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About the weight of a P and J bass and the impact on back ache

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ulvs, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. ulvs


    Aug 7, 2004
    Hello, fellow musicians and people alike!

    Disclaimer: This is gonna be a long post. If you want to skip to questions a la TL;DR then skip the first (next) paragraph as it contains general info about why answers to these questions are totally essential to me in this stage of my musicians life. So skip to 2nd paragraph for questions if you don't want to read semi-relevant info about why I need to know what I need to know.

    I really need your help on a few questions so I can choose the right bass for myself and keep on playing more with lesser pain in my back. I'm in a really inspired period right now so I feel the need to play as much as I can and in the groove I just can't sit down whilst rehearsing (sitting and playing is a lot easier on my back). I'm playing in an active and quite groovy art/garage/stoner/noise rock band (hard to define a sound that doesn't really sound like something I've heard) in the small North European country of Latvia.
    As i couldn't find the info through google, I decided to make a post here as I'm sure there are a lot of people here who know the answer as they have owned this setup through the years and/or have encountered similar situations (aching back, need for a lighter gear), or just know the exact numbers of the weight of the bass.

    First, vhat's the weight difference between Marcus Miller v7 Jazz (both swamp ash and alder) and a Marcus Miller Precision alder (P/J) bass? If you don't know about the Marcus Miller J and P bass then let's assume that Fender equivalents have the same weight difference. The thing is I ordered a Marcus Miller V7 Precision (P/J) model with alder body (through thomann.de) and as it's not in the stock right now I'm starting to rethink my order and instead choose a Jazz model with swamp ash body (or maybe alder one - if it's not gonna be notably heavier). Why? The heavy Fender P Special (P/J) I use now feels like it makes the pain in my back hurt more.

    Second, how do you think if I choose swamp ash (or alder) Jazz bass, will the weight difference will be significant enough to somewhat help with the bad/aching back that usually starts to get worse after 2 hours of standing and playing with the band using my Fender MIM P Special?

    And third, how about the difference of weight between Jazz bass that's made of swamp ash and one that's made out of alder - is it significant enough to impact my aching back (I understand pain is relative so I guess a small weight difference wouldn't matter)? I'm asking as I'd rather go for the alder bass (as I usually like the tone of alder and really haven't been used to ash/samp ash).

    Thank you for your patience in reading and answering.
    A long time lurker and a silent fan of the site,
  2. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    I don't think wood type necessarily determines the weight of the bass. I've seen basses of the same wood type vary by over two pounds. I'd just look for a light-weight bass without respect to wood type.
    Malak the Mad, JRA, jnewmark and 5 others like this.
  3. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    I don't think I can stand/play for two hours. :D A high stool to sorta lean on might help ease the pain a bit without being too obvious. I don't know how old you are, and I'm no doctor, but abdominal muscles are important to supporting your back if you want to think on those lines of help (crunches, not sit ups). Just a thought. :)
    Malak the Mad and ajkula66 like this.
  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Wood will vary over 20% in weight - therefore, choosing a certain wood is no guarantee of weight. If weight is that much of a concern, shop in person, or at a site where they show the weight of the specific bass.
  5. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Stumbo likes this.
  6. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I use a Hofner Ignition Club or 500/5 President Contemporary to alleviate my aging back/shoulder issues.

    I also use a chair or stool.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
    Stumbo likes this.
  7. nolezmaj


    Sep 22, 2011
    Hi ulvs, I don't have specific answers for your questions, but can give general advice since we share same problem.

    I have found that balance has almost same impact as weight on my neck/shoulder problem. I had ache even with my Fender Jazz (3.9 kg), but when I installed Hipshot Ultralite tuners, it felt light as feather.
  8. muddycreek


    Feb 26, 2010
    I'll second the lighter tuners idea. Regardless of which bass you get, having someone chamber the body is also an option. It'll change the sound, but probably no more than changing which variation of P or J bass you order. With those two changes to your current bass, you may not feel a need to find a new bass at all.
  9. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I build my own basses - in part because it puts me in charge of the weight budget (my basses are under 8 pounds, all but one are under 7.5). You can build P's and J's in that range, but starting with a stock Fender you probably won't get there - you need to pick the pieces of wood, all the hardware, etc. to get stuff that light. If I were buying one off the rack, I'd look at Sweetwater, where they give you the exact weight of the exact bass you're looking at.

    I have bodies from swamp ash, basswood, alder, roasted alder, and Korina. Most are also chambered - it's not the type of wood, it's the actual individual piece of wood that makes a bass light. And the hardware - aluminum hardware is literally 1/3rd the weight of brass. Two brass knobs add 1/10th of a pound to a bass, compared with aluminum ones (yes, I'm a ibt obsessed, but I can consistently make light basses). Old Fender tuners add 1/2 a pound compared with Hipshot ultralites. And yes, making sure the thing doesn't neck dive (light tuners) is very helpful - if you make everything else light, but keep the old Fender steel tuners, you're probably not going to like the result. Light AND balanced is what you want.
  10. ulvs


    Aug 7, 2004
    Much appreciated for all answers. I'm starting to think that it's mostly my bad posture whilst standing and playing. I tend to move a lot and do it chaotically. There's one more question, but those are my concerns about tone of P/J vs J bass, so I'm gonna make a new topic and post a link of it also here just in case.
  11. Beavow


    Dec 6, 2017
    My Schecter stiletto custom is very light weight, especially compared to my Fender j-bass. When I am having back issues it's no contest which one I choose.
  12. ulvs


    Aug 7, 2004
    Beavow, haven't you noticed that lighter basses tend to have "smaller" tone? I'm under the (wrong?) impression that they do.

    @lomo, wow, I really like your bassbelt. Too bad I suck at arts and crafts. Therefore I think I'll just do more exercises before playing and If my back keeps hurting, I'll try to somehow get my hands on the bassbelt (pay someone to make it for example).
  13. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    My guess is a weight lifters belt given to a decent shoemaker with instructions would do it. BTW, bass tone has something to do with resonance, but not weight. I have super light basses that crush, and have heard boat anchors that sound thin. 5 and 6 string basses weigh much more than 4s, but their EADG strings don't sound better, do they?
  14. ulvs


    Aug 7, 2004
    I just was under that impression because, for example, massive bridges are better than light ones. So I thought massive bodies would do better as well, but, yeah, you have a point (especially about 5/6 strings sounding more meh on said strings).

    Thank your for your idea/instructions how to make that belt. Really appreciate it.
    lomo likes this.
  15. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Bridge on my G&L L2000 is massive.
    Bass weighs 7.2 lbs, though!
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  16. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    There's no evidence that massive bridges are better than light ones. Save some weight and go bent plate. :D
  17. fingerguy


    Aug 2, 2016
    A good well padded strap goes a long way. I hear good things about Mono.
  18. Corevalay

    Corevalay Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    New Jersey
    A P-body will usually be lighter than the J-body just because it's smaller. You can look into the lightweight hipshot tuners and bridges, they are really great. I was having the same problems as you, weight started to become an issue. I've got an older Jazz bass that comes in over 10lbs, and it was tough playing 3-45 min sets with that guy. I started playing Spectors and my main bass is about 8lbs. It makes such a difference when playing live. It also sounds as big and mean as any other bass I've played!
    Bill Whitehurst likes this.
  19. jlepre


    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    I currently own a Sire P7 5 in Ash that's in my avatar pic. It weighs in at 9.2 pounds, balances nicely, and doesn't hurt my back or shoulder at all. I've also owned a Sire V7 5 in alder that was over 10 pounds. I sold that as it was a shoulder breaker. I also currently own a Sire VV7 5 in Alder that is also about 9.2 pounds and is very comfortable. I once owned a Sire V7 4 that was over 10 pounds, but it was a very early one, that were reported to be very heavy. I think Sire has gotten the weights down recently.
  20. red_rhino

    red_rhino Gold Supporting Member

    Agreed. You can only generalize wood characteristics regarding weight and tone. There are no absolutes. It's been my experience, anecdotally, that ash basses are heavier, but that's probably an assumption I picked up based upon my experiences with 70's Fender Jazz basses. I have an ash bodied Roscoe SKB-4 that weighs only 7 pounds.

    My above mentioned Roscoe sounds huge; no exaggeration.
    dukeorock likes this.

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