J pickup hole options

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by 13bass, May 29, 2020.

  1. So if I get a hold of a J bass body, how feasible to convert the neck pickup slot to a split P pickup? Make it a PJ? Or I suppose just easier to enlarge it to take a soap bar pick up? Not a fan of the single coil, so what options would I have?
  2. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    What don't you like about a j? There are a bunch of manufacturers who are putting split coil or humbucker coils in a j shell. That might be the easiest.
    HG1180 and JeezyMcNuggles like this.
  3. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    If you route out the pickup hole to fit a Bart P4 shell.....then you open up a whole world of easy drop in pickups.
  4. Rather not have issues with the hum, but maybe a J sized humbucker would solve that?
  5. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I've had a few basses where I used a Dimarzio model J in the neck position (some have the same pickups in the bridge position as well). That's an in line hum cancelling J shape pickup.

    If you blindfolded me, and I couldn't touch the pickup to know what it really was, I think a lot of the time I'd think I was playing a P (and I'm pretty darn picky about tiny details in my sound). There's a range of sounds you can get from relatively standard P pickups - the Dimarzio Model J in a neck position is somewhere within that range. I'm pretty sure ALL of the time, the audience wouldn't notice the difference.
    alanloomis1980 and jt62 like this.
  6. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    you have many options. depends upon your wood working, pick-guard making, and wiring skills. i've done a fair amount of these using Fender parts onto non-Fender bases.

    one thing i will advise though is to make sure the pick-up covers are attached securely if you are choosing split passives (or any other pu's with loose covers) -i'll use two small bits of Kapton tape for this. the leads where attached to the base plates are very fragile and i've seen them broken by the cover nipping them off by being mis-positioned. not an easy fix when they are cut loose.

    if buying used, check their specs. sometimes used p/u's are chucked into a box with "stuff" and are in contact with other metal "objects" or are found stuck to themselves causing output issues.
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
    jt62 likes this.
  7. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    If your real goal is just a hum-free pickup in a J shape, you definitely have tons of options!

    I'm partial to Bartolini for j's. They have their Classic, B axis, and Original pickups available in dual coil, which is really just a split coil like a P pickup (one coil under each pair of strings). So it's hum cancelling but fits in a J shell. They sell the original and classic in a true single coil too, so if you shop for theirs, make sure you're getting the split coil.

    Lots of other brands do this same arrangement of two coils in a J shell (Fralin, Nordstrand, Delano, Aguilar, Dimarzio, even Fender themselves). Some of these sound like J pickups, some sound like P's. Some sound like something else. You have lots to choose from! You can definitely get hum free without having to route the body at all.

    What you don't get a lot of in a J shape is split-able humbuckers, so if you want to be able to do coil switching then you probably should just route out to one of the popular humbucker shapes.
    TrustRod and jt62 like this.
  8. CallMeAl


    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    A) Split coil J pickup will be the easiest path. Dimarzio Model J for beef, Area J For “close to split coil” sound. (Other manufacturers can be found as well.)

    B) you can route the body, and get a Jazz pickguard with a P cut out- but don’t you have a TMB? Why add another PJ? Rock that J bass, baby! :cool:
    jt62 likes this.
  9. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    here's an Ibanex GSR100EX conversion i'm working on with new pg, foil shielding, new pockets, and all the control cavity trimmings needed to accept vintage (mid-80's i think) Fender Mustang pu's with a top mounted jack. i designed, programmed, and cut out the pg with a desktop cnc mill but it's not necessary.

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    Last edited: May 29, 2020
    Low Commotion likes this.
  10. I have a TMB30, and building a P bass short scale, and I think I'm convinced now by all you fine folk that I have many options for a hum free J bass so I think I'll just look for hum free J size pickups to be a bit different in tone from the other two.
    dwizum and alanloomis1980 like this.
  11. rudy4444


    Mar 13, 2012
    Central Illinois
    You might consider a MM pickup style.

    I haven't done a conversion from J pickup, but I believe the route should end up larger than the J route for the most part. The only area that might not cover the old J pickup route is a small bump where the the mounting ear would be for the J pickup. The MM typically has two "ears" at the top as opposed to the single ear of the J pickup.

    I love the MM pickup style; quiet with tons of thick tone in the right position. If you're cost-conscious you can purchase a pretty good MM style approximation from Guitar Fetish.

    GFS MM Pro Music Man size pickup- MAXIMUM string response!
    Beej, dwizum and jt62 like this.
  12. Low Commotion

    Low Commotion Supporting Member

    As mentioned by Arie X, it depends on you’re woodworking skills. I’ve done it and it’s fairly straight forward. But I have the tools and I’m handy with woodworking. To do this properly (Fender PJ), the top of the Precision pickup (closest to the neck) should line up exactly with the top of the J pickup. I made a template, but they are available on line (i.e. Stewmac). With the template, you'd use a router and carve out the hole for the pickup. I first did this on a scrap piece of wood.

    However, you would need to get a new pick guard because the precision pickup would go outside of the original Jazz pick guard.

    IMG_4048.JPG IMG_4145.JPG IMG_20150904_171625.jpg

    Attached Files:

  13. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Do you already have the tools and templates? If not it might be cheaper to buy what want from the start.
    wildman2 likes this.
  14. It's very easy to enlarge the cavity to fit a P pickup. It's harder to enlarge the cavity AND make it look nice ;)
    However there will be a pickguard covering it so... go for it, just be slow and careful. I have done that using chisels. Carefully. The result doesn't look amazing but it's not too bad either, and once I put the pickguard on nobody would know any better. I would start by getting the pickguard first, with the routing for the pickup you want, then use that to mark where you need to remove wood... and start chiselling away.
  15. staurosjohn

    staurosjohn My (Adopted) Daughter Supporting Member

    Not sure if *these* have been mentioned... I have a set in my Jazz ‘assembly/build’.

    Last edited: May 30, 2020
  16. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    And IF you decide to keep the Jazz Bass rout and get stacked or side x side humbuckers in a traditional Jazz Bass shell, BE SURE and double check the size of the rout vs. what you're going to buy.

    Traditional Jazz Bass pickup sizes had the bridge pickup just a bit wider than the neck pickup. Over the years, it varies: Some makers use two of the same size, the depth may vary, etc. So just double-check that what you want to buy IS a drop-in for the body you have.
  17. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    Here's a "think outside of the box" solution fuhya ...

    51 Split-J

    Don't be thrown by the uninformative (and silly) ad copy. This is essentially a pair of humbucking '51 - '56 style P-Bass pickups built into a coupla Jazz casings. I have the Nordstrand 51P4S pickup in my Warmoth '54 Precision build and it is a killer pickup, IMHO ... wonderful tone, quiet as a church mouse, hotter than most similar pickup offerings and it has excellent string balance with its staggered pole pieces. The 51-split-j-1 is essentially the same pickup. It sounds good with both pickups or either pickup solo'd, IMHO. Check out this demo ...

    Last edited: May 30, 2020
    jt62 likes this.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Why get a J body if you really want a P?
  19. I'm building a P, but getting a J body cheap as well, and so I'll build that too in time :D so really just looking for individual humbucking options for pickups, whether they need some routing work or not. If I can find some J sized then great. I'm just not familiar with J pickup options out there.
  20. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    OK, my "first thing I'd grab running from a fire" is a '73 P neck on a J body. All the basses I end up keeping have that neck shape. I like J pickups for most of my applicaitions but it's totally subjective, I also like my standard Ps. There are a lot of split J pups that are punchy as Mike Tyson and are also quiet. And/or maybe a preamp could drive your tone where you want it. My Lindys with John East pre can hit the throat.
    Low Commotion likes this.