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Revisiting the P/J Bass Configuration

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Asa Wiggins, Feb 12, 2016.

  1. Asa Wiggins

    Asa Wiggins

    Feb 11, 2016
    Over the next few months, I will be acquiring all of the parts (through Warmoth and other manufacturers) for my ideal studio (and live) bass. I am 99.99% settled on a few things that this post has nothing to do with:
    1) The P/J in precision body configuration.
    2) Split Coil (hum-cancelling) Jazz of some kind in the bridge set up.
    3) Maple Neck with Rosewood Fingerboard, Alder Body with Flame Maple top to accentuate the finish I want.
    4) Most Likely a Lindy Fralin P/J set of pickups

    My questions lie in:
    1) a lack of knowledge for the way certain components in the control cavity can effect the tone of an instrument.
    2) my lack of experience in owning a P/J Bass for trial and error of any uncertainties.

    Now for the questions...

    Q1) My favorite wiring idea is the V/T V/T concentric (stacked) pot, with the 4 way switch for P Solo / PJ Parallel / PJ Series / J Solo.

    Basically, this
    Only in the P Bass Style.

    In my most humble opinion, the P Bass is the best all around studio and live bass. I love the sound and the way it feels in my hands, so I want the bass to have P Bass tone and controls with the added option to dial in the Jazz bridge growl. If I configure it stacked V/T , V/T + 4 Way Switch, will I be able to take the jazz bass pickup out of the circuit when I want to solo the P pickup so that I don't loose any tone?

    Q2) When in PJ Parallel and PJ Series switch modes, will the volumes/tones work as expected with me being able to dial back an individual pickup's volume or tone (i.e., P Bass full tone/full volume, Jazz Bass 80%volume/80% tone)?

    Q3) What value and type of Volume and Tone pots should I use? 500k? 250k? Linear? Logarithmic? Does anyone recommend a good stacked volume/tone pot?

    Q4) Does anyone know where in the heck I can find a 4 position rotary pot style switch that will fit a normal 3/8" hole? I can't find one anywhere and would prefer not to have to route for a tele or strat style switch.

    Q5) Can anyone suggest a percentage of overwinding on the Jazz pickup in order to better match the volume of the Precision pickup?

    Q6) I am using this bass as a P Bass with the option to dial in the Jazz Bridge defined/growl/more aggressive sound if need be, and don't plan on getting much use out of the soloed Jazz pickup. With that in mind, should I use the 60's position (further from actual bridge plate) or 70's position (closer to bridge plate/further from P pickup) for the Jazz bridge pickup? Warmoth offers both options.

    Thanks guys! These are just a few questions that will help me and hopefully lots of others wanting to build a good P/J. I have looked forums up and down for these topics and have found some answers, but need more opinions from guys and gals who KNOW. Feel free to answer any or all of the questions based on your experience or expertise. Please designate which questions you are providing answers to.

    **Revision Edit** After the first couple replies about the V/T V/T circuit not being the best idea, lets assume that I am going with the V/V/T + 4 way switch setup instead.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
    mbelue likes this.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Hey Welcome to TalkBass!

    You may want to do a search. We even recently had a thread on this.

    Perhaps @line6man will chime in and help us out? Please?

    The V/V/T/T setup tends to fight itself. You can, with resistors, help the process somewhat. But generally a V/V/T is regarded as a better circuit. There seems to be a reason why Fender only made a stack knob Jazz bass for a short time.

    I can only scratch the surface and kick open the door for the experts. Best of luck with your project. Sounds like fun!
    Asa Wiggins, mbelue and sissy kathy like this.
  3. Asa Wiggins

    Asa Wiggins

    Feb 11, 2016
    Thank you sissy kathy and Two Fingers! Good to know about the V/V/T/T setup. My second choice was definitely the V/V/T + 4 Way Switch. From now on posters, lets go with the V/V/T setup. I guess the Jazz bass volume will be a good substitute for tone just as long as I can dial it back. Will the volumes work as expected with the switch in both series and parallel, if I want, say, only 50% Jazz dialed in?
  4. Asa Wiggins

    Asa Wiggins

    Feb 11, 2016
    And, @line6man , please join in! Mad respect for your other posts.
  5. Growlmonkee


    Jan 30, 2013
    Florida, U.S.
    The volumes won't work the same when in series mode, but, it does add a tone you can't get when they are separate.
    Asa Wiggins and mbelue like this.
  6. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
    I've a PJ very similar to what your talking about.
    Its my favorite bass. Great sound.
    Dimarzio PJ pickups wired to a three way switch that's Precision/Series/Jazz.
    All three options sound as you'd expect.
    The P sounds like an aggressive lowmid P sound.
    The J can do that burpy thing.
    Series is it's own animal though, very balllzy, pushes my amp from clean to overdrive just perfect.
    I use a 500k volume pot.

    Good luck with your project I'm sure you'll love it.
    Asa Wiggins likes this.
  7. Asa Wiggins

    Asa Wiggins

    Feb 11, 2016
    Well I am overwhelmed by the immediate and awesome support! Thanks everybody. Things are being made quite a bit clearer. I should have come to this forum as a poster long ago. Keep the replies coming guys! It will be little bit, but when I build this beast, I will definitely share pictures!
  8. Asa Wiggins

    Asa Wiggins

    Feb 11, 2016
    @mbelue , is your J pickup in the 60's or the 70's position?
  9. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
  10. Asa Wiggins

    Asa Wiggins

    Feb 11, 2016
    Cool! That's what I am leaning towards, but I just want to make sure I don't get any weird interactions between the two pickups.
  11. chienmort


    Aug 15, 2012
    I am watching this thread as I am making a P/J myself. My eventual aim is to install a pre amp but much of the discussion will be useful info for me and I will chip in when I can.

    One question, what are the 60s and 70s P pickup positions?
    Asa Wiggins likes this.
  12. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
    Distance of bridge pickup, from the bridge.

    70s is 3/8" closer. IIRC
  13. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    +1 on using a split coil J-bridge pickup so you retain humbucking in all modes and switch positions. In my experience, the clean scoop of a Dimarzio UltraJazz works well to compliment/contrast with the characteristic mids of a standard middle-of-the-road P-pickup.
    mbelue likes this.
  14. chienmort


    Aug 15, 2012
    The Dizmarzio Ultra Jazz was used in a build in the UK and the reports were really good. They are my target for the bridge pup at the moment.
  15. Asa Wiggins

    Asa Wiggins

    Feb 11, 2016

    Check out some of the threads about the positioning. Different guys/gals have their own nuggets about which one sounds best depending on how you are going to use it. I like the idea of the 60's.

    And, MAN! I hear so much about this Ultra Jazz... I must be a really good sound PUP.
  16. Asa Wiggins

    Asa Wiggins

    Feb 11, 2016
    Anyone else want to jump in on these questions? :hyper:
  17. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    a very ballsy J pickup with no hum.

    still, strong as it is, for my money you just can't really "balance" the J with the P pickup, the output differences are too great. dial in the amp to where a bridge J sounds solid by itself and the P pickup will be a boomy mess. get the P pickup sounding right by itself and the J will be weak and twangy.

    accepting that, the point of the J is to just sort of "flavor" the P pickup, adding treble and scooping out midrange when you bring it in.

    my own vote is for their newer area J, which sounds closer to a real vintage jazz single coil. it'll flavor the P pickup nicely, just like a real vintage single coil J, but with no hum.
    Asa Wiggins likes this.
  18. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I will tell you about my experience building a PJ 5 er. (actually was modding a Squier PJ special that had two (very poor) jazz pickups.)

    I installed a NOS Fender P-bass neck pickup and an Ultrajazz bridge.

    1. Individual tone controls tend not to work well in a passive setup because in certain volume settings they tend to short together and not be independent.

    2. I had series/parallel on push/pull on one of the volumes for the two half coils of the P-bass pickups. I found that parallel on that pickup was a different tone but not useful at all in my opinion. I wouldn't do that again. However parallel did match the output level of the ultra jazz.

    3. The ultra jazz sounds terrific as does the Fender P-bass pickup. BUT they are not balanced in output. The Ultra Jazz only is about the same as the P-bass pickup when the P pickup is set to parallel wiring. And as I noted that mode is not of much interest to me. In P-bass series you need to trim back volume on the P-bass pickup to about 80%. OK but still not as handy as balanced outputs. That means there are two answers here. One is to buy a balanced set of PJ pickups (Like Aguilar). The other (which I am VERY MUCH considering for my next PJ project is to use a dual jazz pickup for the bridge. These are the kind of humbuckers that are like two jazz pickups side by side. That would match the output of the P pickup better. Fender sold a bass like this for a while and then discontinued it as they do with all cool stuff they create.

    4. I wanted to install PJ series/parallel connection, but this does not work well unless you just have a switch between them with no blend or independent volume controls. What happens is that in one mode (parallel) the volumes work normally, but then in series mode they tend to not work smoothly and tend to be on-off sort of action. I do mod basses a lot with a rotary switch instead of two volumes. this gives neck only, both series, both parallel, bridge only. Works very well for live where fine tweaks take too much time.

    5. Rotary switch. I recommend the FIVE position rotary switch from Stew Mac. Enough poles to do ANYTHING you desire! I worried about the 5 positions and then figured out that the key is to use the fifth position for MUTE! too cool for words!

    6. Remember that the P-bass pair is a humbucker pickup. Therefore you want the jazz bridge pickup to ALSO be a humbucker or you'll be dialing in hum! The Ultra Jazz, of course is a humbucker and works well except for lower output. Aguilar are both humbuckers too. An overwound single coil jazz is not such a hot idea because of hum. I think Fender's solution of the dual Jazz series connected single coil jazz pickups are the answer. Not sure who sells these things. (You can find them in Fender Roscoe Beck basses)

    7. Also as someone already mentioned I raised the value of the volume pots from the standard 250k ohms to 500k ohms. Since the bridge volume control is still across the output even when turned down raising the values makes the impedance seen by the P pickup when soloed the same as it is in a standard P bass so the tone isn't changed.

    That's about all I know.
    kittyboy, Asa Wiggins and mbelue like this.
  19. bassman74


    Jan 2, 2007
    Electronic wise, I always felt Vol-Vol-Tone was good until I tried a Godin Shifter Classic. Godin is Using a Volume, Tone, and a four-way switch. IMO the switch makes a big difference in the quality of tone. The switch is wired (Neck Pu, Both pup series, both pup parallel, bridge pickup) I have never heard a better tone from a PJ set up. Maybe it was because of the pickups, but I have to tell you that they were the best PJ pickup blended tone I've heard. If I were going that route, I would use a four-way switch for sure...

    By the way: My favorite PJ pickups so far are the Dimarzio, the Aguilar, and whatever comes in a Godin Shifter Classic.
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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