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Dimarzio Area J - My review

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by rojo412, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Not long ago, I was commissioned to aide TB member and fellow employee Petch in the quest to fix his American Jazz Deluxe. After examination, it was discovered that the pickups were the issue, suffering from insulation breakdown.

    After reading reviews on TB, Petch and I decided that the Dimarzio Area J was worth a shot as a replacement. They are reasonably priced, get a lot of positive feedback, and are easy to get. People seemed to describe them as the "Vintage sound" replacement, which suits his playing style very well.

    They arrived today and I installed them. And from the moment I plucked that first string, I knew...
    These are the right pickups!

    The tonality of the pickups is very much a "vintage vibe". They are clean and round, the output is nice and thick, and they are dead quiet (well shielded and humbucking helps that).
    For the fingerstyle-only player, the classic rocker, the guy who wants modern made but not modern sounding, you definitely need to try these.
    Now granted, I haven't had much time on them and just plugged them in at home, so I'm not exactly sure of how they'll sit in the mix, but as a guy who's owned 62 basses and played thousands, I can take a darn good guess at how they'll fit.

    Petch will likely add his own take on these once he gets the bass back, but I'm confident that he'll be tickled pink. They are really nice and I'd just like to take this moment to thank all of those other reviews on TB for being right:
    These are Dimarzio's Classic sounding pickup.
    If that's your aim for replacements, TRY THEM. They are nice!

    I will also add, if you are a Modern, SuperJazz player who needs the uber-crisp, scoopy, high-output, flame-throwing pickups, you will absolutely hate these pickups.
    You would definitely be more in the market for the Dimarzio Ultra Jazz. I've had those and they are the polar opposite of these, tonally speaking.

    Now, if Dimarzio would just make some 5 string pickups to fit Fender 5 string basses...
    waynobass likes this.
  2. boynamedsuse

    boynamedsuse Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Great review. Thanks. :cool:
  3. im a dimarzio guy. nuthin but dimarzios in all my basses. the bass that gets gigged the most is the one with the area Js. love em. you review is spot on rojo.
  4. nice review, might have to pick em up (lol gettit)
  5. recnsci


    Apr 8, 2010
    Hi rojo,
    I've read few reviews on AreaJ and I got a bit confused 'cus some people say AreaJ has vintage tone (what ever that would mean) while other say it has nailed typical single coil tone (which would mean new stock fenders as well). So how does, in your opinion, AreaJ compare to new stock Fender pickups? And how balanced (string-wise) are they?

    As in "this is not good p'up for slappers" or you have meant something else?
  6. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    From what I can tell, it'd be a great pickup if you were going for an "Old school" funk sound. Old-school slap stuff would be great with these.

    But if you're going for that crispy "Marcus" tone, I'd say these aren't ideal for that. The Ultra Jazz is THAT tone, right out of the box.

    I haven't played any newer Fenders, so I can't say for sure how they compare.
    The balance, string to string, is really nice.

    I'm more of a hum-cancelling J pickup guy. If I've played any Fenders with single coils (MIM usually, I think), I always thought "These pickups aren't for me. Not enough scoop in the tonality." I do think that this pickup does represent a bit of that sound that I wouldn't personally try to attain, but I like how it did it in a hum-free way.
    And if I found myself in a classic rock group, this would be my pickup of choice, hands down.
  7. i think I hear what you're saying. I have the Ultra Js in a ash body jazz going from the Marcus thang, nail it I thought.

    But I do like the Old, Old school early black tape flatwound early, early Larry Graham FUNK, you know the early P BASS Ohio Players slap'in flat wound FUNK that the kids don't know even existed. B.R.W. (before round wounds :D)

    Is it that kind of pickup, were're talk'in about, da kind?
  8. recnsci


    Apr 8, 2010
    Thanks rojo,

    I'm thinking about replacing p'ups in my Highway 1 Jazz, which should be somewhere between MIA and MIM. While I mostly seek better string to string balance, I would like if replacement pickup is just a bit less nasal. Classic rock tone is great for me, pretty close to where I personaly gravitate (I play with pick most of the time OTOH).
  9. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    YES! Exactly.
    I was thinking the late 60s and early 70s. Larry Graham, all the way.

    But at the same time, lay down some Zeppelin songs with the same bass.
  10. That what I'm talk'in about, going from Hendrix to Hazel to Sabbath nice :bassist:
  11. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Has anyone tried the 5 string version of the Area J's?

    I have an MIM Jazz 5'er with the active electronics......and it's not that I hate the stock pickups (not at all) but I find I'm in a real experimental mood lately. Don't want to buy new gear, just feel like tweaking a bit with what I already have.

    Just wondering how the Area J 5's sound compared to the Fender Noiseless 5's. To be totally honest, I don't even know what other pickups you would compare the Noiseless 5's to. So for all I know I could install the Area J's and hear no real differance.
  12. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    then the areas are the ticket, as they stagger the magnets to actually have good string balance.

    the ultras are flat like regular jazz pickups (don't ask me why :scowl:), and so can be weaker in the two middle strings.
  13. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    The Area 5 won't fit in a Fender 5. I really wish Dimarzio would make the Fender sizes, though. I'd have bought the UJs for mine, instead of paying as much as I did for the Nordstrands.

    But I've just compared the Noiseless 4 string version to the Area 4 string. They are similar enough to give the bass that quality of its original character, but with slight adjustments in a good way.
    Output is similar, tonality is relatively similar, the Area just has an edge for quietness because it's a better shielded pickup.
  14. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    I am really really loving my set of Area J's in my Warmoth Jazz. she's made of Swamp Ash, Goncalo Alves and Pau Ferro with a Badass II and J-Retro. It's got the best of old/new school vibe going on with an aggressive wood sound. These pickups sound better to me ears (on this bass) than Nordstrand NJ4-70's wound and they are entirely noiseless, more so than any other "noiseless" pickup I have tried. I've been meaning to make some sound clips. I shall soon.
  15. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Thanks for the info. If the two brands are that similar then it doesn't make much sense to swap. (Plus the fact that allterations to the pickup cavities would have to be made).

    Oh, well. No harm in asking.
  16. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Seriously. It's beyond me why DiMarzio would make five string J-bass pickups that don't fit Fenders, and if they did, I would have bought Area J's for my 2008 Jazz V instead of Nordstrands.

    I now have Area J's in my G&L JB, and I think they're great. They sound a bit like the Nordstrand NJ5FS in my Jazz V, with a little less modern edge/sheen than the Nordies. In a band mix, they have similar clarity and punch. To me, they sound very close to typical MIA single coils (G&L, MIA Fender), with a little more thump, and they're slightly more aggressive than the G&L singles.

    I also dig the staggered polepieces. The poles under the A and D strings are raised pretty far, and should work with a vintage 7.5" radius, but they provide excellent balance on my 12" radius G&L too.
  17. petch

    petch Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Medina, Ohio
    Rojo, you are the man! The sound you're describing suits me to a "T". Tomorrow, the bass is coming my way and some fine beer is headed your way. I can't wait to try it! :hyper:
  18. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I can't wait for you to hear it! We done good, Petch... we done good.
  19. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009

    my experience with them has been that the area smokes the fender in terms of being louder and livelier, i.e., more like the real thing, than the somewhat dull and "polite" noiseless versions.

    i suppose the preamp might be masking the difference a bit, as it already has a bit of volume and treble boost to compensate for those pickups.

    i've never noticed the "noiseless" to have any hum, though.
  20. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I sit in front of my computer when I play these basses, so I tend to get a "buzz" on just about everything.
    Whether it was the insulation breaking down on the Noiseless, or the better shielding on the Dimarzio, it seemed quieter to me.

    I felt they both had a similar "voice" in their tonality. A rounder, traditional Fender sound to them. By comparison, 2 of my other basses have Nordstrands, which are a completely different kind of voice.
    I didn't have the Noiseless hooked up the day I got the Areas, so I couldn't A/B the two side by side. I had to go from memory and I've never found the Noiseless to be "low output".

    Petch, you may have to chime in, as you've spent the most time with the bass before the mod.