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single coil J in a P/J bass

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by brock29609, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. brock29609

    brock29609 4 strings, 2 wheels

    May 11, 2003
    Greenville, SC
    How necessary is it to have a stacked or dual coil J pickup in a P/J bass? Would a lone single coil J really make that much noise? Can it be quieted with proper shielding?
  2. Try plugging in a Jazz Bass and turning off one of the pickups. Is it noisy? Yes. Basically the same 60 cycle hum you get with a single coil guitar. Shielding SHOULD help.
  3. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I run semi shielded PJ & J Reverends as my normal gigging instruments. A single coil Dark Star or a JB-2 with Rio Grande single coil's the rest of the time.

    While there is a little noise associated with any, it'a really only noticible when the strings are completely ungrounded. When I have both hands off in other words and it's still not terribly bad.

    To my taste - there is no humbucker that sounds as clear, clean and punchy as a good single coil. There's a trade off but the amount of noise I've experienced hasn't inspired me to tear go further with shielding... I haven't played within say 10 feet of a neon sign in a while, but I've been not much farther away ... say 12 to 15.

    It is pretty unusual to be running a PJ setup 100% on the J anyway. If you roll the P back 25% the J is rally the prevelant tone. At least in my rig.

    I'm running Aeros' in a PJ, Rio Grande Muy Grande's in a JB-2 and the stock Revered's in a Rumblefish J. A DS in a P bass body. They all do about the same except the DS is quieter. There is a whole lotta metal in that thing and I think it sort of sheilds itself ...

    One other thought. The Lawrence J45 is a very, very quiet J pickup. His P46 & J45 setup are the quietest Single coils I've ever encountered. Great pickups and a real bargain at his prices. Lawrences are clean, clear, punchy and kinda modern sounding. I popped for Aero's because thay had more of a vintage raw edge to them. Not that the Lawrences are polite by any means. The Aero's just exude a sort of funky noisy, lofi, greasy thing that i dig. I'm still totally impressed with Bill's pickups and they are by far the quietest single coils I've met.
  4. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    A noiseless J pickup certainly isn't necessary in a P/J bass, because many folks have been just fine with true single coils in that configuration for years, and several manufacturers sell them this way. Fender makes the Aerodynes, and Yamaha's BB series and G&L's SB-2 use true single coil J pickups.

    But I've noticed that two leading boutique pickup manufacturers -- Lindy Fralin and Nordstrand -- typically (or at least frequently) sell P/J combos with noiseless J pickups, and boutique manufacturers like Lakland and Lull sell their P/J basses like that. DiMarzio also uses a noiseless J in its P/J set. And even Fender seems to have moved to noiseless J pickups in P/J basses, like the Reggie Hamilton and Frank Bello signatures, and the Deluxe Zone.

    I don't know whether that's because more players prefer noiseless, or whether a humbucking J pickup is a better electronic match for a split-coil P pickup for some reason. Certainly I would think hotter output from the J pickup would be desirable to compete with the split-coil, and maybe that works better with a noiseless pickup. Regardless, I would go noiseless. I have Fralin's noiseless J pickups in my Jazz, and they're just fantastic. I think the benefits outweigh the negligible tone difference.
  5. The reason is because as soon as you change the balance between the pickups (say, turn the neck pickup down to 50%) the single coil starts picking up buzz right away. The same is true with a standard Jazz Bass - turn either one of the pickups down lower then the other even a little bit and it starts buzzing. If both pickups are on full, or at least the exact same volume, then the buzz stops and it's pretty quiet.

    I suspect this is why many manufacturers have moved toward a noiseless pickup for the P/J configuration. A P pickup won't buzz because it's wired in series, but that J pup will buzz by itself.
  6. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    My tastes agree with this assessment.
  7. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    In a P/J configuration, the split coil P pickup actually never cancels the noise of a true single coil J. If the J pickup is on at all, it will buzz. On a regular J bass, with two reverse wound/reverse polarity single coils at matched volumes, they essentially turn into a parallel humbucker with widely spaced coils. This doesn't happen on a P/J bass. There's no opposite single coil to cancel the J pickup's hum. (That's why, for example, a Yamaha BB414/415 will buzz with the selector on both pickups.)

    Eliminating the hum is clearly the main benefit of going noiseless, so I was trying to think of other reasons it would be desirable in a P/J configuration. But the issue you raise probably gets it: because the hum cannot be eliminated by setting or matching the pickups' volumes, it's more important to have a noiseless J in a P/J configuration than in a J/J configuration.
  8. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
  10. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    It genearlly boils down to balancing competing interests. As one poster above indicated, you can never attain EXACTLY the same type of true, open, unfettered tone tone that you get from a singlecoil in a hum-canceling jazz pickup due to the mechanical differences in the two designs. However, I have heard one particular pickup that gets about as close as you can possibly get....at least as close as I have ever heard. Whether you even care about these subtle differences, whether you can even hear them, or whether your rig can even reproduce the subtle differences is a completely different story...but something to consider.

    The other side of the coin is how much trouble you have, or could potentially have with a single-coil pickup and the noise and 60 cycle hum that inheirently plagues the design. I generally recommend a hum-canceling bridge jazz pickup to anyone interested in getting a P/J set. In my experiece, the frustration and real-world gig/studio issues caused by a singlecoil that is not "hum-bucked" in some way are far greater that the minor, if even detectable differences, between a true single coil and a split-coil jazz pickup that is designed to sound just like a single coil. If you really want to be able to get the most out of your P/J combo without dealing with noise and 60 cycle hum, I would stongly encourage you to go with a hum-canceling jazz pickup in the bridge to match the noise-free operation of the P pickup in the neck. Hope that helps. ;)
  11. fender_mod


    Jun 23, 2005
    noise is one factor but youll also have to think of your output. that single coil wont be able to keep up with your split P. get a dual coil to cancel noise and to give extra out put. with a single at the bridge youll have to pull back on your p pup volume and while this may seem a suitable alternative youll find that some of the edge is taken off the p bass sound. i have dual coil jazz in my s/p/j config and even that struggles to keep up with the middle p pickup on full blast.
  12. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member


    I have very few hum issues with the single coils in my Sadowsky JJ when panning to one pickup or another, but it's really well shielded and grounded. There is a tiny bit of hum, but the improvement in sound from switching out the humcancelling pickups more than made up for that. It's just a better sounding bass.

    I'd go with a really good single coil in the P/J, and make sure your grounding/shielding is done well.
  13. To me, the perfect P/J setup would be have the following requirements
    1) A great sounding P-pickup, that's sweetly voiced (perhaps a Fralin) (I'll use the J-pup for the bite)
    2) A nice biting J-pickup that is noise-cancelling (perhaps something like a Nordie split-coil)
    3) A stacked passive tone control for each pickup.
    4) A gain-only preamp that has a buffered input for each pickup that is trimmable to even the volume out.

    So the schematic would look something like this:

    P-pup=>Vol=>Tone=>Gain stage==|
    |=>Output Stage => Jack
    J-pup=>Vol=>Tone=>Gain stage==|
  14. JoeyFunk


    Mar 1, 2006
    So I am going to ddo it exactley like you described. But which
    Preamp would you suggest for this task???
  15. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    The old Bartolini TBIBT has a buffered input for each pickup but no trims. I have one sitting in my toolbox, just the chip - no pots or anything.
  16. LoveThatBass


    Jun 28, 2004
    Actually The strings are already grounded. What is happening is that when you touch the grounded strings (grounded by the bridge) you are making your body a shield and shielding from noise coming through from the back side of the pup.

    You can do the same thing by putting a piece of aluminium or copper cut to the dimensions of the bridge pup cavity and put it in the bottom of the bridge pup cavity. Screw it to the body below the pickup and connect the ground wire from the pickup to the screw/metal shield (of coarse the pickup ground wire is to be connected to the volume pot case as usual).

    This helps quite a bit. Or shield the whole cavity if you wish.
  17. CentralCoastBass

    CentralCoastBass Guest

    Feb 4, 2004

    proper shielding will eliminate electrostatic interference, but no amount of shielding will eliminate electromagnetic (60 cyle)hum from a single coil pickup. EMG singles come close, but no cigar. shlater.
  18. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    Chittenango, NY
    Ahh, this has shed the needed light on my noisy bridge pickup on my old 4-string Vantage P/J bass. I think I'll be going for a hum-cancelling J like JPJ recommends. I hate unwanted noise.
    New life to the old road warrior!

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