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Jazz pickup recommendations for metalcore

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Ryan Mohr, May 2, 2010.

  1. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    I am finally playing in a serious semi-professional band. They play fairly big venues and already have a pretty big following. If you guys want to check us out, type in "Seventh Story Demise" on iTunes and our album "Machines" should come up. Long story short, the bassist didn't have enough equipment or committment for/to the band so they recruited me because I am best friends with the drummer. We play metalcore, also called hardcore or even just metal, but the genre is characterized by heavy breakdowns, melodic riffs, and a combination of screaming and clean vocals. We play very similar music to August Burns Red:

    I am playing my heavily modified passive 4-string alder/RW SX J bass with both pickups on full and tone wide open, which I think is a good tone for this genre. My bass is tuned to B-F#-B-E and I will be using LaBella Hard Rockin' Steels. I want to get an ash/maple Jazz soon but this is all I have for now. I'm thinking of changing the stock SX pickups to DiMarzio Model Js, Ultra Js, Duncan SJB-1s, SJB-2s, or SJB-3s. Something on the cheap side (~$100) with deep, clear, fat lows; growly low mids; and grindy high mids. Maybe vintage fender style pickups will work, but I have a feeling I will need a deeper, more aggressive pickup for metalcore. What do you guys think?
  2. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Of the ones you mention, I'd probably go with DiMarzio Model J's. I've never tried them, but have read they sound very thick and aggressive, which I'd believe based on my experience with the Model P. Plus, they're noiseless, unlike any of the Duncans you mentioned. IMO, for aggressive J-bass tone, it's great to be able to roll off the bridge pickup about a third to get into the thick, growly zone with no hum. For me, that's required for playing metal on a J. I get there with Lindy Fralin's Split-Jazz, but those are more expensive and probably too close to vintage tone for what you want.
  3. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    Thanks for the opinion, yeah I already have a vintage Fender Jazz with NJ4s and La Bella flats so I'm covered with vintage... I'm leaning towards the Model Js, and I think you just put me over the edge. :D

    On a side note, I would think that you would roll off the neck pickup to get a more aggressive tone (more upper mids). I'm guessing you prefer a more P-bass-like tone for metal? I actually like the slightly scooped and grindy tone you get with both pickups on full, but I will certainly try your recommendation.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    if you do indeed prefer the "both on full" sound (which makes sense, as it can help keep clarity in a down-tuned instrument) you can stick with true single coils, which will always have something even the best humbuckers don't.

    duncan's quarter pounders are great for this stuff, big and loud but still cutting.
  5. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    Thanks for chiming in, you make a good point, single coils do have that extra bite/growl/grind that humbuckers sometimes lack. I say sometimes because I have never tried Model Js... The SJB-3s definitely make a good case for metalcore.
  6. Lemoore-on


    May 11, 2008
    The Dimarzio model J's are agressive. I put them in my GL and a parts Jazz I put together. They both kick you right in the nads! I love them for Rock!
  7. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
  8. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Dimarzio would be my pick of those too. Yeah you can get that more aggressive tone by rolling off either the neck or bridge a little bit. The rolled a bit toward neck does it with more kick and growl though. While the toward bridge give it a more lead guitar like version played octave lower. When doing it with heavy overdrive at least. I prefer the toward neck when wanting the aggressive lead tone to have more wallop in it. And more toward the bridge when wanting it to be more treble cut monster guitar like. Lol.

    I've only owned a small handfull of J pup equipted basses. But this take on toward neck or bridge has applied to all of them. The key is adjusting both pups so that you get that magick just right tone effect when rolling blend a little toward neck or bridge. Currently my only bass with a J pup is Traben which is neck jazz and bridge humbucker. If you can find someplace that carries rockfield bass pups, might wanna try out their J pups. Best J pups Ive played. Very growly articulate and able to have solid hard bass too. Very good articulation which takes well to grindy sound too wether thats dark or bright or inbetween. imo. But the Dimarzio J out of the ones you listed.
  9. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Yeah, I do prefer more of a P tone for metal. On a J, I sometimes roll off the bridge pickup a little to get the growl, and then cut the bass on my head so it isn't too boomy. I also do like both pickups on full, which does grind nicely, especially with a little overdrive.

    I've never favored the bridge pickup on a J, but I might start with my Jazz V, which sounds super thick and possibly too boomy otherwise. The NJ5FS pickups I recently installed sound good favoring the bridge, so I'll try it. In general, however, if I want upper mids aggressive, I have a G&L L-1500, which does that to such an extreme that I barely use it! In the right situation, it's amazing.
  10. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I was going to say SJB-1s, since they're grindy, tight, and present ... then you could add lows at the amp if needed but you'd be sure you could cut.

    But the Model-J thing actually sounds right after reading the other posts. A J-bass with Model-Js is responsible for one of the best live hard rock sounds I ever heard from the audience. I'll be curious to see how you like them.

    I almost always pan a J-bass a little bit toward the neck pickup for harder stuff as well.
  11. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    I will definitely have to try that next band practice. Solo'd, it sounds like more lows and low mids of course, with that signature P bass throatiness. For playing with a pick, my preference goes to the deeper and grindier both pickups on full sound.

    Interesting, I've never favored the neck pickup in a band on a J but I have favored the bridge on a J many times, usually to get a burpier tone or to get a more lead-like guitar tone with distortion. You should definitely give it a shot, especially if you are lacking clarity.
    Yeah I was thinking SJB-1s based on what you said about them being generally a great hard rock pickup because of their grind.

    My only concern with Model Js is that they will be too fat/thick and the top might be just a little too rolled off, but I will definitely try them out.

    Is this the live hard rock tone you were referring to: It's JMJ playing with NIN and playing a Geddy Lee with Model Js.
  12. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    nice, but i have to think the source of that tone is less model J and more JMJ, if you know what i mean.

    if you suspect the model Js don't have enough slice, the ultra jazz might be the ticket; they're more powerful than the model Js, with more highs and lows.
  13. levis76

    levis76 Seconds from getting ba...

    Apr 14, 2007
    Metro Detroit
    Bartolinis, passive or into a preamp if you need a really hot signal, are great. Very clean bottom with lots of mid snarl from my 9J1 set in my Warwick vette. I scored them used for $60 and installed them myself in half an hour. Highly recommend them if you can afford them new or find them used which doesn't happen often.

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