P-bass pickups with jazz bass sound?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by AdmiralBumblebe, Nov 12, 2012.

  1. I've found essentially my dream bass. The feel is amazing. I've been playing it for a few years now and despite this I'm constantly let down by the sound.

    The bass in question is a '74 fender p-bass fretless.

    I'm not so deluded to think I'm going to get that punchy jazz bridge sound on a p-bass (obviously placement alone causes a huge issue), but I sure would like to get as close as I can.

    Given my preference for the feel of the bass, it would seem that electronics/pickups are where I need to go for solutions.

    What should I start looking at?
  2. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Not going to happen. The coil geometry is so different from a P to a J that it is a fundamental distinction affecting inductance and tone, not a flavor distinction.

    Enjoy your new fretless P for what it is, drop the mids on your amp a notch and rock on.
  3. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    You might tailor it w a parametric eq or similar
  4. Yeah, I realize I'm not going to get there, but I'd like to get as close as I can.

    As it is I'm already cranking the EQ on my amp, which I'm totally OK with, but I'd like to get a bit closer still if I can.
  5. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Get it routed for a bridge PUP. Best your going to do.
  6. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009

    Jul 8, 2011
    Southwest Florida
    Just route it for a jazz pickup in the bridge position. You're not going to get close enough, I guarantee it.
  7. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    I'm not a P-bass guy - hell, I'm not even a Fender guy - but I've been reading lots of good things here lately about Delano's P pickup. It might not get you Jazz tone, but it will certainly give you a more modern, detailed tone, based on the reviews and based on my own experience with other Delano pickups.

    Check this out:

  8. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    A P pickup wired in parallel, instead of series gets real close to a J pickup tone. I've put push pull pots in to switch to parallel wiring. You would still have the issue of the pickup placement.
  9. Admiral, you'd be a fool to rout a bass of that vintage. and you aint no fool.

    Talk to a high end custom pickup co like www.aeroinstrument.com

    Tell you this, if its doable, Larry can do it. if its not, he will be honest with you. Totally a no BS dude, and uber bright on electromagnetics. This wont be any off-the-shelf pickup to be sure.

    Man, my neck J pup sounds like a P due to placement, so there are physical limits here as has been said.
  10. jbrew73


    Dec 24, 2006
    I say if you really like the bass have it routed by a very competent professional and enjoy you new sound. Vintage or not its just a bass. Modify it to suit your taste.
  11. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Get a loaded jazz body and swap the neck. Keep the P bass body and electronics in tact should you want to resell in the future.
  12. You wont get a true jazz tone... but if you want more "articulation", which is what I'm guessing you mean - the Nordstrand NP4 is the most "articulate" Precision pickup I ever heard. Very "clear" with lots of upper mid punch.
  13. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    It certainly wouldn't be hard to make a P pickup with taller magnets and wind it like a split J.
  14. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    This suggestion and a change in pickups is about the best you can do. You could try a Bill Lawrence/Wilde P46 ($60) which has excellent clarity and articulation and wire the coils in Parallel or with a Series/Parallel configuration using a P/P pot.

    It's not gonna sound exactly like a Jazz Bass or have that "growl" but it will get you closer to that overall tonality without having to rout the bass and add a bridge pickup. Good luck to you.
  15. Thank you for the responses!

    I'll report back after I try out a few pickups that've been suggested. Seems like SGD may be able to do exactly what I'm after, but I have a few fretless p-basses to try things out in so it's time to experiment.

    As for routing the bass, I certainly agree that it's the best option but if for some reason I can't get close enough to what I'm looking for then I will just work on switching over to becoming comfortable with jazz neck/body or maybe something else. 20 years on p-basses and I'm finally realizing that my own comfort should be taking a backseat to the sound that would best complement my playing style.

    If anyone has a fretless with a p-bass neck/body and a bridge j that they want to sell, you know who to message ;)
  16. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    So, these two combined is an interesting approach. I do have a question, though. The P modules are reverse-wound, reverse-polarity, right? Does your wiring also swap leads to essientially remove the reverse-wounded ness?
    And in either case, how does switching to parallel affect the tone? I feel like this would really only change impedance...
  17. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    Isn't this what the Fender S1 switching circuit did on Precisions made in the years the feature was offered? If so, the S1 switch circuit might be a viable solution for you. I thought it gave those Precisions a Jazz-esc sound when engaged, yet the traditional P-Bass sound was still available when needed. Another advantage is that this solution doesn't require the effort or expense of hacking up your bass to add a second pickup.
  18. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    There's no reason to make them non hum canceling. That wont do anything at all to change the tone, and will just make them hum.

    The reason why split coil Jazz pickups sometimes sound different is just because they use two smaller coils, instead of one large coil. So the inductance is different.

    People mistakenly think that's why a P pickup sounds like it does, and that split coil Js will automatically sound like a P. But a P has wide squat coils, and is wound with 10,000 turns of wire on each coil. That's why they sound like they do. Jazz pickups have taller/thinner coils, and aren't wound as hot.

    I've been working on some new hum canceling Js that have the bright top end of a single coil, and also have a fat bottom end. So it is possible to do.

    In this case I'm suggesting that you can make a P pickup with taller magnets like a J, and then wind it with less wire (like a J) and you should be able to tweak it for a similar brighter tone, like a J. This is also something I've been working on to my alnico series along with more a conventional P.

    Switching to parallel lowers the impedance and inductance. So the pickup will sound brighter and have less mids. Musicman pickups are a good example of parallel wiring.