Review: Klein Pickups hand wound Precision/Jazz (P/J) bass pickups pair

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Snaxster, May 22, 2015.

  1. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008

    The quest continues: I am seeking new examples of fine single coil jazz bass and P/J pickups (split coil P) to play in the basses I own; pickups made and sold by independent makers.

    Though I will not be doing any structured or comparative reviews of pickups, I wanted to share with TalkBass my experiences of any I like best. Also, I wanted to give these pickup makers some exposure in the bass community. That I can tell, if most of these makers are known at all, it is for their guitar pickups, but not for their bass pickups.

    Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of these makers. I am just a guy who likes bass pickups.


    Q: How do these pickups compare to make/model XYZ? Do they sound better in the 60s or 70s position? Etc.

    A: Sorry, but I don’t know. This review is only my observations of these pickups themselves, as I installed them in one bass guitar.
    This is my fourth review of bass pickups. It is about a stock pair I ordered from Klein Pickups ( on the web; Klein Pickups on Facebook).

    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg

    Maker profile

    Klein Pickups is based in Denton, Texas. At their website, the "About Us" page features only a photo of the exterior of the shop. It is tidy in bright sunshine. That's all you need to know, I guess. That and the pickups. ;)

    Online I found a fair amount of talk about the company's pickups. But as is usual with independent makers, nearly all of it was about pickups for guitar, not bass.

    Some specifications

    1959 Epic Series Precision Bass pickup
    • made in USA
    • hand wound
    • bespoke alnico 5 magnets (composition and manufacture based on analysis of magnets dating to 1959)
    • bespoke 42 AWG plain enamel wire (composition and manufacture based on analysis of wire in early Fender guitars)
    • 10.22K
    • flash potted
    • vintage-style cloth wiring
    1962 Epic Series Jazz Bass bridge pickup
    • made in USA
    • hand wound
    • bespoke alnico 5 magnets (composition and manufacture based on analysis of magnets dating to 1962)
    • bespoke 42 AWG plain enamel wire (composition and manufacture based on analysis of wire in early Fender guitars)
    • 7.62K
    • flash potted
    • vintage-style cloth wiring
    Retail, packaging, etc.

    Email correspondence for this order seemed fully automated. I was sent a clear, detailed invoice immediately. Time from order to shipping was just over a week, I think. Anyway it was quick. When the shipment was created, I got a shipping notice with full tracking info.

    Packing for shipping was professional. I chose FedEx for this order, so the outer shipping box was a nice, sturdy FedEx Express "Small Box" carton.

    Each pickup came in its own lidded box. The boxes were a standard gift or jewelry type. But each lid was covered in a handsome multicolor decal that featured a custom script logo and graphics. The colors for each pickup type's decal differed slightly. I found the overall look to be of a rung above cottage industry, listing to small business. More like Nordstrand and less like an independent, for example. In any case, it showed that Klein cared to make a good impression.

    The undersides of the pickups were permanently stamped “Klein Pickups Epic Series” and either “1959 Bass” or “1962 Bridge”. Again, a detail that an independent maker probably would not do. I like these stamps, since as I collect more pickups, I struggle to keep track of which pickups are which.

    The pickups' respective hot leads were color coded: white for P, yellow for J bridge. I always appreciate that. The P pickup included foam pads, but the J pickup did not.


    Note that I installed this set of pickups in a vintage ash/maple bass with passive electronics.

    I almost forgot to mention that these two pickups were sent to me out of phase. In the end I was able to compensate for that by swapping the standard positions of the P pickup's leads. Swapping the J pickup's leads did not work. In my opinion, since these pickups were the only two in my order, they should have been sent to me wired in phase with each other.

    As I wrote in another thread

    "If you are wondering why I didn't choose a 1962 style P pickup for this set: My decision to buy hinged on the P pickup. Since I knew it was one of the 1950s style models I wanted, matching the 1962 style P pickup with the 1962 style J pickup was not an option. I predict that these two will play together well enough."

    That prediction turned out to be true. However, of course now I would like to hear the Klein 1962 style P pickup paired with their J pickup.

    In yet another thread, I wrote of the Klein 1959 P model pickup

    "I can attest to the accuracy of Klein Pickups' description of their 1959 P model: luxurious and expansive yet tight lows, polite and tasty midrange, subdued and sweet highs. You can slap the **** out of it, but it always keeps its pants on. Great pickup."​

    Notable about the 1959 P model pickup:
    • The high frequencies, though sweet, are quite nuanced and detailed. Yet since they are low in the balance, when the P pickup is soloed with tone open, I rarely notice how low they are. It is only when I add in a good amount of J pickup, with its relatively very high brightness, that I notice how shy the P's highs are.

    • There is the classic Precision Bass pickup behavior (they don't all do it, but I prefer those that do) of subduing prominent or "flabby" midrange when its passive volume control is rolled off a bit. The Klein P pickup exhibits this behavior. But since it naturally does not feature strident midrange, the effect is much more subtle than in many P pickups. It is powerful and useful, but easily missed.
    The 1962 J model pickup is a beast. So clear, so powerful. Just enough bold quack, coupled with high touch sensitivity, and all the basic properties I have come to think of as characteristic of single coil bass pickups. Surely this is a perfect example of a classical Fender-style Jazz Bass pickup. Notable among its many charms is its Jaco-esque bridge pickup sound: merciless, bottomless, fearless... percussive fundamental sheathed in an army of clear, searing harmonics. With the tone control at any position, it is beautiful.


    Now I will bend a habit of mine. To date, I have not mentioned price in my pickup reviews, or even value for money, I think.

    Klein Pickups' product prices are public, so I don't need to quote them here. I will only point out that they are near the high end of the range I have seen. When that's the case, it begs the question: are they worth it? My answer today is yes. If they are reliable, then Klein Pickups' bass pickups are worth twice their going price. They are that good.

    Buy vintage pickups if you like. You will pay twice or four times the price, depending on the vintage. And they may be worth it if you find solid ones and like their sound. But what a gamble. Though I would not give up the (presumed 1967 and original) pickup in my 1969 Fender Precision Bass for any other, new or vintage, because it sounds that good, also I would be very careful if I were trying to acquire any older ones. I sooner would find a nice, old bass and fit it with new, high-end pickups, at least to start.

    That's what my test instrument was for this Klein pair, an ash/maple 1973 Fender Precision modified to be a P/J. On deck is a set of Klein 1962 J model pickups. I will be sure to install that set in an alder/maple/rosewood bass, to compare their sound amid rounder-sounding woods to that of the bridge pickup in the snarling old ash Precision.

    Based on this first try, I am a fan of Klein bass pickups. In summary, I find them to be primal and guitaristic, and to be raw and clear the way fine, old microphones and vacuum tubes are. Their voice is like a living thing tearing out of the instrument. Their interaction with playing inputs, instrument control adjustments, and preamp input impedance is exceptionally sensitive, dynamic and useful. They are eminently musical, and I recommend them to anyone wanting the classical type of Fender-style bass pickups.


    Last edited: May 22, 2015
    R&B, tomich, dtyndall and 6 others like this.
  2. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Nice review. "Their voice is like a living thing tearing out of the instrument." For some indirect reason that recalls Anne Fadiman to me.
  3. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Thank you very much. Mostly they just tumble out of my head onto the computer.

    That's a pretty sophisticated literary reference you have there! Though I am quite literate, I am not well read. Now that I did my 30-second online research project after reading your reference, I think that if I were a reader I would enjoy Ms. Fadiman's writings.
  4. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down for a class called The Journalist as Ethnographer, back in the day. We got to interview Ms. Fadiman by phone. She made an impression.
  5. Wow. Maybe the best review of any product I've ever read. Freakin' poetry my friend. So close to home too. I too have a '73 ash/maple fender that is in need of new pickups. It's all original - minus pickups. It came with quarter pounders. While I like QP's in some instances, not this instance. They simply seem to be "too much". Just too much everything. I'm in and have been on the search for a set of originals. But - as you stated, theres a chance they would suck. And suck for Big Money. I found Klein as well. I feel in love with their whole thing. Still I kept looking. I thought for a time it was the '62s I'd try first. But after reading this - Maybe I should go for the '59s to round the whole thing out. Man i'd bet they will sound great. Anyway, thanks for a great review. I'm sold.
    Snaxster and MarkA like this.
  6. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Thanks for bringing this up again. I re-read the review and think I liked it even more the second time around.
    zackhartsog and Snaxster like this.
  7. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Hello and thanks for your kind words. This Klein pickup stayed in my 1973 Precision for some time, then was replaced by a Lollar:

    Then it was built into a Monarch-P:

    where after about a year it was replaced by a Flying Mojo:

    So my Klein Epic 1959 P pickup is retired for now, after giving excellent service in two excellent basses. I still admire it that highly. Nowadays the Klein J pickup remains in my 1973 Precision as P/J; and there are Kleins in my Monarch 5 Deluxe:

    Good luck getting your 1973 Precision settled!
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  8. Question:

    Do Klein include the plastic covers with the ‘59 P-bass pickup package?
  9. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Ciao, Gianni. Felice anno nuovo!

    In early 2015 they did. See my photos above. Probably they still do now. But I would ask Klein Pickups to be sure.
  10. Thanks @Snaxster ... I also contacted Klein and they confirmed that covers are part of the package :thumbsup:
    Snaxster likes this.
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