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a few jazz bass problems

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Warwickthumb, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. A few years ago I decided to take some spare parts and make a jazz bass. I didn't really expect much from it, but it worked out pretty good. It started off with a fretless neck and now it has a fretted neck. I found a cool pearloid pickguard for it. I get lots of compliments on it. The problem lies mainly with electronics. The E string, and sometimes the A string, hits the pole on the neck pickup. Mainly when I slap bass. The pickup is as far down as it could possibly go, and I have the action really high. Worse, there are is terrible inconsistanceys with output on the E and A, sometimes its loud, and sometimes its just booms out a note. Also my amp is clipped everytime I play it. My 18v bass wont even clip at the same level as the jazz. ITs wierd, ive never seen a bass do this. Ive fallen in love with the simplicity, the feel, the sound of a jazz bass. IM hopeing this wont be a big problem. IF it helps any the pickups, electronics, and neck are from an MIM. So any adivce would be great. IM already looking for new pickup. My guess is crappy electronics are to blame for the unbalances. The string hitting the pick up poll is really making me scratch my head. Its a beautiful looking jazz, so im hoping my project isnt a failure.
  2. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    it's really not all that unusual (though not desireable) for there to be imbalance between the E & A string. I've experienced it with lots of pups, though more often the E & A will ballance well or the D & G but not all 4. But from the description it sounds like the strings are too close to the pups - either through adjustment or being driven into them. You may just need to ease up some on the attack. But you should normally be able to get more space between the pups and the strings than you'd want with the strings set whereever you want.

    To quantify this, exactly what is the distance between the poles and the E and A string? If it's like a 1/4" then it's getting serious. I don't slap but I'm guessing that would be extreme even for slap.

    Also, so as not to assume, many factory pups have adhesive pads on the bottom of the pups, did these pups have pads? If so, you can remove them and drop the pups (and probably the strings) another half inch or so. Typically if the pups are too close you'll get distortion, too far away and volume and tone drop substantially.

    There are some pups that are unusually thick but I've never ran across a set that were different enough to pose a problem. Also, I've gathered some pups are more suited to slap than others.

    Lastly strings can vary considerably in tension so perhaps thats worth looking into.
  3. Rene


    Mar 8, 2004
    The first problem to corect is the height of your pickups.
    If they don't go lower you will have to router the cavity of the pickups so when installed, you press down on the strings at the last fret of your bass and you should have a clearance of 1/8 of a inch or more between the pickups and the strings.
    The second problem is that you have to correct the angle of the neck.That's what makes your bass have a high action and sometime makes the strings hit the pickups when you play aggressively.
    If you can post a picture of your bass then I'll be able to tell you more.
    Good luck
    20 years experience in making and repairs as a Luthier
  4. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    Yeh that's a good point, you can run into all kind of wierd things in swapping necks, even with necks from the same model of bass. Logically I'd think the neck should control the downward travel of the strings in slapping. Among other things, if the existing thickness of the neck is considerably less than the old one, it would create a situation where the pups would be too high and bridge would have to raised to compensate or, if the pups were appropriate, the bridge may not allow the strings to be adjusted as low as you'd like. Maxing the bridge out would also have more of a tendency to throw a bow into the neck and put more stress the truss rod.

    On the mickey mouse side but if adjusting/shimming the neck doesn't work, you may be able to throw a spacer in the neck pocket, otherwise, you may end up having to both route the pups and the bridge or replace the bridge if something thinner is available out there that would work. You won't know till the neck is in order.