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

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

  1. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    I've only ever owned a 70's spaced jazz (CIJ Geddy), but I've always wondered if I would like 60's spacing better. 10 years ago when I was busy playing metal the slightly brighter 70s spacing worked great. These days I'm more into fuller thicker tones (but I've got P basses for that). :p

    For a 5 string I'd probably lean towards 70s spacing to make sure I get enough cut and presence on the low B string.

    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  2. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    The first “real” electric bass I played was a 60s JB. And I’ll admit to certain fondness for them that has led me to casually keep up with what has been happening with JBs over the years.

    I’ll agree 100% with the good @Dr. Cheese and others that the difference between the different pickup positions is very real. There’s a small but audible difference in the tone and a very different note response when playing more aggressively.

    I’m not into the more aggressive playing styles or that “cut through the mix” sound. I prefer a smoother, warmer, more rounded bass tone. So I prefer the 60s over the 70s spacing. The 60s layout provides all the sonic sass I’ll ever need. Both layouts provide equally good sounds. But which you’ll prefer depends on what you like and want to do.
  3. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    i'm stunned that anyone thinks there's no difference or that the difference is subtle.

    if you ever solo the bridge pickup, 60's all day. that difference, though the measurement may seem small, makes an insane difference in tone. it's the difference between "too nasal, too thin" and "full, punchy, articulate"

    if you like slapping with both pickups on full, you may prefer 70's - like marcus. overdriven pick playing can sound awesome on both but 70's will have a little more edge to it for sure.

    i personally don't like 70's bridge pickup spacing - but I use my bridge pickups by themselves a lot.
  4. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    I prefer 60's spacing and 60's voiced pickups. It's midrange heaven.
  5. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I always loved the look of Seventies Basses and Seventies style Basses like the Geddy Lee Jazz. Many people think they are getting the Marcus Miller sound because their bass is bright and active, but when I listen to my Carvin SB5000, the difference that the Seventies position makes becomes very clear.

    wncBass, leonard, 40Hz and 2 others like this.
  6. ejaggers

    ejaggers Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Fort Worth, tx
    In my younger day, before I even knew about setups,
    I replaced a bass player who came to rehearsal to help me get started.
    He had a sunburst 60’s Fender Jazz that looked like it had been dragged behind a truck for 10 miles.

    I wasn’t into road worn at that time, so it was truly ugly to me.
    But it was the best sounding, best playing Jazz I’ve ever touched.
    I tried to buy it from him but since it was beat up, I lowballed him, and he didn’t sell.
    Boy, I wish I had that to do over.

    I only have one Jazz, a ’72 Fender,
    and I think the difference is more than just subtle, but then again,
    I haven’t played a 60’s in a while.

    Bottom line, I liked his bass better than mine at that time.
    Since then, I put Fralins on mine and I like it better than with the stock PUPs I had.
    Plus it was refin'd back in the day, and still is eye candy.

    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  7. flyingfinbar

    flyingfinbar Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Long Island, New York
    I love my ‘62 AVRI with 60’s spacing. Less quacky on the bridge pickup. With both pickups dimed, which is how I typically run mine, it’s less scooped, too. With drive/distortion, it’s such a nasty, possibly underrepresented heavy tone.

    Gotta have stacked knobs, too!
  8. wyleeboxer

    wyleeboxer Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    Orange County, CA
    If you play over the bridge pup often, as I do, you can feel the difference in tension and tone. I dig the 70’s spacing for that high end punchy tone but all my jazz basses are with 60’s spacing now and I can get the tone to work for the 70’s style of music I play. And the 60’s spacing is easier on my fingers over a 3 set night :)
    lowdownthump likes this.
  9. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Yes indeed. For the longest time before I knew about things like the importance of pickup positioning, I assumed the sonic differences were entirely due to changes in the newer JB’s pickup winding and magnets.

    With the 70s JBs I find myself dialing the bridge pickup way down to mellow it out a little and still get plenty of that funky spank when I want it. Usually I’ll set it somewhere around 40-50% on the dial as opposed to having both pickups set around 85% like I normally do with a 60s JB.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  10. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    Despite being a lifetime achievement award Precision bass kinda guy at heart, I own and love both sixties and seventies style Jazz basses. The difference is subtle, but noticeable. Sixties ... a bit warmer. Seventies ... a bit brighter. Though I don't own a five string Jazz, I've noticed that they tend to be meatier sounding than their four string counterparts (even when just playing on the E, A, D & G strings) so I would opt for the brighter sounding seventies pickup spacing on a five string in order to get as much punch as possible.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  11. jellymax

    jellymax Don't fry any wooden fish Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    SF CA
    If you always use both pickups then
    Its about tone differences. 60 vs 70.
    But I often back off the neck pickup,
    And the 60s position is ballsier on it's own.

    It's really about the distance between the bridge and the pickup.
  12. Infidelity

    Infidelity Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    Melbourne, FL
    I’m mainly a 5 string Jazz pickup config player. I definitely prefer the 70’s spacing than the 60’s. The additional high mid grind is what I always miss when I play a 60’s spacing jazz.

    Though, I honestly wouldn’t mind either if I don’t have a choice.
    lowdownthump and Dr. Cheese like this.
  13. Also to mention, that a lot of 70s reissues had a WRONG PU spacing... such as many Japanese reissues, and even some MIM Classic 70 models which had 60s body by mistake between 2008 and today (when the point of these models WAS to have that said 70s PU spacing!). Not to mention the Squier VM 77 Jazz Bass... which would have been a beast of a bass with that. The amber model with perloid blocks and the right PU spacing? My man... It would have sold even more. The Squier VM 70 is "accepted" because technically speaking, the wider PU spacing was present between 1971/72 up to 1982, year in which Fender started to introduce new designs AND reissues with Japanese factories, also Squier branded basses.

    Regarding Sire Marcus Miller basses, the V7s have the 60s PU spacing and the V7s VINTAGE have the 70s PU spacing. A lot of shops don't know the real difference, they just state "the V7s have black blocks and the V7s have pearloid blocks"...
  14. 39-Bassist


    Jul 7, 2010
    Endorsing Artist for: Brace Audio; Duncan Pickups; Line6, Hipshot, GHS Strings, Somnium Guitars
    Well the info of different tonal sounds for each spacing is correct, but don't forget to take in consideration the technique you play with too.
    hand positioning and style will affect your sound.
    Have fun with the build!
  15. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    With both pickups on the phase cancellation of the pickups is different between 60s and 70s. I prefer the 70s spacing and to my ears it has more punch and better mids with both pickups on which is my favorite position. I also love blocks and binding on a jazz bass.
  16. Yellow Bang66

    Yellow Bang66

    Jun 5, 2019
  17. Mh .. no .. there’s a difference IMO .. I used to own a MIJ Marcus Miller 4-strings bass .. the bridge pickup in passive mode sounded somehow thinner and “squeakier” than a bridge pickup in the ‘60s position, which is the one in use in the current Fender’s production, and I believe the reason behind this lies in the overall increased tone roundness as provided by the ‘60s layout which, in turn, translates into an increased flexibility for the instrument ...
    Of course this is subjective (the fact that current MIA and MIM jazz basses however are based on the ‘60s layout is not an opinion but a fact) and, in the case of the MM bass, everything could be nicely set-up using the bass’ preamp ..
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
    Kukulkan61 likes this.
  18. Tommy V

    Tommy V

    Feb 19, 2019
    until now, i didn't know that there was a difference in pickup spacing... and i played a Jazz for 40 years.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  19. Ah .. TalkBass can definitely be deemed as a good source of information then.
    lowdownthump and Tommy V like this.
  20. slamsinger

    slamsinger Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2009
    Coventry RI
    I prefer 70’s for sure
    More aggressive and burpier tone
    Especially when using 80/20 % on the volume knobs I like my bridge pickup at 100 and my neck pickup around 80-85% it has a nice cut to it in a mix for me anyways
    lowdownthump likes this.

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