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Changing pickup spacing in jazz bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by chef_tater, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. I have a VM jazz bass that I absolutely love; great feel, sets up with super low action. And has that notorious jazz "growl". I have had this sexy beast for about three years.

    My only issue with it is for a bass based on a 75 jazz, the pickup spacing are the 60's measurements.

    So my question. Is it feasible to move the bridge p/u back to the 70's spacing? And if anyone has ever done this please chime in.
  2. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
    It can definitely be done. It just takes tools, paint and the skill to use both. Question is, is it WORTH doing?

    I think your best bet is to find a replacement body with 70's spacing, like a Geddy Lee body and use that instead.

    There are several on eBay right now and you could pickup either a black, or 3TS for about $300.

    If you have to have a luthier do the routing and restorative work, I think you would come out pretty close on cost.

    All the best,

  3. I'm a sucker for blond and maple. And unfortunately the geddy doesn't come in blond. If I can find a 70's body in natural I'll snatch it up and go that route. Thanks for the advise.
  4. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    I would go play a couple of jazz basses with 70's spacing before I spent any money, especially since you're happy with the sound of your bass "as is." Sometimes specs sound better on paper and the only way to stop "listening with your eyes" is to get out and play things firsthand.

    That's not to say that moving your bridge pickup is a necessarily a bad thing. I would just want to be sure before I got out the router or bought another body. Mike Pope has an interesting approach to this on his signature Fodera: an adjustable bridge pickup:

  5. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    You're just nitpicking. You route a new hole, you get a patch work bass. That's it. How many people in your world even know the difference? If you do it those that know probably still would give you a hard time because its only a Squier. I love my blonde VMJ as it is. I Wouldn't think of cutting it up and having to hide a hole in her natural finish body. Ymmv I guess. Have fun.
  6. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    As mentioned above, play some 70s spacing basses before you do it. I prefer the tone of the 60s myself.
  7. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    Moving that pickup is a disaster in the very planning. It's naked. It's routed straight into the wood, with no reasonable solution to hide the scar of that mod, while maintaining anything that resembles a Jazz Bass. As others have suggested, you will be much further along to snatch up a body routed that way.
  8. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    ^^ this ...

    .. unless you are set on making it accurate ...

    ... but then you might as well:

    ... put a 7.25 radius neck on it
    ... convert to a 3 bolt Micro-Tilt neck plate
    ... add the Bullet truss rod
    ... re-spray the body to a nitro finish
    ... (after you) convert the maple body to ash of course
    ... switch out the machines to Fender 'stamped'
    ... finish it all off with black plastic knobs ...

    .. I think you get the point, and of course I am being facetious ...

    .. you have a very good bass that you are happy with in every way (if nobody ever told you the pups were 1/4" off) ... the bass used is currently worth about $175-200 ... play it like you stole it and dont look back .. JMHO
  9. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    The look of this enlarged route is not at all displeasing to my eye. Years ago I owned a Westone Rail with a sliding pickup and since then have always thought a movable pickup was a very practical idea.
  10. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Hey, it is a Vintage MODIFIED Jazz not a 1975 jazz: SD pups, original spacing, with a 75 neck.
  11. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Since the blond is a non-transparent finish, I'd extend the route towards the bridge by the prescribed 1/2˝, re-position the pickup, fashion a plastic spacer out of something and paint it in the same finish as the body, then insert it between the pickup and the neck-most end of the route so it sits flush with the wood. It would be nigh-invisible except from up close, and if you decide the 60s position is better after the mod, you'd simply move the pickup back and position the spacer downward.

    If you were to go down the "movable pickup" route, I'd suggest making two identical spacers and putting one ahead and one behind the pickup. That way you'd be able to move the pickup around and always have the hole covered, although the spacers'd have to be raised so they're on top of the wood.
  12. There's GOTTA be a TBer who'll swap ya straight across!
  13. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Stealth: But they are transparent finishes! ImageUploadedByTalkBass.com1357307370.449426.
  14. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    In that case, I'd simulate the grain on spacer either using a printed glossy sticker or hand-inked grain. It wouldn't be perfect, but it'd work well.
    Or go with a custom pickup surround that surrounds the entire pickup rout, like a mini-pickguard. Were it my bass, I wouldn't hide a feature like that by forcing it to appear stock. :D
  15. Thanks for the input guys. I love the fodera idea of a moveable p/u. Hell I would love a fodera but my wallet wouldn't. I think I am going to get a loaded geddy bass body and slap on a p-bass neck. A la Timmy C
    Is that blasphemous? Maybe. But I was never a fan of the thin neck on the geddy.
  16. landau roof

    landau roof Reupholstered User

    Jul 29, 2010
    Downstate CA
    There's a whole lot more than PU spacing that separate the Squier VM from a real '75 Jazz.
  17. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

  18. I'm not saying the 75 jazz and VM jazz are the same except for the pickup spacing. My point was if your going make a vintage modified bass after a 1975 jazz why not have the same pickup spacing? I guess that's fender logic?
  19. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Man if you want to experiment just do it. At the end of the day you'll know a lot more than the people who didn't. It's just a VM. Hell, my blank slate was an '82 US '57 re-issue P bass I bought new. I've shaved the headstock and plugged it to accommodate lighter tuners. It's had at least 10 different pickups in 4 locations, a battery door installed and 5 different pick guards. It's been refinished once. It has screw holes from where I experimented with double strap systems. The back of the neck is sanded.

    What I learned about pickups and pickup placement and balance is real. I also still have that bass and regularly use it because I've made it work for me. So examine everyone's advice but do what you need to do to satisfy your own curiosity.
  20. moduluspostop014.
    <a href="http://s261.beta.photobucket.com/user/gimmeagig/media/moduluspostop013.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i261.photobucket.com/albums/ii73/gimmeagig/moduluspostop013.jpg" border="0" alt="Roxy's Modulus, Flea Bass Neck,Warmoth Body,SCN Pickups,OBP1 preamp,ABM Bridge, Hipshot D Tuner"/></a>


    I think there is a huge difference between 60s and 70s PU spacing.
    I did the modification on two basses. The both play great but the 60s sound is not for me.I don't care so much about resale value or originality. I just want the instrument to sound right to my ears. Both of them sound as good as my souped up 74 Fender Jazz now. Maybe even better.
    Making the change worked for me.....