Correct spacing for a J pickup in a P bass PJ bass

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Coolbeans126280, Mar 9, 2022.

  1. Coolbeans126280

    Coolbeans126280

    Mar 9, 2022
    Hi all, Am pretty set on puting a PJ set of Seymour Duncan Quarter pounds into my Squier P-bass but am unsure of the optimal spacing between the bridge pickup and the bridge piece/ neck pickup. Im more so looking to get a Jazz bass sound when I solo the bridge pickup so am wondering what the difference is between nearer the bridge or closer the neck. (am looking for some funky tones for bass solo's and such). Let me know your thoughts.

    Cheers.
     
  2. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    Personally, I'd go with the 70's spacing (closer to the bridge) especially if the P-pickup is already routed.

    Two reasons:

    1) You'll get more of a "barky, burpy" tone with the pickup closer to the bridge (especially if you pluck down there).

    2) A P-J can sound nasal/pinched to some ears unless the P pickup is flipped. See Ed Friedland's explanation:

     
    iiipopes likes this.
  3. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    There is no "correct" position- I've had PJs with both 60s-position J bridge pickup (farther from the bridge) and 70s-position (closer to the bridge). If you want to solo the J pickup and get burpy but warm Jaco-esque tones then 60s-position might suit you better. If you want more bite when you use the bridge pickup or want more aggressive + scooped blended tones then 70s-position will probably be better. Its all subjective. I personally prefer 70s position
     
  4. Coolbeans126280

    Coolbeans126280

    Mar 9, 2022
    Well that clears things up a bit, so if im looking for more of a pop/funk style for say slap technique then I should go for the 70's spacing, and cheers for the vid too will probs switch my P-bass pickup around. Thanks for your help.
     
  5. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Yeah pretty much- a PJ will never do a typical "both pickups on" J thing all that well (a PJ with both pickups on is a different but still cool vibe), but the two different bridge pickup positions have similar effects whether on a J or a PJ IME. The main struggle with a PJ for alot of people is trying to get balanced output from the P and J as P pickups are typically much higher in output. Personally I don't worry about that too much, as trying too hard to boost the relative J output either using overwound pickups or putting the pickup farther from the bridge (or dropping the height of the P significantly) all sacrifice some tone for output in my opinion.
     
  6. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Also I personally dig the sound of a typical P orientation, even as it makes a noticeable tonal split between the EA and DG strings- I like that brighter thinner tone on the smaller strings when I play a P, though I also like a P with reversed orientation. Its all subjective! I think the Warwick in that video has both pickups farther towards the bridge than a typical "60s" spaced Fender type PJ so what he is saying is actually not directly comparable. The bridge pickup on that Warwick looks like approximate 70s spacing, while the P pickup is located closer to the bridge than on a Fender (not just a result of flipping the coils orientation)- the net result is an overall more aggressive tone than any Fender-spaced PJ (even moreso because of the pickups and preamp used in the Warwick)
     
  7. Coolbeans126280

    Coolbeans126280

    Mar 9, 2022
    Yeah I figured buying an actual PJ set would help mitigate the different outputs of the pickups but could be wrong not sure if they try to balance them or just package a P and J pickup together. I also quite like the sound of the brighter upper string so might just go with 70's spacing and hopefully they are far enough that i dont get any of that nasal sound, might just try both and do some experimenting. My train of thought is more so P for rythm and jazz for standing out more so not to concerned with mixing them together.
     
  8. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Just by nature the two pickup designs don't balance well output-wise- a P pickup is already a higher-output pickup by design, and putting it farther towards the neck than the weaker J pickup makes the output disparity even larger. PJ sets often use somewhat overwound J pickups to give a bit higher than average J output, but even then the P will easily overpower it and the overwound J will lack the same clarity as a more traditional J wind. The most balanced PJ sets output-wise I have used are a ceramic magnet J pickup (like a Dimarzio Model J) paired with an alnico magnet P pickup, but I prefer the tonal characteristics of a more typical P and J combo together. I usually use the J in a PJ set to blend together with the P to add more bite and texture, and rarely solo the bridge J pickup on any instrument
     
    bass-shy and Riff Ranger like this.
  9. Small sample size, I’m good but not great at setups, and possibly just my experience, but FWIW: I currently own 5 variations on the P/J setup, with a few different takes on spacing and orientation, and the only ones that sound good to my ears when blended 50/50 are the EMG P5 or P5X (reversed) and J5 in my Jackson David Ellefson 30th Anniversary model. I still don’t care for the bridge J on its own in any of them. Ironically, the Jackson’s the only one I’m trying to sell or trade—the rest of them sound great around 70%P/30%J, but somehow hollow and throaty at the same time blended equally. Again, FWIW.
     
  10. Coolbeans126280

    Coolbeans126280

    Mar 9, 2022
    so umm have found that 60's spacing is 3.6 inches and 70's is 4 inches but both would put the bidge pickup almost right up against the bridge plate which im not sure is correct, should i measure from the pole pieces of the treble P-pick or where the treble and bass meet, could someone else lucky enough to own a proper PJ give me a quick measurement preferably in mm please? Thanks.
     
  11. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Frankly, I obviated all the discussion: on my custom fanned fret P-style bass, I mounted the J-bridge pickup proportionally between the 60's and 70's position, and have my Rickenbacker HB-1 instead of a P-pickup mounted in the D-G position. Grindy, big, round, versatile, all at the same time, wired traditionally V-V-T with a .033 tone cap.
    A Different Custom P-style Bass
     
    fu22ba55 likes this.
  12. mark107

    mark107

    Jul 10, 2009
    To me, the optimal placement would be wherever it sounds best with the P. Using a 60's or 70's position is meaningless, as the interaction between a P and a J will not resemble two J pickups, no matter what.

    For openers, the location of the P is different. Whenever you have a two-pickup bass with both pickups on, and somewhat level-matched, you will get a tone unique to those two pickup locations. It's what makes certain models recognizable. For example, if you swap two J pickups into a Rick in EXACTLY the same place as the Rick pickups (with the pole pieces in the same spot), it will still sound like a Rick. Yes, the pickups will likely have different characters, but the sonic "fingerprint" of a Rick will still be recognizable. A Fender Telecaster has exactly the same pickup placement as the two outer pickups pickups on a Strat. if you add the middle pickup to a Tele, the "in-between" positions on a 5-way switch will sound just like a strat. Yes, the pickups sound a bit different, but the combinations will sound like a strat.

    To make matters worse, the P is not only in a different location than a neck J, it's in TWO different locations. No matter where you put the J, you will get a very different character on the E and the A, than on the D and the G. Much more so than the P by itself. That's because the "interaction" changes. No such discrepancy exists of a J bass. You are creating a new and unique animal. So as you can see, picking a location for a bridge J based on historical J-bass locations in pretty meaningless. To think that way will just put you into uncharted territory. Uncharted for you, that is. None of this means you can't end up with something great of course. But wouldn't it be nice to audition the spot?

    So, I think the best way to pick a spot is to devise a way to temporally slide the pickup location until you find what you like best. Leo himself has such a fixture, albeit a much better one than any of us will cobble together. Fender pickups locations were not an accident (70's bridge location aside maybe). Pickup locations, with particular attention to how pairs of pickups interact, is a big part of design R&D. Anyway, measure twice, cut once.