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Jazz pickups that don't sound like jazz pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by no-logic, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. So I have a Wolf jazz bass and I am just tired of the jazz pickup sound. I'd like to replace the pickups rather than the bass because it plays so well and is very well made. My question is: Is there a jazz set out there that has more of a humbucker soapbar type of sound rather than the gritty jazz pickup sound. I'd like to get this right the first time since I am now retired and don't have a lot of cash to try a bunch of different pickups to find the right sound. I know if anyone can help it is you guys/gals. Any ideas?
  2. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    You might like Bardens. IMO, they sound like a cross between J-bass pickups and G&L MFD humbuckers, so they sound bigger and thicker than traditional J-bass pickups. They're excellent overall. It seems you might want something smooth, however, and the Bardens have some edge. They're also very expensive.
    gadgetgirl likes this.
  3. Any of the custom pickup makers, Novak, Fralin, etc. can do an overwound set for you which would result in more mids, hence a less mid-scooped jazz bass tone.
  4. I'd love a '51 P PU that fits a jazz neck PU route.
  5. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I've been liking the sounds on YouTube of jazz basses with a parallel/series switch installed. In series it sounds so much fatter. Should be an easy and inexpensive thing to try.
  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Any end-to-end, also called split coil, J-bass humbucking pickup in conventional internal series wiring will stray from J-tone towards P-tone.
  7. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    That depends. Some, like the DiMarzio Model J, definitely move toward P-bass tone. Others replicate classic J-bass tone, like Lindy Fralin's Split-Jazz and DiMarzio's Area J. I've used the Fralins for a long time, and IMO they are phenomenal pickups. The Area J are similar.

    Another option for the OP might be Lace Man O' War, which I have in a G&L JB. I don't think of them as sounding like a soapbar humbucker, but they do sound fatter and thicker than a traditional J-bass pickup. They have some J-bass growl, but are fairly warm sounding overall.
  8. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    This is my favorite suggestion so far. Almost two years ago, I ran JBE/Joe Barden J pickups for a while. I commented on them here:
    PawleeP and gadgetgirl like this.
  9. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    You might want to look at Q-Tuner's Q2.0 pickups. They're sidewinders in a JB pickup form factor and pack neo magnets. That should get you pretty far away from a stock JB sound. Details here.
    PawleeP likes this.
  10. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Lace Sensor Man O' War will deliver the goods.
  11. vin97


    Mar 7, 2016
    Contact Christoph at bassculture.de
    He made me this one for less than 100€:
    Frenchy-Lefty and Groove Doctor like this.
  12. I highly recommend Dimarzio Model J's- they have a thicker sound than typical jazz bass pickups, a bit like a cross between a Jazz bass and a Precision. They're also not too expensive, only $120 new.
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  13. Toptube

    Toptube Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    Dimarzio Ultra Jazz in Series wiring, gave me a soapbar-like sound. Big, smooth lows. Rather than the grity and grind of a typical jazz pickup. They are low cost, too. Especially if you can get a used set. and you can wire them in parallel, if you want more of the jazz bass grit and grind!
  14. edwinhurwitz

    edwinhurwitz Supporting Member

    May 13, 2003
    Boulder, CO
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings, SMS
    Any number of Bartolini J models and for something totally different, Alembic Activators.
  15. invalidprotocol

    invalidprotocol Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2008
    Echoing others sentiment... Dimarzio Model J's, Lace Man-O-War or Bartolinis. To my ear the Model J's will depart the furthest and they are inexpensive. Used they will be in the vicinity of $75-90 for a set.
  16. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    It was already mentioned, but the series / parallel switch gives a fatter sound. I just installed one, and love it. The push-pull pot cost $20. If you don't mind drilling, a separate DPDT switch costs about $4. In either case, you could try this first and if it doesn't give the sound you want, still swap the pickups and leave the new wiring.
  17. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    you sir are a prime candidate for series wiring! it essentially turns the two coils into one fat, deep, loud humbucker.
    PawleeP likes this.
  18. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Second the suggestion of Dimarzio Model J's. Most J pickups have the same pole pieces, so they're mostly just different variations on the same theme. The model J's are very different - the neck pickup can be about as P-ish as J pickups come.
  19. Delano JMVC's, sound like a mix between a Jazz Bass and a Musicman. Perfect for aggressive playing. Hella expensive though so it does not sound like it'll work for ya.
  20. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    I have a set of DiMarzio Ultra J's in a parts Jazz - can't say how they're wired. With both pickups wide open, these do a big, beefy, snappy sort of Marcus Miller tone that's a bit mid-scooped. Nice if I want "that" sound, especially when noodling at home, slapping, etc. These will also give me a mildly nasally tone if I cut the neck pickup by about 8% with the bridge full up. That sound is also fun for more staccato fingerstyle stuff and I'll maybe eq a little extra low end at my amp with this pu setting to compensate for the loss of lower end with the attenuated neck pickup.

    More and more though, I'm loving the sound I get with my neck pickup on its own. Big and chunky without the mids scooped as much as when both pickups are full open. When I first started trying this at practices and gigs with my last band, my drummer LOVED it. That was the big signal that I was onto something good.

    I've had this bass longer than any other, so I'm sure that it's sound and fit have become my personal "normal", but it's also kicked some other basses to the curb along the way with the sounds it gives me. I bought another parts Jazz a few years ago which included the pickups out of a Geddy Lee Jazz and the personality I got with that rig just didn't thrill me, including the solo'ed neck pickup sound.

    Short story long, I agree with our pals in terms of the DiMarzio options. Bonus points - they're rather affordable.

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