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Factors that must be considered when mating pups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by draginon, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. draginon


    Oct 4, 2004
    hey folks,

    I was interesting in replacing the pups in my P\J bass. I know the best thing to do would be to buy a PJ set of my choice and put them in. My problem is that I already have a dimarzio DP127 split humbucking P pickup that I am interested in trying out and I need a J pickup to mate with it.

    I dont know anything about ohms, output, resistance, etc.. as it relates to pickups so could someone explain to me what factors I should pay attention to when trying to mate pickups.

    ( iwas thinking about bartolini pickup at the bridge but then I remembered seeing things about my split-P pickup having high output and barts having very low output).
  2. fish man

    fish man

    Nov 14, 2005
    Ontario, Canada

    I'm also curious re this...

  3. Bellbass

    Bellbass Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2004
    Montreal, Canada

    Another curious...
  4. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    I had a set of passives put into my Spector ... with stunning results ... this is who I used ... http://www.has-sound.com/ ... Stan can build them to whaterver spec you need or want.
  5. draginon


    Oct 4, 2004
    SOMEONE on this forum knows something about this.


    SURELY there is someone out there who has a bass that has 2 pickups with one sub-par pickup who is looking to only swap out that one pickup and keep the other "stock pickup".
  6. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Coil resistance can tell you a lot about output levels. Check the pickup you are taking out, and match it up somewhat with the new one. When installing, you have usually a 50/50 chance of having the polarity matching up. So, you may need to swap + and -. What do you have now, and what are you going to be replacing it with?
  7. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    He said he wanted a J mate for his DiMarzio P.

    So, how about a DiMarzio J? Here's this from http://www.dimarzio.com/:

    "The hum-cancelling Ultra Jazz™ takes a traditional Fender® Jazz Bass® sound and really opens it up. Lows are deeper, highs are more percussive and the mid-range is round but not muddy. Harmonic overtones jump off the strings. It's also quick; with instant response to either fingers or pick-style playing. There's only one word for this combination of qualities: “musical.” Choose the perfectly matched Ultra Jazz™ pair, or try an Ultra Jazz™ bridge pickup with a Split P™ in the middle position."
  8. eots


    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    I had 3 j/j basses and 1 p/j bass that I did some pup swapping between the lot. My subjects were a Carvin fretless lb75af 5 string that had carvin's h50n stacked humbuckers, a Yamaha bb405 w/bartolini's (dual coil) and I also got the stock pups thrown in the deal, A yamaha bb605 w/ stock pups, (probably the same pups as the 405's), and a p/j 4 string that I put together from parts. I used a P pup from another Fernandes p that I'd replaced w/ a SD 1/4lb'er. I also had an extra set of Carvin single coil j99's at my disposal.
    The Carvin fretless and Yamaha bb605 are active only (no bypass) while the bb405 and p/j are passive.
    My considerations for which pup got to stay in which bass was
    1st: had to be quiet. I hate hum.
    2nd:bring out the properties of what the intended use of what the bass was to be used for.
    In the project p/j bass, I threw all those pups in the j position.
    The 1st thing I found out was that a proper shielding job was the key to peace and quiet.
    A P by nature, is quiet. A J by nature, isn't.
    I didn't like single coils in the fretless Carvin at all. The barts were adequate so I sold it with them.
    The barts weren't particularly impressive in either of the Yamahas. The 405 retained the stock pups as a result. The 605 kept the Carvin h50's cause they are quiet when using either pup solo'd unlike The stock Yamaha pups. That is the only 5 that I currently own.
    The p/j tried all those j pups but the best fit, sound wise and the quietest, was the Carvin j99 mated with the fernandes P.
    It's wired with a pull up vol. to switch from parallel (a separate vol for the p and the j) to series ( second j vol. is bypassed).
    The p/j Carvin J99 is surprisingly quieter solo'd than my Carvin lb70P with it's j99 solo'd. I didn't go out and find a matched set, I just used what I had and this combo works great .
    I really like the SD 1/4lb'er in the P bass that I have and would like to try it in this p/j but I'm satisfied enough with the sound/tone/output that I don't want to spend more time on it.
  9. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    I think this is a first. Looked like the thread was getting plenty of response so I didn't even bother to open it up. Responses were mostly bumps as it turned out.

    My experience in matching mag pups in terms of resistance and all that it's highly over-hyped. Any pups that experience a problem and won't pair up is the exception, not the other way around. Haven't even run into problems when I've mixed actives and passives.

    Whether it produces the sound you want is a shot in the dark but no more so in my experience than matched sets. In fact you probably stand a better chance with two totally different pups cause you're getting two different tones. Most matched same style sets are identical pups in terms of tone - they don't wire the neck/bridge differently to compensate for their location. I've thrown plenty of neck J's in at the bridge and they sound just like their bridge counterpart.

    You probably have about 1% chance of pairing up pups that have some kind of weird mismatch showup. I can't even recall any off hand out of 70 plus pup sets and who knows how many combinations.
  10. draginon


    Oct 4, 2004
    I have a split P that I want to throw into my PJ bass. I've heard interesting things about barts so I want to throw in a bart J at the bridge. I also like the barts because they dont have exposed poll pieces too. I am going for a certain look as well.

    I don't understand what you mean when you say swap + and - though
  11. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Electrical signals in their simplest form travel on a "hot" wire (positive, +) and a "ground" wire (negative, -). Like the two ends of a battery. If you put a battery in backwards, the device won't work. Same thing is true with pickup wires- you have to have the positives and negatives hooked up correctly, or the pickups won't sound right. Look at the wires of your pickups- one will be black and the other white, or black with white stripes, or grey, etc. <<EDIT: apparently I was mistaken about which color wire is generally hot- see posts below>>
  12. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    actually +/- is misleading and is more accurately symbolizing a relationship than reality. With few exceptions (depending on pup design) +/- are interchangeable - afterall, that's how you get humcanceling mode in an HB - and it doesn't matter which lead you use for "hot". You're talking about the start/finish of one wire for starters, not two different wires (but anything included in a circuit is essentially one long wire anyway).

    With two pups the "relationship" matters to avoid throwing the pups out of phase - you want finish to finish ("-/-") and start to start ("+/+").

    Color codes vary according to maker. Black is finish (ground) for Fender. In general, hotter colors are "hot" and cool colors are ground. But again, it's the raltionship that matters and you can reverse them with few exceptions and it wouldn't matter. You don't even need to know the code to wire pups, you just need a meter to determine which leads are related to which coil and any grounds.
  13. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Oops, I didn't realize black was ground for Fender!

    As far as the other details, I was oversimplifying to explain +/-. I would argue that the relationship IS the reality- after all, current flow is based on relationships, not on inherent "positiveness" or "negativeness" of a component. I would avoid telling a new guy that +/- are "misleading" and don't matter, because AFAIK that's only true for a single unpowered pickup.
  14. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004


    No doubt it can be confusing but it's accurate in my experience. In fact I'm confused by your response in that "I would argue that the relationship IS the reality- after all, current flow is based on relationships, not on inherent "positiveness" or "negativeness" of a component." to me is agreeing with what I said but I'm guessing it's supposed to be an argument.

    By "unpowered" I'm guessing you mean passive pups. And yes active pickups are a different animal becuase the pathways are locked in via the internal preamp. The vast majority of pups in basses are passive as are the DM's in the original post.

    But any passive pup is in essence a single coil pup with a start and finish or combination there of. Two single seperate coils or one HB and you're dealing with basically the same thing : two coils and four start/finish. What I said is as applicable for a dozen pups as a single. You can reverse the leads in an HB (or two of them), and wire the positives to negative and visa versa and it will work the same.

    If you look on guitarelectronics site you'll see color codes for various pups. They don't list postive and negative, they list start and finish. Makers often use postive and negative on their sites to simplify understanding so their customers get it right (assuming an employee hasn't miswired a lead - which has happened).

    At any rate, I would be concerned about mismatching pups - although it's a good thing to check out if you're going to buy brand new pups cuase you'll never recover the cost.
  15. Actually, the black lead on Fender pickups is the START of the coil. There is a very good reason for this. The ground connection on these pickups are on the inside of the coil because the coil wire physically touches the metal polepieces there. If there is a short caused by a breakdown in wire insulation and it shorts to the magnets (poles), it is better for it to be closest to the ground connection, not hot.

    With this in mind, you should always follow the manufacturer's color codes. Normally black means ground (start) and white means hot (finish). Of course this doesn't usually apply to humbuckers because the coil is wound onto plastic bobbins and do not touch the poles. The only time it does matter is if the metal baseplate is grounded to one of the coils, such as humbuckers using vintage style single conductor/braided shield cable.

    I have a listing of most major manufacturer's color codes on the "Free Wiring Info" page of my website (see signature below). Using my chart, remember that with very few exceptions, start=ground and finish=hot.

    Thanks Kenny for the nice words...

    Regards, Stan Hinesley
  16. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    When mating a P and a J I will always choose a humbucking J.

    Stacked, in-line, it doesn't matter but
    - you want a slightly higher output from the J than the P to compensate position
    - you're gonna get buzz from a single J because it won't humbuck with its neck mate.
  17. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Yep agree that manufacturer recs should be followed when they're known (often not the case in my experience) and that to my knowledge that a grounded lead should run to ground. And I wasn't suggesting otherwise, but I didn't know that ground was typically linked to start or finish either when they was no seperate ground wire. For the most I've referred to the guitar electronics site for color code and that actually uses guitar HB's. But it was the most thorough list I'd run across in one spot. I assumed that Start was hot and finish was ground. As a result, as it turns out, I've always run Fender black to ground. But I've swapped them and they worked and sounded the same. I know there are exceptions out there to that - there always are.

    I've had so many different pups over time and run into various mixes that I've just wired from the guitar site and hard copies of maker diagrams I have and if it didn't work that way I changed it to where it did. Actually seldom have had a problem but no big deal to change it when an issue arose.

    I'll check out your site for color codes cause sounds like an improvement over the guitarelectronics site for bass.
  18. I'm not saying that you can't swap them ever. How would you wire up a phase switch? There would be no problem in swapping leads as long as there is not a problem inside the coil. Sometimes over time, sweat and beer and other junk getting down into the pickup, the magnet poles corrode or rust inside the coil and break down the coil wire insulation where they touch. After awhile the coil wire shorts to the magnet. It happens much more often than you think! You would want the ground to be there. If there were a problem in the pup you would usually know...a loud hum when you touch the magnets would be an indicator.

    Regards, Stan Hinesley
  19. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    Regarding the original post, my initial input about mismatch was in terms of something weird, but JazzAd brought up common complaints by players which deserve some consideration and probably a lot of guys would include as mismatch - hum and output. They may or may not be issues for you, they’re not for me. It just depends on a lot of variables.

    HASSound: I don’t think we’re saying different things for the most part. Maybe you can answer a question that came to mind which is since a winding is a single wire, what difference does it make which end is grounded. Apparently it does make a difference.

    Concur, increase hum in touching the poles is a red flag for a ground issue - in my experience it could be anywhere in the system but I've experienced little problem with pups. If there’s an issue with the pup itself it will often be exhibited in terms of knowing the pups history, appearance (ie damaged winding from someone prying a pup out of a routing with a screw driver), loose poles, microphonics, or swapping leads. In all most likely with vintage pups, which for the most part I avoid. I simply wire the pup straight to the jack which narrows it to the pup or jack within the bass. If there’s no grounding issue in doing so, the problem is elsewhere. So not hard a thing to figure out.

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