Dimarzio Area J vs regular single coils

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Spirit of Ox, Apr 30, 2019.

  1. Spirit of Ox

    Spirit of Ox Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Chelsea Mass
    I just put together a 70's style Jazz bass from various parts and got a good deal on a set of Area Js. I've heard a lot of great things about these stating they are the closest to a true single coil but with humcancelling split coil design.
    I think they sound pretty good but a little polite to my taste. They are a little thicker than the pickups in my 03 Geddy Lee. They are lacking some of the highs and high mids that I like. I believe that those tones will give you that aggressive Jazz bass sound. Especially with the 70's spacing which my parts build has.
    I'm pretty much building an almost clone of the Geddy or really any 70's Jazz bass.
    I'm considering trying a true single coil like Fender Pure 74, Custom Shop 60's, Fender AVRI 75 (80.00 for a set!), and I guess what ever is in the 2003 Geddy Lee (MIJ) since they sound great.
    I'm open to suggestions and also willing to put the Areas for sale here in the classifieds.
  2. Spirit of Ox

    Spirit of Ox Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Chelsea Mass
  3. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    The Dimarzio Area Js are nice sounding pickups, but like most hum canceling pickups, they loose a little bit of that “edge” that true single coils have. If hum canceling isn’t a priority, then I think the Pure Vintage ‘74 or AVRI ‘75 pickups will give you the more aggressive ‘70s tone you’re looking for. However, the Custom Shop ‘60s are wound a little hotter and are in the same ballpark as the ‘74 and ‘75 pickups. So, it looks like you have narrowed things down to three pretty good choices. When I make decisions like this, I usually start with the least expensive option. That way, when I change my mind later, I take less of a hit. ;)
    PawleeP and Spirit of Ox like this.
  4. Spirit of Ox

    Spirit of Ox Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Chelsea Mass
    Thanks for the input. I’m probably going to go with the 75s because they are 80 for a set and I’ve heard them before. I don’t care if they aren’t hum cancelled since I go full on with
    The volumes. My other Jazz bass with
    The Bartolinis is hum cancelled and I solo the bridge pickup on that one (60s spacing).
  5. Spirit of Ox

    Spirit of Ox Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Chelsea Mass
    Before I make my purchase, I'm going to install the original SX pickups that came with the body. Sometimes the cheaper import pickups can sound good. I haven't heard much about the SX pickups. It seems like they are the first thing replaced when someone buys one of those basses.
  6. fishdreams

    fishdreams Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing: Arkham Vacuum Tube Amplification and and Martin Keith Guitars
    The Area Js are very good, indeed a bit on the vintage, transparent, gentle side. However, they did solve (because of active electronics in my jazz-type bass) a specific problem for me in that they are dead silent (hum definitely got in the way when turning the highs with single coils ).
    TonetotheBone and Spirit of Ox like this.
  7. Isotonic

    Isotonic Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    Round Rock TX
    Area J's are great. As reported above, a little soft on the transients, I suspect because of Alnico II magnet. I just hooked mine to a Audere preamp to see if that adds a little edge. I did that with my Nordstrand Big Splits for a similar complaint and having the EQ and the Z-mode really brought out the flavor of the pickups.
  8. Spirit of Ox

    Spirit of Ox Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Chelsea Mass
    That's my problem with the Areas. They are soft on the transients and the low pull Alnicos are very clean, clear, yet soft sounding.
    I put the SX pickups back in and they sound suprisingly good. They are pretty bright and edgy. Not a ton of lows which is OK. The Areas had nice low end but I'm looking for an edgy dirty tone.
    I agree that the Audere preamp will add some grind with the High mid setting on the Z-mode. My other Jazz with the Barts CJBs seound great with the Audere.
    This bass is going to remain passive.
  9. Elias Ullrich

    Elias Ullrich

    Jan 16, 2018
    Where the hell are you getting a set for 80?? May i have a link please :D
  10. Spirit of Ox

    Spirit of Ox Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Chelsea Mass
  11. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    I also tried the Area J's in my passive parts-Jazz. I swapped them in to compare them with a set of DiMarzio Ultra J's that were in that bass for several years. I knew after about only 10-15 minutes that I really preferred the Ultra J's in that bass, but that was probably because I've become so used to them.

    I also got the impression that the Area J's would make for a happy package if paired with an on-board preamp. I tried that recently when I found an affordable Bacchus WL-434, which came with a B/T preamp. With the Area J's swapped in, that bass made some very good sounds.

    I don't have a ton of experience with other J pickups, but wanted to offer this go 'round in case it's useful.
  12. Spirit of Ox

    Spirit of Ox Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Chelsea Mass

    I had the Ultra's a long time ago, like 99. I don't remember much about them except they were brighter than the Model Js and maybe less midrangy.
  13. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    Correct - some knock the Ultra J's for delivering an inherently scooped tone, but the lows and highs are such that they seem to be a slapper's dream come true when both pickups are turned full up. I think that tone is really nice - I don't slap much, but I love having it if I want it. But these also give me other sounds that I really love.

    One setting is with the neck pickup solo'ed - not as Spanky McSlappy, but more "honk" that can cut through a little more with the band. Not saying the neck pickup solo'ed sounds like a P-bass, but it's more in that direction. I never used to play it like this, but once I started using it I really got to like it. When I need to get a more "poppy" sound even when not slapping, I can just turn up the bridge pickup... and maybe step on my Q-Tron.

    Then there's the bridge pickup full up and the neck pickup dialed back just to the point that a little more of that nasally tone starts to come out. Also wonderful. I might give my lows a little bump on the eq at my head, but nothing drastic.

    I'm sure that I'll sample a set of Model J's when another oddball J-bass comes into my life. Actually I have a great fretless neck neck that needs a pocket and some pickups to spread the news. That might be ticket...
    Yahboy likes this.
  14. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    If you want a more raw, edgy tone and want to stay noiseless, IMO Lindy Fralin’s Split-Jazz is the way to go. I’ve had the Fralins in my Fender since 2005, and for awhile I also had a set of Area J in my G&L JB. I liked the Areas, but the Fralins have more character IMO. They really rip at high volume and come very close to true single coil tone.
    Yahboy and Spirit of Ox like this.
  15. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    I put the Area J into my Squier VM77J yesterday, compare to stock pickups ( with same EB cobalt Flatwound ), the Area J are notible less output, tone are clean and sweet. Ofcause, hum-free !!!!
  16. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    For my Washburn Taurus, after some a/b audio comparisons, I ended up choosing the Model Js, and where Area J pickups are polite (and slap-friendly with their contour), Model J ones are rude and ungainly and not pickups you can take on a date. In-your-face mean jazz bass tone, and DiMarzio's hum cancelling technique is impressive.

    With the Area Js, a certain balance and the right mid boost ought to make em pretty durn rude, too, but if you're thinking of switching them, I know what I'd recommend.
  17. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Take the Area J out and reinstalled the stock VM77J pickups.....
    No problem with Area J, she sound pretty sweet, but..... I still prefer the growl from stock pup.
  18. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    it's worth trying the area Js with 500k pots, that'll bring up any missing attack or growl. you'll want to use linear volumes or they'll drop off too fast from "10".
    Sinest and acebase62 like this.
  19. Spirit of Ox

    Spirit of Ox Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Chelsea Mass
    I bought the Fender Pure 74 Jazz bass pickups. They are amazing. I was expecting them to be a little thinner sounding like an underwound grey bobbin of that era but they are suprisingly full with a nice top end. I highly recommend these for a real single coil. Yeah there is hum but that's ok for me since I use both pickups on full.
  20. cm3ohana

    cm3ohana Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    I like the Area J's and agree that they have a polite tone when compared to single coils. Over the years, I've really liked the tone of the Fender Super 55's if I needed hum-cancelling pickups. I felt they had a similar profile to the Area J's with a bit more highs and a little more aggressive in the bridge. Unfortunately, for me, Fender stopped making them.
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