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Adjusting pickup height on Fender Jazz bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Spinal Tapper, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    I've had my Geddy Jazz bass for almost a year now, and I've never noticed until last night that my bridge PUP is set WAY higher than my neck PUP, thus making it louder when I play down there with my right hand. The thing is, I play closer to the neck (usually resting my thumb on the neck PUP when I play the E string).

    Will I get a better output if I raise the neck PUP to where the bridge pickup sits, and lower the bridge PUP?

    I don't wanna mess anything up - I've also had this bass in for a setup by a highly rated tech in my area, so should I just leave it?
  2. You will get a more neck pup sound out of it, warmer and rounder sounding. By lowering out the back one you will mellow out the growl and other "bridge" pickup sounds.
  3. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Can I leave them both up high meaning: leave the bridge one and just raise the neck one? Or is it better to have one lower than the other?
  4. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Of course you can - you just have to decide what tone you are shooting for. You can also compensate for differences by adjusting your volume controls...

    I know that I always had the neck pickup lower than the bridge, since I wanted a more bridge-focused tone (snappier, more high-mids).

    I don't know how that particular jazz bass keeps the pickups up or down - every Fender I've had just has a hunk of foam under the p'up - - I'd hope they've move forward a bit from that, but I found that that foam can get worn down so it won't force the p'up back up after a time, even if you loosen the screws... If that's the case, you need to jam some more foam in there or, like many folks, put some little springs on the screws between the p'up and the wood...

    Good luck.
  5. telebravo


    Jan 28, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I messed with mine ('62 vintage reissue) without knowing how close I could go, and was plagued with strange chorus-like effects, uneven note to note volume shifts, and sustain issues for a long while until I got a feeler gauge and read a lot about setups here (this board) and else-where. I was surprised to find out that pickup height is measured by holding the string down at the last fret when taking a measurement, hence the difference in height between front and back. Pickup height is the last thing I do when setting up my bass. I'm now only slightly away from the stock settings listed in the fender setup guide, and I've been very please for awhile now.


    note: when purchased my bass was nowhere near the stock settings listed in the fender manual.
  6. Well, appart from having the problem of converting inches to metrical, it´s a real pain adjusting the pick ups, as you said, i didnt know about pressing the last fret but after that...like spinal tapper says, the brigde pickup is way higher than the neck pickup!!! should it remain like that?
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    FWIW, the conventional way to set the heights of the pickups on a Jazz is to have them at the same volume when the controls are full open. You will find that the bridge pickup will be substantially closer to the strings when balanced. This is because there diminishing string excursion the closer you get to the bridge. That results in less magnetic disturbance and lower output.

    There is no law that says you have to balance the pickups though. Maybe you're a non-conventional kind of player...
    bonruiz and Lownote38 like this.
  8. Another reason to keep the neck pup lower is that if you are a slapper, it's real easy to start smacking the pickup with the strings.
  9. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Those adjustment screws are there so that you & your favorite Phillips screwdriver, can set the pickups so that your ears find the result pleasing.
  10. +1. ^^^ this is a fact!!!
  11. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    I allways adjust the pups for best sound to me. I listen to the pups solo and both on full.. Sometimes this results in E side of one pup being closer then the G side. Sometimes the opposite. Last pup tweak is for best blended both pups on full sound that also gives really good sound with either pup roled off slightly. Especially for bridge pup favored a little.

    Experiment some. Around 1/8" or little more, between top of pups pole peices( or top of pup if flat top) and bottom of E & G strings is often a sweet spot to me. Little lower tends to melow sound a little bit. Avoid so high that strings bang into pup top or pole peices. Too high can also interfere with string vibration as well as cause bit of nonmusical type distortion. Close can give more agressive sound. Too far away tends to give a bit weak char to sound to me.

    If you have pups with individually adjustable pole peices in most cases you will find slight treble increase when pole peices are a little above pup housing. This little bit of extra tweakability can help one fine tune tone balance between strings.
  12. IMHO, and as a Jazz bass afficiando, no.

    The bridge pickup, due to its placement, is far louder, heavier, and "thumpier" than its bridge brother.

    However, as will surely be posited in this thread, you really need to do some adjust-and-listen sessions to determine this according to your playing style, amp settings, etc. Pickup height setting is a fine art determined by trial and error.

    But for me, typically, the neck PU is a little lower than the bridge PU.

    Good luck with it. Let your ears be your guide.
    Catalin and bonruiz like this.
  13. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    yep, the whole idea is to set them by ear through a clean, un-compressed amp so that they're equal volume with each other, and also so that each one is equal volume across all 4 strings.

    on the geddy with its typical sharp board radius and flat pickups, this means that first you can't get either pickup too close or the E and possibly G will be louder than the middle two strings.

    the typical "balanced" J setup is bridge as close as it can go and still sound good, with the E side dropped away a bit, and then the neck pickup further away.
  14. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    Houston, TX
  15. Ok, we should try with differents heights but, what about if we post pictures of the pup´s and see if the setup is about right or too high/low?
  16. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    It changes with strings, playing style and a lot of other stuff.
    More than often though, people set pickups too high, resulting in unwanted overtones, damaged pickup cases and lack of low end. It's the loud factor.
  17. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    This. Also, the magnetic pull of the pickups on the strings can cause the bass to play out of tune. Me and my favorite Philips screwdriver found that out during a session. ;)
    StringNavigator likes this.
  18. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Thanks for the first chuckle of the day!
  19. Well, here are mine. Jazz bass Am Std `00
  20. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    Looks about right.

    Being that its an older american standard, here is a trick to improve pickup balance (do not try this with other pickups, pre-'12 American standard fenders only); you can press the outer sets of magnets right down flush with the cover, so that the strings are all the same distance from their respective polepieces. I do this all the time when setting these up, and in every case it balances better and lets me get the pickups closer for more output without being too close to the outer strings.
    Geri O likes this.

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