P/J Pickup Location Discovery

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by anubis16, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. anubis16


    Feb 19, 2009
    I was recently comparing several fender basses and discovered something interesting about P/J basses that most people don't seem to know.

    First of all, nearly every P/J pickup has the J pickup in the 70's location. A lot of people wonder why the J pickup sounds so thin soloed, there's your answer. (the 70's location is about 1/2 and inch closer to the bridge than the 60's location).

    However I noticed something else interesting. A few fender basses had the J pickup in the 60's location, yet the distance between the J and P pickups seemed consistent between the two models (measured from the center of each coil) so that the J pickup and the EA P coil were the same distance apart as a regular Jazz bass.

    This means that there are two distinct Fender P/J setups. Each has the same distance between both pickups, but one has the pickups 1/2 an inch closer to the bridge (J in 70's) and one 1/2 an inch closer to the neck (J in 60's).

    Upon realizing this I made yet another discovery. The models with the 70's J position had the P bass pickup right where it is on a normal P bass. And since the distance between the pickups on all the versions is the same as a normal JJ setup, this means that the distance between the neck J pickup and the bass P coil in regular fender models is the same distance between the 60's and 70's bridge pickup locations.

    This is all tricky to explain without diagrams, so I hope it makes sense. But this means that the 70's bridge pickup location is not as arbitrary as it seems...

    Current models:
    P/J with P in normal location J in 70's location (most common):
    -Tony Franklin Signature Precision models
    -Deluxe Precision special
    -Aerodyne Precision (discontinued)
    -Duff Mcagen Signature Precision
    -Frank Bello Jazz Signature
    -(many many many discontinued models)

    P/J with P 1/2 inch closer to the neck and J in 60's location:
    -Aeorodyne Jazz bass
    -Reggie Hamilton Signature Jazz
    -Most MIJ p/j basses
  2. This is very interesting, especially the part about the P being shifted. I would have thought that was the one thing that would never move.

    Do you know where I can find measurements of those positions referenced to the nut or the octave fret since those don't move? It would be useful for comparing look alike models from other companies WRT pickup position.

    Whenever I found a Fender that I fell in love with, I could not afford it at the time.

  3. I thought this was old news?

    Usually they try to get the pickups as far apart from each other as possible so they will sound better blended.

    P's with the PJ setup will have the 70's spaced J pickup, and J's with the PJ setup will have the P pickup moved upwards to fit the pickguard. (Both physically and aesthetically.)
    Axstar likes this.
  4. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I've read that Mike Lull moves the J pickup closer to the bridge on P/J basses for this reason.

    Add the G&L SB-2 to the list of those with pickups closer to the bridge.
    PawleeP likes this.
  5. DanTheMan2112

    DanTheMan2112 Formerly known as dannnnn Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2007
    Beaufort, SC
    This sort of explains why the Reggie Hamilton bass I used to have seemed extra deep/sort of boomy to me. :eyebrow:
  6. So was that a good thing or a bad thing for you?
  7. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I will keep collecting until I have 40 basses
    I like to move the bridge pickup 1/2" AWAY from the bridge ...

    Tubamark, PawleeP and bdplaid like this.
  8. Mr.Typhus


    Sep 14, 2004
    This was really intresting! Thanks for sharing! :)
    I have my CIJ '62 reissue precision modded with duncan vintage series PJ pickups and i have P-pickup in the "right postition" and J-pickup in 60's position... Cant really tell how this affects on the blended sound, but i think it still works great! that J-pickup gives a little more "tightness" to the P sound and still gives nice "Jaco" sound when soloed :)
  9. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    This is really interesting and why some "similar" instruments can sound so different.

    I opened two pages in the Fender catalog, comparing the Tony Franklin and Reggie Hamilton basses (large image) and you can easily see this - there is about a pickup width difference in the placement.

    It would be nice to have the actual measurements, for 60's and 70's placements, but this is a good start. Thanks.
  10. RockBoxBass

    RockBoxBass Supporting Member

    anyone have anything to add?
  11. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Sadowsky basses have the J in the 60s position.
  12. acebase62


    Jun 29, 2010
    My 1985 Fender Jazz Bass Special (PJ) (P body) came with the J pickup in 70s position (closer to bridge).

    I have played a couple Fenders (PJ) (P body) with the J pickup in 60s position (closer to neck pickup).

    My mid 1990s Warmoth PJ body came with J pickup closer to P than 60s position (standard at the time).

    The location of the bridge pickup will play some role in the relative sounds.

    Closer to bridge gives a little less volume/thickness.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
  13. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Hmm..I always kinda thought that having pickups closer together blended better. Look at G&L or Roscoe basses, or a Stingray..which is essentially two pickups side by side blended together. That's just me though, I have no science to back it up :) I just noticed that my Roscoe, G&L, and Warwick basses don't have that 'tone suck' when blending and the one thing they have in common is the pickups are close together.
  14. Charley Umbria

    Charley Umbria I'm Really a Drummer

    Jan 28, 2011
    Rock City, TN
    Could this be one of the reasons that some people claim a P/J can't sound like a "real" P-Bass? Does the 1/2" make a noticeable difference when the P-pup is soloed?
  15. LUpton

    LUpton Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2012
    Tampa, FL
    Probably too old for this sh--
    Here's a stupid question - what is the actual "Leo prescribed" location for the 34" P pup?

    Here's why I am curious - I am, as a project, turning a 32" SX Jazz into a PJ, and actual measurements would be really helpful so I could translate to the shorter scale. Yeah, I know I could go to GC and actually measure one, but the nearest GC is almost an hour away, yada, yada...

    The distance from either nut to E/A poles, 12th fret to E/A poles, or either of those to the stack point between the pickup halves would be really nice for someone to measure. I would seriously appreciate it. It would also make that measurement available for all to see here on TB.

    Thanks, Larry
  16. bass_case

    bass_case Maintain low tones. Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2013
    Miami, FL
    I have a 71 P, which made during the period where the bridge was shifted away from the nut by 1/2 inch. I added a Dimarzio J pickup in 1980 and I gotta say I never really thought to check whether it's in the 60s or 70s location. Obviously it's important to measure from the nut rather than the bridge.
  17. acebase62


    Jun 29, 2010
  18. Vanni


    Sep 15, 2003
    Milan, Italy
  19. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I think that is often the reason. I think it's noticeable. The mid-focused P sound becomes more thick and thuddy, and not IMO a good thuddy.

    I strongly prefer standard P and 60s bridge positions.
  20. What an interesting thread... thanks for the research!

    I'm looking into picking up a PJ at the moment, so this is really useful to me. I assumed the P in all PJ's would be in the 'right' place. I'm amazed so many aren't, and I wonder if it accounts for the mixed reports you hear about PJ's.

    Are there any off-the-shelf PJs with the P in the right place and the J in the 60s position?

    I actually think the locations on the bass posted earlier look the most aesthetically pleasing...


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