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Would you pass up on a good jazz bass deal if it is not your preferred pickup spacing?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by InternetAlias, Jun 2, 2018.

  1. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    So to cut the story short, my mate is selling his std american jazz, but it's 60s spacing... I played it and I can really tell the difference, it doesn't have as much bite or burp as my '70s spaced SX does.

    Does it make sense to drill a hole and just move the pickup closer to the bridge or is this idea questionable on too many levels? I would not be buying this bass for resale value, so I do not give two craps about that.
  2. CTBassGuy

    CTBassGuy Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2018
    Danbury, CT
    I generally take the approach that it is not a great idea to buy something that you know you don’t like, even if it is “great deal”. With all the time, work, and money to get it to the point that you might like it, it often ceases to be a “great deal”. It’s better to find something you know you do like, even if it is more money. You will be more satisfied in the long run.

    Of course having said that, I’m in the middle of modding a 70’s Ampeg V4 4x12 cabinet with new drivers to make it a bass cab. I did buy it with the intention of doing that, with help and guidance from a lot of success stories here on TB.

    Bottom line: I wouldn’t buy it, but if you have the time and money to try it, and can accept a potential unsatisfactory result, give it a shot. If it works out, great, if not at least you learned something.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
    96tbird, Andy Daventry, wmmj and 10 others like this.
  3. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    My rule of thumb is you mod to make something better, not fix a problem.

    If I don’t like the way something sounds when I try it out I’ll hardly ever buy it - unless it’s because the current owner did something stupid to it I know is easily fixable.

    Having to reroute a body and move a pickup on a JB just to get the sound you want doesn’t scope out as being a good deal to me. Most I’d do in this situation is consider buying and flipping your mate’s bass if the asking price was low enough. Then I’d bank the money until I saved up enough additional to get a JB I actually liked.
  4. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    How's your woodworking skills?
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member


    the differences you note are influenced by more than just the pickup spacing, i think. also: if your friend's ax is nice enough, and it's really a bargain: buy it for the price, play it awhile, and see where it takes you. you can futz with the 'pickup spacing preference' issue later. good luck! :thumbsup:
    Fluid Power, Mili, red_rhino and 4 others like this.
  6. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    I would think some creative knob twiddling could come close to simulating the '70s sound, on a '60, but I could be thinking outside the rhombus...
    JRA and basmansam like this.
  7. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    I completely agree but the friend selling me the bass is a carpenter (he wants to learn to be a proper luthier, too), so he'd do this for me for no cost.

    I will try to find if someone did this already, then.

    The bass sounds nice, it just sounds.. well, like a 60s spaced jazz.

    The reason I want to buy this is that I can get it for cheap, and the playability is marvelous.

    That's actually a good idea, might consider that!

    I can get by, but the bassist selling me the bass is a carpenter who wants to be a luthier, so he can do it for me.

    Yup, reading those replies I am leaning more towards "buy it for cheap, keep it for a while and play with it, see if it goes well, if not, sell it and invest into a 70s jazz".
  8. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Hello. Unless the bass was truly collectible or otherwise uniquely desirable to me (for example, it was of historical or sentimental value, or the sale would help a friend in need), definitely I would pass.

    There must be half a million bass guitars for sale at any given time. You won't have to wait very long for a good deal on one that's configured correctly for you.
    MobileHolmes likes this.
  9. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    The bass is of 2012. make and in mint condition since it only had one owner who is also not a professional bassist (but a carpenter, as I said).

    Normally I'd agree with a statement like this, but I live in Serbia, where used fenders go for the price of new ones, and it's impossible to get mexican fenders for $200-300 like you can do it in the USA. In Serbia, used squiers go for 150 euros which is 175$ and those are AFFINITIES, not CVs!
    wmmj, DrummerwStrings and Spidey2112 like this.
  10. CTBassGuy

    CTBassGuy Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2018
    Danbury, CT
    I think this is a wise plan. Good luck and look forward to your NDB post!
  11. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    I see. In that case, your thread title might have been "If you lived in a locale where Jazz Basses were quite expensive, would you pass up on a good jazz bass deal if it is not your preferred pickup spacing?"

  12. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    If it's a good bass and a good deal and you need one buy it.

    You have so many options to change the sound these days that the position of the pickups is largely irrelevant.
    Dudaronamous and JRA like this.
  13. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Personally, I don't find the difference in tone that big between pickup spacing, but this is a bass for you, not me. That said, I don't know an attractive way to move a bridge pickup on a J, since the route isn't under a pickguard. I think I saw lsomebody make a little mini guard once to cover the hole and surround the new pickup. Otherwise, you'd need to either fill the old hole somehow and repaint the whole body, or just live with the eyesore of a gaping hole where the old pickup used to be. None of these strike me as good solutions
    davidprice and Dudaronamous like this.
  14. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I've really never considered pickup spacing, and like others have said the tonal differences you are hearing are likely due to other things. Its nearly impossible to attribute it to pickup spacing and be sure of it. I say get the bass if you like the tone as is, and if you don't you should stick with what you have and seem to enjoy.
    electracoyote likes this.
  15. Lump me in with these guys. There are some radical spacings that may make that big a difference, but not the few centimeters between 60's and 70's Jazz spacing.

    I have owned and played lots of Jazzers with the various pickup spacings. I don't think it's the main thing influencing the tonal differences you hear. I know how it is when you get an idea stuck in your head, but to me this has always been one of those issues with electrified instruments that is possibly more psychological than anything.

    That being said, I have let the psychology influence my decisions over practicality many times. There is much to be said for peace of mind. ;)
    ihaveaquestion, Seanto and JRA like this.
  16. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    amen, ramen, piece! :thumbsup:
    electracoyote likes this.
  17. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    I'm in the "how do know it's the spacing that's the problem"camp. Two Jazz basses with the same pickup spacing can sound very different.
    juancaminos likes this.
  18. Dudaronamous

    Dudaronamous Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2005
    Bothell, WA
    Lots of great music has been performed on j basses, with 60s and 70s pickup spacing. I think you'd be hard pressed to listen to a performance, live or recorded, and identify the pickup spacing on the bass. I would not modify the bass for the reasons mentioned above. Boost the mids on your amp if you want more bite. Good luck!
    Willie likes this.
  19. dabbler


    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD
    The sound difference is part spacing, but probably more pickups (unless you modded your SX to have the same pups).

    Personally, I would use the 60 spaced Fender for what it does, and the 70 spaced SX for what it does.

    Oh, wait... I did (except I don't own a Fender J).

  20. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    Moving the bridge pickup on a jazz bass, doing it right, is not a simple task. Remember, the bridge pickup doesn't have a pickguard to cover your work, so you'd need to properly fill the original pickup route and refinish the bass.

    Buy it, and if you just can't get a tone you like by turning knobs on the bass and/or amp, replace the pickups with some that have more of that midrange burp.

    *Note - properly filling a pickup route does NOT mean using any type of wood putty, auto body filler, etc........ at best, that stuff will look OK at first, but years down the road it always becomes obvious in a bad way. To properly fill a pickup route and have it look good forever, you have to do it with a precisely fitted plug made of the same type of wood as the body.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
    davidprice likes this.