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Will putting J/P pickups in my Spector help me?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Coreymcd22, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. Coreymcd22


    Apr 1, 2013
    Upstate, SC
    Sorry for the long inquiry but I'm including alot of detail to get the most out all the knowledge on this forum. I play a Spector Q4 Pro and I've always loved the way this bass feels/plays. The bass sounds great on it's own but I've had a hard time getting my tone to cut through in live mixes. Even on it's own depending how I have the pickups blended the EMG HZs leave a little something to be desired. If I try to boost the midrange to cut through more they pick up too much percussive noise, they seem too sensitive for me to get any growl without also having alot of unwanted, harsh, high-end noise. When I cut the midrange down the tone sounds good but doesn't have the punchy personality of say, a Fender Precision or Jazz bass, it's almost too clean.

    I recently played a friend's Fender Jazz (not sure what year or model) that had an Ash body, stock pickups, and Leo Quan Baddass 2 bridge, it sounded almost perfect to me but I love the way my Spector plays too much to sell it and put the money towards a high end Fender. I recently met a local guy who does custom pickups and receives alot of orders around the area, he seems to be pretty reputable and says that he can make me a jazz or precision style pickup to fit my Spector. The price he quoted me is really cheap so I'm considering it.

    So my question is: does it sound like different pickups would give my Spector the sound I'm looking for? I'm a big fan of Juan Alderate's P-bass tone to give a better reference. I just don't know if the pickups alone would help that much or if it could be another factor. The Spector also has an active preamp, so is it always going to be too sensitive even after I swap the EMGs for J or P style pickups? Any info or opinions on how a Spector Q4 with an active preamp and J/P pickups would sound would be appreciated.
  2. zphreaky1

    zphreaky1 Far from good

    Apr 25, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Interested in seeing more info on this as well.
  3. cableguy

    cableguy Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    Might want to ask this question on the Spector thread. Lots of knowledgeable guys that have played every type of Spectors. You might want to say what preamp it has. That can make a lot of difference as well.
  4. Coreymcd22


    Apr 1, 2013
    Upstate, SC
    I also recently got interested in setting up my old Peavey unity series (late 80's or early 90's) which has a P/J pickup setup. Obviously this bass is not the same as a MIM Fender J or P, but it is neck-thru and doesn't sound that bad. I love the way the Dimarzio P pickup sounds, would I maybe have better results just modifying it and leaving my Spector the way it is?
  5. Grissle


    May 17, 2009
    You might like having those pickups in a passive mode? Assuming you don't have that option now. I know the passive sound of my Spector sounds much different and better for my taste.
  6. Bassman1971


    Nov 4, 2013
    Just a few questions to start. What amp are you using? And what cab I.E. 10", 15", 2-10"s ect. IMO Spectors start out "thin" to start out with, but a lot of times can be corrected.
  7. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
    From what I can find of mars volta, your looking for more of a vintage sound, spectors are anything but. all is not lost though.

    first, I would ditch the preamp and run the HZ's passive. Its free, and might be exactly what your looking for. The HZ's are better than what they get a rap for, however the emg pre they are usually paired with is usually the culprit. try them passive first. if too clear / sensitive is an issue for you, stay away from emg's and find a P/J or P/P or J/J set in that size case. honestly though i think you'll get what you looking for running yours passive. also try dropping your pickups down a touch, which will help with the sensitivity a bit.

    Spectors are samurai swords in the mix, but thats usually with emg's and a spector pre, which is the other way to go possibly, but not vintage sounding. If you wanted to go that way, an emg 35p , 35j set and a trim pot tone pump will get you running with the big dogs. growl and snarl for days which can be mellowed down but still very mid present.
  8. Coreymcd22


    Apr 1, 2013
    Upstate, SC
    Thanks for the advice, I'm completely new to removing preamps but I may have someone who can help me with it. I'm going to try that and running the HZs passive first to see how I like it when I get the time.
  9. Coreymcd22


    Apr 1, 2013
    Upstate, SC
    Sunn Coliseum 300 which is solid state. Current cab is an Ampeg 8x8 although I've played this Spector through 4x10s and 15s before with the same result. Ideally I would have a tube head and a 6 or 8x10 but this is what I've got now.
  10. 2 x EMG 35P4's trust me, you'll be pleased you did.

    I have played P/J's of all descriptions for years, and have only just discovered the wonder of a double P pickup setup. Won't go back to PJ's now.
  11. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    See if the bass has a trim pot and try adjusting the output level.

    I had a Spector 4LX that had similar issues. The sound seemed very aggressive and I had trouble controlling it and figured the output was too hot. Unfortunately, the one I had did not have a trim pot. I finally sold it and bought a Fender. I do have a couple of other Spectors which sound good but I like the Fenders better.
  12. I've wired active basses for over 20 years. There's a few things that even techs won't know to try before you shell for new pickups.

    If you can find a log/antilog blend pot (good luck, I make my own), this will make a huge difference. Sounds to me like you need a little more control over how much bridge pickup you mix in. Your bass has a pickup very close to the bridge. A jazz bass has it much further away, so the blend for that growl is much less touchy. Most blend pots for passive pickups don't let you smoothly wind from one pickup to the other. I've no idea why they aren't easily available. A log/antilog pot will also give you a much fatter sound when it's in the middle of its rotation, as a half the pot (1/10th the resistance) is in line with the signal of each pickup and in series with each pickup coil's own dc resistance. This stops the pickups loading each other up so you don't get that hollow bright spot with a lower output.

    I'm not sure how spector wires this model, but if the emgs are in parallel mode, I'd recommend trying them in series mode before you go for other pickups, they will be much more growly.

    You can also try lowering the input impedence of your preamp. A resister from its input to ground is all you need. Try 470K, then 220K, then 100K resistors. This will focus the midrange a little too. You can also temorarily with a 500kB pot and wind it till you like the tone, then remove it, measure the resistance and then choose a resistor that way. This is easily switchable too.

    Definitely try the bass in passive mode as well. A true bypass on the pre is usually pretty easy for a tech to do, depending on how the volume is wired.

    I think others have mentioned also to adjust the heights of your pickups. Try raising the bridge and/or lowering the neck pickup.

    You can also try a few other brands/types of strings to get closer to that mid range growl you are chasing.

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