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P vs. J vs. PJ

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ChaosGwar, Jan 31, 2002.

  1. In my quest to construct a frankenbass (a four string fretless with a p-neck), I have gotten to the biggest desicion yet, the pick ups.

    Should I go with the p-style split pick up?
    I already have a regular 4 string p-bass, and it is my favorite bass right now.

    Should I go with jazz pick ups?
    I have a 5 string jazz, which is my other bass.
    I don't have a 4 string jazz, though.

    I don't have a PJ, and am thinking I might get the best of both worlds as far as Pups go.

    What do you guys think? Should I go for the PJ, just to add more variety in my stable?

    Mods, if this would be better suited in some other forum, please move it.
  2. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    I think I'd go for the P/J setup. That'd give you the "Jaco tone" option, along with the big, fat P tone we all know and love.
  3. Thats what I was leaning toward.
    I love the sound I get from my P. My jazz is a lot more mellow and smooth, and my P is just bad-ass.
    Now, if I do go with the PJ, what brand of p-ups should I get?

    Update: I was looking at the seymour-Duncan Lightnin' Rods. Are these any good? For $100 each I would hope so. Does anyone have these, and if so, how are they?
  4. Ok, one more thing I haven't thought of til now.

    Should I add a preamp, or not?

    If so, what are some good preamps?

    What exactly does a preamp do? Of all the basses I've possessed, not a one of them had a preamp.

  5. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    on a fretless the jazz style bridge pickup is for me really sweet. if you like the P style go with P and J, for me you can't go wrong this way!
  6. In the beginning there were P's.
    Later there were J's.
    Then there was Jaco.
    Who used a J.
    And people with P's to added a J at the bridge;
    To make their P's sound more like J's.
    This abomination ruined many a vintage P.
    And from the Fad OEM PJ's were born.
  7. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    A preamp does, and can do, several things. First, it amplifies your signal somewhat, and changes it to low impedance. This (the low-impedance part) means you can use long cable runs with little, if any, loss of signal. This is basically what the preamps in EMG (and other active) pickups do. Preamps that are external to the pickup, but internal to the bass, usually have more functions, such as active equalization. Examples include the J-Retro, Music Man preamp, EMG BTC, etc. You can use passive pickups with a preamp, like on a Music Man or Ibanez BTB, you can use active pups with a preamp, say EMG's with a BTC system, or you can, of course , use a totally passive system like a Precision or Jazz. Hope this helps, but it probably just muddies the waters a bit.
  8. As far as the pickups go check out Bootsy Colins basses. He has somthing like 4 J and 3 P on one bass crazy huh. One of the most versitile preamps are the Above mentioned J-Retro. I have it in my Amer. Jazz and love it. If interested check out www.vintagebass.com. Ask Steve "Dude" Barr a question about it, he'll help. Pj is a good way to go it is the "Best of Both Worlds." But with the Neck pup soloed on a jazz you can get that p sound. The J-Retro or U-Retro in your case has bass/treble boost and sweepable mids really cool, any tone you want its there. You might want to try a fretless p IMO they cant compare to a fretless j.
  9. Give lots of consideration to a Retro if you are using P+J, especially with passive pickups. The Retro isolates each pickup and does not load down the circuit like what happens with passive designs. It is said that passive P+J cannot achieve a true P tone, due to the J being in the circuit. The Retro cures that problem by isolating each pickup and presenting a high impedance load to each pickup.

    The more devices in the passive circuit (volume control, tone control, 2nd pickup) the more the combined impedance is lowered. This has the effect of making the pickup sound thin and watery.

    The ideal solution, especially for P+J is switching circuity that isolates each pickup for the other in single mode. Optional isolation would be switching that removes both the volume and tone pots, and connects the pickup directly to the cable jack. I have this in mind for a passive P+J Warmoth I want to build.

    Link to Passive Switching Drawing

    Each volume pot is a push/pull device that puts the 250k ohm pot in the circuit, or shunts around it. The tone pot works the same way. The 3-way switch in either P or J mode removes the unused pickup from the circuit entirely. Only the P+J mode connects both pickups.

    This circuit should let the user go direct from pickup to jack, or include volume and tone controls as desired.
  10. Also, the retro has adjustable gain for each pickup, so you can use a lower output J that you like the sound of and simply boost it at the preamp to match the volume of the P. You don't automatically have to use either an overwound single-coil or a stacked humbucker to get a usefull volume.

  11. re. PJ config and the problem of the J loading down the P and preventing a true P tone from being available-

    I got around this in a passive setup using switching-
    on my Warmoth parts P bass I used a 4pole 5way rotary switch as a p/up selector-

    1. P full on (all pots and J p/up completely disconnected)

    2. P full on and 75% J using a 500k preset pot to get sweetspot

    3. P and J full on (all pots disconnected)

    4. J full on and 75% P using 500k preset pot

    5. J full on (all pots and P p/up completely disconnected)

    It's similar to the 4way system ESH use.
    the wiring of the switch is a bit tricky, and needs careful planning out.

    I also included a volume and tone pot bypass switch, so the output from the p/up selector goes straight to the output jack- it does make quite a difference in adding sparkle to the highs.