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Why is a J Bass set up the way it is?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by GreggBummer, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. If a standard Fender (or Fender style) J Bass has three knobs, it has been my experience that-

    two control volume, one for each pick up
    one controls tone

    Understanding that both volume knobs have to be set at the same level to defeat hum... why not have just one knob to control the volume on both pickups? I always use both pickups. However, I understand that some players may not.

    I dont understand why they don't have a switch (three position: bridge, neck, both) instead of the knobs. Is there something I am missing?

    I am not going to rewire my bass over this... but I thought this might be interesting conversation.
  2. One of the great things about the volume/volume on a J bass is the ability to roll the neck pickup volume back just a slight touch (e.g., 10% or less) This still keeps the 'humbucking' thing in place enough to mostly eliminate hum with single coil pickups, but results in a nice bump in the mid range for a more articulate burp. Same thing with rolling the bridge pickup back a touch if you want the big boom.

    A volume/blend configuration would allow you to keep the ability to vary the pickup blend and also have a single 'master volume' knob.

    A switch would be a disaster on an instrument with single coil pickups, since the 'all or nothing' thing with only one pickup one would cause lots' of hum.

    Finally, if you really like the sound of extreme 'blend' settings (i.e., all neck or all bridge pickup), you can swap your pickups out for split coils, which will totally eliminate hum and still get you close to a true J tone.
  3. chiplexic


    Apr 21, 2004
    Having a volume for each pickup allows you to blend a wide selection of tones since each pickup has it's own sound. That is why a Jazz is known to be such a versatile bass. Without the ability to blend you'd lose that tone palette. Edit: you beat me to it by seconds Ken.
  4. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Guitar players need to go instantly from rhythmic to solo parts. They get switches.
    Bass players must precisely dial a tone that will fit the tune and bring the right mood for it. They get knobs.
  5. Simplicity my dear watson, that's why :D
  6. thumpbass1


    Jul 4, 2004
    Amen to that! I prefer a seperate volume for each pickup
    on a J-Bass.I will not buy any J style instrument that goes
    for a blend knob instead. I think two seperate volume pots
    seem to have a lot more tonal content than what happens
    with a pickup blend pot. A straight up switch also won't cut it.

    I had an active J-Bass with the blend knob thing and it
    just seemed to be lacking to me inmho. I love the classic
    J-Bass three knob wiring myself. :bassist:
  7. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    I feel the same exact way; however, I'm frustrated with volume control in general vs. tone settings. At the conclusion of tunes I will often sweep the volume knob to off on my P-Bass. My tone is still set.

    On a Jazz, I can turn the volume off between tunes to turn pages and shuffle some things around. If I do this, I've altered my tone settings. Frustrating. There is a tone knob, but the sound is also greatly impacted by the balance of the pickups.

    The Jazz bass can keep it's separate volume knows, but I think it needs a master volume knob.

  8. BackwaterBass


    Feb 18, 2008
    Get a volume pedal?
  9. Use the amp? :p
  10. eots


    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    I've been looking for a non-concentric stacked volume knob for such a purpose so I could use a separate switch for series / parallel. . In para- one vol to control both pups and flip the switch and one of the stacked pots controls vol for both.
    Can't seem to find one though.
  11. Cerpin_Taxt


    Sep 29, 2007
    Whatever you say, bud :smug:
  12. grace & groove

    grace & groove

    Nov 30, 2005
    Self-Appointed Ambassador to the Dragonfly
    I'd go V/B if I'm dealing with single coils but V/V with humbuckers.
  13. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    To an extent, tonal settings can altered with pickup height. This way I can keep both pickups wide open and I don't have a hum problem. I adjust volume at the amp and roll off treble, if I need to, with the tone knob or EQ at the amp.
  14. El-Bob

    El-Bob Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON
    i like this description:D
  15. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Good suggestion, but no thanks. I go directly from my bass to the input. I can't justify $60 - $130 for a volume control.

    I was just feelin' what the OP was saying. I'm perfectly happy with my P-Bass. I just feel that a J-Bass would fit my needs better if there was a master volume or a blend knob for the pickups.

    I don't deny the value of a J-Bass or its ability to give up tones out the wah-zoo. It's just not the setup for me. ;)

  16. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    How about a cable with a mute button in it?
    I use one of these, does the job great and you get to keep your settings.:)
  17. XtreO


    Jan 2, 2008
    On my bass, I got one master-volume and one knob for the pickups. When in middle position, they both are in effect and if I twist it more to one of the sides, the pickup whose side I twist it to will have greater effect. Stupid explanation, but you get how it works.
  18. RikiTiki2


    Oct 31, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    What you want is a Jaguar bass
  19. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY

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