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I'm a complete noob with pickups and electronics; I'm finally looking to upgrade my parts

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Sean775, Dec 18, 2017.

  1. Sean775


    Mar 19, 2015
    New Jersey, USA
    I have a Deluxe Ash Mexican Fender Jazz, which I bought a few years ago; that was my first good quality bass after owning a cheap Ibanez for a long time.
    I'm finally getting around to upgrading my equipment. I bought a new amp recently, and I just ordered a vintage American Fender bridge and a new neck nut. Next I want to upgrade the pups and electronics, but I don't know too much about Jazz Bass pickup upgrades.
    What are some of the more popular options, and what exactly do I need to buy to upgrade all of that?
  2. Sean775


    Mar 19, 2015
    New Jersey, USA
    Btw, my bass is passive and I want to keep it that way
  3. I'd think the bridge on a Deluxe Mexican would have been better than a Vintage American one.

    One thing you can do is add a series/parallel switch with a push/pull pot.

    If you want it a little brighter you can change all the pots to 500K Ohm.
    That might be enough & you'll then be satisfied with the original pickups.
    Wfrance3 likes this.
  4. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Yeah, don't assume you need to upgrade. Unless there is a specific problem with the pickups, your bass is fine. If you have a specific problem, please specify it. Can't give general advice about pickup swaps (the only general advice would be to not swap pickups).
  5. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    And why a new nut? What’s wrong with the old one? If you really like the bass there’s no reason to mess with it. Switched bag to bone? There is so very little advantage that you really need to consider if it’s worth doing. And what if you chop the finish removing the factory nut? Crap happens.

    String choice is the biggest bang for the buck if you are chasing tone. Pickups can definitely make a big difference but what if you don’t like it? Better to try some nickels, against stainless against flats.
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    A specific problem or he has a specifically different tone he's after.

    OP: What don't you like about how your current pickups sound and/or in what way do you want new ones to sound different?
    sikamikanico likes this.
  7. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    I lumped a "specifically different tone" in the "specific problem category". Far too many people (including myself in the past) are upgrading for a "better tone" without knowing or specifying what that means to them.

    That said, simply trying new things and learning along the way is a perfectly legitimate reason to swap pickups, but then that's not an upgrade.
  8. Sean775


    Mar 19, 2015
    New Jersey, USA
    Well I figured that something other than the stock Mexican pickups would have an improved sound and quality
  9. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    I used the same logic when I had a Stagg P bass once. Got a set of Nordstrands that may have been more expensive than the bass itself (or in the ballpark). Result: it sounded different, but I was "underwhelmed" by the difference. The Nordy sounded fuller, but the Stagg pickup had a certain edge that I missed with the Nordys. In no way could I honestly say the Nordy sounded better.

    So is there a particular problem you're trying to address, a sound you're after?

    If you want to just try something new, one piece of advice is to buy used (because resale value). And measure your pickups - I'm no expert on MiM jazzes, but I seem to recall some models had the pickups of the same length (two neck pickups), while most standard jazz sets have a somewhat longer bridge pickup.
    fermata likes this.
  10. Sean775


    Mar 19, 2015
    New Jersey, USA
    How would American Fender pickups sound? I guess that might be my best option; I want to get a high-quality classic Jazz Bass sound. I can tell the difference in sound when I play an American and a Mexican.
  11. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    IMHO Go for an American Jazz.
    Upgrades may cost more than the MIM and not add
    any value to the bass.
  12. Sean775


    Mar 19, 2015
    New Jersey, USA
    I'm not concerned with increasing the value; I like my bass and don't ever plan on selling it. I would prefer to spend a couple hundred on making it a lot better.

    Are you familiar with Seymour Duncan SJB3 pups btw? I was looking into them recently
  13. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    I've changed a pretty tidy sum's worth of parts and effects. People who make stuff are pretty good at spinning up a good story for why you need their stuff. If you can remain grounded by "problem-solving", you are going to be in the position of saving the max number of dollars and still have a nice bass. Maybe start with what you already have coming and make sure you have properly set pickup height and a good setup. Then see what's what. - Unless what you have offends you or others in some way, it might be worth a second look. Also KBDs suggestion on the series parallel thing is a good deal.
    There are a number of passive strategies out there that can get you different than "stock" tone. Look into:

    Greasebucket tone
    TBX tone
    Wiring pickups in vs. out of phase

    All these things are a way to change your tone, and they're not wicked expensive if you solder up the pots and do the wiring yourself. I just ordered me some pots for my PJ bass. I gave $36 for a new 3-hole controls plate, 3 bourns pots (500K), 3 new knobs, a couple feet of push-back wire and an orange drop .047 cap. - Problem I'm trying to solve is that my tone is pretty dark sounding. The higher the "K" on your pots, the brighter it will sound. I have 250Ks right now.
    Sorry, I'm not sure when this became about me, but wanted to give you/ others who read this post this info...
  14. Cowboy in Latvia

    Cowboy in Latvia

    Mar 1, 2015
    I think many of us want to upgrade our "parts". That's why we get so many emails about it. :bag:

    Sorry, had to go there. On a more serious note, I just dived into my first pickup swap that did not involve EMG connectors and it's not going well...I hope you have more luck. :thumbsup:
  15. Krebsy


    Jul 7, 2015
    I haven’t read much of anything on this thread but all I’m going to say is Geezer Butler EMG pups rule the world. Lol. They are awesome and super versatile.
    CalBuzz51 likes this.
  16. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    How would you describe the difference in sound, or what do your pickups lack comparatively?

    Comparing two different basses is a bit of a biased test: all basses have inherently different tones (due to pieces of wood used, construction, etc) and there are many other things besides pickups that may be different when comparing two different basses. You can manipulate those for much cheaper. I'm not sure what you have tried yet or haven't, but my top two are setup and strings. Especially dial in the right pickup height, and try a few different sets of strings to zero in on the tone you want. Messing with pots and caps can be fun (and cheap), but likely what you have is just fine.

    If you do go with a pickup swap, the classic jazz bass sound is a single coil with alnico V pole pieces. You'd probably want something "vintage wound" or a non-hot/overwound version. SD SJB-3 is not a classic jazz bass design, Antiquity II would probably be better, or simply SJB-1. American Fender will probably work fine, but I'm not all that familiar with different Fender designs. I think their Custom Shop models are well-regarded. My favorite so far was Aero Type 1, but it's perhaps a little thicker/bigger sounding. I'm sure Fralin and Nordstrand also make good ones, I've never been disappointed in their pickups.
  17. Farseer

    Farseer Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2014
    Parker, Colorado
    I recently put in some Tom Brantley hand wound pick-ups in my Geddy Lee. They sound great. Nice growl, great mids.
  18. DavC

    DavC Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    first ... measure both pups so you get the proper size/fit .. !

    find some used humbuckers or noiseless ( same thing ) ... dual , splits , stacked ... i prefer Splits , they are quiet and sound most like a single coil ...

    then you can use your volume knobs to blend the neck/bridge pup anyway you want without any noise/humm

    i always install CTS pots and Orange caps ... install copper tape everywhere ... keep everything grounded !
    aproud1 likes this.
  19. Jeff K

    Jeff K Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    If you don't mind spending a bit of money, you might want to consider the Nordstrand NJ4 pickups. I like them a lot. They're regular single-coil pickups though. Not hum-cancelling.
  20. Maxfenderbass

    Maxfenderbass Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2015
    Stratford, Ontario
    if you do upgrade the PUP's, throw in Lindy Fralins, Dimarzios or Nordstrands.
    reddog, Basstards and Wfrance3 like this.

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