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What must I do to get my MIM Jazz sounding brighter?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by capnsandwich, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. Hey guys, I just acquired a really nice MIM Fender Jazz in a trade with Tommy Gilstrap. It's a great bass and it feels awesome under my fingers. The body is ash I believe, (correct me if I'm wrong, I'm going by the grain) and it has a rosewood fretboard.

    Here's where the fun begins. The electronics and knobs are as follows: It has a 3 knob layout, tone (neck pickup), tone (bridge pickup0, and master volume. Now there are 2 toggle switches. Both in the down position means that it is running both pickups in series. Both in the up position means that it's running both pickups in parallel. One switch up and one switch down means that it is running the neck pickup only. One switch down and one switch up means that it is running the bridge pickup only. It's weird, I know, but it's the way it was wired. Tommy said it was wired that way when he got it too. The bass has USA pickups in it and has the classic Fender Jazz thump but I can't get any highs out of it to save my life. It has a fairly new set of bright nickels on it so strings aren't the issue.

    I'm wondering if I switch the control plate out to one that Tommy sent me from a USA Jazz wired volume/volume/tone would help me get the highs I needed out of the pickups or would I have to drop an active preamp in the like an Audere or J Retro? I really don't want to put too much money into modding this thing but I think this bass can sound better than it does now. It definitely has potential IMO.

    Does anyone have any advice or previous experience with a similar situation?
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    There are different ways of getting more highs. My favorite is to run straight from the pups to the jack, with no tone knob or vol. pot. That's the most natural-sounding and low-noise way to get brighter tone.
  3. dblbass

    dblbass Commercial User

    Mar 24, 2007
    Beacon, NY
    Owner of MBJ guitars, Maker of fine sawdust for Carl Thompson Guitars
    You may have tried this but...lower neck pup and raise the bridge pup + play closer to the bridge. I did that on my J (mine is V/V/T + a 3 way switch (regular/trebel cut/off)) and it seems to have more highs.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    try a 500k linear volume and 500k audio tones if you want to keep the current scheme, or 2 500k linear volumes and a 500k audio tone if you want to go back to stock wiring.
  5. That would seem like a good idea but I like changing my tone a lot and adjusting my volume for swells and stuff. Plus I like soloing the bridge pickup while doing some quick staccato plucking ala Jaco Pastorious, or die trying.

    I haven't tried that yet but I do naturally play closer to the bridge naturally on a jazz bass.
  6. Sounds like that may cost a little money, not that I'm opposed to that but my wife may be. :bag:
  7. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    You might go one or two values lower on the cap(s). I'd guess you have one on each tone pot. If you have 0.100 microfarads in there now, try 0.068, if you have 0.068 microfarads in there now, try 0.047s, you get the idea. Caps are cheap.
  8. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    If you want a brighter bass, buy a maple board P :D
  9. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    steel strings.
  10. lposavad

    lposavad Supporting Member

    Wouldn't you be better off with 250K pots? I thought 500K pots would roll off your highs on single coils... and the stock Fender pots are 250K (if one is to believe their drawings).
  11. I'm not sure what pots are in there now but I have a USA control plate ready to go in there. Are those 500k?
  12. I would simply lose the goofy control arrangement you have now. It's probably doing strange things to the pickup loading, killing the highs. Go Vol/Vol/Tone with 250k pots and a .022 or .047 cap and it'll be fine. For more than normal brightness go with 500k pots instead. They're cheap enough to experiment with.
  13. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    500K pots load the pickups less = brighter and louder. 1M even more so. Fender used 250K because they weren't going for bright. The bass was made for flat wound strings, and no one used a bright tone back then. They just haven't changed anything since.

    The two tone controls is also removing some extra highs.

    Stainless steel strings would make a big difference, and maple boards are brighter.
  14. I think I'll try to switch out the control plate and see what that does for me. I just need to get a hold of a soldering iron first, and then have someone teach me how to solder. I'm a player, not a gear head but sometimes I wish I was. Also, I realize that every time I'm not touching the bass or strings it has an annoying buzz so I think there's something wrong with the grounding. It's starting to look like whoever modded the electronics on this thing was clueless about what he was doing.

    As far as the strings, while I know for a fact that SS strings are brighter since I use them on my other basses, I don't think they'll do a darn thing to help the tone on this bass. There are absolutely NO highs coming from it. I don't even know if it's pushing upper mids. It's got to be the electronics on this thing. Also, I'd love to have a maple board on this but I just got it so I'm not ready to swap necks. My Valenti has an amazing birdseye maple fretboard has plenty of high end pop. The 18 volt Aguilar OBP-3 and EMG 40J's help a lot too.
  15. Forgot to mention: if it sounds bright unplugged, it'll sound bright plugged in, with the right electronics. Try that, see what you think.
  16. It's got a nice bright tone unplugged. That's why I dismissed the strings being the issue. It's got to be the way it's wired. I've just never wired my own pots and pickups before so that's going to be a challenge. Anyone have a website or a link you could maybe post to help me with this?
  17. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Then someone must have wired up a permanent cap to roll off the highs. Or something else is wrong with the wiring.
  18. Can you take pictures? The switching system doesn't sound bad, as long as there's not more to it like a capacitor as David mentioned.
  19. I got the best pics that I could get in the basement. It's not the brightest at midnight but my camera isn't too bad. I can probably get better ones tomorrow if you need to see it better.


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