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"Stealthing" a pickup under a Jazz pickguard?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by fourstringbliss, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I love a woofy old school bass tone but don't really want to invest in a bass that only does that tone. I want to add a pickup right at the end of my J bass' neck, but I don't want to cut the pickguard. Would it work to route out a cavity deep enough to hide a pickup like this underneath the pickguard?


    I know that the sound wouldn't neccessarily be in balance and the impedances of the pickups wouldn't match. The wiring isn't what I'm wondering about - more the tone and idea.
  2. Crater


    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
    It's been done with guitars, telecasters especially. A high-output pickup will help make up for the extra distance from the strings.
  3. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I think you'd have to measure the depth of the body vs. the depth of the pickup. If you take away enough material right there, you could end up with some possible structural issues.
    That would be my biggest concern, honestly.
  4. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    Would putting a soapbar humbucker close to the neck give a woofy tone?
  5. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Yes, more or less, depending upon the characteristics of the particular soapbar chosen. Soapbars run the gamut from deep and dark to bright and shrill.

    If you choose a four-conductor humbucker, you can wire the coils in series. This would yield a deeper, darker tone (which sounds like what you're after) and also increases the output, which could help compensate for the increased distance from the strings.

    I'm intrigued!
  6. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    That's my big concern also. I'd have to install it about 1/2" back from the neck, I think. The pickup in question is 0.875" deep and the neck pocket is probably 0.75" deep.
  7. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I contacted the Ebay seller that sells the pickup I'm looking at to find out if it's wired in series. It probably is since that's usually how humbuckers are wired. Apparently it's a 12k pup, so power is not an issue!!
  8. pogipoints

    pogipoints Custom User Title Holder

    Dec 5, 2005
    Not sure if tonally this is what you want, but if you don't want to cut too deep into the body, this is probably the most shallow pickup I've seen:



    I've only used one on a Godin A5 Ultra that I had for a couple of months, but I used mostly the piezo. Can't really give you a solid account of how the pickup sounds, sorry.

    Might not have enough output that far from the strings, but then again, that close to the neck, the string movement (for lower positions) is much wider (making it louder?)
  9. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    This looks good but I'll bet they cost as much as this bass! This is an SX Jazz I'm looking to mod. Good idea, though!
  10. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    If I do this I'm going to go with a guitar humbucker. It's my understanding that pickups are pickups - it's all about string gauge and string spacing. This far out from the bridge a guitar humbucker is plenty wide enough for all of the strings to get sensed and I can use a hot pup to compensate for the depth. It would also be narrower overall than a bass pickup which would be good since the pickguard narrows near the neck.

    Here's a Youtube video of an old Carvin bass that has guitar pups in it
  11. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    given that, the dimarzio X2N is a common choice for hiding under pickguards; it has a massive magnetic field (i use a broken one as a magnetic tool holder on my workbench, it'll hold a freakin' ball-peen hammer out sideways!), so it might be enough.

    don't be surprised if it's still weaker than the regular jazz pickups, though.
  12. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I'm surprised that Apple isn't trying to sue Lace for the fact that it looks kind of like an iPhone (or iPod). :D
    They make good stuff, so I bet it works... but is Lace is usually expensive.

    On the guitar pickup note, if you get one with a straight bar magnet, it wouldn't have a string spacing issue. A fellow TB'er had me help him wire up his Squier Bronco with a Guitar Fetish pickup. I never got to hear the final result, but he liked it.
  13. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    If you sink the pickup low enough you will need a way to boost its magnetic power and range. A good idea would be to get a neodymium bar or disc magnet and attach it under the pickup. Some have already used it to boost the output of weak pickups, so this'd definitely bring its output back to normal.

    Meddle, love the way yours turned out - I dig the Rush and Yes tones. :D
  14. AuntieBeeb


    Dec 12, 2010
    I'm no expert on pickups, but isn't it possible to get "stacked" humbuckers, which would only take up the same amount of space as your J's existing neck pickup?

    Just a thought, but beefing up that neck pickup might give you the "woof" you're after without having to cut holes in your bass. It may even be possible to put in a coil tap to go back to the single-coil sound.

    But as I say, I'm no expert!
  15. I'd say "nay" to this idea, fourstringbliss... What are you trying to achieve? What does not cutting the pickguard have to do with that idea? I'm fairly certain you want this sound for a recording instrument, given that you're not concerned about the volume drop from burying the pickup beneath the pickguard...
    I'd say go for broke, route the guitar and the pickguard, make yourself a fully functional and working instrument. I'd have to add there is an optimum distance from strings for pickups, depending on the sound you want. I think by choosing aesthetics over sound, you'll be selling the potential of the sound you have in your head short!
    Just my 2 cents!
    - Jimmy Rage
  16. Meddle


    Jul 27, 2009
    I'm not sure why there are so many naysayers here. When I did my P bass with the stealth pickup I boosted out the magnets with ones from the bottom of some cheap strat pickups (2 magnets epoxied in).
  17. wvbass


    Mar 1, 2004
    Meddle, you need a router!

    If you are looking for a thin, high output pickup with a lot of Gibson-esque low end, a pickup in the form factor of an old thunderbird pickup might be the thing. Or, if you want to go semi-stealth, you could just cover the top of the pickup with pickguard material.
  18. Meddle


    Jul 27, 2009
    Put in a good word with Santa. :hyper:

    Chiselling was not my idea of fun.