Flatwound-strung jazz bass needs fatter-sounding pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Gleazus, Aug 20, 2018.

  1. Gleazus


    Aug 20, 2018
    Hey ya’ll...

    Been playing bass for about ten years now, but only recently started doing so semi-professionally (usually work as a guitarist). I ended up getting a squier jazz bass from a friend. It has flatwound strings on it, a string type that I generally prefer as i’m a fan of deeper, warmer and fatter bass tones as opposed to brighter and “clangy” ( for lack of a better word.)

    I end up playing lots of gigs and usually am forced to backline amps... in general I find myself frustrated with how thin and trebly my signal is (it’s not super impressive with my otherwise-solid fender rumble either, my friends and I have played other jazz basses through it with much better results, though I obviously could and should get a better amp as well).

    I’m wondering if there are jazz bass pickups that are consistently loud and fat, and that would work well with a flatwound strung jazz bass... in my experience, vintage style pickups aren’t really big or fat enough for what i’m going for, even though I like what they do... basically, I want something with a lot of power that is both warm and fat.

    And before anybody says anyhing about P basses, I think that they are possibly a bit too intense, so maybe something fatter but not quite as “huge” as a P bass style tone... would be willing to give humbuckers or single coils a shot.

    Any of you guys have any suggestions? I know this is a relatively broad question so I welcome any and all suggestions as I would like to hear lots of different ideas.
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder Jazz pickups. Yeah, I know, some people hate them with a passion. But they are really good for making flats on a Fender thump.
    Element Zero, Linnin and Zoobiedood like this.
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Before you put different pickups in, how are you setting the volume and tone controls?
    The fattest, warmest setting on a J is both pickups full on with some tone rolled off.
    If you're using the front pickup alone, that's going to be considerably brighter than both together.
  4. Gleazus


    Aug 20, 2018
    Thank you for your reply Bruce, i’ll check those out for sure... I have noticed a decent amount of hate for Seymour Duncan in general on these forums but I definitely think they have at least a few excellent pickups...

    And thank you as well lz4005! I actually do exactly as you mentioned with both pickups max’ed and tone rolled off, as it is the best way to get the most impact from my bass... but I find that even with my tone rolled off it’s still generally rather bright and thin compared to other basses that I’ve used in the past, and this is even using the same amplifier as a reference.
    Zoobiedood and lz4005 like this.
  5. Eric ER

    Eric ER

    Mar 22, 2015
    Seattle, wa
    Previous: Dusty Strings harp/dulcimer building
    I would think that a fralin split jazz pickup or an over wound jazz pickup by them might be the sound you’re looking for. They will beef up the mids and roll off the highs, and, in effect, fattening up the jazz bass sound without completely changing the character.
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  6. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    DiMarzio Model J.
    I put them in everything.
  7. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    If budget allows and you prefer single coils, I really liked Aero Type 1 in my Darryl Jones bass... beefiest single coils I’ve heard on a Jazz so far probably... (but didn’t try QPs).

    Split coil Jazz pickups might work just as well, there’s quite a few available... Model Js are quite ubiquitous and popular, can be found used for good money. Nordstrand SE model is another candidiate, but a bit more $$.
  8. 4StringTheorist

    4StringTheorist Supporting Member

    If the bass is sounding excessively bright and thin with both pickups full up and flatwound strings, the first thing I wanna check is whether the pickups are wired out of phase. Out of phase pickups could deliver exactly the tone you're describing here.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  9. Wilde J-45 another good choice.
  10. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    That's a good point. Both pickups on and the tone rolled off with flats should be almost unusably dark.
  11. Isotonic

    Isotonic Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    Round Rock TX
    The Dimarzio Area J pickups are economical and fit the warm fat definition. When I want that from them I roll the volume to about 60 or 70%. Same for the tone. Even on rounds, this is a very warm and punchy tone, but more smooth and buttery than a typical P.
  12. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    How about Dimarzio Model J + broken in Chrome ECB + Vintage button on Fender Rumble V3 200/150 or 500/210 ?
    Kevnn4 and br1qbat like this.
  13. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    For loud, fat, and warm, you might like Seymour Duncan's Hot for Jazz Bass (SJB-2), which is an overwound version of the vintage-voiced SJB-1. It will have higher output, fatter low mids, and less treble.

    But you might want to go noiseless, so you can favor the neck pickup without single coil hum. IME, the fattest J-bass tone is neck pickup on full, and bridge rolled off a bit, with treble rolled off to taste. I use this setting most of the time, and prefer noiseless pickups. My favorites are Lindy Fralin's Split-Jazz, but DiMarzio's Area J is darned close at a much lower price. The DiMarzio Model J is great too, but doesn't have the vintage voicing of the Area J.

    Also, consider wiring your current pickups in series, which will add output and fatness, and is cheaper than new pickups.
    TonetotheBone likes this.
  14. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    I find the fattest sound on my Jazzes is when the neck is full and roll off the bridge a bit somewhere before hum begins. Pluck between the heel and neck pickup. Fat warm tone.
    Heavy Blue, Steve88 and Anders Barfod like this.
  15. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Another option is to try a series wiring. Probably the surest way to fatten a Jazz.
  16. Zimborg


    Feb 20, 2017
    I do this too. Roll the bridge off just a bit. With my Chromes I like to play just on the bridge side of the neck pickup.
  17. howlin


    Nov 15, 2008
    I'm Not There
    Get a preamp.
  18. CatchaCuda


    Feb 3, 2018
    Transfer, PA
    This ^ is a good thought.
    If you can solder I think you should give it a try. I hard wired one of mine in series, I got impatient waiting for the SPDT switch in the mail.
  19. sgtpepper


    Jan 22, 2010
    Mexico City
    I believe no one has asked this question... What model is it? Do you have pictures? The bass you see on my avatar is a Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass and I really love it. It is strung with flatwounds and I can get almost every tone I want from it. Maybe, as someone said before, there's a problem with the wiring of the pickups. I have the Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounders and really, really like them. I think it's your best option. I think a preamp is a very good option too.
    Zoobiedood likes this.
  20. Zoobiedood

    Zoobiedood Commercial User

    Sep 1, 2015
    Writer/Ambassador/Artist/Resident Bass Expert for Seymour Duncan
    I've done series wiring, as well as adding a preamp...all of these options work. I like Quarter Pounds, too as well as the Hot Stacks. All of these sound good with flatwounds.
    funkinbottom likes this.