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Sex change for my JAF

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Jazz Ad, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Some of you may remember my JAF bass.
    It is a beautiful and very peculiar instrument. Amongst other things, it is equiped with a Lightwave system and has an awesome sculpted 3D thumbrest.


    It saw a lot of playing but for a couple years I rarely ever used it. I'm getting bored with the tone of the Lightwave system. When it comes to basses, I really prefer passive electronics, straight to the point. I mean, these electronics were built by rocket scientists.

    The bridge contains the electronics, it is a part of the system. I love the thumbrest, I love how light it is, how if feels and how it plays. It was a well thought, lovely project.
    These days, for 5 strings I mostly play a Yamaha BB5000.

    I don't like owning a nice instrument that remains unplayed. Selling this one can't be a plan. I'm a proud owner of a JAF, we are a small club.
    The low B is fantastic, very straight and ample tone magnified by the Lightwave.
    I want to love the instrument again and need something that will keep its spirit hile giving me the features I like.

    The first part was finding a way to fit a neck pickup. I needed something with a straight, powerful output, able to fit in a narrow space.
    I also needed to accomodate the string span, since the space between strings is 17.5mm, made much longer by the slanted position.
    I went with a Delano inline humbucker, a custom order to get a 5 string pickup with extra wide spacing, basically a 5 string pickup in a 6 string case. I couldn't directly use a 6 string pickup because according to Delano, the middle string would be exactly between the coils and wouldn't work properly. This pickup isn't referenced on their site, it is called a JSBC5HE-L.

    For the bridge side, I needed more power of course and there will be room once I dispose of the Lightwave bridge. It had to be a pickup that can be split without humming, since the neck pickup is a humbucker already.
    It will be a Delano SBC 5 HE/S-4, 4 coils, matched to the neck pickup.
    It has to be positioned away from the bridge, as to avoid a plonky tone, Warwick Thumb style.

    Controls will be all passive. Volume, blend and a Dolgatone, which is a 10 position rotary knob with selectable caps.
    Unlike a regular tone pot with a set frequency over which you choose how much you cut, this one cuts everything higher than a variable frequency. 1st position is bypassed, no leaking.

    There will be a push-pull in the volume pot. The plan for now is for the pickup to be split diagonally in lower position, much like a P, which should be balanced with the neck PU.
    When pulling it will go full 4 coils on, which should deliver a push more powerful tone.

    Then there may be adjustments. Coils may have to be set parallel or series on one pickup or the other to get a balanced base tone.
    If I can't get enough ooomph, I may add a switch to disable the blend and put PUs in series mode.
    All positions will be full humbucking, no hum.

    What was left to choose was the bridge, since the Lightwave is going away.
    I needed it to be short to give space for the pickup, blend well into the aesthetics of the instrument but also allow a wide string spacing.
    I chose a Schaller 2000-5 in Vintage Copper finish. Guess what, custom ordered.
    Top loading which is a great feature, I almost got it with piezos but it would have brought me into another active project.

    After months of wait I finally have all the parts. The beast went off to the luthier yersterday, I should have it ready in a week or two.
    Taking off the Lightwave, preparing and shielding the cavity (which was not needed for the Lightwave), installing the pickups, cleaning and a few minor modifications and changes like making a marker groove in the pots.

    The goal is to replace both the clean tone of the Lightwave and the ballsy boom from the BB5000. If successful, I will only need one 5 stringer.
    I will let you know.

    Oh yeah and I will soon have a full Lightwave system v2 available for sale, which as far as I know is impossible to buy retail anymore. Let me know if you're interested.

    I hope this was an entertaining read. :D
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
  2. oysteivi

    oysteivi Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2013
    Trondheim, Norway
    Great looking bass already. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
  3. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    In process...

  4. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    What are you doing with the lightwave system?
  5. 6stringpanda


    Aug 9, 2013
    Awesome-although I like the lightwave-too bad you couldnt have both!
  6. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    The Lightwave will go for sale.
    I could have kept both but really I wanted something simpler.
  7. Cool!

    I'm curious about the bridge... there doesn't appear to be any (or very little, at least) intonation adjustment.
  8. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    The Schaller 2000? It's fully adjustable in all directions. The screw on top of each saddle lets you adjust the distance between the 2 parts. Fine machinery.
  9. Very cool. I{ve always been a fan of passive.
  10. ryansalmond


    Nov 21, 2007
    I thought you couldn't mix the jsbc's with sbc's, like on the Delano website it says you can only pair certain pickup types. Hope you're right!
  11. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    This is the magic of custom. Delano can do a lot of stuff for you. :)
  12. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    PM me with your price for the lightwave. I would love to use it on a future build
  13. I`m curious how the neck pickup will sound slanted like that. I`ve got a J pickup in a bass slanted the other way. The highs sound awesome on mine. Not sure how yours will come out.

    I will have to find this build if it comes through….

  14. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I paid it a visit today. We tried the bridge and pickups in the holes and it looks killer.
  15. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Taking shape.

  16. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Dig ?

  17. GrumpiusMaximus

    GrumpiusMaximus I've Seen Things You People Wouldn't Believe

    Mar 11, 2013
    Kent, United Kingdom
    That is a super job. Really good work.

    How is it sounding? Is the magic back?
  18. coronado3

    coronado3 Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2008
    Indiana, USA
    How does it sound?!
  19. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Yes the magic is back. The low B is amongst the best I experienced. It feels and sounds just right.
    The pickups separately sound fantastic, neck is clear and deep, the bridge gnarls like a raging dog.

    Unfortunately I experience phase issues when mixing them and it seems more complicating than just reversing one, in which case it becomes worse. If we can't figure it out, we will ask Delano. I can't wait to hear how the mix of them sounds.
  20. On the phasing issue, what if you just favour one of the pickups and just push the other in just enough to give you some flavour?