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Better tone w/ PUs at 90% on a JBass?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by polokojo, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. polokojo


    Dec 17, 2004
    The more I play my Jazz bass the more I have the feeling that I get a better tone by slightly rolling off the volume knobs, let's say at 85-90%. It sounds mellower and it somehow gains more low end. The better sounding configuration to have a fat bottom end seems to be Bridge PU 20% and neck PU 90%. It gets more mid-rangey if I turn the Neck volume all the way up. Did anybody else have this feeling?
  2. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    It's a perfectly normal behavior. When your pickups are fully turned up, each of them is generating signal to its maximum, but it also "loads down" (impedes) the signal of the other pickup. So if you roll the pickups even slightly off, your volume pots put a bit of resistance between the two pickups - enough isolation for the loading effect to be less noticeable and the bass sounds as if it has a bit of extra deep end.
  3. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    That's how pots work. From about 8-10 you'll get a comparatively huge volume/treble boost. I prefer the volume knobs on a bass rolled back a bit, for the tone.

    Many guitar players set their volume knobs around 8-9 for the most part, and turn up the volume as a volume/treble boost for solos. They call that "riding the volume knob."
  4. I would dime the back pickup and roll back neck pickup 1/8 turn to get a nice tone from my old jazz. Really warmed up the tone.
  5. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Rolling back the volume controls loads the pickup, and then the resonant peak is flattened slightly. So it makes the pickups less bright.

    There is no low end boost, just less high end, so they are in balance more. On most pickups the low frequency range goes down lower than you can hear, but the high end rolls off after the resonant peak. What sounds like a bright treble sound is usually an upper midrange peak.
  6. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Yup, its normal, and I do that all the time.

    I also just learned to try playing with the Neck pickup volume down 1/8 and the bridge pickup down 1/8 from a video I saw of Juan Alderete.

    Gives it a pretty nice motown P kind of tone, but with a little more articulation, and obviously less thump than a real P.It bumps up the mids nicely, and sounds fatter and darker than it does with the neck pickup full on.
  7. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    Yep. Until I swapped the stock pick ups on my Hwy One for Lollars, that's exactly what I did. I usually had them both around 75%.
  8. I've gotta question for ya. Let's say your not a knob fiddler and your fave tone on a jazz is neck dimed and the bridge just a tit back right where that effect kicks in. Is there a way to hard wire this combination?

    In other words, lets say you have a master volume, master tone and pickup selector switch rather than VVT. Would a resistor inline with the bridge pup pretty much create that same tone as neck at 10 and the bridge at 8.5 or is this only a phenomenon found in the VVT setup?

    Thanks for any insight.
  9. You want parallel resistance, too.

    A volume pot is the equivalent circuit of two resistors. One is series, and the other is parallel, and at any point in the rotation, the sum of the two is the value of the pot.
  10. totally normal

    IMO bridge pickups all sound best (on a jazz style bass) at 9/10, with the neck pickup turned down just enough so that the back pickup is the primary voice being heard. nice punchy deep sound, at least from all the basses i use these days, but certainly on any normal jazz bass.
  11. Britbonic

    Britbonic Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    Interesting thread. I tend to run my J Bass volumes at 10 but always back off my tone controls (62 RI so 1 for ea PU) about 1/4 turn down. Often I'll back off bridge PU 1/4 turn or so to get more of a PBass sound. Have to try lowering both volumes. In general, I don't like messing with my controls once everything is dialed in.
  12. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    The long-time conventional setting for Jazz basses is to set both near 80%. Vintage.
  13. polokojo


    Dec 17, 2004
    Could you find the link to that video? is it on YT?
    Thanks everybody for the very clear and helpful answers.
  14. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    Doing that dampens the amplitude of the resonance peak. Single coils can have quite a bit of resonance peak and "take away" too much of the response below the peak.

    If you want that without the volume loss you use a lower base value resistance pot (if you have 500 Kohm you switch to 250, or 250 to whatever your pot reads at the value you like).
  15. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    And if you don't want to go changing pots right away, you can always use a bridge resistor to get the loading effect: 500kohm on the outside lugs of a 500kohm pot to make it "read" like a 250 kohm pot to the pickup, a 1meg over a 500kohm pot to make it "read" like a 330kohm pot, etc.

    I wouldn't go much below 250kohms, because the loading will drain too much high end.
  16. Britbonic

    Britbonic Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    IIRC, 250K is standard value for volume pots on Jazz basses.
  17. LaBassGuy

    LaBassGuy Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    This proves why the jazz is the most versatile bass.
  18. WildBill987


    Dec 8, 2011
    Very interesting. I can muddy the water a bit. My 76 Jazz has an old Schecter tapped sound pickup in neck position and original Fender pup at the bridge. I usually run the Schecter wide open, tapped windings on, and the bridge pup at about 75%. Tone is rolled off to about 75-80%. When I roll off the old Fender pickup at the bridge it gets a lot louder and hotter and deeper tone. I'm beginning to think two things. 1. I think these pickups are pretty mismatched, and that exaggerates the situation that is under discussion. 2. My OEM Fender pickup is getting tired. I love this guitar, but would consider swapping out the bridge pickup.
  19. Dirk Rockbottom

    Dirk Rockbottom

    Oct 30, 2012
    I like my FJ pu's bridge 10, neck 8.
  20. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    a big part of this is the audio taper volumes and the "after the volumes" wiring of the tone pot; this all combines to make all three controls very jumpy between 8 and 10.

    dropping everything back a little get all three pots in the flatter part of their sweep, so tweaks are smoother and more subtle.