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Jazz Bass settings

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Rob W, Jan 15, 2001.

  1. On another thread regarding Fender Jazz basses, I commented that the G&L SB-2 does quite a decent Jazz bass tone (both pickups full up) especially for a P/J type system - in fact I think it's just about the only P/J system that really does sound like a Jazz with both pickups on.

    I went on to admit that the bridge pickup doesn't really give the same "Jaco" type tone that you normally get from a Jazz bass with only the bridge pickup on - the SB-2 J pickup is actually very bright, which helps it to sound more like a Jazz bass when combined with the P pickup - that's why it sounds more like a true Jazz tone with both pickups on, even though one pickup is a P.

    Bruce went on to say that he figures most people who play a Jazz bass use only the bridge pickup most of the time a la Jaco. I must say that is a tone I almost never use myself, and when I owned my Jazz bass, I maybe tried that tone out for a minute or two during the entire time I owned the bass. I always play a Jazz with both pickups full up. The SB-2 I either play both pickups or the P pickup alone.

    So my question, just to satisfy my curiosity, for those of you who do own a Fender Jazz bass, what is your favourite pickup configuration? Do you usually play with both, mostly the neck pickup, or mostly the bridge pickup?
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I probably didn't phrase this very well and although I knew what I meant, didn't actually say that! I think that the Jaco fingerstyle sound from a Jazz bass is the distinctive sound that "characterises" that bass. To me the sound with both pickups on full is more generic and is a sound that I can get on lots of basses or very similar. But the sound of the bridge pickup soloed on a JBass is unique in my view - to do with passive single coil pickups and if you are searching for this, then there aren't so many basses that can do this.

    Obviously I have no way of knowing what sound "most" bass players are looking for, but I do remember quite a few enquiries on this board asking about this sound and how they can't get it from their bass. I remember this becuase people often think it's to do with fretless as they associate it with Jaco, but Jaco got it on both and it was mentioned in Bass plyer recently in their feature on "tone" that a lot of people look for this sound that single coil, passive pickups can get.
  3. In my current gig, both Volumes at 10, Tone at 3 or 4. Sometimes for fun I'll turn off the bridge pickup for a big fat sound from just the neck pickup.

  4. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    I usually keep my neck pickup at 10, the bridge pickup at 0, and the tone around 6 or 7, unless I'm playing a song that calls for some real grind - in which case I'll have both pickups full on and the tone at around 8. I am not crazy about the sounds of the bridge pickup soloed on my fretted bass - it just doesn't seem to have any heft behind it the way the neck pickup does. On fretless, it's a different story- I love the bridge pickup soloed.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think the other point I've made in this context before, is that I tried loads of Fenders in my search for this elusive tone - literally hundreds and all the current models - especially MIM Jazz basses were lacking in this department - they don't actually sound good with the bridge pickup soloed.

    The Roscoe Beck signature was the first Fender I tried that could get close to that Jaco sound. Although I haven't been privileged to try a true vintage Jazz - i.e. pre-'64.

    As I said in the post that Rob was quoting, my pre-Gibson Tobias classic 5 gets this sound better than any Fender I've tried and several pros that I know in the UK who are also Jaco-fans have gone this route to that tone.

    My point was really that if you are after a "vintage" Jazz and are prepared to pay "big bucks" for it, it's usually for this tone, which is difficult to get otherwise and certainly impossible using any current Fenders.
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    It's actually not hard at all, if you know what it is you're trying to get. Solo the bridge pickup, don't go nuts with the treble, play near the bridge with the pads of your fingers, pluck aggressively and deliberately.

    While Jaco's Jazz did have single coils, I've gotten that sound with bridge humbuckers. The $249 Carlo Robelli fretless I played about a month ago had it. My Zon has it. My 68 and 78 Fenders have it, my Jazz Deluxe 5's don't, though they can be tweaked to get close. The Peavey Cirrus fretless 5's have it.

    On my passive Jazzes I have all three pots maxed or sometimes solo the bridge and slightly role off the tone control.

    On the MIA JD5's I pan in the middle about 95% of the time. Bass and treble up two clicks, mids flat. I'm getting excellent sound out of these basses, especially for slap. I've played all of the boutique Jazzes and own a Lakland but the JD5's have a sound that II can't get anywhere shy of the $2k plus Jazz-inspired basses (and can't get it on most of them). The B is not as impressive as some other basses but that's the only area where they may be slightly lacking. Slightly.
  7. I usually have both P/u's and the tone dimed although I sometimes back off on the neck p/u a little.
  8. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    Of all the different possible settings, I never solo the bridge pickup.

  9. SlapDaddy


    Mar 28, 2000
    Neck at 10,bridge at 3, tone at 4-5,123's with Moon AC and TI flats! Sounds sooo good...
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    But I was only saying it was impossible with "new" Fenders - those currently in the shops. I think a lot of other basses have beed designed with this in mind - like Tobias, Sadowsky etc. I trawled through hundreds of Fenders in the last few years looking for a Jazz Bass that sounded good with the bridge pickup soloed and the only one that was anything like satisfactory was the RB5. I tried loads of MIA Deluxe 5s and while they are quite nice basses, didn't get a satisfactory solo bridge pickup sound and I rejected them on this alone.

    As you say it is very easy to get that sound in the way you describe, using my Tobias. My view is that this single thing has lead a lot of people to look around and is a large part of the reason for the popularity of boutique basses that are JBass-influenced.
  11. Jazz bass pick-ups settings?

    It's a good configuration even two pick-ups off, you are free about tone.
    So you can taste His acoustic sound.
  12. I'm a huge Jaco fan, but I have no desire to sound like him. That sound has been done to death, bridge pup on full, neck pup on 80%, tone on full. One of Jaco's big hangups was that, even when he was alive, everyone was trying to sound like him. It drove him nuts. It's time to move on and plagiarise someone else's sound.

  13. The question is it's a lot easier to have "that" sound than others.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes this was my perception throughout the 80s and 90s - just about everyone you saw with a Jazz bass was getting this sound and it's why I mentioned it in the first place. I have no "evidence" as such for it and was beginning to doubt myself until you confirmed this.

    I don't use the sound much in my Latin stuff, but there are songs and occasions where I'm asked to get it. I started to notice in the 80s that most Fenders couldn't get a satisfactory "Jaco" tone and it's been something I've always looked for when trying out basses.

    I guess it's like people who go into shops and slap hell out of a bass - they probably don't ever use this method in their normal playing. I guess I probably annoy the hell out of the slappers by playing Jaco licks! ;)
    DenverKen likes this.
  15. I play in a latin band also, and generally the sound you go for is the reverse of the Jaco sound, but I get a coupla solo spots, and I am always conscious of not wanting to sound like him.
    BTW, people associate the Fender Jazz bass with that sound, but really the sound was Jaco, not the instrument. He could have played anything and still got that sound.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I must admit to playing the Jaco licks in Jazz settings - as you say it doesn't fit with the Latin stuff, but there aren't many role models for playing electric bass in Jazz and I find that the Jaco sound fits very well and as I do it for fun and not a paying audience I tend to indulge myself! ;)

    It's quite funny, the Latin band I play in got Alex Wilson in to help out with some arrangements. Alex is a great Afro Cuban pianist and his band is supporting the "Afro Cuban All-stars" on their current British tour. Alex was talking to me about my bass sound and complimenting me on getting close to the "Baby Bass" latin sound - he said that usually all the bass players he meets go for the "Jaco sound" - and I felt really guilty - almost like a fraud!
  17. WordIsBorn79


    Jan 10, 2001
    Phoenix, AZ
    I always use both pickups. The only exception is when I use an effect (ie. flanger, wah...), which in this case, I drop the middle pickup's volume at least 75%.

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