P sound in J format

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Dave-shortscale, Aug 13, 2020.

  1. This is a very frequently asked question, and is usually answered as:
    • Solo / emphasize the neck pickup
    • Get a stronger neck pickup
    • Run pickups in series
    • Boost your low-mids
    In my experience, those approaches can make a J bass occupy the same sonic spectrum like a P bass. But it won't sound the same.

    Compared to a P pickup, Jazz pickups are thin pickups with a different placement, which means that they capture a narrower & different sonic spectrum and have different natural overtones. That means a different timbre / tone.

    To a certain extent, neck difference affects the output as well.

    But if that's close enough for you, fine! Many players get by just fine that way.

    Here is a much more detailed explanation: From Components to Sound: Composing Your Perfect Bass
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
    Dave-shortscale and Pocket4 like this.
  2. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    These are meant to pay tribute to the original 1951 single-coil P-bass (like Sting is known for), which is a very different pickup than the later split-coil P design. It’s closer in design to a J pickup to begin with, except with the single pole-piece per string vs the “split pole” design that the later Fender pickups all had.
    Still very cool!

    An actual P pickup in a J housing wouldn’t work because part of what makes the two pickups distinct is the bobbin/coil design which affects the tonal and dynamic properties. The J pickup has a thin, tall coil and a P pickup has a short, fatter coil. There are P pickups with tall/thin coils like a J, but the shorter/ fatter P coil wouldn’t fit in a J casing or pickup cavity. The closest you’ll get is a split-coil J pickup like the Dimarzio Model J (as many have already mentioned)
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  3. 2F/2F


    May 26, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    DiMarzio Model J, and use the neck pickup only.

    Perhaps even more important than the increased fatness and output over a standard J pickup is the fact that your string to string volume balance can be adjusted. Your typical J pickup gives you a weak A and D, a booming loud E, and a too-loud G. The string to string volume mismatch is more of a J Bass signature than is blended pickups, IMO...and it sounds horrible to me.
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  4. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    The closest I've gotten is the Seymour Duncan Apollo. Which makes sense as it's a split coil.

    But I've never deliberately tried to get a P-sound out of a Jazz so I have no idea what other options are available out there. I just got the Apollo because I needed something hum-cancelling for a Squier VM and it turned out to have a kinda P-vibe (with the neck pickup soloed of course). At least closer to a P than any other J-pickups I've tried. But I'm really more of a P-bass guy so my experiences with J-basses is somwhat limited.

    For reference the other J-basses I own are:

    Fender Original 60s (far more classic J-tone that the Apollo)
    Fender Classic Series 60s (also more of a classic J-tone)
    Squier VM "70s" 5-string (also more like a J-tone but insanely bright and aggressive but I guess the maple body may contribute to that)
    Harley Benton JB-75 (also much more classic J-tone, if slightly bright, but WOW what an amazing instrument for the price!!!)

    So basically all I can say is that the Apollo sounds much closer to a P than any of the above and if that's what your looking for it's also a very nice sounding pickup.
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  5. bassdeal


    Jan 6, 2018
    I did this with some humbucking Bartolini pickups in 1996 (I forget the model, old age :-() and it has gotten me by for simulating a P-Bass tone with my Fender quasi-MIM 1993 Jazz. The pickup change solved a noise problem.

    To me the settings on the bass makes a big difference in being successful. My default "P-Mode" is neck pickup on full, bridge pickup on 8, and tone on 7. Of course your mileage may vary.
    Durham52 and Dave-shortscale like this.
  6. Thegrandwazoo

    Thegrandwazoo Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2013
    West Virginia
    Short answer- you can't. I did some work on a friend's Jazz that comes pretty close, though, plus a little bit. It's an older Japanese Jazz Bass, just a run-of-the-mill Jazz, though a really good player. Anyway, he wanted to accomplish essentially what you do, so we performed an experiment. I put two inline humbucking Jazz pickups (Nordstrands, if I remember right) in it, with series/parallel switches for each set of coils. The soloed neck pickup in series sounds enough like a P that very few would know it wasn't just from hearing it. Both on in parallel sounds just like a Jazz. You can also do neck series/bridge parallel for a 'both pickups on P/J) sound, or any other combo you like. Pretty cheap and not terribly difficult. If I ever build a Jazz with Jazz pickups again, I'll be doing it, but I probably won't.
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  7. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    If you route your pick up slots to accept P4 shells...you can load those shells any way you like, Single Jazz, P, Humbucker...they all fit and then it's just a case of dropping the new ones in and soldering them up. If you contemplate doing a lot of PU swaps / trials then this is a smartest and simplest way forwards.
    If you want a P bass sound on the neck then you'll need a P bass PU in there. If you are trying to force a Jazz PU to sound like a P bass you are torturing the Jazz pickup into something that is against it's designed nature.
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  8. Alan Ace Cooper

    Alan Ace Cooper Supporting Member

    Jan 6, 2004
    Northern Virginia, USA - 13 mi
    Endorsing artist: Devon Basses, DR Strings, EMG pickups, Bag End Cabs
    My DiMarzio Model J neck pickups are very P-Bassy. I also have a Jazz, loaded with the EMG JHZ passive set. The neck pickup on the JHZ, sounds a lot like the Lindy Fralin Split Coil, 51 P Bass pickup in my Sting Precision Bass.
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  9. 4stringsjack


    Dec 5, 2002
    Okay, here's my vote: Install a pair of Dimarzio Model J or similar split coil J pickups. Add coil switching so that you can select the E/A coil of the neck pickup in series with the D/G coil of the bridge pickup! The pickups are close together (although not as close as the coil halves of a P) and I think this could sound really interesting. It might not mimic a P bass, but might give you a really interesting tone. For added fun include the reverse of this (E/A coil of bridge pickup with D/G coil of neck pickup, a quasi reverse-P configuration). Or both pickup in series for knocking down walls.

    Anyway, looks like a cool bass. How's the build quality?
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  10. FrenchBassQC

    FrenchBassQC Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Gatineau QC CA
    And it sounds amazing just as it is... you want to sound with this like a P-Bass... get a P-Bass and enjoy the Chowny in its original configuration for when you need this sound.
  11. similar to wanting the taste of an orange but you only have an apple..

    a j bass neck pickup is not really that p-like, but it's certainly close enough for some people.

    the signature P hump sound in the low mids is dependent on the exact location of the pickup. if i remember correctly, assuming a 34" bass, its 11" from the 12th fret to the center of the pickup.

    a J neck pickup will be a little closer to the neck, and not in that sweet spot.
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  12. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    What you have requested is not unusual or totally unachievable, but there’s a couple points of discussion that might run off the rails here.

    1. One thing that most members of TB can agree on is that most members of TB can’t agree on anything. This is not a bad thing, it’s just a real thing. If you need proof of that, search for “classic p-bass tone” and read some of those threads.

    2. Any pony that has been taught a trick knows more than one. Any P-bass that exists has more than one tone. If you need proof of this, then you must not have read the threads (and listened to the examples) suggested in #1. The discussions around the question “what is the definitive p-bass tone?” will provide links to dozens of different P-bass tone examples.

    3. So let’s eliminate the the term “_____bass” and make your question read like this, “I have a Chowny SWB-1, and I want it to sound like (provide a link to a recording that has the bass tone you desire).

    What you currently have going on is that many TB members are providing you good info on how to make your bass sound like a p-bass, but a very generalized p-bass tone. Everyone who has responded (me included) would not agree on the quintessential P-bass tone, and we don’t know what you think it is either.

    And just for a second here, let’s discuss things that would affect the tone of a p-bass. I’m not even going to mention amps & speakers....

    Are you playing with a pick or fingers?
    Where are you plucking or picking the strings; end of fingerboard, against the bridge, or somewhere between?
    How do you have the tone knob set?
    Flatwounds or roundwound strings?
    String action; fret rattle on every note or action like an upright?
    Do you have a high mass bridge?
    Do you have ultralight tuners?
    Maple or rosewood?

    The list could go on, but you probably understand. So, what tone do you want out of your Chowny SWB-1?
  13. Dave-shortscale


    Nov 27, 2019
    The conversations, thoughts, ideas, inputs, opinions, challenges - they’ve all been good and welcome.

    In response to some points raised...

    I like the tone, sound and feel of my bass, and plan to keep.
    I prefer to have more tone options on the same bass rather than “more basses”. (When I used to play guitar I had SD p-rails pups, which had an insane number of tone options; while none of them were “purist perfect” sounds compared to any single model, they were close enough, and the versatility in the single instrument was huge.)
    I am not looking for the exact “P bass” sound, but something close to it.

    I think I have what I need. Thank you TB.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  14. DOOMonkee


    Jul 9, 2020
    If you're looking for some additional tone options, adding a push-pull pot for both pickups in series is a cool sound. It'll also be very inexpensive, while expanding the versatility of the Jazz bass. If you're interested don't hesitate to message, I am a big fan of free knowledge and there's such thing as a dumb question.
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  15. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan DNA Endorsing Artist Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    Didn't say it couldn't be used for all styles of music. Said that it couldn't do nearly the variety of tones and sounds a Jazz Bass does.

    The P-bass is a great bass and primarily what you heard on all the hits of the 60's and many more hits in subsequent decades. What it does, it does great but it really has one sound. I've played all those types of music too, back when those "classsic rock, R&B, and old school" were new all with my Jazz. I'm not saying the P-bass can't be used for lots of things. I am saying it has one basic sound and that's it. Whether that's the sound you like or whether I like the sounds I can get from my Jazz, is all personal preference.

    Further, I have to admit that I primarily use one basic sound on my Jazz, which is the classic "all knobs dimed" Jazz Bass sound. I do change the sound for some different songs. If I'm playing that old Beatles stuff, I'll often only use the neck pickup and may drop the tone down a bit. If I'm trying to play any Jaco stuff the neck pickup is definitely turned off. I do have more choices that I don't actually utilize them that much.
  16. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars

    This, it wont get the exact P sound, but it will give the Jazz a noticible low mid bump and definitely put it much closer to the p tone.
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  17. Dave-shortscale


    Nov 27, 2019
    I’ve received lots of good ideas and suggestions....I have been playing more toward the neck, with good results... I have ordered DiMarzio split-coil pups... and I am exploring options to put in a serial/parallel switch. It should be straightforward to install a push pull pot for the S/P switching....

    However, a TB’er suggested that, since my bass only has one volume pot and one tone pot, it will be far easier (less wiring) to install a four-way toggle switch (neck – series – parallel – bridge) to replace the three-way switch (neck – both - bridge). Also, note that while a Strat like switch could be used, I do not want to do any wood routing.

    A few questions for this august, wise and all-knowing group: does this make sense (i.e., would this be truly easier)? Is there a switch out there like this?
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
    Dynacord likes this.
  18. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    That sounds like a good plan. The only caveat I would mention is many series wirings are both pickups full on as essentially one big pickup. I think that has less of the P-bass-like character than series wiring which still allows mixing them at different levels - where there is independent control of the volume of each pickup.
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  19. Outbush


    Nov 6, 2016
    I don't think I would like this. I very rarely play using only the bridge pickup as I think it just sounds too thin and too harsh unless in active mode, but there are good sounds to be had up to about 25% neck 75% bridge and my favourite J setting is about 45% neck 55% bridge and treble pot 15% past the mid point. I like a blend pot but I would settle for a volume per pickup as second best but not a switch. Series/parallel could go on the switch though.
    Dave-shortscale likes this.
  20. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    The best P vibe I’ve gotten with my Jazz Basses is using Delano JMVC pickups. The neck pickup produces a tone that is somewhere between the ‘55 P tone and the ‘57 P tone; and is perfectly useable for classic R&B material. I use them with the Sadowsky onboard preamp, and gots no complaints.
  21. 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.

    Jul 24, 2021

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