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JPJ Bass - in theory and practice

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by InternetAlias, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    So I have a jazz that sounds extremely good for busy metal arrangements, but as soon as the guitars play in higher register, the sound seems to lack oomph. This is obviously due to cancelling properties of two pickups fully engaged, since the neck pickup solo'd packs way more punch than n and b combined.

    So the solution as I see is this - put a punchy P pickup JUST below the neck pickup and engage it when additional punch is needed. Would this work or the P needs to be in EXACT position (of the neck jazz pickup) for this to work? Physics obviously suggest the difference will be there, but how big, is the P pickup just below the neck one on jazz punchy enough to do what I need?
  2. Buskman


    Apr 13, 2007
    Jersey Shore, USA
    A few variations of this idea have already been made, such as the Fender Urge bass & Cort Freedom bass.
  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Why do you have both pickups fully engaged? Most J players favor one or the other (neck or bridge, depending on the sound you're going for). That is the zero-budget solution to your problem, IMHO.

    Also, PJ (or JPJ) has cancellation problems of its own. Just because you are combining a P with a J (instead of J with J) doesn't mean the physics change. If anything, with 3 pickups instead of 2, the situation becomes more complex.
  4. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Other (more common) solution: get a pedal to kick on when the guitars play in a higher register. Options include but are not limited to EQ, volume boost, distortion, and/or octave. An EQ pedal can be a good option for metal (or a distortion with EQ, such as the MXR M80), as you could to set up a mix-friendly tone on your amp with plenty of mids but have an option to kick on a heavier-sounding "scooped" tone through the pedal whenever the guitars open up space for it.

    Sounds to me like what you're experiencing has little to do with pickup engagement and more to do with the simple fact that what sounds best in a mix is not the same as what sounds best soloed. You certainly may be able to find a base tone that works better for both than your current system, but in the long run you'll probably find that doing things to improve your soloed tone will often have an adverse effect on the mixed tone.
  5. Why not do a series/parallel mod?
  6. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    Houston, TX
    Man,,, I thought this was about John Paul Jones and got all excited!

    I play with both pickups full up a lot of the time. I tend to favor the neck, with a little of the bridge dialed in.

    For me, neck PU wide open, bridge PU rolled back about 1/4, and tone rolled back about 1/4 makes my Jazz sound massive with lots of punch.
  7. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    Would it increase low mids and mid-bas? Basically, guitars play in the higher register and I feel my 100-200hz range is lacking.

    As for using an EQ, it's a good idea too, but I don't like using a boosting EQ on frequencies that are cancelled by pickups. This often muddies up the tone to such a degree the bass loses tone definition or kills definition of other instruments. Doesn't work all that great, I've tried that already with many different EQs.

    As for why I use all knobs maxed - Bridge to get nice zing and clang, neck to get a good fundamental. Killing either in a metal context kills the complete tone. If I kill the neck, I lose the punch I want, if I kill the bridge pickup, I get more punch back, but I sorta murder clarity right away. I can see why people like huge mm-style humbuckers for metal :D

    Also, I do realize that (live) most professional metal bands suffer from this as well, in order to make guitars punchier, but since this seriously buggs me, I want to sort it out in some way :D
  8. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I very, very seldomly run with both pickups all on, for this very reason.
  9. Perhaps you could put in a j retro. John East specifically references the cancellation effects of two full volume jazz pickups as one benefit of installing his preamp iirc
  10. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    I've heard some demos, it works kickass, only it'd end up costing me 400 euros in Serbia (where average salary is 150e), so I knocked that option out.
  11. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    To me the best option is just to solo the bridge pick up. You mentioned MM style humbuckers. Guess what they are in J-bass bridge position which yields a more mid rangy tone. Part of the reason so many death metal guys are going fretless is because of the inherent mid range boost of the instrument. Most metal guitarists favor a scooped midrange. If you have a scooped midrange too than guess what when they go higher you are left holding the bag.

    If you boost your mids then you are taking up frequency range where they aren't.

    Long story short stay out of each others way sonically.

    Rev J
  12. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    I have a fretless P that cuts through everything, but it lacks the clang I can get from my jazz.
  13. sanderic


    Jun 3, 2011
    Try flat wound strings for that jpj sound. Another idea, although it would require extreme modification, is to install an old Gibson humbucker near the neck. A lot of guys did this in the late 60s.
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
  16. For me it would be too high of a risk doing a mod to a good sounding bass that could not be reversed easily (holes in the body) with a unknown outcome. In the worst case you might end up with a lot of work, a "damaged" bass and a sound you may not like.

    If I understood your first post right, the good sounds are already in your bass but you shy away from fiddling with the pickup blend during a song? So did I :) But it came more and more natural over time... and now I find it even, forgive me, sort of cool.
    In the past I thought it was a guitarist thing and some kind of showoff. But it actually helps!
  17. Glad to see I'm not the only one.

    But on my j bass, I favor the neck with bridge rolled off a touch maybe 70% of max.

    Also try moving your right hand closer to the neck as you pluck the strings. That will give you are added thump.
  18. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    The obvious solution is to make them stop playing in the higher register, then. OK, probably not a realistic solution, but...

    If that's not an option, then adding a P pickup might work, but there are easier and cheaper things you can try first. If using more neck pickup doesn't work for you, try the series/parallel mod first. You can temporarily just wire the pickups in series, and if you like how that works then add the s/p switch or a push-pull pot.

    If you do end up wanting to do JPJ, the best way might be to put the P pickup in the standard P location, and move the existing J pickup closer to the neck.
  19. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    The Gturds are stepping on your freguencies. Happens all the time when your're dealing with Rock. Bump up your mids if you want to be heard. This can be done with eg as well as favoring the rear pickup. I play funk and usually have both pups all they way up. will change the treble from time to time. If I want more of a mid bump I back off the front pup a little and play more towards the bridge. Being a Funk player I don't have the same concerns. It's rare that the guitar would step on any of my frequencies. I can even run the dreaded smiley face eq and be heard.
  20. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    Actually, they are not really stepping in my frequency range. Our sound is sculpted so that guitars dominate the 100-200hz range with mutes while the bass is heard pretty loud both below and beyond that range. it is just that the whole band sounds like it lacks that 100-200hz area when guitars both play in a higher register and the only reason for this is that bass is not heard there. After all, one of reasons we sound heavy and tight is exactly that I lack that range when mutes are punching. If I had a loud bass guitar at 100-200hz range while guitars are punching, either it'd be very fatiguing to listen (too much boom) or guitars wouldn't punch, which would kill dynamics of the whole band somewhat. When guitars play something that's not chugging on the last two strings, you can still hear the bass perfectly fine, with a growly J tone. It's just that the bass itself is not heavy down there, but more so 'complementing'. Some sort of a switch or pickup that would increase this range when I need to punch is my goal, I have no problems with clarity (since my bass tone is very bright, especially in the mids).

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