precision bass sound vs jazz bass w/ only neck pickup sound

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bon viesta, Aug 3, 2021.

  1. bon viesta

    bon viesta

    Dec 10, 2020
    now, luckily this thread isn’t by a bassist urgently looking for advice on what to spend his money on. i’m talking sound, straight up sound. a precision bass, to me, sounds a little more farty and middy than a jazz bass with only the neck pickup on. the jazz bass is sort of just “bassy” without that presence that the precision bass has that defines itself in a mix as a precision bass. this claim may be faulty because i’m not very good at formulating opinions, so this is all just conjecture on my end. what do any of you think?
  2. Dbassmon

    Dbassmon Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Farty? Perhaps more middy is better? Here is the thing about P basses, they do not sound particularly exciting when listen to them by themselves. When you actually play them in the band situation, they don't sound particularly good when you stand next to the amp. The magic happens in the front of the band 10-20 feet or so. What sounds middy and non-descript (farty, as you describe) becomes fat, warm, and articulate. If you record the band, you will hear this immediately. Pbass has a way of finding a perfect spot in an audio mix without much difficulty.

    The neck pickup on Jazz has a similar sound but not the same. It can also sound great, but it's a different flavor.
  3. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician - Retired
    Simply depends on the particular basses you are comparing. One of my Jazz basses soloed on the neck pickup sounds more typically like a P-Bass than my P-Bass does - throaty, mid-range bump and all.
  4. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    I think the standard response would point to the pickup location as the biggest difference. Leo, in spite of his lack of “musicality”, worked very hard and experimented a lot to find what we today call the “sweet spot” for the P-bass pickup. Recall that the earliest P’s had a single-coil pickup (similar to the Jazz) in that same (or very close) P-location. The jazz neck pickup is located closer to the neck. That said, I absolutely agree with @Turnaround that there are many variables instrument to instrument that defy these generalizations.
    bon viesta likes this.
  5. shojii


    Sep 7, 2011
    My J is like that also. So much that I use it with a soloed neck pickup when I ought to be using my P.
  6. Fondsdale


    Sep 30, 2015
    None of my Jazz basses have sounded anything like a P on the neck pickup but I often hear sound clips comparing a J & P where they sound almost identical. I guess it depends on the bass and pups.
    dabbler and shojii like this.
  7. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    A lot of people prefer different sounds to what a lot of other people prefer.
    shojii likes this.
  8. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    I don't think my P sounds anything like my J but sometimes, when I've been playing a while, I have looked down to see the bass I was playing was not the one I thought I was listening to!
  9. I used to play a Jazz at all my gigs, but anytime I did solo the neck pickup it certainly got close enough to a P bass, but I always found myself wanting the real thing.
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  10. You are right, there is nothing like the real thing.
    Still, even owning a P,
    if I have only one song in a set that wants a P you can bet I will use that J neck pickup and keep on pluckin'. :D
    Not the same but in the general neighborhood. :thumbsup:
    shojii likes this.
  11. Forgive what is some pretty questionable playing on a little Stevie Wonder groove, but I did this quickly, and at least the test is pretty valid; both basses have fresh roundwounds on them, so all the string noise is consistent across both. This is the neck pickup on my Squier 70s CV Jazz, followed by my MIM Fender P. Used some compression, but these are otherwise untouched. Maybe they should have been! :roflmao:

    trothwell, shirojiro, J_Bass and 4 others like this.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Yep, just like I say about a good PJ combination doing a very credible J imitation :p a good Jazz with the neck pickup soloed does a very credible imitation of a Precision.

    Here's what I's all about the pickup. The market is diluted now with so many different pickup choices that you can get pickups that match up pretty closely in either format, or you can make them as different as you possibly can. And today's Fender is contributing to that dilution by using different pickups depending on how much money you want to spend, most of which, IMHO, aren't so typically vintage sounding (meaning I think they suck) till you get to the AVRI and Custom Shop models. Fender does a lot of things right and those pickups have their fans but I don't like them. So just because a particular P you played didn't match up too well to the neck pickup on the J you played is irrelevant because it's all about the pickup.

    I don't know if you're familiar with Joe Osborn, but he was a great bassist who started recording and playing sessions in the late 50's with a Precision. He became so in demand that Fender sent him a bass in 61 or 62, I forget the year, but they just wanted him to be seen with it. It was a Jazz and he initially hated it and was bummed they didn't send him another Precision, but he figured out how to make it work for him by turning off the bridge pickup. It was a tad brighter than a Precision, a tad less mid, too, but more alike than different and Joe dug it. So he used that bass on many hit records all thru the 60's, 70's and 80's, and you listen to the songs he's playing and you'd think he was playing a Precision.

    So it all comes down to pickup choice. You like the Duncan Quarter Pounder P, you'll probably like the Quarter Pounder J. You like a vintage style P sounding pickup, you'll like a vintage J sounding pickup. They won't sound 100% identical, and some will have their preferences for one or the other, but I think they work well as a sub for each other and so do a lot of other folks.
  13. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    I've found a pretty similar experience with the two basses I have at home that I can compare. One is a parts Jazz with DiMarzio Ultra Jazz pickups (humbucking J's) and the other is a P/J with Joe Barden pickups - both instruments are passive.

    I was solo'ing the neck pickup in my Jazz for a bit before I eventually added the P/J to my stash. Solo'ing the neck pickup in the J was a big help with being heard when playing with the band and I agree with the impression of that tone being fat and round with just enough wooly-ness to make it easier to hear compared with the significantly mid-scooped tone that often comes with both J pickups turned up. Certainly the case in this particular bass.

    When I brought the P/J to our first gig and we got into our first set, I knew something new and unusual was going on with my sound because my guitar pal came up with a first; he asked me to turn down. That was when I really became aware of what I think of as more of a "honk" in the tone of a P that isn't quite there in my sound with the solo'ed neck J pickup.

    At first I didn't really relate so well with the tone from my P. It wasn't especially pleasing when practicing with it at home. Then I learned to love it after playing some shows and getting that authority in my sound that I didn't have with my Jazz. Now I associate that tone with :hyper::hyper::hyper:
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  14. For me, neither is better or worse, it's a matter of horses for courses. I play a lot of reggae, and that super fat P-Bass mid hump just gets completely in the way of too many other parts in those, generally, dense mixes. The Jazz (especially with some of the mid-scoop effect) really carves a lovely place in that music; properly above the kick drum, but also well below the guitars and keyboards. My 4003 sits in the same spot. My P simply cannot, and therefore it never sees the light of day with reggae music.

    For a lot of the pop/rock cover gigs where it's just a 3-piece band, the P fills up the (mostly empty) midrange area really nicely, and that's where it shines for me. Or getting that fat Motown/Jamerson vibe. But my Jazz's neck pickup does a good enough job of impersonating a P in live settings that, unless I'm doing a full Motown gig, I generally bring the J. It covers the rest of the styles and genres more adequately (for my needs, at least), and no way I can bring more than one bass to a show!
    cpeterso, J_Bass and shojii like this.
  15. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    Yes yes yes :thumbsup:

    I was rather concerned with the mid-forward aspect of my P/J, especially when playing through my GK MB 500 with its tremendous clarity. The big 'n warm tone of my Jazz could definitely get "underneath" pretty much everything else, but some of that just wasn't there for me when I started using my P/J more and more.

    Then I dragged out an Ampeg BSP preamp I had used for a while for running my sound in a preamp/power amp rack. It has two blend-able channels and I rarely use the overdriven one, but the clean channel gives me a really warm sound that turned out to be just what I needed. The band is loving that fat, low punch my sound has now.
  16. darwin-bass


    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    The difference between J neck and P is not really enough to matter. Maybe on slap or maybe with a pick, but for finger style, not enough difference to matter.
  17. Garret Wheeler

    Garret Wheeler

    Mar 1, 2016
    My No.1 is a Jazz with a P pickup in the neck position. My first gigging bass was a P with a Duncan Quarter Pounder, so when I got the Jazz the neck pickup sounded lame by comparison. It wasn't terrible, it just wasn't as good.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    On its own, there’s not really a sonic difference between a single and a split except for potential noise. There is a subtle difference between the P and J pickups. But what you really notice is the position.