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Dimarzio Area J vs. Model J (From Geddy to John P. Jones and everything in between) :)

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by STRING DREAM, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Dimarzio Area J's

  2. Dimarzio Model J's



    Dec 2, 2018
    You members have need so helpful in my quest. Thank you! It seems that in my quest to give my Jazz Bass some Precision sounds that I may ultimately sacrifice the wonderful tones that make a Jazz Bass a Jazz Bass in the first place (not a good thing) (Ultimately I just may buy a cheap Squire Precision and upgrade pickups to go with the Jazz Bass). I think I have narrowed it down to two pickup choices.
    1) Dimarzio Area J's
    2) Dimarzio Model J's
    I know everything is a compromise,so I will ultimately choose the pickups that offers a little more than the other in terms of tone and flexibility. So here is what I'm looking for (within reason):
    1) A tone that can give me some Geddy Lee tone (Hemispheres, Moving Pictures), growl, punch, cut while still having some John Paul Jones classic Jazz Bass possibilities (yes I know...day and night)! Given a choice I probably prefer Geddy-like tones as long as some flavor of classic Fender jazz tones are possible as well.
    * My fear is that The Dimarzio Model J will turn my bass too Un-Jazz like.
    If that's the case, are their limitations with the Area J in getting somewhat close to a Geddy-ish tone?
    2) I record full tracks on DAW will one pickup cut through better on a mix with drums, distorted guitars etc.?
    3) I do like to slap and pop from time to time. Do both models achieve a desirable tone for this? is one better than the other (Yes, I know...all subjective).
    4) Is one generally more flexible in different situations than the other (I'm guessing The Area J will be more flexible tone wise,,,but I could be wrong)?
    Thank you everyone, for time, input, and kindness!
    I look forward to your valuable insight. :)
  2. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Play the bass stock for a while, see what it sounds like. Try a few different sets of strings to get closer to the sounds you like. Mess around with the setup to see how that affects your playing and your sound. And really try to learn different ways of playing (techniques), like where to play, how hard or soft, which part of the finger (or pick) to use...

    Only once you know what the limitations of the bass consider new pickups. Maybe the stock pickups will work well. If not, you need to be clear about what are the deficiencies in order to find a pickup that overcomes those deficiencies. Otherwise you will just be chasing tones and spending lots of $$$.

    But to answer your question more generically, I’d say Model J is further away from the tones you seek. Area might work just fine.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018


    Dec 2, 2018
    Thanks Sik,
    Any opinion on the Ultra Jazz pickups?
  4. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    I hear they’re more modern, scooped sounding pickups. But one man’s scooped sound is another man’s flat sound, so go figure...

    Don’t forget to search here (and elsewhere), you’ll find a range of perspectives, comparisons, and sound samples that will help paint the picture.


    Dec 2, 2018
    I have. Lots of adjectives. Lot's of love, hate, or indifference. Lol (like all things) :)
  6. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Yes :)
  7. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    Geddy's 72 Jazz and JPJ's 62 Jazz both have pickups that are vintage voiced with vintage output. The difference is their dichotomy of styles: rounds with a hard finger attack vs flats with a softer finger attack.
    The Area's would be more akin to the pickups on their basses. The rest is up to the setup and player.
    Slater likes this.
  8. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    A Model J in the neck pickup will give you a good P bass tone. I did this mod to one Jazz bass and it sounded like a P bass on tape. It passed the sniff test!

    Geddy and JPJ are poles apart, tonally. JPJ's Zeppelin tone was quite dull, but it locked in well with the kick drum. It basically evolved from JPJ's love of Jamerson, and that Motown bass tone in general. His bass lines were also composed with an ear for Motown, so he was very much locked in with the drums and, while ornate, his parts never dominate.

    Geddy has a very baked-in bright tone, with a prominent spike in the treble frequencies and a lot of overdrive. His bass lines are also fairly consistently busier than JPJ's and he will, say, copy the vocal or main harmonic melody on bass rather than always provide that solid accompaniment in the lower register (as JPJ might).

    Area Js will get you closer to both Geddy and JPJ's tone, whereas Model Js sound more like P bass pickups but really work well in a band context. If you worry that your J bass disappears in the mix then the Model Js are the answer; the trade off is that your bass might sound a bit less lively when you're playing at home.

    Area Js might have a lower output, but you can always turn up the gain! It is more difficult to offset a hot pickup through careful EQ and turning back the gain to whimper point, versus turning up a quieter but more evenly voiced pickup, in my experience.
    Jim C likes this.
  9. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I'm not sure either is the best choice for a vintage tone but having had the Model J for years, I can tell you that it does not sound like a Jazz to me.


    Dec 2, 2018
    Thank you Big for the great insight! It's very helpful. :)


    Dec 2, 2018
    Yeah, I'm thinking of buying a cheap Squier Precision to handle my P craving without completely UnJazzing my Jazz. :)


    Dec 2, 2018
    Thanks Axstar. I appreciate the post and the time you took to write it. It does help me. Funny, I know Geddy and JPJ are miles apart in every way. That why I wrote my disclaimer! lol "A tone that can give me some Geddy Lee tone (Hemispheres, Moving Pictures), growl, punch, cut while still having some John Paul Jones classic Jazz Bass possibilities (yes I know...day and night)!
    Axstar likes this.
  13. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    Then the rabbit hole spelunking entails... First you get a P to add to your J, then you get another J for flats, then another P for flats... Oh hey, that's a great deal on that SUB Ray... :D
  14. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    I have both a passive J-bass with Ultra-J's as well as a newer Bacchus WL-434 (Jazz copy), which has a rinky-dink stock preamp on board (bass/treble) and I swapped a set of Area J's into this bass as soon as I bought it.

    I originally found the Area J's locally a year or two ago and wanted to try them, so I had my luthier pals swap these into my passive Jazz (Warmoth neck, old ESP body, Badass bridge). So this gave me a sampling of both pickups in the same instrument.

    I knew in about 15 minutes that I preferred the Ultra J's in that hefty passive bass. Maybe not a fair comparison, since I'd been playing that bass with the Ultra J's on board for many years, but the warmth and big roundness in the sound they gave me had probably become my personal "normal". I've been solo'ing the Ultra Jazz neck pickup in recent history to get something more in the neighborhood of a P-bass tone. Not a true P-bass clone, but a chugging tone that could sit better in a mix than the scooped sound that comes with both pickups full open; diminished mids, but an absolutely ideal tone for slapping, etc.

    Trying the Area J's in that passive rig convinced me that they'd be worth a try with the help of a preamp. The stars aligned and I found a great deal on the Bacchus several months ago. MUCH better than expected so far with the Area J's in there. The preamp is probably giving me a lot more output than with the passive bass - even with the preamp set flat, the Bacchus is just loud. Not obnoxious, but loun 'n clear, even with both pickups full open. I don't need to solo the neck pickup to get enough mids and clarity in a mix - but I do that sometimes, too. The neck pickup tone has its own panache!

    My bet would be a better chance at a Geddy sound with the Area J's, but more JPJ sounds with the Ultra J's as long as the passive tone control isn't wide open. I agree with our pals though that it also somewhat depends on how either bass is amplified and how it's played. Most reviews of the Model J's claim that they're rather like the Ultra J's, but with just a bit of extra clarity in the mids. So I guess that the Model J's would be more in the JPJ direction, too.

    I'm looking forward to manufacturing an excuse to getting another Jazz so that I can try some Model J's, but that won't happen soon. I'm waiting for my P/J to come back from the shop with fresh pickups and then I might get into building a fretless - I have a neck that's gathering dust and that might be a P/J, too. Bang for the buck? DiMarzio delivers!!

    ...hope this is helpful...
  15. Why not model j in the neck and area j in the bridge?
  16. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    The Model J in series wiring is fat, much like a P. The Area J in series is still clear like a standard single coil. That could get what is desired in the OP. Maybe put a push/pull series/parallel pot on the Model J to get the parallel, clear tone, too.
    I have heard of guys doing the opposite. Area J neck (deep and clear) and Model J bridge (smooth punch). This is more for those who like to solo the bridge pickup.
    alanloomis1980 likes this.


    Dec 2, 2018
    Great and helpful info Groove,,,thanks! It seems maybe the Area J may be the way to go. Slap and pop-wise would my assumption be correct that the Area J's will get me closer to the Larry Graham side and the Ultra J would be entering Flea territory? Is the Area J decent or better for classic slap and pop?


    Dec 2, 2018
    My assumption is that in the configuration I will really only have a Jazz bass in the bridge position when it's not combined. I'm afraid to Unjazz it. lol
    alanloomis1980 likes this.


    Dec 2, 2018
    What about two Area J's with a push/pull for series/parallel? What different tones would I achieve?
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  20. That was my next suggestion! If you wanna keep the classic j tone, area j is your best bet. Not very familiar with these is series, but thats more options. Im pretty sure they can be wires in series with each other AND internally, but thats a whole other can of worms.....

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