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Importance of 70's pickup spacing for MM sound

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassist22, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. bassist22


    Mar 16, 2007
    deciding between an SX75 Jazz bass or Squire VM Jazz.
    Both nice bass' but i can get a 2nd hand version of the squire for a lot cheaper.
    I'm wanting to get that marcus miller slap tone, but wondering how important the 70's pickup spacing is in the SX compared to the standard spacing of the Squire. Can i still get quite a good Marcus slap tone from the squire.
  2. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    very little. It's (almost) all in the hands.
  3. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    Marcus Miller sounds great, but, and we have gone on about this before on TB, it is not all in his hands. A great player can make virtually any bass sound great, but he can't make a P bass sound like a Jazz (for example). The 70s spacing is important for the 70s Jazz slap (Marcus) tone, as are the maple fretboard, and ash body. The wider 70s spacing has less phase cancellation than the 60s or modern spacing, and does sound different. Of course the difference is subtle, but it is there.
  4. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL

    Also, part of the MM sound is the active preamp, and the amplification and compression he uses. A passive bass would be the basics of the sounds, but you really need to EQ and process the signal properly to nail the sound. And then, of course, it's how you play.
  5. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    Just to be correct - the 70's spacing has just as much phase cancellation as any other spacing, it is just in a different place. Also, because the pickups are moved a little, they accentuate different frequencies.
  6. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    You sound like you know what you are talking about, so I am going to assume you are correct :)
  7. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    Comparing between my 78 jazz and my DJ, while not a perfect comparison because of the differences in body wood and pickups/production/etc, the 60s spacing has a little less low-mid when played finger style, but still cranks out the high-mids and highs superbly when slapping/tapping/popping. If you're going for the marcus tone with two passive jazzes, and the only thing you're concerned about is 60s vs 70s spacing, you probably won't notice much difference.

    Video references - caveat being video source/processing, but unless you have 24/7 access to marcus it will have to do.
    marcus playing sadowsky:

    If that F clef is like the ones they have on their website the bridge pup is pretty darn close to the bridge. Looking at the blonde/maple sadowsky with the big singles, it's definitely no where near as close to the bridge as in the F clef, still sounds like Marcus to me.
  8. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    Thanks - but it is just basic engineering and I are one:cool:
  9. The difference in tone between the 60's and 70's spacing is most noticeable when you start POPPING the G-STRING.

    If you're gonna be playing in Marcus' style at all, that's gonna be happening a LOT, so I suggest you go for the 70's spacing.
  10. Here's a pair of videos to reiterate my point:

    60's jazz, start at 1:45
    70's jazz

    Well whadya know? Same hands, different tone! But that's not supposed to be possible according to TB, is that? :eek:
    Well, duh. He's moving his hands in a different manner to suit the 70's style feelin'.
  11. Fat K

    Fat K

    Mar 7, 2008
    Hong Kong
    Just a personal opinion, if you wanna put fugures to Marcus' sound

    70s PU spacing + good pickups + ash body + maple neck + good Preamp + Strings (stainless steel is almost a must) + good compressor that's about 30%
    70% Touch

    In all, the closest you get is about 30% in terms of hardware but still a very satisfying 30%! at least for me!
  12. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Uh, dosen't the DJ have 70's spacing too? Being a 70's style Jazz.

    Also, yours is a DJ5, thats 35" scale, which changes everything.
  13. IMO, after you take 'Marcus's hands' out of the equation, the relative importance to what most consider a 'J on steroids 70's slap tone, in order, are:

    1) Maple board
    2) Single coil J pickups
    3) Gloss poly finish on board
    4) Preamp
    5) Ash body
    6) bridge pickup spacing

    IMO and IME. To just get a good bright, grindy slap tone, almost anything can get there with the right player.
  14. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    DJ is 60s spacing, despite the 70s style. I was surprised too, so I measured :D. But yeah, I guess 35" scale may add to the mix.
  15. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    Except that a 70s fender which is the basis for this discussion would have an ash or alder body. ;)

    +1, technique/playing style is going to get you there a lot faster than worrying about pickup spacing.
  16. The spacing is important for the slap tone. I think a good 70ies JB has the best passive slap tone you can get. I know 2 Jazz Basses, both from 1978, that can produce the miller sound quite 1:1 just with both pickups fully open and the highs rolled off a little, but they are very hard to find

    But Marcus has o tone which is also heavily infleuenced by his preamp. May it be onboard and/or outboard. His tone is more of an active tone.

    btw, the Squier vm is a very good bass for its price and a decent slapper.
  17. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    There is no question in my mind about that, only I'd delete the word passive from your sentence and just say the best period!
  18. raise the action- it'll do more than string spacing ever will to get that dig.
  19. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    We are talking about pickup spacing here, not string spacing. And it's not just the pickup spacing but the whole 70s package.
  20. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    this has been gone over so much and i always chime in with the same stuff. if youre ears cant hear it...cool. but the 70's spacing is extremely important in that sound.

    and raising the action...........really?!?!:rolleyes:

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