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Jazz bass pickup locations: 70s vs 60s?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JimS, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. Jazz bass pickup locations: 70s vs 60s position:

    I believe the '70s jazz basses have the bridge pickup 1/2" closer to the bridge. Those who own or have played both basses, do you think there is a 'signficant' tonal difference due to the different pickup placements ? My query is for slap and pop funk more than rock and ol skool fingerstyle.

  2. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan

    Standard J placement is 3.6" between the coils. 70's J placement is 4" between the coils. I find that the difference is significant to the highs and upper mids, there is more bite and growl from a 70's J. 60's are more round sounding but both do sound like a Jazz bass.
  3. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    The Marcus Miller sound is a good example of what's possible with 70's spacing (and a butt-load of talent).
  4. You know what? I'd like to hear what a 70s Jazz sounds like when it's not slapped. Anyone know of some clips or something of a 70s-era jazz in a band context? I'm hoping to buy one of the RI jazzes this year (second-hand, preferably), but I don't know enough about the difference in sound to make an informed choice...
  5. Geddy Lee?

  6. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    Sarah McLaughlin is an example of what a 70's J with Flats and a David Eden head sounds like. :) Brian Minato is using a 75' Jazz with (I think) GHS Flats and a WT800 Head.

    <-- better audio clip

    Edit: Brian M. Plays near the neck in the video's im seeing so the tone difference your hearing might be more substantial to the ears considering a J with flats near the neck and 60's location is about as boomy as you can get. He manages to stay tight and controlled.

  7. It's hard to say, since the 70's placement is usually found on ash/maple instruments and the 60's placement is usually found on alder/RW instruments.

    However, I have played quite a few Sadowsky UV70's (70 placement) and MV's (60's placement). Even with the larger body and more mass of the UV bass, they sound virtually identical to me with the same pickups (all have had the Sadowsky HC J pickups that I've tried).

    So, IMO, the difference is minor... a little more burp and treble out of the bridge pickup, but nothing major, all other things being equal.

    However, most other things are never equal, and a lightweight alder/RW 60's J will sound quite different from a heavy, ash/maple 70's J IMO and IME.... nothing like a heavy ash/maple J with single coils for the funk.... 70's pickup placement... bonus!
    Pilgrim likes this.
  8. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    Don't sweat it. I posted those links only to help you find the info you are seeking. There is surpisingly few threads about this topic, even though it can spark some lively debate in random threads where it is a bit off topic.
  9. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    I have an Alder bodied/maple necked 70's J that you can use for reference. The pickup location makes more of the difference than the body wood. I believe that the neck wood might make a difference as well, but again probably no more than you already know.
  10. heres a thread of mine where i posted clips of 3 basses with 70's spacing. i think the difference is pretty noticeable when played against ash/maple 60's spaced basses. (ie, japanese 75 reissue fenders)
    someone a long time ago posted clips of their celinder and atelier z. imo, those clips showed the differences as well with the atelier having 60's spacing.
  11. Again, very hard to isolate the impact of pickup placement. I owned two Celinder Updates identically spec'd, and close in weight, and they sounded VERY different from one another... both ash/maple with 70's placement and identical pickups and pre's.... one sounded like Marcus Miller's bass, the other sounded more mid fat and tighter down low, with more upper mids and less ultra treble response.

    Per my above post, the closest I've come to doing a true 60's/70's pickup position, with virtually all else being 'equal' was comparing multiple Sadowsky UV's with MV's.... with virtually everything identical between then except the pickup placement and body size. I could hear very, very little difference.

    That being said, I do hear most 70's style J's as being a touch more aggressive than their 60's counterparts, and I'm sure the slight bridge pickup placement difference has at least a little to do with it... again, just a touch more aggressive top end, and the mids moved up just a touch in the voicing of the instrument.

    I would never 'not' buy an instrument because it had 60's versus 70's placement though. My Sadowsky RV with Alder body, RW board and 60's pickup placement is one of the most aggressive sizzly basses I own!

  12. But would you acquire one if you had the other?

    Eg: I have a Sadowsky NYC 4 ash, quilt top, maple board with HC J pups in standard 60s locations. I take it from your posts would not opt for a 70 pup location bass if it has similar woods and arguably similar tones from the woods.


  13. I have a variety of 60's and 70's positioned J type instruments. They all sound different.

    It's better to think about what tone you are looking for:

    - 70's J on Steroid/Marcus Miller tone.... The Atelier's and Celinders are the best I've heard.. heavy ash bodies, 70's placement, aggressive pre's.

    - 70's passive... classic mid 70's J 'not on steroids'. .... Alleva Coppolo LM or RA all the way.. end of story (or a nice Fender if you are looking for a 4 string.. for 5 string, it would be the A-C!)

    - Modern, updated J tone... pick the Sadowsky of your choice... they all sound very similar to me UV70, MV or RV... 60's position, 70's position, whatever. The maple boards are a bit more biting in the upper mids...other than that, they all sound like Sadowsky J's!

    - Classic, old school 60's J.... Alleva LG all the way (or a Fender in you can find a good one!).

    Interestingly, one of the most aggressive 70's sounding J basses I've ever owned was the Lakland DJ4... and it had 60's pickup spacing! Man, that thing was just aggressive, bright, growly and grindy... mostly due to the Aero single coils and also the very dense, heavy body and maple board, I assume... quite a growly little monster!


    Edit: To answer your specific question, since I know you love Sadowsky's... would it make enough difference to get a similar Sadowsky with 70's position, and another one with 60's... IMO and IME.. no... better to match the luthier's 'tone goals' with what you are looking for. IMO!!!

  14. Apart form the fact that that is a *smokin'* bass line, I find that Geddy's tone always sound s a little more treble-heavy than I like, but I'm assuming that's because of the backline he uses and the settings on his bass.
  15. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    +1, IMO.
  16. It seems to me the body wood impact is more about the density and weight of the wood than the actual type. You can really hear the difference in the low end fundamental with a bass with a heavy ash body versus a lighter body.
  17. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I've played a lot of Metro UV70's and a lot of Metro MV4's and RV4's. In my experience, the UV70, with alderor rosewood, ash or maple had a more aggressive edge than the RV4/MV4.

    I've also played a lot of heavy basses and light basses and the differences you're noticing in the sound on occasion, I've noticed the opposite.
  18. We continue to hear things almost the opposite:D, from your comments about a passive tone control not needed (I live with that control), to you actually hearing lighter wood bodied basses with more fundamental:eek:

    I again hear virtually no difference across the UV and RV/MV line, with body and neck woods matched, and body weight approximately equal. That aggressive Sadowsky pre and the voicing of those Dimarzio split coils seems to suck the minor difference in the pickup placement out of the equation for me.

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