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Observation regarding P or J preferences

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Luckydog, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    I like both P's and J's...pretty much have a love hate thing sometimes. Playing one, I often find myself wishing I had brought the other instead. Weird, and I realize I should be focusing on the music instead, but I obsess over the tone trivia too much I think. What I have learned to adjust to without a blink are differences in neck widths (A, B, C etc), body shapes, weights, and everything aside from the pickups, which IMO are the defining differences between the P and the J.

    What I find strange, is that it seems some bassists don't see such a broad difference between the P and J in terms of tone, or at least they dont consider pickup aspects to be so defining. Evidenced by describing a bass as a Roadworn, or a Fender reissue, without indicating if it is a P or a J...or a cluge of the two. Also evidenced by some folks preferring one or the other based solely on the neck dimensions, which I find are trivial, as opposed to the pickup selection and engineering which is the true difference to me. Joe Osborne apparently chose a jazz bass as his "one" largely based on the fact that the neck was thinner than a P.

    I find it strange that a bass can be described either by its model designation or by its owner, as a jazz, simply because of it's body shape, even it is has a humbucking P pickup. Or a described as a Precision, because of its body shape, even though it may have 2 jazz pickups.

    Hmm, maybe I'm in the minority thinking that the singular defining difference between a P and a J is the pickup aspect, and everything else is trivial to the point of being mostly meaningless.
  2. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    You're on a website that often caters to the lowest common demoninator. The forum with the most traffic is this one, the one about buying basses!

    It's the same reason why guys fawn over "boutique" basses when the electronics in them are off the shelf brands that available to anyone. :) The shape of the bass and the swirly topwoods is what's important...pickups? pfft.
  3. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    ^ this. People are idiots.
  4. LongHairFreak

    LongHairFreak Insert cool nickname? Nobody's given me one yet. Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2006
    Twin Cities - MN
    Yeah. I get your meaning. Putting aside the A/B/C designations of the neck, when I want to give a P a go, I expect it to have the Pbass shaped body and a Ppup (single or split) in a mid position.

    It's actually quite frustrating when, even in a retail store, I am handed "a cool Precision" and I find a bridge pup on board. My response is always courteous, but in my head I'm thinkin' 'You dumb****! If I wanted a PJ, I would've asked for a PJ'.
  5. Its designated by the "precision bass" or "jazz bass" that you will find written on the headstock.
  6. In my chimp mind, I classify 'Jazz' basses as having 2 single coil pickups, and P basses as having a single pickup (split coil or not) in the P position. Yes, technically P and J should extend to body styles and neck specs, but I just don't care as I can't imagine what effect an offset waist or rounded bottom can actually have on tone. Maybe it mattered back when there was one company making 2 basses: Jazz and Precision. But now everything is so mashed together with J necks on P bodies and P pickups in Jazz bodies and P and J pickups in either body that the line is blurred.

    IMHO, a jazz style body with a single split P pickup is a P bass, and a P body with 2 single coiled bar pickups is a Jazz.
  7. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've put J necks on P bass bodies. Jaco used a P neck on a J bass body in his instructional video.

    What are they?
  8. meatwad


    Apr 9, 2008
    Smallville, USA

    I call them what they are, based on body shape first, pickups second. For example, I would call this a "P-Bass with Jazz pickups" -


    To refer to it as just a "Precision Bass" doesn't seem right. Vice-versa, the Mark Hoppus Jazz is a "J with a P"..
  9. meatwad


    Apr 9, 2008
    Smallville, USA
    Easy, a "Jazz with a Precision neck".
  10. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL
    Untrue. As a lefty, a great deal of Fender basses will only have "Fender" on the headstock, with no model designation.
  11. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    I own multiples of both. I agree, it's 90% pickups and their positioning. But the jazz does seem to need the heavier body. As far as the neck width, you can do either bass with either neck. I have a '59P (C-neck) and a US Duck Dunn (A neck, with the Aguilar 4P-60 which is a terrific vintage sounding pickup). They are both great Ps but there is something special about the '59. I can't claim to be able to attribute that to any particular aspect of the instrument - i.e. multiple factors at play.

    I am in your camp, vis-a-vis liking both. Many of the bassists that I gew up listening to played P's: Jamerson, Wilton Felder, Max Bennett, Pete Cetera, Leland Sklar... But I like the jazz too. Don't quite get the P is better / J is better threads. For me, it depends on the tune and the situation. When I hear "I Want You Back" my brain wants to hear a P; but to my ears "Billy Jean" needs a J.


  12. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    I would call it a Jazz bass with a Precision body, because it's going to sound like a jazz not a precision.

  13. [​IMG]
    I think the naming should be based on in your face prominence.
    This would be a p with a j in my opinion because the p is more prominent from a distance. You might not even notice the j unless you were close up.
  14. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    Then (dead horse) it isn't the electronics?
    LOL :):):)

    I buy on feel. One P-bass just feels better than another. One Jazz just feels better than another. Better can be weight, rigidity, acoustic tone, resonance. Those qualities can be affected by age, setup, body wood species and or the thickness of the finish.

    I have preferred the '51P & '70 Tele neck over Js & Ps. In that I'm a small minority.

    Enjoy what feels good in your hands.
    If someone hands me a J for a session or a P, I will do the best I can to bring out the producer's vision. Hopefully I won't have to fight the instrument for that.
  15. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I want the two minutes of my life I spent reading this thread back!
  16. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
  17. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Yup. I'm wondering how many BL's and MD's who don't play bass even notice if there is a change. Personally I've found if I ask before a show or a rehearsal they'll say something like, 'Yea, I heard a difference, but whatever you think best'. If I ask afterword, more often than not I'll get a blank stare.

    In other words, its more in the players mind and ear than in anyone else's. You should play with the sound and bass you are comfortable with.
  18. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON

    ...it's the sandwich equivalent of a PJ bass with a little bridge pickup blended in. :oops:

    We could do this all day long, but now it's time to visit the fridge. :bassist:
  19. Mark Nye

    Mark Nye

    Sep 18, 2012
    Me, too.

    Let's just call all of the hybrids "M" basses. Split the difference. (J K L M N O P)
  20. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    Seems to me that this thread does more to support the unanswerability (is that a word?) of the issue of which is better (p or j), if the p and j cannot be universally defined. Think about the possibilities...no more p vs j threads! I don't think I'd whine about that prospect!