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G&L MFD pickups in a Jazz Bass - what do you think?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Biodome, Apr 23, 2010.


  1. Biodome

    Biodome Guest

    Apr 16, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Hello,

    I finally got my first ever brand new bass, and now I'm thinking of modding it. It's an 08 Fender Am. Std. Jazz bass in black/maple, with good tone, but I've always wanted something that could give me p-bass punch in a Jazz bass body.

    First, would the MFD pickups fit? I realize they'd require extra routing, but I suspect the J pickups might be wider (just eyeballing it).

    Second, I would leave it a passive VVT with a series/parallel switch for the pickups - do you think that would let me approximate a P-bass in a Jazzy husk, while retaining some J and of course adding a version of the L2000?

    Interested to hear your thoughts!
     
  2. renniw

    renniw

    Nov 30, 2004
    Lévis (Québec)
    I have a G&L jazz bass (tribute JB-2) and I've put in it Bartolinis classic bass J-Bass pickups (as recommended by Brian at best bass gear) and the neck pickup soloed is at 90% P-bass sound....

    The best is I didn't have to modify the bass to accomodate the pickups and I kept the VVT setup.

    I know it doesn't answer your question, but it give you another way to approach the P-bass sound...
     
  3. Biodome

    Biodome Guest

    Apr 16, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks! That's a great idea - you mean the hum-cancelling Bartolinis?

    I think part of the reason I'm leaning toward the MFDs is that I also like the idea of having a more unique bass, plus I like the idea of having that much beef in a Jazz. Any other thoughts?
     
  4. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Why not replace the neck pickup with a P pickup and get a custom pickguard made? You'd get the traditional PJ configuration with a Jazz bass look instead of the P bass look.
     
  5. Biodome

    Biodome Guest

    Apr 16, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Hey! Another great suggestion. That had occurred to me, but I have never really been a big fan of P-Js - I like having matched pickups for 2 pickup basses (I find that even two humbuckers sounds more "jazzy" to me than a P-J, which sounds more like a mean-ass Precision. And, again, I like the idea of having a bass that no-one (or not many) folks have.

    I suppose I should mention that the reason I'm looking to pack all this stuff into a Jazz bass is that I like the feel of a j-bass, and the one I got from Fender is wicked solid, but I don't mind if it looks a little oddball. I like the neck and the way it balances, but I'm not particularly attached to the electronics.
     
  6. kai_ski

    kai_ski

    Apr 14, 2007
    Wenatchee, WA
    I have an L2000 with the single coil option, and I don't think the two humbuckers sound much like a Jazz bass, but the single coil option definitely provides that sound. My bass also has the J-style neck, so I have no need/desire for a Jazz bass too, plus I like the more slender body of the L2000.

    It would be cool to have the VVT setup with two MFD's and a series/single coil/parallel switch. That's the only suggestion I have if you decide to do this mod.

    I'm not very experienced with the 'electronics', so I don't know the benifits of a 'tone' pot vs. the Volume/Treble cut/Bass cut pots on the L2000 but I do know backing off the treble allows me to dial in the P bass sound a lot better when I solo the neck pup, and backing off the bass a tiny bit gets really chunky when I solo the bridge, like a MM. I go full on for a Jazz sound, and I always had my tone knob on full on my old Jazz bass anyway.

    So my other suggestion would be to find an L2000 with a #6 or #8 neck (1.5" nut, different radii) and the single coil option. You should be able to find one for the same price as you could sell your USA Jazz for.
     
  7. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Philadelphia
    I loves me some MFD action, but wouldn't cut up an MIA Jazz to get it, despite the probable coolness of the result. But that's me.

    For a pickup swap, you could try DiMarzio Model J's, which are high output, thick sounding pickups with ceramic magnets. I wouldn't expect a sound like MFD humbuckers, but the DiMarzio Model P sounds similar to an MFD split-coil, so I figure maybe the Model J's would approximate what an MFD J pickup would sound like. Who knows? Just a thought.

    Otherwise, if budget permits, you could order a USA L-2000 with a Jazz neck option. The stock nut width is 1.75", but you can get 1.5" with either 7.5" or 12" fretboard radius. Some shops even order them with the Jazz neck, so you might be able to find one without a special order. G&L uses Plek fret levelling now, so it will probably play better than your Jazz. My G&L's play better than my Jazz.

    Anyway, my Jazz pickups are 3 9/16" long, while the MFD humbucker in my L-1500 is about 3.75" long, so you wouldn't have any exposed cavity if you did this. And if you do, of course, we need pics!
     
  8. Biodome

    Biodome Guest

    Apr 16, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    I should mention that it is a foregone conclusion in my mind that I will do this, and deep down I'm just looking to hear how awesome an idea it is. My birfday is coming up so I'm going to try and get the pickups then, and I have a friend who works at a luthier so I'm hoping the routing can get done there for cheap. We'll see. Part of the reason that I'm doing this to this particular bass is that I've bought and sold lots of basses and keep going back to the Jazz but wanting more, fatter sounds out of it, and this being my first brand new instrument I'd like to make it my "30 year" bass (I'm sure that's the first time *that's* been said).

    I didn't realize it was possible to get a 3-way switch for series/parallel/single - that would be ideal.
     
  9. PSPookie

    PSPookie

    Aug 13, 2006
    Ocoee, TN
    That could be a killer bass. I would definitely go with the 3-way switch (maybe even one for each pickup) and I would also think about VV and stacked Treble & Bass knobs. These are psssive filters where the treble knob is the same thing as the tone knob on a jazz and the bass is the inverse of that. The wiring would essentially be liek that of an L-1000 and shouln't be too hard to execute.

    If you do this you must post pictures :D
     
  10. I own a couple of jazz basses (a 10 year old Warmoth with SD Antiquity IIs and an '08 Am. Std. Jazz V with Lakland/Hanson pickups), as well as a USA L2500 with series(w/caps)/parallel/SC switching for each pickup and V/V controls (no tone right now). I also own a fantastic Regenerate Guitar Works Pbass with a Nordy NP4 pickup.

    The G&L is it's own beast. Even with both pickups in SC mode (outer coils), it really doesn't sound THAT much like a jazz. It sounds fantastic, and retains some of the jazz punch and SC clarity, but it really doesn't make me think "jazz bass". With the neck pickup in series mode, it does sound more like a Pbass, but the bass frequencies are too strong without some bass-cut.

    In some ways, I hoped my G&L would replicate the P/J/MM sounds enough that I wouldn't feel a need to have all the others, but that's not entirely the case. No matter how I've set the switches or volume controls, they sound very much like a G&L (which is great since it is a G&L and I have Fender-based instruments for their own sounds).

    I have found that using the stock passive bass/treble controls can get you much closer to the various sounds you're looking for. The MFD pickups are so powerful and big that they really benefit from cutting the lows to emulate other less-big sounding pickups (like the P/J).

    So, the only way that you'll really get a close P sound AND a good J-tone will be to use the passive filtering - specifically the bass filter. G&L uses a 1Meg pot for the bass cut, but you could easily swap in a 500k and still have a very usable range. 250k/500k concentric pots are pretty easy to get, so you could keep a V/V/T arrangement with the "T" being concentric bass/treble controls.

    I'm starting to work on a "varitone" of sorts specifically tuned to the G&L MFD pickups. Ideally it would be dual-concentric rotary switches for independent bass and treble controls. Sourcing the switch is painful, though.

    As far as "cool factor", anything with MFD pickups is cool in my book.
     
  11. Biodome

    Biodome Guest

    Apr 16, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Good to know! I forgot the MFDs were their own beasts that might be too much in the low end. I think I'll go for V/V (concentric), T/T (concentric), and a big ole parallel/series/single switch where the 3rd pot would normally go. Thanks for the input! Again, I'm not looking for it to "be" a jazz or p-bass, just to be able to fill those same roles in a band/recording.
     
  12. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Philadelphia
    To control the bass frequencies, you could also add an Audere preamp. I've never used one, but some G&L players report great results. I've read the Audere has active impedence buffering, so you get perfectly smooth blending of the pickups for a wide range of sounds, which would be mighty badass with MFD humbuckers.

    I've also fantasized about a G&L with an HS config, like, say, adding a neck J pickup to my L-1500. A bridge MFD humbucker with something like a DiMarzio Model J neck pickup would be unique, and probably awesome.
     
  13. PSPookie

    PSPookie

    Aug 13, 2006
    Ocoee, TN
    In "series" mode the neck pickup on my L-2000 is wired for SC. That way I can do SC neck only or H/S with both pickups on. The parallel position is still factory wiring.

    It makes me happy.
     
  14. Biodome

    Biodome Guest

    Apr 16, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    It looks like I'll be getting the pickups one at a time - where should the first one go? Neck or bridge? Opinions welcome!
     
  15. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    For me it would be the neck pickup. See how it sounds and then the bridge. I might just leave the bridge pickup as is. I favour the neck pickup sound though because I like to hear bass.
     
  16. Biodome

    Biodome Guest

    Apr 16, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    That's what I was thinking - it will be a take on the P/J concept. I think I'll go with the V/V (stacked), Treble/Bass (stacked), series/parallel switch controls (all passive) like I originally planned, so if I throw the bridge pickup in there there will be less wiring to be done.
     
  17. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Philadelphia
    I bet that sounds great. How much hum do you get from the single?

    I'd like G&L to make some noiseless large pole MFD J-type pickups in the linear/split format, a la Fralin Split-Jazz, Nordstrand NJ4SE/V, DiMarzio Model J, etc. It's a great way to get single coil tone without the hum, and would really work with the inherent brightness and clarity of MFD's.
     

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