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Jazz Bass JJ to PJ conversion.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Double E, Nov 23, 2014.


  1. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    So, I have recently succumbed to the spell of the PJ!

    I loved my Jazz...a Warmoth ash body with a Warmoth bubinga/wenge neck, here's a pic of me with it at a recent gig:

    10257423_10202286135610453_5400938711612892263_o.

    As much as I was diggin' the Jazz, I was just happier with the tones I got when I pulled out my PJ bass… a Fender Classic ‘50’s P modded with a Dimarzio Ultra Jazz and Warmoth J wenge neck.

    So, as an avid do-it-myselfer, I set out to convert my Jazz to a PJ. I thought it'd be good to share the process with you all.

    I just happened to have a Nordstrand NPJ4SE set laying around, so the pickup choice was a no-brainer.

    I debated with myself whether to just sell the body and order up a new one but I ultimately decided that for budgetary reasons, modding my current body would be the way to go. I didn’t have the patience to wait for a used one that fit my criteria to come up for sale. It would cost a premium to have a Jazz body with a PJ config made.

    Warmoth will do a neck P route for no extra charge on one of their “Showcase” bodies (better price) but I’d just end up with a body with the same ugly dual purpose neck pickup route. I don’t feel bad adulterating this body since I got it out of Warmoth’s “Screaming Deals” section quite cheap and it really is nothing special…just a plain old black Jazz body. Besides, the body and neck have great karma together, so I didn’t really want to break them up.

    I don't make my own pickguards, so I figured the next step was to find one that worked with my bass and also cut for the P pickup in the "sweet spot". I found that the standard Jazz pickguard shape does not adequately cover the sweet spot route. Many pickguard manufacturers that will do a P cutout on a jazz guard do not compensate for this, in fact most production Jazzes with a PJ configuration don't have the P pickup in the traditional location.

    Warmoth (an obvious favorite supplier of mine) does alter the shape of their J Bass guard with P cutout to keep true to the sweet spot! So I ordered two, a matte black and a vintage pearl. This pic shows the difference in the shape compared to a standard jazz shaped guard:

    IMG_2289.JPG

    Notice the P cutout peeking out from behind?

    I then dialed up Stewart MacDonald in my browser and ordered up a P pickup routing template, double bearing 3/8" router bit and the rest of the screws I’d need to complete the project. I am not a luthier but I am an avid woodworker and pretty handy with a router. IMPOTRANT: If you do not have a good quality router and are not experienced with this tool, you are far better off paying a pro to do something like this for you. It likely doesn’t cost much to have it done, I just happen to enjoy doing this stuff myself.

    The key to success in these projects is all in the preparation. The first thing I did was pull out the old pickups and dry-fit the new pickguard. A little re-shaping around the control plate was required. While I had it on, I verified the pickup cutout was well centered, which was pretty easy with the Jazz pickup route already there. The way to do this without an existing route would be to draw a center line between the bridge and the neck pocket, or perhaps just string up the E and G strings and line it up.

    Using the pickguard as a template, I took a ball point pen and traced the outline of the cutout on the body, pressing hard to create an indentation that would be easy to see on the black paint. I’d use this as a guide for setting up the template.

    Some guys use double sided tape to affix the routing template…with the tape method, there is always the possibility of the template moving or vibrating and causing some rough edges on the route. Plus you have to fight to peel the tape off and clean up any sticky residue left behind. It is always better if you can clamp the thing down (as always IMHO and YMMV).

    With a template this size clamping isn’t possible, the clamp would be in the way of the router, so you’d have to use a jig to fit the template into that could be clamped in place outside the radius of the router base.

    The template has screw holes with countersinks at the corners to perhaps accommodate installation to a jig…I opted to just use these to just screw it directly to the body. I’m not worried about the couple holes which will be covered up by the pickguard, there is no chance of going pickguardless after this anyway because half the Jazz route will still be wide open.

    IMG_2251.JPG

    With the template screwed down I carefully adjusted the router for minimal penetration for the first pass while still making good contact between the bearing and the template. Setup was made easier because I was able to actually sight the bit using the existing route.

    If I was making a fresh route, I would have took the body to a drill press to remove most of the material with a forstner bit and then just use the router bit to clean up the edges. Since I don’t have my own drill press and I the benefit of the existing route, I decided to go with the router bit the whole way.

    I took a test pass with the router to make sure the paint wouldn't chip out. If necessary I would have scored the perimeter of the route with an exacto knife to help eliminate this but the paint was yielding to the bit nicely so I just decided to go at it!

    After a few passes, viola! I have room for the NP4!

    IMG_2252.JPG

    A new hole for the pickup wires was drilled into the control cavity. I won’t bother getting long winded about the final steps since that’s just basic wiring stuff…here is the final product!

    IMG_2253.JPG

    I have gigged this a few times since the mod and all I can say is WOW! It was well worth the effort!
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014
    PawleeP, Kevnn4, Laklandfan and 3 others like this.
  2. Doc Mojo

    Doc Mojo

    Oct 29, 2014
    Ohio
    Hows the neck weight with the bubinga? the bass looks great.
     
  3. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Thanks!

    The bass is not a lightweight, clocking in at about 9 1/2 pounds. There is no noticeable imbalance with the bubinga neck. I believe the ash body weighed in at 5 lbs. 11 oz. bare naked.

    I don't mind a little heft and I really dig the feel of raw wood on the back of the neck. The bubinga is particularly nice because of the tight grain and smooth sanded surface. It's much different than the wenge which has the looser grain but still sands to a nice smooth finish.

    I use necks with this kind of wood because I like the raw look and feel. I don't think they necessarily have any magical tonal qualities, but they sure don't sound bad!
     
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Pretty slick job there, looks great...but I think it would look better with the matte black pickguard ;)
     
    Doc Mojo likes this.
  5. Doc Mojo

    Doc Mojo

    Oct 29, 2014
    Ohio
    Matte black has a great 3D quality to it against gloss black and doesn't leave finger prints like gloss. I forgot about matte and now I need to order Precision and Jazz guards in matte.
     
  6. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    I still have to trim the black guard a bit for the control plate. The plate is from a Fender Road Worn so I figured it to be ccompatible with any J guard. However, the angle is pretty far off. I suppose the pickguard is probably not quite to spec but I haven't done any further checking.

    EDIT: I switched the control plate and it turns out that the Warmoth guard would've fit perfectly with the aftermarket control plate. I guess that means that there is not a universal shape for the control plate. No matter, it is easy to trim the guard if necessary and you get a nice custom fit that way!

    I bought the cream guard for the original build and when I dry fit them before drilling any screw holes, I decided to move the control plate in just enough to compensate for the gap and just trim the pickguard later.

    I'm the end, I never got around to trimming the pickguard cause I liked it without.

    I plan on getting the black pickguard installed this weekend. I also have a black control plate I might put on there. It is shiny though so I am not sure it'll look right. The road worn plate looks sharp against the black because it has a sort of brushed finish. We'll see...
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2014
    JimmyM likes this.
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I may be weird, but I love all the fingerprints you get with gloss black. My wife tried to talk me out of a black Precision for that reason, but I love it. I only wipe it down now and then.
     
    fhm555 and Double E like this.
  8. Doc Mojo

    Doc Mojo

    Oct 29, 2014
    Ohio
    My first 5 string was an Aria that was all black with black hardware and after the second gig it was never cleaned again. I like the matte finish more for the way it adds contrast. I had a Pulcinella 4 string with that color scheme that was bad to the bone. Yet another bass I miss.
     
  9. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Here it is murdered out. 1498001_a416498df69761018a8a7012ce572c1e (Medium).
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  10. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Very nice but a quick question: doesn't somebody make a dual coil "side by side" J pickup (4 conductor) that grasps the P vibe?

    Riis
     
  11. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Yes, in fact the pickups I had in the bass as pictured above were Nordstrand NJ4SE's which are split coil humbuckers designed for a thick, hot output. Arguably one of the best possible candidates for copping a P tone with the J form factor. However, they still fell short of the throaty, mid bump grind you get with a genuine P split coil.

    There is also an authority to the low end that the P has. To me there is an undeniable presence that's missing with the narrower and taller coils of the split J...or perhaps I'm just simply drunk on the koolaid.
     
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  12. CD_Donaldson

    CD_Donaldson

    Dec 28, 2016
    I've been in the process of doing the same thing but had a few questions I couldn't find answers to until I finally stumbled upon this. Thank you so much for this post!!
     
    Double E likes this.
  13. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    I had hoped that one day it would help someone... are there any search terms you'd suggest that I add as tags to the original post that may have helped point you to this thread?
     
  14. CD_Donaldson

    CD_Donaldson

    Dec 28, 2016
    Well I stubbornly just kept searching "J to P/J bass conversion" if that's helps haha
     
  15. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Please post your progress here if you do the deed...
     
  16. CD_Donaldson

    CD_Donaldson

    Dec 28, 2016
    IMG_5355.JPG
    Will do! This is what I'm working with. I just bought a bare jazz bass body for the soul purpose of making a p/j.
     
    Double E likes this.
  17. PawleeP

    PawleeP

    Oct 8, 2012
    WHAT THE HECK IS BLACK MATTE.. that pearloid white looks just fine! ivory black teal jazzes.
     
  18. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    I sold this bass... I sold this bass? I sold this bass!?!?! What was I thinking!?!?

    :woot::mad::confused::(o_O:bawl::crying::thumbsdown:
     
  19. CD_Donaldson

    CD_Donaldson

    Dec 28, 2016
    I totally forgot about the thread hahaha. I finished the deed... a year ago. Whoops.
     
  20. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    You’d have loved the black Deluxe J i recently got. Nice gloss black bass, but it’s covered with fingerprints. Looked like it sat in a music stand a lot, tops (fronts??) of the pickups coated with dust and the guy must have only played it while eating pizza as it is covered in greasy fingerprints. I’m just waiting until i have time to tear it down and degunk it. :D
     
    JimmyM likes this.

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