Jazz pickup types: staggered pole pieces

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Vox Populi, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. Vox Populi

    Vox Populi Reggae Loving Honkey

    Jan 27, 2004
    Poulsbo, WA
    I headed down to the local guitar place the other day and played a few jazz basses, as I'm considering purchasing one soon. I played a number of them, of different types.

    The first one I played sounded awesome. It was an MIM standard, nothing special. Perfect tone, exactly what I want. I noticed the pickups had the "staggered pole pieces" jutting out.

    Then I played a few others, including a Geddy Lee and several MIA jazzes. The MIA jazzes did not have staggered pole pieces. I thought they sounded considerably worse than that first MIM I played. They seemed to have new strings and all. The Geddy obviously had old strings, they felt dead. But I've played that one many times (they can't seem to sell it) and it sounded good before. It has the staggered pole pieces.

    So are these staggered pickups a different kind? Is there a reason they sounded better (punchier, more defined but still with a fat bottom end).
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Could be that the inner strings are closer to the polepieces. Could be a number of different reasons, some possibly not having anything to do with the pickups at all. And sound quality doesn't always correlate with the amount of money you spend, so if you like the sound of the Mex basses better, then buy yourself one. Ed Friedland loves Mexican Fenders, and he's awesome.
  3. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    +1 :hyper:

    If the MIM sounds better, go for it! Why spend another $500 just for a MIA designation? Especially since it didn't sound as good to you as the MIM did.

    Just an FYI; I think those Mexican jazz basses sound really nice with a good set of flatwounds on them. Of course, that is subjective, and it is based on my personal experinces. Just something to consider. :)
  4. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Poles are typically staggered with the intent of balancing output across strings where it doesn't for whatever reason. It could be something discovered in testing the pup and so a compensatory measure or because the neck has considerable radius.

    Geddy's use two different pups I know of. The ones you're talking about seems are staggered with tappered poles - they are '62 re-issues. Whichever the others, they're not tapered or I don't recall them being staggered.

    Tone is what matters. I've had over 75 sets of pups and in my experience there's no correlation between staggered poles and preferred tone.