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Jazz bass sound characteristics ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassedsouth, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. Hi , I'm interested in what I perceive are the two different Fender Jazz Bass sounds . To my ears the 70's jazz basses have a certain sound in comparison to say the 60's reissues and a Lakland J O I recently aquired.

    The 70's jazz basses seem have 'that' certain 'classic' type slap sound ie pretty Marcus Miller in character , the sound does obviously change a bit due to the board wood (maple or rosewood) , but the general characteristic of the sound I'm talking about seems to be 'belong' to a lot of these 70's Jazz basses .

    Now when listening the 60's reissue and the Lakland J O the slap sound is of a different character , not quite as 'scooped' and had more of an upper mid metallic sound to it and not quite as transparrent .
    The body wood's on the 70's basses I mention are of the typical heavy type used then , I'm not sure what type . The 60's models I talk about have alder bodies , also the fret wire is different .

    What I'm interested in is the determining main factor that give these basses their individual sounds . Perhaps the pickups ......?
  2. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I believe the Fender Jazz Basses you're talking about had the bridge pickup a bit closer to the bridge. The wood used on natural finish bodies (like Marcus Miller's) was ash. Northern ash is heavier than swamp ash; maybe someone else knows which type of ash it was. Not sure about how the pickups were wound, and so on.
  3. dadodetres


    Dec 19, 2004
    i think also maple vs rosewood fingerboards have to do with this.

    the maple seems to be more bright/scooped/slap-happy than the darks low-mid rosewood
  4. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Right you are-- that's a very important factor.
  5. Luckydog

    Luckydog Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 1999
    I agree, the pup placement.
  6. even though the pup placement's , mentioned are not really all that
    vastly different ? Interesting !
  7. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    They're not vastly different, but if you look at it from a physicist's point of view, it's a fairly large different. It reads different vibrations anywhere on the string, therefore different tonal qualities.

    But I'd say you're right, when I want that P-bass or J-bass sound I love, I go for the '70's. I love the growl of those years, but for thump, it's all about the '60's.
  8. Groover


    Jun 28, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    Does anyone know what the distances are between the pickup and the bridge, or better I suppose, between the front pickup and the rear pickup between the say 70's, 60's and today's?

    The reason I ask is becuase I'm trying to figure out if the J pickup on my Jazz Bass Special MIJ (p-j) is located more like the 70's or more like today's....
  9. Groover


    Jun 28, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    Perfect - Thanks!

    One more question though... are those famous and lusty looking '75 RI basses (MIA or MIJ) placed like the '72?
  10. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    There's no species called "Northern Ash" and none called "Swamp Ash." The variation is all due to climate and growing conditions - it's the same wood.

    The pickup placement and body weight/density are much more important than the fret sizes and fingerboard material.
  11. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    Agreed. And I've never found the right bass that can do both 70s growl nad 60s (slightly muddy) thump to my satisfaction.

    Anyway, I agree that it's mostly the pickup placement, combined with the maple fretboard, that gives you that trebly growl.
  12. Groover


    Jun 28, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    Just measured from the nut to the centerline of my MIJ Jazz Special, and measured 32" :eek:

    Is that normal spacing for newer jazzes (newer as in not 60's or 70's)? :confused:
  13. marc40a


    Mar 20, 2002
    Boston MA
    >>One more question though... are those famous and lusty looking '75 RI basses (MIA or MIJ) placed like the '72?<<

    The USA 75RI = yes
    The Japanese 75RI = no, they're regular placement.
  14. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Agreed. But they have different weights and tonal characteristics. Warmoth offers them as separate options, and has detailed descriptions of each on their website. My question was, which variety is to be found in your typical natural finish mid-70s "Marcus Miller" Jazz Bass?