Turning my Precision into a P/J or buying another bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by zelig.audio, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. zelig.audio


    Apr 12, 2013
    Not sure if I should post it here or in the Pickups section, but here it goes:
    If you had a Precision that you loved a lot for its playability and wanted a P/J, would you look for another bass or would you install a Jazz pup on its bridge?

    In the end, my question is: what are the disadvantages of transforming a P into a P/J?
  2. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Personally, I'd keep the P and go buy a J. A jack of all trades is a master of none.
  3. ^this. I’ve owned several p/j American Fenders in the hopes that they would offer something a standard J doesn’t...they don’t.

    You are welcome, now go play your P Bass!
  4. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    I wouldn't modify a Precision I loved just because I wanted a P/J.

    Here are my reasons:
    Resale value, and aesthetics are really the only downside if you decide the P/J thing isn't for you.

    Now I'm not one of those guys who thing you lose tone of the P as soon as you put a J pickup in the bridge, but for me its more a mental thing that the bass is no longer the simple plug in and play instrument that a Precision is.

    Keep the P as is if you love it as is, and find another P/J or a similar bass to modify.

    just my 2 cents.
  5. I'll respectfully disagree with the two above. A good playing P/J can give you the best of both. The P solo'd is still a P and the J with a hair of the P will sound like a J. Unless we're talking about a vintage bass, I say do it.
  6. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I'd be reluctant to convert a fairly expensive, treasured P into a P/J, because it's not a reversible mod. But if you have a good Squier or MIM P, then why not?

    I understand the utility of the P/J setup, but I rarely use the bridge pickup on my G&L SB-2 and would probably prefer an SB-1. I don't like the J bridge pickup tone on its own, and don't find it necessary to add anything to a good P split-coil tone, so for me a P/J isn't necessary.
  7. Thummel


    Jun 24, 2007
    West Texas
    I'm with Gluv. I really like the tones you can get from a p/j. But, I would never pass on an opportunity to buy a new bass.
  8. joinercape


    Dec 22, 2007
    For what it’s worth, I’ve done it twice, and regretted it both times. I added a J pickup to two MIA P’s, and though they sound good as P/J’s they never sounded the same to me as when they were just P basses. But that’s just me. For the type of gigs I do/did, a standard fretted P bass is perfect. On the other hand, when I built my P style fretless (Precision body shape and neck dimensions) I installed standard jazz pickups in typical jazz positions, which I prefer for fretless. Whatever makes you happy.
    ExaltBass and REMBO like this.
  9. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Key disadvantages are non-reversibility and a questionable return on investment. To have it done well and nicely, plus to get a decent J pickup (I'd say a split coil of sorts), you're financially well into a decent used PJ bass (like an old Yamaha BB).

    I'd also want a reverse PJ, which means you'd lose the classic P sound... so imo it adds up to getting a new bass.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
  10. If it's a good/valuable P, then leave it alone and find a PJ
    or a cheaper/expendable P to convert, if you insist on
    doing it yourself.
  11. zelig.audio


    Apr 12, 2013
    Perhaps I should clarify some things:
    First, where I live it is not so easy to buy instruments. They’re very expensive and you don’t find an enormous variety.

    Second, I mentioned that I love this Precision because of its playability. It is a 2015 standard MIM. Nothing special about it except for the neck, which for some reason is one of the best necks I’ve ever played - and I tend to prefer narrower jazz necks, but even this one being a bit bigger than I’d like it to be, I still prefer it every time over my MIA Jazz (and many other basses I played over the years, for that matter).
    Third, even though the tone I strive for most of the time is a P-bass with flatwounds, I kind of feel it to be somewhat of a one trick pony and lacking a bit for stuff I sometimes play. “But you already have a jazz, use it!”, you’ll reply. Yes, but I’ll need to sell one of those two basses.
    ExaltBass likes this.
  12. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    Did that and regretted it. You are probably into a full J right now. When I added the j pickup it never sounded like a P nor a Jazz bass. Keep the P and get a jazz.
    EatS1stBassist and petrus61 like this.
  13. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    There are disadvantages, but you can mitigate some of them.

    First is a question of how it's wired. If you go with a VVT setup or a blend pot, each pickup will present a load to the other and that will have an effect on frequency response. P-bass lovers will tell you that it takes away from the true tone of a P. If you want to preserve the true sound of the P you need a pickup selector as well as separate Tone and Volume controls. But then you will have a strange control interaction when both pickups are on.

    The second compromise is that it's can be an awkward match if you use a typical single coil J pup in the bridge. Then you are mixing a single coil with a split hum bucker - that can be hard to balance and will be a bit noisy. If you use a noiseless J pup at the bridge, it will help, but getting a good pickup balance is a bit of a challenge.

    So are you better off buying a PJ? Maybe. But don't expect that the manufacturer will have dealt with the issues I raised. Most don't.
  14. I agree 1000%. The best PJ's I've played all had pup selectors and pickup specs that were meant to compliment each other and the format. Any other PJ I've ever touched that hasn't had this setup left me underwhelmed, to put it mildly. The Fender Tony Franklin is an example of a production PJ "done right", IMO.
  15. LadyLoveStingRay5


    Jul 17, 2004
    Sounds like there is nothing special to you about the Jazz bass that you have and you said the sound you want most is a Pbass with flats.

    My suggestion is keep the Mexican p with flats. Sell the Jazz bass. Buy a new Sire P7, a used Yamaha bb424x , an Ibanez tmb, or a used Squier PJ depending on your budget.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
    alaskaleftybass likes this.
  16. +1.
  17. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    I'd say sikamikanico said it best here…

    …specifically, the "non-reversibility" part. As you've said, your Precision suits you very, very well. If it was a reversible modification…pickguard, bridge, tuners, etc…I'd say go for it. But cutting into the wood could radically alter it's sound and/or playability and there's no turning back from that. So what if it's "only a Mexican-made" bass. Something about it works for you. That can be a very rare, treasured quality and shouldn't be thrown away lightly.

    There is another possibility. If you like the way your Jazz plays, but want to beef-up the sound, you could convert that one to a P/J. I've done such a conversion to a Mighty Mite Jazz body and I love how it turned out. Specifically, I bought a pickguard to a Reggie Hamilton Jazz and quite beastly. ;)

    Projekt Blue (Iteration II) 04.jpeg
  18. I have a precision I added a jazz pickup too and wished I would have never done it. I don’t see the advantages over the original design in that bass.

    I would get another bass if it was me
    EatS1stBassist, Low84 and Bassist30 like this.
  19. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Another consideration is a different P pickup. I've been messing around with a DiMarzio Model P, which does give that "a little bit more," though I'm not yet fully "converted" to have it be my only P bass. I've read others have found in a pickup like that (another one is G&L MFD) the tone they were searching in a PJ. That, and of course different strings, but you seem to like the flats... I don't know, it's a hard choice... if you're only gonna have one bass, I can see the temptation.
  20. roller

    roller Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    If you're going to add a bridge pickup, I highly recommend going with some sort of soapbar or Music Man-style pickup.

    Adding a J pickup to a P scenario is is nice... but why not add something really meaty that can really stand on its own in the bridge position? All adding a J to a P usually does is add a little high-end bite... but in this type of setup, the J is weak and isn't suitable when ISO'd or as the main pickup.

    In terms of output, the Jazz Bass pickup doesn't match up well with the P pickup. A couple of years ago, I swapped e-mails with a VERY, VERY, VERY well-known luthier (who will remain unnamed) who sent me the very same statement. After reading this, why this maker doesn't make more P/Soap setups is beyond me.

    A Nordstrand Big Split or Big Single would be SAH-WEEEEEET in the bridge position on a P-Bass. And a P/Bigman setup with the right switching options (Nordy's Dan Lutz setup) sounds just stupendous.