Why does a "PJ" configuration sound so refined and elegant?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Rutherford_Fan, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. I know this sounds a but silly and over-dramatic. But in my 12 years of intense bass playing, in the last two years I have come to realize that the tone I find most appealing tends to come from a PJ configuration.

    Interestingly, however, the actual Fender PJ (called the P Bass Special) lacks the refined quality I desire. I believe that is due to the pole pieces being columns instead of blades. I think...

    To me, the PJ configuration offers something truely special:

    1. Delayed attack - if you favor the P pickup (which I tend to do in such a configuration), you get a very unique dampening of the initial striking attack. I am not sure completely why this is but the fact that it is a series humbucking design with a wide aperture is what I lean towards. This produces a very mellow and elegant feel.

    2. Bridge J pickup Brightness - But, combine (1) with a very subtle amount of intense, silky brightness with strong attack from the bridge J, you get a multidimensional sound that is amazing IMO.

    3. The elegance - why is is elegant? I don't know, but to me, playing this configuration with the tone rolled off pretty substantially offers a very serious and refined feel which I really am attracted to!!

    So, my question is not to CHOOSE some PJ pickups, but rather to have a discussion on:

    1. Why I am so obsessed with it....
    2. Do other people think it is so great?
    3. If other people independently thought this configuration sounded so elegant.

    Thanks much in advance!
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    My Pedulla has a PJ configuration and I love it! :) I find that every position on the blend knob, from all P to all J, is a useful sound for certain songs.
  3. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I love PJs when they don't have a pinched, nasally sound. They're incredibly versatile and the phase cancellation between the pickups can bring out some cool tones.
  4. hufe


    Mar 21, 2011
    Tijuana, Mexico
    I have a Fender American Deluxe Precision Bass, which has the PJ configuration and I love it. It is a very versatile bass which is one of the things I like about it. However, unlike the MIM P-Bass Special, which has a Jazz Bass type neck, the American Deluxe has a P-Bass type neck.
    I also have an Ibanez with the P-J configuration, but the J pick up is a little thin sound wise.
  5. icecycle66


    Feb 4, 2009
    I don't think there are enough PJ basses in the Fender line up.

    They have 30 different versions of P basses.
    50 different J basses.

    and only a few way more expensive PJ basses.
  6. 8liter

    8liter Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    PJ setup on my BB614 is just awesome.
  7. Geroi Asfalta

    Geroi Asfalta

    Aug 23, 2011

    Unless you're cheap like me and prefer Poplar outcasts :D

    I have to say my JP does have the best tone of almost all my basses....but, then again, I only have 3 with 2 pickups.

    My Cirrus almost blew my amp, my Jazz isn't punchy enough, and the JP sits right in the middle. It may be uglier than sin to some, but it sings like an angel
  8. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    "refined and elegant"?

    you mean, "boring and safe"?

    (as posted by a P-bass snob banana.gif )
  9. I have a Fender JP-90 that was my go to bass for years (still have it and would never sell it) and it has "P" and "J" pups, very full sounding bass. Bass only weighs 7.5lbs, but sounds thick as month old milk.
  10. adivin


    Jul 9, 2009
    New Orleans, LA
    I love my Lull PJ4. Some people will tell you the PJ is a flawed design on TB. This suppose to present a problem when blending pickups when neither is full on. I've never noticed this with the Lull. Be prepared for a physics lesson why PJ's suck.
  11. Thundar

    Thundar Supporting Member

    +1 I am a huge PJ fan...especially with a reverse P.
    Physics lessons be danged, I knows what I likes!
    Nothing sounds like a Spector, Baby!
  12. BassLife77


    Nov 13, 2009
    San Diego
    I have several PJ basses with buffers installed. In series mode it's an incredible sound
  13. jimc


    Sep 17, 2002
    New Carsmell, CA
    Doesn't get any better (IMHO).

  14. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    would have to agree with you, laid off the effects and od with the sb-2 today and it did sound pretty elegant imo
  15. steamthief


    Jan 25, 2006
    Mentone Beach
    I love the P/J configuration - I have a passive Fender and active Spector, both sound great. I finally figured out humbuckers just aren't for me.
  16. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    One of these days I'm going to have to check out a bass with the P/J combination.

    I've been playing Jazz basses for years. Got an old 4 string, a 5 string and a fretless. Love them. About three weeks ago I bought my first ever P bass. Whoa!! I like it! In all honesty, there's a certain quality to the sound that I almost seem to prefer (for the most part) over the J's....something of which I never anticipated and was quite surprised by. But I still love the J's for many things. Maybe it's that P bass "grind" that so many talk about.

    Now I'm really wondering about the P/J thing.
  17. topcat2069

    topcat2069 Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2007
    Cathedral City Ca.
    I concur with the OP.

    Though I have to admit that I've fallen in love with the "dual Jazz, humbucker style" Roscoe Beck (Bill Lawrence) bridge pickup (as in the Am. Deluxe P Bass 5) or maybe a SD NYC Passive 5-string bass “soapbar” pickup with a series/parallel switch. SDG makes a fine dual blade humbucker that would be screaming too.

    The P pickup is "fat", thick, round & punchy, while the bridge pickup can be "tight", clear, thin, treble-y and (also) punchy.
    Blended or switched (I'm not a fan of two volume controls) the combination works for any style of playing or music !!!


    This was my Am. Dlx. P - Bass. it now lives in Russia

    Attached Files:

  18. sotua


    Sep 20, 2004
    Somewhere in time
    What of the RP-J configuration? :D
  19. Scobby Bott

    Scobby Bott

    Jan 23, 2012
    Pottstown, PA
    I thought this would be a good place to drop in with this video I found the other day, and have been obsessed with. I am in love with his tone. He has other videos of the same song on different basses, and they're all just missing that special something the PJ has to offer
  20. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    I have the Fender MIM P-Bass Special passive model.
    To me, it does offer the best of both the P and J.
    I really like the Jazz neck on this version.
    The P p'up full on with just a touch of the J rolled in gives a nice precision tone with an extra punchiness otherwise unattainable in a regular P-Bass.
    The overall quality of my particular instrument is excellent, as many have claimed the MIM's can be hit-or-miss.
    Love the P/J configuration.