The PJ configuration, but flip it!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by SixtyCycleHum, Oct 18, 2021.

  1. Hey gang!

    PJ configurations are pretty popular, and there's a reason for that. In my mind, it's not a "best of both worlds" situation, per say. More to the point, the pickups combined each give the other what some may feel are missing/lacking and it creates this different tone altogether.

    I got to thinking. As opposed to the P pickup being at the neck and the J at the bridge, how would it be if the growly J pup was at the neck and the thumpy P at the bridge instead? Sonically, to me, it would make a lot of sense. But I've been a single coil only guy for years now, so what do I know? I'd be interested to try this config, for sure. Or maybe a P sandwiched between two singles? Hmmmm. Going down that rabbit hole now, so I'ma stop rambling. Haha.

    What do y'all think about this config idea?
  2. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    I think it's a great idea, and it's on my personal short list. I think the current PJ config is really based on the idea of "I really want a P bass, but I want to be able to add a dash of bridge growl". What you're talking about is a very different thing, to me at least, and I think it boils down to philosophy. Do you design basses to emphasize natural characteristics, or do you design them to try to cancel out natural characteristics?

    A P pickup is pretty deeply voiced (at least, that's the way people seem to use them). A J is somewhat nasally. Hence a natural PJ is effectively emphasizing those two personalities, since the natural P location is more deeply voiced and the bridge location is naturally more nasally. It's the "let's take these elements and emphasize their natural characteristics" approach.

    Your reverse approach would be more like "let's take these elements and try to even things out by combining them in a way that cancels their natural tendencies."

    I think @ctmullins or one of the other regulars has a bass with a P in the bridge but I might be confusing memories...
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  3. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    This isn't too far off of the J neck with a series wired MM or JJ in the bridge, as seen in many a Lakland 55-02 or early '00s Carvin bass. It's a good sounding option. IF you wire the split coil P for a parallel option, you can simulate the J thing a little better, too.

    I did a similar thing with a Peavey Foundation experiement. Originally, it's pretty much a J with two Super Ferrite ceramic single coils, effectively in the 70s J locations.
    My experiment was to add T series humbuckers in those spots. Eventually, that is what happened, but in the interim, I tried the Super Ferrite in the neck and put the T pickup in the bridge position. TBH, that was the best sounding, I liked it better than both T pickups in many regards, as the neck SF pickup had a nice clarity and deeper bottom end and the T pickup had a better low mid punch and smoother top end (just like a P pickup). They balanced nicely for volume, too.
    However, I have plenty of SF equipped basses, and only 2 with T pickups, so that double T plan had to go forward in order to make something more tonally unique.
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  4. Man, that's exactly what I'm doing. With the caveat that I want to take these characteristics and put them in a spot where they are not utilized. Now, I've seen basses with P's in the bridge (I thought it brought out a very cool P character being at high tension!) and I have played HB/J and P/HB combos (While I found HB/J more pleasing, I just don't dig humbuckers, y'all. I'm sorry.) But I've never seen a JP model. I'd LOVE to see/hear it if someone has them!
    bigtone23 and dwizum like this.
  5. While I *love* that particular model of Peavey bass and a small part of me thinks you're a monster, I just *know* that thing sounds BEAST.
    mb94952 and Riff Ranger like this.
  6. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    It really does sound killer! Just to be transparent, it was an orphan body/bridge that I found on ebay. It's now attached to an orphan T45 neck and T pickups that I ended up with from various trades. It's a Frankenstein bass for sure, but now a whole, working bass that plays and sounds great!
    In it's final form, it's simply VVT with a switch that splits to the inside coils (hum cancelling-a wiring theory I had with those T pickups that worked out). Based on the coil's locations, with both singles active (in parallel), the sound very similar to a passive Stingray tone. The outside coils are in the original Foundation locations.

    In humbucking modes, it sounds like a less aggressive, smoother and more low-mid forward Foundation-similar to a P/P configuration seen on many a bass or sort of like a L2000 in passive mode with the volume rolled back. 1.75" wide nut on the T45 neck, Hipshot Xtender, too. It's very unique in feel and tone from all my other Peaveys (and Fenders, G&Ls, Ibanez...).

    As I mentioned before, if I didn't have so many basses, had 20/20 hindsight and wasn't so darn experimental with the router, I would have stopped and left it in S/H mode. That configuration really did sound the best, overall. That's also coming from a single coil guy. I'm not a P guy, I'm a J guy, but that humbucker in the bridge position really does sound great!
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2021
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  7. I'm currently building a bass right now that will be a P/J, but I'm going to install the J as close to the P as I can get it. I believe this will produce a more usable sound from the J when soloed, than if it was closer to the bridge.
  8. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    BTW, you are spot on with your thoughts. The P/J (to me) is really just a 'P Plus"-giving you a P bass with the option of getting that cool, scooped dual pickup tonality as needed. I prefer a P/J over a P any day.
    However, a J/P sounds like a stronger J when you blend that P bridge pickup into the neck J pickup. It's like what guitar players do when they put humbuckers in the bridge of Strats--for them, it solves the 'thin bridge' tone.

    The US Stuart Hamm signature Fender has the P sandwiched between a couple J pickups. TBH, it's a little much--the pickups are all kind of squashed together with only the bridge J pickup in it's 'traditional' location-the P pickup is nudged towards the bridge and the neck J is nudged a touch towards the neck. 3 pickups in a bass somewhat makes for a lot of possibility, but with limited success.
    IF I were to do a J/P/J, I'd put the neck J pickup in the Ric spot (24th 'fret') the P in the P spot and the bridge J in the 70s location.
  9. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    The bridge J in the 60s location is Jaco--burpy, great for solos. The bridge J in the 70s location is a little thinner and bitey.
    If you put the bridge J right up on the P, it will nearly be in the Ric bridge location, which sounds great soloed and still supports a mix nicely.
    SixtyCycleHum likes this.
  10. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Keep in mind as you consider placement for the pickups - the closer together they are, the less "parallel scoopy" the tone will be when they're both on. Pickups further apart will phase shift more and really emphasize the "two pickups at once" tone. It really boils down to deciding if you want two pickups so that you can solo each pickup, or two pickups so you can really emphasize the two pickup character of the tone when both are on.
  11. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I've had a double P bass. A P pickup configuration makes sense when the pickup is relatively far from the bridge - the sonic difference between pickup half locations is there, but not too obvious when you listen to it. Move the P pickup close to the bridge, and the difference between the sounds of the two pickup halves becomes obvious and glaring. If you use both pickups at once, it's tolerable, but the bridge pickup by itself is a no go. It's just a bad idea to put a geometrically split pickup close to the bridge - which is probably a big part of why you don't see it too often - it's been done before, it just hasn't been liked before.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2021
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  12. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    What actually happens is the scoops move up in frequency when the pickups get closer together. I say scoops (plural) because, on an instrument with 2 pickups both on, each string has it's own comb filter response - the "scoop" varies with the string tuning. You may hear the scoop less, or like the result more, but I particularly detest the loss of articulation in the middle 3 strings (on a 5) when the pickups get too close together, and the scoop invades the upper mids.
  13. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    I really couldn't stand the sound of a P pickup close to the bridge.
    bigtone23 likes this.
  14. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    Yep, the split coils of the P pickup really start sounding disparate as you approach the bridge.
  15. matty1039


    Oct 26, 2015
    New Orleans
    Would it be almost like an M/J? Musicman plus a Jazz pickup in the neck?
    Mili likes this.
  16. Ihaveshingles


    Dec 24, 2018
  17. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    Was it you who wondered aloud about a 1.6khz fan club? I still think about that often :bassist:

    I don’t have the technical knowledge to explain why, but I really like the way Ibanez does the reverse-P/J configuration, with the pickups fairly close together. Apparently it doesn’t eat into the upper mids too much :laugh:
  18. Kind of the same idea! Yet, since I really didn't love that and decided to leave that configuration alone, it's looking like that might be the same case with this idea, haha. A bit of insight is telling me I'm not going to love this either.
  19. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    I bought a body that was already routed and finished it and then sold it for some stupid reason without completing it. Couldn't find a neck or something. maybe too buys with work. NOW I wish I had it to toy with. I think it would sound really good - A P-Bass with some extra bottom when you need it.

    J-P Bass.jpg
  20. Man, you just took me waaaay back. That was my first real bass amp, the Peavey Mach IV. I actually regret not keeping it, as it's a damn solid amp and makes for a dandy spare..
    Riff Ranger likes this.
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