Jazz Basses - 60s or 70s spacing - which do you prefer and why?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by eastcoasteddie, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. I ask the question because I am in the planning stages of a 5-string Warmoth build, and I am asking for opinions.

    I have pickups out of a Fender Marcus Miller signature 5 (which have a great “vintagy” sizzle), and a Rudy Pensa 2-band preamp.
    I have never owned a 70s spaced jazz and only played a couple in stores.
    I thought that maybe since the Miller pickups were made to sort of emulate an original 70s jazz but obviously in a 5-string format, and I think the Miller 5-string has 70s spacing (though one can’t be sure without measuring...I usually look at where the bridge pickup sits in reference to the tone knob...the signature model doesn’t look like it has traditional knob spacing...)
    I wonder if these pickups were made specially for a 70s-spaced positioning, and if that would be the best setup for them, or are they just a run-of-the-mill wind that will work great either way.
    They are not regular Fender USA pickups because the pole pieces have a radius to their height...


    But I also love the tone of a ‘60 Jazz bass, namely Paul Turner’s ‘66...

    What would YOU do?

    I often use the Maruszczyk configurator to try options and have pretty much settled on this:


    The color is Maruszczyk’s 2-tone turquoise-Blueburst, and most closely resembles Warmoth’s regular Blueburst. Roasted Maple neck/fretboard, and tort of course.

    I’m torn and I can’t get passed this hurdle.
    After I figure out the pickup spacing, the hardest part would be saving up for the parts...
    srayb and BrentSimons like this.
  2. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Suspended Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    I’m not sure another 1/2 inch closer to the bridge makes any difference...IMO...
    bassdude51 likes this.
  3. Ragul


    Jun 8, 2015
    1. The MM5's have 70's spacing (I had two MM5's, and a ’72 Jazz)
    2. The MM5 p/u's pole pieces are designed for the 7.25” F/B radius.
    3. I now have two 4 string basses with 60's spacing, Fender ’75 RI p/u's – couldn’t be happier.
    bassdude51 likes this.
  4. dabbler


    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD
    Au contraire mon frere! I have 2 J basses with humbuckers that allow me to choose either coil at the bridge and I can tell you that the difference is quite noticeable!

    Both spacings have their place, 60s is traditional jazz all over, 70s is slap city, I like 'em both... depends on what music I'm playing at the time.
  5. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I definitely prefer the Seventies position. The difference is subtle, but it is real.
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    There isn't a size difference between pickups for 60's and 70's positions.
    InstantEctobass likes this.
  7. Heh?
    No one mentioned size...
  8. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    If the bass has a good preamp and is a 5 string , I prefer 60’s spacing , but with 70’s blocks and binding.
    Even if the bass is passive, the right pickups will still make my preference the same.

    I like the warmer tone which also makes my choice ebony or rosewood for fingerboard.
    Bassdirty likes this.
  9. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    You are describing a Fender from 1966-1970 if you like blocks, binding and the Sixties position. I read on TB that the “Seventies” position did not start until 1972.
  10. thewildest


    May 25, 2011
    Florida, USA
    I think moving your plucking hand towards the neck to have a fuller bass sound has more impact in than a 1/2” difference in the position of the neck PU.
    Posted an opinion, totally subjective but with factual content.
    bobyoung53 and The Nameless like this.
  11. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    Thanks for the info. Really good to know.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  12. InstantEctobass


    Feb 18, 2018
    I prefer the 70s spacing to get a more powerful tone, but I don't like the binding on 70s necks. I like the TV logo though. When you tried a neck with rolled fingerboard edges and small vintage frets. The 70s neck and the binding going on top of the fret makes too much material under the fingers. Thankfully, the Japanese 70s and GLs don't have these binding issues.

    70 PU spacing sounds wider and as someone say it's great for slap and heavy attack (Geddy Lee type yes)
    60 PU spacing sounds tighter is a great for fast funk and some other melodic things

    I know that's funny, but that's my feeling. I like the original Jazz Bass 60s tone too though, each of them has its purpose, and rules CAN be broken.
    Bassdirty likes this.
  13. leonard


    Jul 31, 2001
    I prefer the 60's spacing. It's kinda hard to explain why. Beefier bridge pickup. More Jaco-like tones.
  14. 60s position is warmer. Might be preferable if you want mid-mids, will solo the bridge pickup and/or lean towards finger style.

    70s position is "burpier". Might be preferable if you want high-mids, will balance the pickups and/or slap a lot.

    However; those are not hard rules. All depends on the sound you are going for. I would suggest to focus on the emotion/mood you want to project first, and ask "which voice/sound serves that better?" afterwards.

    Subjectively speaking; I would...

    ...prefer the 60s position if I'm playing traditional styles of music (Rock, Blues, Jazz, Pop, etc) and mainly play a support role.

    ...prefer the 70s position if I'm playing "unconventional" (for lack of a better term) styles of music (Fusion, Slap-heavy, tap-heavy, bass soloing, etc) where I want to come forward.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
    srayb, bassclef04, Dr. Cheese and 8 others like this.
  15. smtp4me


    Sep 30, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    ^^^ This.
  16. InstantEctobass


    Feb 18, 2018
    Very good statements in here.
  17. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    For a J-Bass, I prefer the 60's spacing because to my ears the two pickups work together better, including better low end out of the bridge pickup and doesn't have as severe an impedance dropout when both pickups are dimed.

    For a P/J, I prefer the 70's pickup spacing for the opposite reasons: the whole purpose of a P/J is to get contrast and tones that are not available on a stock P-Bass.

    On my personal custom fanned-fret bass, since I have a pickup in the "G-D" position and not a traditional P position, my bridge pickup is between the 60's and 70's position, and it works quite well.
  18. I have both and for my band, my main bass is a Geddy Lee Jazz bass. I like the bass so much that I bought 2. The sound is much brighter and almost has an old Rickenbacker like tone. Much more high mids.
    My custom Jazz bass with the 60's spacing has a less aggressive tone, a little warmer and darker.
    If you solo the bridge pickup the 60's spacing is much better since it's not as bright and honky sounding.
  19. InstantEctobass


    Feb 18, 2018
    But the bridge pickup solo'd on a 70s is nice to imitate tones from Power Windows and Hold Your Fire and Geddy's Wal bass :p
    Spirit of Ox and NKBassman like this.
  20. maxschrek

    maxschrek Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2006
    Chattanooga, TN.
    I totally prefer '70s positioning. More aggressive tone, in my ears anyway.
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