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Is a PJ with the J off a P?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MrBassManG, Apr 7, 2020.


  1. MrBassManG

    MrBassManG

    Jun 5, 2012
    Now then everybody.

    I've been locked away for so long now that I've read somewhere near the whole forum, and am convinced I need a P, or at least flats. I currently have a Squier PJ that to me sounds pretty good, and a skyline Joe jazz that I love.

    So, when all this is over and I'm finally allowed out of the flat, I'm going to stroll down to my bass shop and shoot out my squier with the J rolled off against some genwine Ps, and either walk out of that shop with a new bass, or a set of flats.

    Why am I letting you all know this? Well, as I'm anxious to do the aforementioned, I'm equally as intrigued to know if a PJ with the J rolled off is just a P by another name, or if there's something I'm missing, and this is by far the quickest way to do that, if somewhat vicarious. Humour me.

    p.s I did a half-hearted search but no joy. If anyone wants to highlight my ignorance by posting 800 links to already existing threads, well at least I'll have something to read.
     
  2. I myself have a P and a (Squier) PJ. I have disconnected the J in the PJ (not for the “Pure P sound” but simply b/c I couldn’t fit the 3 full size pots in the cavity! :confused: ) ... and I can’t tell a lick of difference in the change. I still prefer my P, but I believe it to be a matter of overall construction and quality.

    Further reading- a very intriguing experiment and resulting discussion...
    P vs P in PJ set --- Can You Tell Which Is Which?
     
  3. Gorn

    Gorn

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Yes?
     
  4. MrBassManG

    MrBassManG

    Jun 5, 2012
    Cheers Al (can I call you Al?). I'm going to check that link.

    Great! You sound as confused as me!! Stay tuned, someone might know...
     
    Andre678 likes this.
  5. Warpeg

    Warpeg Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Ohio
    How about I answer your question with another question....Is a four-course meal still a four-course meal if you decide not to eat one of the courses? Of course it is (No pun intended). Put into perspective, a user's choice not to use a portion of an item's functionality does not dictate the designation of the item.
     
  6. squarepeg

    squarepeg

    Dec 21, 2010
    Slovenia
    Guitarists have the same debate about Telecasters and Esquires (a Telecaster with only a bridge pickup). I've played Telecasters and Esquires, and Precisions and PJs, and I can only say that you must have golden ears if you can hear any difference.
     
  7. Gorn

    Gorn

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I was confused by your syntax. If the question is "does a PJ with the jazz pickup rolled off sound like a regular P," the answer is "pretty much."
     
    byoung93888, Mili, nnnnnn and 5 others like this.
  8. Warpeg

    Warpeg Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Ohio
    In a way, you could also ask, "Is a Jazz Bass with only its neck pickup on just a gen-1 P-bass?"
     
  9. MrBassManG

    MrBassManG

    Jun 5, 2012
    Touché. My mistake was not referring to the sound. A three course meal wouldn't be the same as a four course meal without desert (essentially. Experientially it would, but that's another debate for another day).

    But, if the third course was designed to complement the fourth, then skipping the third would change the fourth, right? So that four course meal suddenly isn't what it was conceived to be.

    What do I mean by this? Well, the crux of my question. Does the fact that there's a J and another pot in the circuit have any effect on the overall sound that you wouldn't have with just a P?

    You may have noticed, my knowledge of lectrics is pretty limited...
     
    iruyle and TrevorG like this.
  10. TrevorG

    TrevorG

    Nov 30, 2012
    U.K.
    I've seen this question before and still don't understand it. In what way do you expect the front end of a P/J to sound different to a regular P? Is the J pickup some kind of bad karma for the P? Do the extra magnets put the strings out of whack? For me (who considers the bridge pickup to be the business end of a Jazz) it's a win-win setup. In fact(and here's where everybody jumps on my head) if something has an extra facet at the same price as something without, you're just robbing yourself getting the latter. Or to use Warpeg's example - why miss out on dessert?
     
    Kilgore777, Mili, nnnnnn and 6 others like this.
  11. MrBassManG

    MrBassManG

    Jun 5, 2012
    Cheers!
     
  12. MrBassManG

    MrBassManG

    Jun 5, 2012
    Exactly! Why don't all basses come as PJs if there's no difference? That piqued my interest. For all I know everything you said might have a hand.
     
    TrevorG likes this.
  13. TrevorG

    TrevorG

    Nov 30, 2012
    U.K.
    There are a lot of mysteries in the strange world of geeky bassists but I think your last question is the most relevant. That said... beware the puritan...
     
    tito0515, Charlzm and MrBassManG like this.
  14. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    People with golden ears claim to tell the difference. I guess my ears just aren’t golden enough. I have a P and a PJ and they sound different, but for many reasons other than the pickup configuration. IOW, lots of things figure into it.

    I can tell you for sure that the first PJ’s showed up back in the mid-sixties when some of us were looking to add a little extra snap to our P’s. It worked then, and still seems to work today for many, though there’s no longer a need to butcher your old P-bass to achieve it (don’t ask me how I know).

    That’s my opinion and plenty will disagree and yes, lots of earlier threads on this one!
     
    Kilgore777, BazzaBass and TrevorG like this.
  15. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    Don’t waste your time, get a pbass and be done with it..:woot:
     
  16. FWIW, I am a PJ player, and I have seen explanations that try to explain why a PJ with the J off still affects tone. In that explanation, there were numbers and symbols and fancy engineering-type words that made my scalp twitch. From that, I took away that if a tone difference regarding pickup wiring requires math and a schematic to explain, then there probably isn't much of one that can be heard. On my PJ's, with just the P on, it sounds great. With the P and J on, it sounds a different kind of great. With just the J on, I don't know because I never use that setting. Though I can't see anything missing by not owning a straight P. My guess is that 2 P's of the same make and model will likely sound more different to each other than the same PJ with the J turned down vs wired out.
     
  17. sikamikanico

    sikamikanico

    Mar 17, 2004
    For practical purposes, there is no difference.

    technically, there could a minor difference due to extra loading from the J and its pot, but how audible the difference is (if at all) depends on several components.

    If you intend to use flats, I’d say the difference will not be perceivable.
     
    TN WOODMAN, Dabndug, Joebone and 3 others like this.
  18. FRoss6788

    FRoss6788 Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2012
    Santa Cruz Mountains
    Yes it is.

    IF there was a difference, and I don't believe there is, you'd NEVER here it in a band mix. NEVER.
     
    jt62, Jim85IROC, BLDavis and 10 others like this.
  19. Charlzm

    Charlzm

    Mar 25, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have a P/J bass right now. If I roll the volume off on the J pickup, it sounds like a P to me. (shrugs)
     
  20. Rabidhamster

    Rabidhamster

    Jan 15, 2014
    There is only negligible difference with the J rolled off. I would say it’s still 99% P.

    Why not necessarily 100% exactly the same?

    1. the J pickup potentiometer is always in the circuit Even when turned down. This, theoretically mind you, will ever so slightly change the circuit. A negligible amount that would maybe never be noticed.

    2. The magnetic pull from the J pickup never goes away. It’s much less consequential for a pickup near the bridge, but it does have an effect none the less. Whether this is something you’d readily notice or not depends.
    It is readily apparent when comparing a guitar with and without the neck pickup installed- the strings ring out differently without that neck pickup.
    But bass strings are different, and the strings themselves are less compliant by the bridge.


    I’ve never done anA/B with a J pickup installed and removed in the same instrument. But I have seen a J bass exhibit “stratitis” when the pickup was set up too close to the strings.
    This is the phenomenon where the magnet in a single coil interacts with the strings movement in a very audible way, typically introducing a sort of “warbling” effect to the sound and loss of sustain.
    It’s not so common in humbuckers because the magnet itself is so far from the pole pieces, and it can happen easily on a Strat neck pickup hence the silly term Stratitis.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
    Green Hornet, dmt, GitmoMango and 6 others like this.

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