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New Fender Jazz Bass Mods

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by codycuster, Dec 10, 2017.

  1. codycuster


    Dec 4, 2015
    I just picked up a new Fender Jazz Bass. One of those Special Editions with clear finish over Ash body made in Mexico. Took it to local guitar tech for proper setup. I like everything about this bass except the pups and volume/tone controls.

    I'm thinking of the following mods:
    Replace neck pickup with a nice "P" bass pup
    Replace bridge pickup with a "J" bass pup that plays nice with the "P"
    Replace Vol-1 & Vol-2 pots with CTS stacked vol/tone pots one for each pup
    Replace Tone pot with 3-way on/on/on toggle switch. (P only, Both, J only)
    Wiring like a Les Paul.

    This will be my first major mod project.

    What do you guys think?
  2. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Inactive

    May 26, 2010
    I wouldn't have bought a brand new bass in the first place if I was going to do all those mods. For everything you'll end up spending on the mods plus the cost of the bass you could have probably bought a killer used MIA Fender with a hardshell case, or built a killer parts Jazz bass to your exact specs. I would have bought a P/J of sorts instead, and I'm not that worried/concerned about wiring and configs with the pots, switch, etc., but that's just me. The most I'd do would maybe replace the stock pickups with something that just dropped if I still didn't like the sound after experimenting with them over the next few weeks, but you asked for opinions.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
    marh415 likes this.
  3. codycuster


    Dec 4, 2015
    I'm apologize for using the word "New". I came across a guy who had purchased this bass "New" the week before from a reputable local retail store - still had hang tags. For some reason he needed some money and he needed it quick. He wasn't the kind of guy that would cause you to think that the bass was stolen. I asked him what he needed to have and he said $200 cash so that is what this thing cost me. Since I've had it (about a month) I had a pro setup done and I replaced the stock bridge with a "Kick Ass" high mass bridge from Hipshot. Nice bridge that dropped right in. Start to Finish took 20 minutes. I also replaced the stock strings with La Bella flats. Have been playing those since the 60s.
    Stumbo and Vinnie Boombatz like this.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
  5. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    Sounds like a great set-up to me! Personally I would just have a "Master" Tone on a PJ bass, though I've actually never messed with a dual Tone PJ so there might be some fun settings in the middle position! When you say "wiring like a Les Paul" do you also mean wiring the Volumes like a Les Paul (as opposed to Jazz-bass style)? I find blending in the middle position smoother with J-bass wiring- usually guitarists don't mess much with that center position so its moot for them to need to blend like that...
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
  7. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef is modulating in time. Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    If you do a 3-way p/u switch, I suggest you just have 1 master volume and 1 master tone knob. Easier and better IMO. Stack knob controls don’t isolate the tone for each p/u nearly as well in real life as they do in theory (unless you install resistors, and then you lose significant overall volume).
  8. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    Sounds neat! :thumbsup:

    I have a bit of experience converting a Jazz bass into a P/J Jazz. I got two, big takeaways from it, one of which you've already touched upon.
    1. The first, big hurdle I had to overcome was the bridge pickup. I chose, and am still using, a Fender Super 55, split-coil/noiseless Jazz pup. They tend to be a little bit "beefier" than standard single-coils, but without losing that overall groove. For the neck pup, I went with a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder based upon the acclaim they get around here. Unfortunately, it way, waaaaaaaay overpowered the bridge pup, despite it's beefiness, and just dominated the sonic palette. Since then, I've replaced it a couple of times, but for a long time I was very happy with a Fender-Japan CIJ Standard Precision pickup (and may yet switch back to it).
    2. The second discovery I made was just how important the "pickup placement" is. Originally, I used a Fender Blacktop Jazz pickguard as the routing template. Over time, I became intrigued by the Fender Reggie Hamilton design, so I decided to give it a whirl, especially since it wouldn't require much more routing. To say "I'm glad I did it" is an understatement! The sound of the P-pup is so much closer to the classic, Fender Precision sound now.
    It's not that the Blacktop positioning was bad, but it tends to be a lot more aggressive. If that's what you're looking for, go for that. But if you want something a bit smoother, go with the Reggie-spot. Mind you, it can still get aggressive. That's where the bridge pickup comes in, not to mention the right strings and playing style.

    Here's where you can get the different pickguards to act as your routing templates;
    Whichever direction you go, please keep us updated, 'kay? Good luck! ;)
  9. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Awesome deal! Those are cool basses, and I would have gone for that too. If you really want a P/J, that's great, but I think you can get great tone and lots of flexibility just with noiseless J-bass pickups. Then a blend favoring the neck pickup is noiseless, and gets you thicker low mids more like a P-bass. Plus, you don't have to worry about issues from big output differences between the pickups. If you really want P-type tone, Lace Sensor Man O' War pickups are awesome -- and true single coils to boot. Even with both on full, they have a chunky presence, and fill a mix almost like a P-bass.

    BTW, good call on swapping out the stock bridge. On an MIM P-bass I switched to a Gotoh, and was surprised how much of a difference it made.
  10. mesaplayer83


    Jun 27, 2017
    I did a build off one of those bodies, and here's what *I* did:

    Jazz pickups from an '08 American Standard
    vintage bridge with threaded saddles
    series/parallel switch
    abalone PG I had on hand

    It turned out really good - here's a pic:

    If you've never played a Jazz in series, you probably should before going any further...
  11. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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