PJ configuration - Why?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by frits51, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. frits51

    frits51 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2011
    Heath, Texas
    Happy New Year to all! Looking at DC, it may be a difficult year (or four), but playing bass seems to help.

    I'm considering a bass with a PJ pickup configuration.

    I haven't played one yet, but I'm wondering why other players choose this configuration.

    I know the P and I know the Jazz bridge. How do the two blend? Is the blend useful? Unique? Best of both worlds?

    I'm looking for versatility and an interesting sound palette.

  2. There are too many reasons to list. The main reasons would probably be the desire for a P bass with extra versatility, and the preference for the tone of a single coil and split coil together, as it is different than any other combination of pickups.

    That depends entirely on pickup choice.

    If you have a single coil J, and/or great differences of output impedance and/or output level, the pickups will not blend well. The lower impedance pickup will load against the higher impedance pickup and kill some of its output. If the impedance difference is extreme, when you roll down the higher impedance pickup's volume, it can actually become louder, as the impedance of the load against it increases. This is one reason that many players prefer overwound humbucking J pickups to allow similar output impedances, as well as provide a higher output so there will not be volume differences between the pickups. The other reason that humbucking Js are popular is that they allow humcancellation at any volume, with or without the P pickup in the circuit, whereas single coils will not humcancel at any volume, with or without the P pickup in the circuit.
  3. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Poorly, if at all, in the typical V/V/T passive example.

    Smart move is to rig it switched like the Fender Tony Franklin.
  4. EricssonB


    Apr 5, 2011
    CoSpgs, CO.
    Why not an MM/P? Totally more rad.
  5. IMHO, that's the only way to go for most pickups, anyway. What you sacrifice in versatility is made up for in convenience and practicality. There are no quirky impedance loading issues and no knob-twiddling to slow you down. Just flick a switch and you've got all your usable options.
  6. Some people love this setup. Keep in mind, however, that a traditional parallel-coil MM pickup has a very low output impedance compared with a split coil P. This tends to cause blending issues. When played together, the MM pickup will dominate the P. Rolling the P's volume down will cause the P to get louder at first, as that creates the effect in the circuit of increasing the MM's impedance, decreasing the load on the P, and then it will get quieter, as expected.
  7. Bardolphus

    Bardolphus Put some stank on it... Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Having recently switched from a Sadowsky JJ to a PJ, I prefer the PJ setup. The tone is thicker and richer than a JJ. Blended, the P pup definitely dominates the J but in a great way to my ears. I have never been a P bass player but the PJ setup, for me, is gold and definitely versatile.
  8. I love the P sound. A PJ gives that, and has some other tricks too.

    With a pick, I play with the P solo'd. Fingerstyle, I roll in some J to kick up the mids a bit, and give the tone a little more snot. Makes the tone a little more even when switching fingers/pick. Blending and soloing pickups has more (useful) effect on tone than the active eq in my warwick.
  9. GK Growl

    GK Growl

    Dec 31, 2011
    I'm probably in the minority in that I prefer a P/J over everything else. Plus, I actually prefer both the P and J wide open 90% of the time. Yes, there is a slight overall volume drop and the way the pickups interact with each other IMHO creates a unique tone. The remaining 10% of the time I use the P wide open and the J backed off a hair. This gives me almost a P tone but with a little more grit.
  10. BassLife77


    Nov 13, 2009
    San Diego
    It's a great sound when you run a P/J in series. though a bass fuzz it will peel the wallpaper
  11. Gasman

    Gasman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2007
    South Carolina
    Agree. I have 2 P/J's- an old Fender Jazz Bass Special (passive, selector switched, awesome) and a Spector Euro (active, blended, also awesome). I had a 2011 Fender Deluxe P and it just didn't do it for me. Something was always...missing, no matter how much I fiddled with the knobs. The Jazz Specials are fairly cheap in evilbay, or I'd recommend a Yamaha BB series if you want something passive.
  12. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    P/J works well for Victor Wooten.
  13. AndyLES


    Aug 25, 2008
    New York
    I just got an ESP/LTD Vintage 204 bass for Hanukkah. LOVE the PJ configuration - there's a phase cancellation that occurs when both pickups are put at 100%, but it sounds really nice and chunky.
  14. giacomini


    Dec 14, 2008
    Florianopolis - Brazil
    Endorsing: Copetti Guitars
    Same here, I prefer P/J to anything else.

    I have a P/J right now that is wired VVT, but I'll ditch one volume and add a switch... just can't get both pickups to blend nicely with both volumes up...
  15. The behavior will be the same with a switch in the P+J position as with the volumes both up. The only difference is that there will be less loading from the pots, resulting in a bit more high end, as the resonant frequency moves up a touch.
  16. giacomini


    Dec 14, 2008
    Florianopolis - Brazil
    Endorsing: Copetti Guitars
    When there are 2 (or more) pickups we already got the pickup height to adjust volume, but with 2 volume pots there's too much knob turning to get in the "sweet spot".

    What is making me choose a switch instead of 2 volumes is the set-and-forget factor, once I find the good balance of pickup heights then it's done, just a flick of a switch like you said! :hyper:
  17. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    I have a P/J with active EMG's, wired VVT. I think it's the best way to go, if you love the sound of a P-Bass but need some additional tonal options.
  18. steamthief


    Jan 25, 2006
    Mentone Beach
    I have both passive and active P/J basses, love them both. I tried humbuckers and greatly prefer the P/J setup - more cut and clarity, imho.
  19. for me P/J is "difficult" combination... Generally P pups are hotter than Js and the worst: if the J pup is not humbucking you get hum when both J and P are both on full. So you got to find the specific P/J couple that perfectly matches one with the other...
  20. ... which is why the Yamaha BB's and Tony Franklin sound so good! Nice and beefy J pickup to go with the P.