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Putting a pickup between stock jazz bass pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by cstar, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. cstar


    Dec 21, 2011
    Have any of you put a pickup between the two pickups on a jazz bass? Is there any reason why I couldn't put a p bass or musicman style humbucker there? Like, would it affect the magnetic/electric field of the single coil pickups badly somehow?

    If you have done this, how did you like the result? Sound files? Thanks
  2. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Why stop at 1 pickup?

  3. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I've done this. It was a waste of time, and it meant I had one more object my fingers had to deal with. I actually set mine up with a strat switch - it was zany, but just not so useful.

    Ask yourself this question: What problem might you addressing by doing this? If it's that you want more sound out of your J bass, then I suggest you play more. If it's that you are bored with your sounds, I suggest you play more. If you're just curious, that's fine - but so many folks (myself included) get sucked into wasting time fiddling with our gear or spending money that we end up spending more time on that then actually playing the darned things.
    timobee4 likes this.
  4. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

  5. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Stu Hamm Urge II bass. OP, check it out. It has exactly what you described.
  6. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    I would certainly do it as a project. Put a P in the middle for a J P J. Why not? Best of all worlds.
  7. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    To answer your question, putting a pickup between two J pickups on a J bass is not going to have any significant effect on the existing pickups. The way you wire it could have an impact, but the physical location isn't going to affect the other pickups.

    But I'm kinda with SanDiegoHarry on this. What's the point? If you want something unique, then I get that, but sticking a pickup between the two pickups you already have isn't going to do much toward broadening your tonal palate, and I say that as someone who loves three pickup basses.

    If you want to broaden your tonal capabilities, then what you want to do is spread the pickups out more, beyond where they are currently located. Unfortunately, there isn't a convenient way to do that on existing J bodies, so if you want to do it as a project, I recommend starting on a bass body that hasn't been routed for pickups yet, and put the pickups where you want them at the very beginning. That's what I did with the bass in my avatar, and I love the results.
  8. I can't believe you've ever tried a JPJ setup then. I have put a reverse P in between the J's in a J bass and the P pickup soloed sounds completely different to anything that a Jazz bass can do. The P in that position is actually very MM (in series) sounding (not hugely surprising as it is very close to the MM sweetspot).
    The P pickup in the middle is fairly useless in a musical sense blended with the J pickups in any way, but soloed on it's own it adds a great new sound (all IMO IME etc etc).
  9. bThumper38

    bThumper38 brian ebert

    image. This.
  10. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    Guilty as charged. I have two three-pickup basses: JJJ, and PPJ. I'll probably never do a JPJ -- when I put three pickups in a bass, I'm trying for something I can't otherwise get. To me, it's silly to go to the effort of creating or modding a bass to get something that's exactly the same as something else.

    Note, I am speaking only for myself, I am not intending to comment on anyone else's goals.
  11. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    I wonder what a PPP would be like :)

    More seriously (slightly) you could have an MM in the middle with a series/parallel/single/single option which might offer a couple of good solo options and combined (front coil and bridge J, rear coil and neck J). I shudder to think at the amount of soldering required.

    I suspect for variety of tones a J-retro preamp might be a valid option at less complexity, if greater cost.
  12. raventepes


    Jan 7, 2012
    Reno, NV
    Another option would be to go with a piezo system in addition to the jazz pups
  13. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    Is that neck J a bit closer to the neck than standard?
  14. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    no slight on bluetalon, but there's a reason manufacturers don't cram extra pickups in every available space on a bass; it usually doesn't sound that good. location matters with pickup placement, almost more than the pickup design itself does, and pickups have sort of "settled" into the spots we usually find them in for a reason.

    also, one pickup jammed right next to another one ends up sounding pretty close to the same, and the pair at the same time tend to be kind of indistinct.

    the stu hamm is a perfect example of something that's repro'ing an essentially homebrew design, and that has thoroughly failed to set the bass world on fire. the P pickup isn't even in the right place for a true P sound, or it would be overlapping the neck J pickup.

    (sounds great when he plays it, but...)
    SanDiegoHarry likes this.
  15. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    I don't feel slighted. I do, however, feel misrepresented. I'm not an advocate of "cramming extra pickups in every available space on a bass." If you re-read my previous post, you will note that I'm not that keen on "cramming" a P pickup between two J pickups on a Jazz bass -- my preference is to spread the pickups out more, to provide more tonal variety, exactly because I share your general opinion. I wouldn't call it "indistinct" though, I'd call it redundant. But there's a place for that -- two J pickups positioned right next to each other is just a little farther apart than the coils on a MM pickup. It's not what I would do, but I can understand someone wanting to do it.

    Regarding the "right place for a true P sound", I seriously doubt if you were blindfolded that you could tell if the pickup location is off a little bit. I think the design of the pickup is far more important than its precise location. But that's a topic for a whole 'nother thread. (Short version -- IMO the precise location of P pickups or MM "sweet spot" has far more to do with marketing than it does with physics.)
  16. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    paul ill has a darkstar added to his jazz
  17. acebase62


    Jun 29, 2010

    The Stu Hamm Urge bass did not have standard J neck pickup placement.
  18. Again, I ask .... Have you actually tried a JPJ configuration ? J's in the normal Fender positions with the P inbetween them (and lets remember that this is what the OP actually asked).
    A P pickup in that position may be right next to both J's but it sounds COMPLETELY different to either (objective fact). And, correct, it doesn't sound quite like a Fender P because it is significantly nearer the bridge, but it still sounds great (subjective opinion).
    I don't know quite what you mean about the pair being kind of "indistinct". Are you referring to the two J's ? If so, the P in the middle, when not selective, has absolutely and utterly no effect on the J bass configuration tones.
  19. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    fair enough, and as an aside i just finish modding a customer's bass to be much like your "style" there, an added neck J into a regular jazz bass. i was always curious about the sound of a jazz pickup up there, which is why i let myself get talked into the job. i ended up angling the neck pickup (the "neck neck" pickup?) so that its magnets lined up with the strings better, but it still sat in the same general place up there where you have yours.

    it was an interesting sound, with the "neck neck" sounding a little more tubby like a ric or hofner neck pickup than the "regular neck" pickup while not sounding wildly different, and the outside pair having again a sort of "beatle bass" vibe.

    i gotta say both "new" settings were less tight and even-sounding than the stock combinations, which is probably why leo fender didn't use one up there.
  20. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    Interesting, thanks for sharing that. What pickups are on it? How were the controls wired? What pickup combinations and mixes are possible? Tell me it can have all three pickups on at once...