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Fender Jazz - 3 knob vs 2 stacked knobs... why?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jenderfazz, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. Jazz basses originally came with 2 concentric pots, which later changed to 3 single pots. The originals had volume/tone for each pickup, while the 1962 to present have volume for neck, volume for bridge, and master tone. I understand that it's a little more complex to have to deal with two tones. Volume/Volume/Tone is simpler. However, Les Pauls have two volumes and two tones. And I'd imagine that you can get a little more tonal variety that way. And if the three knob style is the norm, why don't companies offer double stacked knobs as an option for those looking for a little more control over tone?
  2. ii figured they did it to make it simpler.i dont wanan step on toes but it seems back then when the bass frist came out they wanted 1 or 2 sounds.
  3. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    I tried a bass with a J-Retro today. Every pot was stacked, and some were push/pull.

    WAY too many options for live use, based on my past experience. Hard to change on the fly, even harder to recreate sounds quickly.
  4. I disagree. I have a Jazz with J-retro and have no problem changing on the fly.
  5. I understand the simplicity aspect, especially back then, but you'd figure that now, almost 50 years later, some companies would offer it as an option. And in theory, it shouldn't be that much of an issue, considering you only have to turn two knobs instead of one to fully change the tone. Essentially, you're splitting the tone knob into two component knobs, kind of the way the two volume knobs work compared to a P Bass, for example. If you can get used to turning two volume knobs at a time to raise the volume of both pickups, two tone knobs shouldn't be too bad. I think it'd be interesting to rewire a jazz that way sometime. Maybe pick up a MIM Classic 60s Jazz and give it the original wiring.
  6. Anti_Wish


    May 14, 2004
    Boston, Ma
    you turn two volume knobe to get louder? see, i can understand all the knobs. i would love a series II alembic. and if i ever get a custom bass i will say bring on the switches and knobs. but back then im guessing with all those "back in my day" stories that nobody liked the electic bass. they thought, "hmmm, this is stupid and the knobs are too complicated. lets just give it one tone knob so these guitarist turned bassists can understand the darn thing. they are too stupid to play guitar anyway" but if i did get a series II it would have either a pickup selector switch and master volume, or volume pot per pickup and master volume.
  7. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    Maybe it's just me, but I can get what I need out of my Jazz with the volume/volume/tone configuration. As far as I'm concerned simpler is always better.
  8. That's true, and most of the time it is enough. But then people wouldn't have 3 band EQ onboard preamps and stuff on their basses. And then, even if 3 band is the most popular choice, and 2 band also exists, I believe some preamps have 4 band EQ's (High, High Mid, Low Mid, Low). I'm not an expert on preamps or anything, but I'm just saying, the option is there. You figure more people or more companies would exercise the 2 tone option in a passive bass, especially on a bass as popular as a Jazz bass.
  9. morebass!

    morebass! I'm all ears Supporting Member

    May 31, 2002
    Madison WI
    I bought the stacked-knob jazz Smash mentioned above and my jury is still out on the electronics. I've owned 3-knob jazzes previously so can compare the two. The 2 tone controls are interactive. The main factor is that if you favor one pickup then that one's tone knob dominates. For example if you have the volume of the bridge pickup backed off then the tone of the neck pickup is very powerful and the the tone of the bridge pickup very non-influential. With both pickups on full you can hear the interplay between the tone controls more. I usually use this setting due to significant hum with either pickup favored. I roll off the neck pickup tone quite a bit now. My technique is not real clean and much of the finger/fret noise comes from that pickup. However I like the neck pickup highs left in for a fat vintage slap sound. I should mention that the bass has SD antiquity IIs in it that are pretty ballsy in the lows. Smash also wired in the series/parallel option so this bass has given me a lot of options to play with.

    Overall the stacked tones give more tonal options but maybe not what you'd expect. Before I got it I thought I'd like the neck tone left up and cut the bridge tone but it's turned out the exact opposite. I don't really dig the complexity of it so I thought about switching it back to a standard 3-knob setup but didn't. Besides being lazy I haven't fully explored it. There's alot going on there in a non-linear way that's hard to describe. I've had 3-band EQs (NTMB) that were more intuitive.

    I should also mention that I've got very heavy gauge strings on it now and tune it DGCF. This is a very large sounding bass now but not so good for slap. I can very precisely contol the amount of cut with the stacked pots. But, as mentioned before, changing on the fly and recreating tones are more difficult.

    My next mod may very well change all this. I want a single volume knob, a pickup balance knob, and not sure about one or 2 tone contols. Retaining the parallel/series option would be nice too. Not sure if you can have 2 tones with this kind of setup. Also not sure how to get there from here but also not urgent as I'm making nice sounds with the current setup.
  10. bogart


    Dec 11, 2003
    big bear, ca
    I'm with you. I only play an mia jazz, and with those simple knobs I can go from funk to jazz, punk to hard rock in the blink of an eye. Thank you, fender for simplicity.
  11. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Just a guess, but probably Leo just figured it didn't matter and the three single pots were cheaper.

    I've got Jazzes both ways, and I'd say there's a lot more to how the instrument itself resonates (rings), setup, weight, and neck construction that I care about. Give me those flimsy necks (no graphite!), real light dried out bodies and stock pups any day. The controls don't really matter a whole lot one way or the other. My 2c.