Converting my P/J back to a passive bass...which J pickup?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Double Agent, Sep 4, 2009.


  1. Double Agent

    Double Agent Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    So, a while back I bought a MIM P-bass Special from the TB classifieds and I've had a love/hate relationship with it. One of it's previous owners had modified it with a Badass II bridge and Seymour Duncan Lightnin' Rod active pickups. I'm not getting what the sound I want from them, so I think I want to convert it back to passive bass with a V/V/T setup.

    I've decided to go with Fender's "Original" P-bass pickup. But, I have no idea what to do for the Jazz pickup. I thought about a Fender SCN, a Nordstrand NJ4SE or NJ4SV, but I'm not too sure about either of those. Here is what I'm after....

    • I want something quiet, noiseless is not an absolute necessity, but I don't want lots of 60-cycle hum.
    • I don't need the J p/u to be perfectly matched with the P as far as output, but I would like it to be relatively close. I will never solo the J, I will basically go back and forth between soloing the P p/u or using both pickups together. On other P/Js I've had, both pickups together cuts the volume of the P p/u soloed. I'd like to minimize it as much as possible.
    • I am looking for vintage single-coil grind as far as tone goes. Even if its a "noiseless" pickup, I want it to sound like a Jazz-bass pickup. The pickups I have now are very even-sounding, and I think the end result is kind of bland and sterile. I want vintage tone with "personality".
    • I would like to spend less than $125 on the Jazz p/u, or at least be in that ballpark. Less than that is even better.

    I think the Fender or the Nordstrands I mentioned earlier can fit all or most of these wishes, but I wonder if anyone has tried this before with a P/J that can offer their insights. Or, if there is another pickup out there that I should consider. Tonewise, I like vintage, but sometimes people's idea of vintage = mellow. I'm not looking for mellow, I'm just looking for old-school Jazz grind to add to old-school P-bass thump. I know that there will not be a perfect solution and I will have to compromise somewhere. Any ideas on which Jazz pickup to pair with a Fender Original P-bass pickup? Any and all suggestions appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. I'd reccomend a Seymour Duncan Hot Stack for J.

    It's got good warm smoothness, and when you dig in, it can really growl, all depending on how and where you pluck. It's also a stacked humbucker, so very quiet, and it's widely available - and often can be had, retail, for less than $100. I've got one of these puppies in the neck position of my Jag.

    If you're looking for lots of bite and aren't worried about the hum, consider a SeyDunk Quarter Pounder J. These things can grind like crazy - much more so than the Hot Stack - but very musically, and they can also sound very smooth and warm if you play them right. They're single-coils, and again can be had easily and for not much dough. I've installed a P-J set of Quarter Pounders on a bass I used for a couple of recordings and then sold to a friend - who proceeded to play the bass in my old band for a couple of years.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. Double Agent

    Double Agent Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    I've actually had Seymour Duncan 1/4-pounders in a Jazz before and I hated them. Again, grind is not the ultimate objective. I don't want any more grind than is usually found on a regular, single-coil Jazz. What I'm looking for is a more vintage-styled Jazz pickup that still has that grind. A lot of replacements Jazz pickups I've heard that are supposed to sound "vintage" actually sound pretty lame IMO. Apologies if my OP gave the impression that I was looking for maximum J-bass grind, I'm not. Also, generally, from the models I've tried, it seems like I don't like any Basslines pickups. This is my 3rd different model from them and I haven't liked any of them. However, I haven't tried the Hot Stacks, so maybe I should keep them in mind.

    The bass in question is strung with flats (D'addario Chromes) and is being used in my wedding and R&B/Motown style bands, so I don't want lots of modern-sounding grind. I just want a pickup that sounds like a good, vintage single-coil, but with a little more output and, maybe, noise cancelling.
     
  4. Stanley Pugh

    Stanley Pugh

    Jun 14, 2008
    Bill Laurence pup's give old school sound but without any noise or hum.
     
  5. Double Agent

    Double Agent Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    Didn't he design the SCN for Fender? I may check his pickups out, since I'm sure it is less expensive to buy from him the from Fender.
     
  6. Sorry Double Agent, I was under the impression that grind was a big point for you.

    In terms of a more 'vintage' vibe... never having played a vintage J-Bass, I'm afraid I'm not sure where to start. I'd be willing to send you my Hot Stack in a couple of weeks when I get my Antiquity 2's, but sadly it's a neck-size pup.

    Good hunting!
     
  7. Double Agent

    Double Agent Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    I can see where you would have thought that. I overstated the grind aspect of my ideal pickups a little. Mostly because, as I said, sometimes people say something sounds vintage, but it really sounds kind of dull. When I think vintage Jazz tone, I think Larry Graham and John Paul Jones, their tones had character despite not sounding modern in any way.

    Basically, I want this bass to sound like a good P-bass w/ flats when the P is soloed. But when both pickups are used I want the tone to have a little more edge to it, especially in the mids and highs, for the occasional rock song.

    Looking at Seymour Duncan's website, it seems like the Classic Stack for Jazz might be more what I'm looking for. I might add that to the list if anyone has experience with that pickup in a P/J.
     
  8. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    stack pickups are by nature low output and duller sounding than real single coils.

    if you want a vintage J sound without the hum, a dimarzio ultra Jazz bridge would be the ticket. it's a little bigger and stronger than a stock J (which makes for a good match with a P pickup) but it's still in the range of what a real J would sound like.

    it's a side-by-side dual coil, which won't have the losses inherent to a stacked design.

    it's my go-to pickup for P/J setups with vintage-type P pickups.
     
  9. Double Agent

    Double Agent Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    AWESOME! This sounds like exactly what I was thinking of. Whenever I think of Dimarzio, I think of the Model J which doesn't have the tone I'm looking for. I always seem to forget about the Ultra Jazz. I'll move that one to the top of my list. But, I'm still open to other responses as well.
     
  10. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    Don't forget the new "area J", which is designed to be closer still to a vintage J pickup.
     
  11. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Philadelphia
    I think Lindy Fralin's noiseless Split-Jazz should deliver exactly what you want. I don't have one in a P/J, but use a set on my four string Jazz, and they're just amazing, with tone that's very close to pure single coils, except for less "air" on top. They have lots of growl. You could probably get Lindy to overwind it for a P/J application.

    The Nordstrands have received rave reviews, but I've never tried them to compare to the Fralins. This will soon change, as I have a set of noiseless NJ5FS ready to drop into my 2008 Jazz V. I bought them only to go noiseless; the stock pickups have fantastic tone.
     
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