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p bass j bass E string difference?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cigi, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. cigi


    Aug 22, 2006
    Hey Guys,

    Let me be clear that this is not a p vs j thread. I love them both. :)

    So I got a japanese p bass from 1986. Great bass. Yesterday I went to bass class and played it against the fender custom shop jazz from my teacher. Except for the obvious difference in sound there was something that my teacher noticed. The E string of my p-bass up until about the 6 fret was less punchy then the other strings. The jazz of my teacher didn't have that problem.

    I just checked my cheap sx jazz and it doesn't have this issue. Is this more common on p basses that this part of the string sounds less punchy and more wooly, or is it a flaw from this particular p?

    And to end this thread, if it is a flaw, can I do anything about it?


  2. Craig_S

    Craig_S Banned

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    try another pickup
  3. Make sure the pickup isn't sitting too low in the cavity on the E string side.
  4. cigi


    Aug 22, 2006
    Thanks for the replies.

    The pickup isn't sitting to low on the E string. I may be trying a new pickup because I don't feel this difference playing unplugged.

    I've been checking a lot of youtube movies and it seems that I find the same thing in a lot of the p bass movies I find. It's not that the tone isn't there at all. There is tone and bottom, but it is less present and punchy (allways hard to describe tone). Maybe the jazz basses are more low mid oriented in that register and the precision give more bass so it sounds less punchy there?

    I've recorded a video to demonstrat the problem:

    Some notes are distorted, but these are the notes that sound punchier than the e-string. It demostrates the problem well.
  5. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    A J pup in neck position will tend to have a little more articulation then a P. This can result in a little bit woolier sound for lowest notes. Open E and for a way on the E string. However this can be remedied a fair bit by pup being designed with a bit more top end and raising the E string pole peices a little if adjustable. I think its overall from P sounding a bit fuller then J's on average. I compare bass pups to guitar ones. J's are like single coil guitar. Humbucker/soapbar are like humbucker guitar, and P's are kinda inbetween them though a bit closer to warm humbucker side.

    keep in mind that Estrings going dull while other strings remains fairly bright does happen sometimes too. Which of course would over emphasize that lack of punch.

    Try lowering the action on your E string just a little bit more. And make sure the truss rod relief gives neck a allmost to practically dead flat straight. Over the years I've noticed that extra low action without excessive fret buzz helps lower note articulation. Maybe cause it lends just a touch of clank to the attack with pick.

    If these dont fix it then I'd say either replace the pup or install a 2band active eq that has treble freq center at 6k or just barely below that. As this is the elusive "piano tone" freq for treble adjustment. I also find it lacks the annoying sound of treble boosted at lower freqs such as 3.5-4k.

    My fave P pup would be BC Rich's own brand as found on their imports, EMG's newest generation hz P pups or their active ones, then Seymour Duncans.
  6. Have you tried changing the string(s)???
  7. basslinejam


    Mar 21, 2005
    New York City
    this. Could be a bad string.
  8. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    I have observed the same phenomena in a 2008 Squier Jazz. When compared to a 2001 Fender "60's Classic" Jazz with Lindy Fralin split-coils, there was a huge difference in the clarity, punch, and tonal definition of the two instruments, especially on the lower frets and open strings.

    The strings on both instruments were old, but the ones on the Squier Jazz were the factory originals. A change of strings helped a lot, but did not entirely cure the problem. The student in question then replaced the bass with an MIM Fender Jazz, and the problem was passed on to someone else.

    I am not a tech, but I think this wooly/weak tone is a combination of strings, pickup type and adjustment--and a poorly fit nut might contribute. There may be a contribution from an inherently "dead neck." Another student has an MIM standard P that just sang, even with the factory strings, which she still has not changed in nearly (5!) years. I set that bass up with pretty standard action and set the pickups fairly high, but it sounded pretty good right off the rack at GC.

    Take your bass to a good technician, and demo the problem by A/Bing it with another bass.

    I am not certain it can totally adjusted away, but I think it is likely you can improve it a lot. This will matter if you want to keep it, or if you want to sell it. :bassist:

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