Differences in tone between JJ and PJ pickup configuration.

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Axstar, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    So I've built myself a nice Jazz bass from parts. While I was purchasing the essential parts, I also bought a Reggie Hamilton pickguard from Ebay. I believe it is a WD Music build, though I don't have it to hand.

    The pickguard fits the bass body perfectly, but of course the body needs additional routing for the P pickup up front.

    I like the tone of a P bass. I also like the tone of a Jazz bass with the bridge pickup solo'd and the two pickups on full. I'm not so sold on the tone of a solo'd Jazz bass neck pickup.

    I would rather have a P pickup in the neck position, but I don't want to loose too much of the classic both-pickups Jazz tone. I've tried watching videos of Reggie Hamilton basses on Youtube, but they have a very bright active tone that sort of masks the natural tone of the pickups.

    In short, does a PJ pickup sound close enough to a JJ setup, or is there a fundamental difference in the tone?
  2. GK Growl

    GK Growl Inactive

    Dec 31, 2011
    All IMHO, YMMV, IME, etc but to my ears as a general rule, the E and A strings sound very close with both on. It's the D and G that sound really different because the pickups are closer together.
    Axstar likes this.
  3. I've played both pretty consistently.

    To me, the PJ is slightly thicker with both pickups on in comparison to the JJ with both on.

    The JJ is punchier though.
    Thumb n Fingers likes this.
  4. Agree.
    Some people do not care for PJ's because the P pickup has often more output than the J pickup it is a little imbalanced sometimes. Personally PJ is my favorite combo (I currently don't own one just keeping J's and P's) I really like some of the Yamaha BB's.
    4StringTheorist likes this.
  5. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    The neck pup on a J style can sound very much like a P when using something like a Dimarzio Model J.
    I have a J bass that has these pups and it sounds very P'ish which is not good if you are looking for a true J s.ound.
    They are dead quiet and work very well in the studio.
    I've had this arrangement in a 73' J bass for 35 years and it is usually my go to bass with a Spector or 60's P being the other choices.

    As mentioned above, balance can be an issue when using a P/J although Spector with a HAZ pre-amp fixes this issue; other pre's might do the same.

    IMO, the J can cut through a dense mix with both pups or just the neck pup.
    It will not provide that huge low end fill that a P can do.
    As with both, adding the bridge pup adds some treble but also tightens up the sound with less resonance.
    Two kids of awesome.
    DonH and Axstar like this.
  6. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    I had a BB424 for a while, and it had a fairly proprietary pickup in the bridge position. From memory it had a chunky ceramic magnet on the back. The P pickup didn't seem too aggressively voiced, and Yamaha paired it with a higher output and bright bridge pickup to allow the two to blend.

    I forgot I owned that bass.....
  7. A good thing I refreshed your memory, now you know how a PJ will sound ; )
    From what I recall the passive BB414 had much more punch than the active BB424.
  8. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    My bass was passive but had a pickguard, which is why I think it was a BB424 rather than a BB414. A local pawnshop had an active BB 424 bass for a while with a three-band EQ, but it didn't have a pickguard. I see Yamaha have rehashed the range since I had mine anyway, and brought back the 'US roadsign' pickguard shape of the '80s basses.
    Frenchy-Lefty likes this.
  9. I have always loved the feel and manufacturing quality of Yamaha basses. I owned a Lefty TRB1005 which was the smoothest playing bass I had ever owned. I did not care for the electronics and the 90's look.
    I am glad to see that Yamaha is releasing a new batch of BB's. Not sure whether they'll make some lefty versions of them so I might just be window shopping anyway.
  10. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    I have a jazz and a PJ. To be honest, I'm over the jazz sound. There isn't anything that it can do that my PJ can't get close enough so as to make virtually no difference - especially in a mix. But there are definitely things that the PJ can do that the jazz can't.

    I think the key thing is getting a matching set of pickups. I'm currently using a set of Delanos. So far, I'm loving them. They're dead quiet and there's no difference in level between the two pups.
    Frenchy-Lefty and Axstar like this.
  11. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    I'm looking at a Dimarzio Area P/J set they sell bundled as the Dimarzio DP251. Any good?
  12. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    J neck pup could sound like P bass, but more a like single coil 50p rather than Split 60P.

    I more prefer the J/HB tone in my Cort/sandberg Arona IV.
  13. I Concur that yamaha is doing their BB PJs the right way. The bridge bladed PU is indeed made with a chunky ceramic magnet and can at least imho stand on its own. Therefore the P does not overpower the J giving it a full and rich sound with both PUs on for which the BBs are known. Can't compare it to a Jazz but definitely love this sound from my BB424X.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
    Axstar likes this.
  14. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    I've never used them but I've read that people enjoy them. Everybody around here seems to be all about the EMG Geezer pups, which also come in a PJ set. Myself, I dig Nordstrand for a vintage-inspired tone. These Delanos are anything but vintage... They're very crisp and articulate but I dig it.
  15. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    I wired a P/J with a series/parallel push-pull for the split P pickup. It helped get a little more of that J clarity and balance in the combined mode.
    PawleeP likes this.
  16. Afaik there was no active BB424. The BB42x, 102x and 202x series were all passive. The following X series with the Pickguard was all passive too. They introduce active BBs with the new series again.
    Gt6s likes this.
  17. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    The one I saw, but never owned, was a BB614. Basically a BB424 with a 3-band EQ.
  18. PawleeP


    Oct 8, 2012
    East Coast
    What pup were you running for the J (bridge)?
  19. Dean N

    Dean N

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I always wondered about about a slanted J pickup (in-line, or single coil) compared to a P pickup in the same location. On paper, it'd make for a more consistent string-to-string response. Can anyone comment?
  20. I think a P trying to cop a single coil J tone at the neck position sounds infinitely better than a J trying to cop a P. Folks tend to think of PJ’s as a P with a J pup added for extra flavor, but I think of it in the reverse. The P can make the J platform more versatile. The J can kind of kicks the legs out from under the P platform. It’s all in how you use it.
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