti back, the sound kind of opens up (Pastorius has used this in a radical way: turning the volume of the neck-PU nearly all the way down, the volume of the bridge-PU all the way up and the tone down).
    Many 70's Jazz Basses like my '78 Jazz Bass behave a bit different: you don't get the "humbucking" sound if you turn both volume-potis all the way up. It still gives you this open, midrangy through-the-nose-sound. If you want it to sound like a 60's or a modern Jazz Bass, you have to slightly turn the volume poti of one PU down. You immediately recognize the change in sound if you reach the correct level. This might confuse players who only know contemporary Jazz Basses. Even the American Vintage Series or the mexican or japanese '70s reissue-Jazz Basses doesn't copy this "feature" of many 70's Jazz Basses. Maybe it is this "feature" that confuses you.
  3. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    It's not quite what I mean. The distorted tone was there in every position, regardless of how the pickups were blended. I know the jaco tone well, but this is not a tone I've heard from a jazz bass before - sounded almost like it's going through a tube preamp which was pushing the high mids.
  4. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    I've just re-read your post and I think you may have a valid point - what you're describing is not a million miles from what I'm referring to. It's possible that that characteristic is enhanced further by a particularly hot pair of pickups, which is giving it that slightly driven tone. Do you know if there is a specific era that Fender pickups behaved in this way? I really need to try some more 70's Jazz basses for comparison, it's giving me a whole new appreciation of the J tone.
  5. Rony Delgado

    Rony Delgado

    Mar 23, 2020
    Try connecting the pickups directly to the jack if they distort even with the lowest pickup action height they are damaged
  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Are the pickups too high and too close to the strings?
  7. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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