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Carvin J99s

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Mystic Michael, Oct 3, 2005.

  1. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I've got a couple new Carvin LB70 four-strings - one fretted, one fretless. Each has a pair of the stock J99 single-coils, plus the stock Carvin pre-amp.

    On each instrument, I'm surprised to find the tone a little unfocused, slightly hollow, even blurry (the single-coil hum is a different story). Has anyone else had this experience?

  2. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    I play an LB 75 that I recently switched the J99's out for Nordstrand NJ5's. I kept the Carvin preamp (three band) in place. Given the amount of hum produced by the Nords, I'll probably be soon putting the J99's back in.

    When I first got the bass, I noticed the "hollow" tone you speak of. It's really an EQ issue. Try a slight mid boost, or dial your blend slightly back toward the bridge. I also run through a GK1001RB, so I would boost the "boost" knob to around 11:00. Also try pushing your low mids on the amp up to about 1:00. While you won't get vintage growl, you'll get growl nonetheless when you dig in, while retaining the top end "bite" that the J99's seem to naturally have.

    I hope this helps!
  3. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I think my B5 with J99s sounds great. I played a gig with it Saturday and everyone thought it sounded good. There is a little bit of a hollow sound when the pan is centered, but it is only noticable when playing alone. In a band situation it sounds full and cuts through very well. With both pickups full it sounds warm and sweet, with just the neck pickup there is a little growl.

    A lot of people hate Carvin pickups, but I like them.
  4. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Yeah, I'm continuing to experiment with various settings - on the instrument and the amp. And I haven't yet played 'em with my multi-effects unit nor played out with them yet, so there's still some evaluation to do...

    In truth though, I'm almost certainly gonna get some Nordstrands - a set of NJ4SEs and either NJ4SVs or DiMarzio UltraJazz. I just want to be sure I'm hearing the J99s fairly before I do...


  5. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    Play out with them in your full band. You may be very pleasantly suprised! I probably have done 200+ shows with mine before I swapped them out for the NJ5's two weeks ago. If you go the Nordstrand route, get the NJ5st's. The NJ5's, while sounding very vintage, also have the vintage 60 cycle hum to the point that your blend knob will be irrelevant - if you don't go dead center, the hum will be louder than the fundamental note you play in most rooms!

    The J99's are good pickups. They are clean, punchy, have good top end "bite", and really can cut through a mix. Some on these boards have called them sterile, but that is not my experience. If you want sterile, try EMG (which I have loaded in one of my Spectors). I got nothing but compliments on my Carvin tone with the J99's, and like I said earlier, am probably going to put them back in.

    Do yourself a favor and experiment with these in a live setting before you take them out. You may like them live. They record very well, too. For reference, go to either Ed Freidland's or Bunny Brunel's websites and listen to the clips. Good luck with whatever you do!
  6. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Well, a few months ago I did a gig with the fretted bass - a low-volume pop/jazz engagement, playing through a Nemesis 2x10 combo amp. And I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with the tone. The J99s sounded surprisingly deep, resonant, smooth and clear. No complaints - it was exactly what I needed...

    A few weeks later, I did a little home studio recording project with some people. On playback through the monitors, I was impressed with what I heard: ultra-clean, hi-fi bass - no noise, no distortion - nothing but tone. Very sophisticated-sounding and sweet!

    Who knew that the stock Carvin pre-amp & J99s could sound so good?

  7. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    I have the J99s in my Carvin Bolt. I'm surprised at how good they sound. They don't sound unfocused or hollow to me, either live or recorded. With both pickups of full there is a slight hollow sound that's typical for a pair of single coil pickups. I usually favour the neck pickup for the sound I want. The tone and volume are both even from string to string. Single coil hum is also low compared to other basses although it's there. The other posters descriptions of their sound is pretty much how I'd describe them. I think they're good single coil pickups. I find them a bit more aggressive than many Fender Jazz pickups I've played.

    You might try fooling around with pickup height to see if that improves the sound.

    If I were to change the pickups I don't know what I would buy that would significantly improve the sound. Some have advised me to try the Bill Lawrence J45 set which are noisless and I may do that. The J45s I heard on another bass sounded very good.

    My Bolt is passive by the way.
  8. Dirty Dave

    Dirty Dave

    Oct 17, 2004
    Boston, MA
    My LB70's all have a J99 at the neck but an HB2 at the bridge so my experience/opinion might not be totally relevant to your situation since I keep the pickups evenly panned. I usually keep the bass/mid/treble preamp controls a little past the center detent for a little extra boost and think they sound great.
  9. IconBasser

    IconBasser Scuba Viking Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Alta Loma, California
    I love Carvin's J99's! I wish I woulda gotten em' on my Icon instead of the new soaps. IMO J99 > soaps.
  10. FF Petro

    FF Petro

    Feb 16, 2004
    AAAH! This thread reminds me of the good ole days on the Carvin boards..........

    That hollow sound is why many of us love those H50's and H50N's. You lose a little volume but it is a much fuller tone. It's amazing what another coil can do for a pickup!

    I remember when I replaced my J99's with the H50N's that I still have. I fell in love with my fretless all over again.
  11. Dirty Dave

    Dirty Dave

    Oct 17, 2004
    Boston, MA
    I hear ya'...the place is like a ghost town now.
  12. eots


    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    I've been experimenting with Carvin pups in a few of my basses. I've a Yamaha bb605 that had the stock (noisy), barts (weak), and both Carvin j99's and h50n sets. The h50n's won out.
    Then I have a project p/j. Laminated body, lefty SX geddy neck flipped around for righty work. Got a 1/4lber P and j99 bridge. Fully shielded/star grounded for amazing quietness even with just the j99. Series/parallel pull up master vol. adds a nice boost in series:bassist:
    I recently got a shorty SX jazz (jaguar clone) and tried 2 j99's. Sounded weak and:spit: Put the stockers back in but wired them in series with just the one vol.. 2nd vol. is disconnected. Sounds much better and no hum.
    On my Carvin lb70p, typical pup arrangement is j99/HB in single mode equal blend. Occasionally go full HB for some more grind.