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Adding a J pickup to a P bass!!!!!/

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by RedWizard777, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. So as the title says....thinking I'd like a J single coil in the bridge position of my '62 RI Precision. I've been checking out the Fralin,Fender Super 55,and Dimarzio Area J.Any suggestions,or tips?

    More than likely just going to go with the jazz bass system of 2 volumes,and a master tone.
  2. Several things to note here. The P PU is a split coil humbucker. The J PU is single coil. You need to consider their balance and the fact that single coil may introduce hum. Note you can by split coil J pickups or you could inctall a humbucker like an MM or Nordstrand design.

    VVT configuration is very popular/common but if you are going to that trouble I'd be tempted to put in VT VT arrangement as per the original Jazz bass to give more tones.

    Finally some folk swear that you need a 3-way PU selector switch as well.

    Do some searching as this has been discussed at length.

  3. Arvin

    Arvin Underwound Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    On the bench
    After an absurd amount of experimenting with P/J's, I finally settled on a few conclusions about them that work for me. The following observations are my opinions only, and may have little or great value to anyone else. But, that being said...

    The Dimarzio Area J makes a great bridge pickup when combined with a vintage wind P pickup. The output level is good, the lack of hum is even better, and it sounds pretty close to how I like a single-coil Jazz pickup to sound.

    My favorite configuration is Master Volume, Master Tone, 3-way switch. I used to fiddle around with rolling off a little of the P pickup, or a little of the J pickup, but over time, I found I used those sounds less and less. A 3-way makes it a lot simpler. Plus, having the option to get to the P pickup by itself, quickly, without fiddling with knobs, is invaluable to me.

    A P/J is not a Jazz Bass. It's a Precision with a little Jazz sauce ladled on. If I want a true Jazz Bass vibe, I play a Jazz.

    lewink likes this.
  4. I'd definitely recommend going for a noise-free and high output J, for the reasons outlined by Arvin. Dimarzio Area J or Ultra Jazz would be my choice (my personal favourite is the ultrajazz).
  5. marc40a


    Mar 20, 2002
    Boston MA
    If I were to add a J, I would definitely go with a 70's bridge position or perhaps even further back than that.
  6. Low Class

    Low Class Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2005
    Orange Park, Florida
    I totally disagree. I would not go any further back than '70's and personally I prefer '60's. I've seen too many added J pickups to P basses that were for sale and were too close to the bridge. I would pass on them just for that reason and I'm sure many others did the same. If you don't want to damage the resale value keep it in a traditional Fender position.
  7. marc40a


    Mar 20, 2002
    Boston MA
    Adding a pickup to any Fender is inadvisable for resale value so we're splitting hairs and talking degrees of devalaution.

    I'd say a clean rout would trump location.

    But anyways... I have a stock P/J w/ the J in 60's location and I find it too close (HotRod P.) The variation it provides sounds more like it's more due to impedence or loading than location. Know what I mean? It almost sounds more to me like I'm putting a P pickup in parallel than adding a that stout, staccatto bridge flavor.

  8. marc40a


    Mar 20, 2002
    Boston MA
    And regarding knobs... I'd go Volume,Volume - No drilling necessary and the tone pot on any Precision or Precision variant is close to useless, IMO.
  9. goat1234


    Mar 17, 2004
    I did this to my 57 reissue p-bass, and had a stacked volume knob and a master tone control. It worked pretty well, but I ultimately found I preferred the P bass tone the best, and returned it to original and filled in the jazz bridge route.

    Remember, everyone will have a different perspective on tone, so if you think its worth trying out, go for it. I would pay most attention to posts on output level balance, etc.

    As far as pickups go, I have a Nordstrand P pickup and I added a Nordstrand single coil in the bridge. Both sounded great, but it was the P pickup that really shined for my own personal preference here. I never really noticed the hum too bad.
  10. DrumsAndBass

    DrumsAndBass Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Experiment with: pickup heights, hard mounting the pickups and a 3 way switch. I use a 3 way switch after trying out a blend knob and two volumes - thought one of them would give me those "inbetween" tones, no not really. If you adjust the heights to taste then the "both on" position of the 3 way switch may be very nice for you.

    Will your amp give you a PJ tone ? because adding the J pickup may call for some amp adjustments.
  11. NitroBass


    Feb 19, 2014
    Great thread. I have been mulling over a PJ myself. I had not considered the VT VT combo. That would be a nice un-intrusive mod (save the new pickup rout of course). I can totally relate to the need for a switch too, since playing live requires more immediate changes. For recording, where you can take a second to fiddle a little more with your sound, VT VT is an appealing idea...
  12. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    I know, right? I keep my Precision's tone control rolled all the way off. Can't stand all that treble getting in the way of my thump.
  13. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    With my experimenting with P/J I totally agree with Arvin. I used a Dimarzio Ultra J with a vintage wind P and although it sounds great it doesn't quite balance (P is a tad louder). Zero hum. It's currently vol/vol so balance is no problem although in general I prefer a pickup switch. vol/vol is my least favorit configuration. Too much knob twiddling while playing. Maybe later.

    Best Mix on mine anything from straight P to full J and 80% P. And I totally agree that a P/J is NOT a jazz bass sound. It's a P bass sound with extra tone you can mix in if you want. I do love it though.
  14. acebase62


    Jun 29, 2010
    My 1985 MIJ Fender Jazz Bass Special (PJ) came stock with the J pickup routed in 70s position (closer to bridge than 60s).

    My Warmoth PJ body came stock with the J pickup routed closer to P pickup than 60s or 70s position.

    The J pickup on the Warmoth sounds louder/fuller due to its location further from the bridge/closer to the neck.

    (The pickups on both basses are the same, Seymour Duncan SPB-1 and STK-J2, with V-V-T controls)

    If you plan to solo or emphasize the J pickup much, I would go with 60s location or closer to the P pickup.
  15. Koeda


    Aug 21, 2007
    +2 agree across the board. Did the same thing 3-way master Vol-Tone. Had to swap leads on the MIA P due to phase issue with the Model J.
  16. dvlmusic


    Jul 24, 2010
    Alameda, CA
    I added a J pickup to my P bass about a year ago and I love it. I used the Bill Lawrence "Wilde" pickups and they sound great and are dead quiet.

    I went with a stacked vol and standard tone so that I didn't have to cut into the body for anything other than the pickup. I put the J in the 60's position and although it looks a bit off to me (pickups are too close together), it eases the playability and keeps the J tone a bit fuller. I also agree that the difference between 60's and 70's position is probably splitting hairs by the time the drummers banging away and the guitars are screeching.

    I also like the idea of a matching P/J set and the Wilde's are cheap - $60-ish a pop. There's a huge thread about them here:


    If that doesn't convince you, I don't know what will.
  17. I went through this exact mod a year ago... I opted for V/V/T with a black mini 3 way switch. Changed the knobs to black plastic jazz knobs for a blend of p/j aesthetics. I find I use the 3 way switch and just leave the volumes dimed; adjust master tone as necessary. If I were to do this again I would probably do master volume/tone/ 3 way. I opted for a custom MJS single coil jazz pickup. Has a bit of hum but really brings my effect pedals to life.
  18. jongor

    jongor Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2003
    What he said....I have an Area J in with a Lollar P and it's a great combination!

    Together they growl like nothing I've ever played, love it!
  19. I did a parts Fender PJ last year, with Fralin P and 5% overwound J. Wired it up V T 3-way switch, but now the idea of VT VT stack with a 3 way switch is intriguing. Anyone got a wiring diagram for this? Guessing the VT stacks just come before the 3-way switch, rather then after?

  20. Koeda


    Aug 21, 2007
    IMHO - it looks like a beaut as is. Keep it simple, if it sounds good why mess with it and am guessing it sounds as good as it looks!