Help with making my P-Bass a P/J Bass

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by kracdown, Nov 11, 2017.


  1. kracdown

    kracdown Custom User Title Gold Supporting Member

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    So, I'm mainly a guitar player but use my bass for recording all the time. My first bass was an American Made Hot Rod P-Bass, that was like a '62 P Bass Reissue but with a Jazz bridge pickup. I don't remember how I had it wired, but it was super versatile. I didn't mesh with it though and sold it. About a year and a half ago I replaced it with a road worn P-bass that I love about 100 times as much. It plays great, and nails most of what I need. The stock pickup is ok, but I will swap that out because I want to have the body routed for a jazz bass bridge pickup. I think in the end I'll have the ultimate recording bass.

    What should I look for when ordering pickups? Do I need to order pickups reverse wound to minimize sound? How does that work? Also - what are the best pickups I can throw in for a late 50's/early 60's P-bass /J-Bass setup?

    As for the switching, I was thinking about going for two V/T knobs, like an old Jazz bass.
     
  2. StratoCraig

    StratoCraig Member

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    If you want the bass to be fully noiseless, you'll need a noiseless J-bass pickup. The P-bass pickup is noiseless already, but a standard J-bass pickup won't be, regardless of whether or not it's RWRP. Lindy Fralin makes nice but expensive split-coil J-bass pickups, but I think they may only be available as a set of two. Zexcoil also makes noiseless J-bass pickups which you can probably order individually, but I haven't tried them. There are other makers as well (Nordstrand, Aguilar, etc.) but I don't know much about them.

    In the early '60s there was no such thing as a P/J bass, so I suppose what you mean is that you want two pickups that individually give you a good P-bass sound and a good J-bass bridge sound. In that case, I would recommend the Fender CS Original '62 P-bass pickup and either of the noiseless J-bass pickups mentioned above.
     
  3. Dave M

    Dave M Supporting Member

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    Another option: Look for a (now discontinued) Fender Super 55 Jazz bridge position pickup. Very good, and nicely priced.
     
  4. sprag

    sprag Member

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    I've bought a single jazz fralin - long time ago though.
    I'd make the Jazz v/t knob push pull so you can fully remove it from the circuit when in P only mode
    Soo many pickup options out there covering the era you're looking to emulate. I'd start by looking at Seymour Duncan and Dimarzio for the larger manufacturers and check out a few boutique companies such as lollar novak arcane etc
     
  5. Mincer

    Mincer Member

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    One thing to know about P/J basses is that you'd need a slightly-hotter-than-normal J pickup to blend well with the P-pickup. Check out some of the Hot Stack Jazz Bass pickups, which tend to even the volume more while remaining noiseless.
     
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  6. kracdown

    kracdown Custom User Title Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the help. I ended up grabbing a Fralin hum cancelling bridge Jazz bass pickup. Looking for something like an antiquity or normal fralin P pickup next...
     
  7. mep

    mep Supporting Member

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    For the cost of routing your current bass and replacing the pickups, I would consider purchasing a Fender P bass special. They sound great and play well. If you are patient you can easily find a used one for $500.
     
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  8. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    Your pickup choice is spot on. I wouldn't advise the concentric V/T set up, it's rife with loading issues, loss of volume and interactive tone controls. It's cool looking and a cool concept, but there is good reason that Fender did away with it.
    A really useful wiring for a P/J that can do most anything is a standard Vol/Vol/Tone or Vol/Blend/Tone set up. Install a push pull pot to do series/parallel for the P pickup. Parallel mode will make the P pickup sound more like a Jazz bass neck pickup, giving a little more clarity, bite and scooped mids and still be hum free.
     
  9. kracdown

    kracdown Custom User Title Gold Supporting Member

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    I would normally say yes, but -

    1. I've already had an American P/J. I like the Road Worn a lot...

    2. The neck on the road worn just fits like a glove. Its the first bass I've ever really meshed with (I play guitar 95% of the time)

    3. I will likely never sell it, as I mostly just use it for recordings and will eventually replace with vintage units, but it works for the foreseeable future!

    4. Too late! It's at the shop getting routed now. Jus need to settle on a new P pickup, which was going to replace anyway.
     
  10. ultradust

    ultradust Member

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    Hope you find the Precision pickup that best fits the balance of tone and output!

    Glad you brought this up, as many folks don't realize how explosively loud and punchy even a vintage-spec precision split coil can really be, when compared to a Jazz Bass pickup from either position.

    I'm not a fan of PJs for this very reason: Something has to be compromised, and we can probably all agree that an anemically underwound Precision split coil would be a horrible idea on any bass. And on the other hand (to my ears), an overwound bridge-position Jazz Bass pickup sacrifices the dynamic, delicately tight upper end that makes it such a lovely thing to solo on and blend with in the first place.
     
  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

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    .

    I transformed a P-bass into a JPJ-bass with a Strat 5-way switch. It's fun and a whole lot of tones are available. If you are playing a bass to get bass tones why not have a neck pickup to go even more bass.
    You can counteract the volume level of the P vs J outputs by adjusting the pickup heights.
    If I do it again (likely) I'm going to make a triple-P bass.

    .
     
  12. Mincer

    Mincer Member

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    Yeah, on paper, it looks like it will work fine, but like a Strat with humbuckers, it isn't a Les Paul. The P- pickup is powerful while a normal J bridge isn't. Change one thing and you really don't have a perfect combo of P & J.
     
  13. kracdown

    kracdown Custom User Title Gold Supporting Member

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    The deed has been done! The bass is now back with me and I'm super happy about it. I know a P/J will never be as good as having a P bass and a Jazz bass, but for my purposes they work really well. I just use it for recording, sometimes I want a little bit more nasal/percussive tones that come from the Jazz bass bridge. It just adds more tonal options, while retaining the ability to be a normal P bass (which is what I use for most things). The fralin and the stock road worn pickup actually balance pretty well, although I will be switching the p pickup and having MJT refinish the guitar soon...

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
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  14. MoPho

    MoPho International Man of Leisure Silver Supporting Member

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    Nice looking bass. I'd add an anodized gold pickguard on that if it was me. Enjoy it how you want to.
     
  15. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    I have great luck putting a series/parallel switch on the standard output P pickup with a standard output J pickup. This way you get series P for the classic sound, series P mixed with J for some scoop, and parallel P mixed with J for a brighter, quasi J tone. Parallel P has a brighter tonality with less output.
     
  16. rkharper

    rkharper Member

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    I made my own PJ some years ago. Lollar PJ Pickup Set, Volume / Tone / Blend Controls. I hate having 2 volumes without a switch - turning your bass off during a gig has to be quick!
    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Juan Wayne

    Juan Wayne Member

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    I did the push-pull thing on my P-Bass ages ago and that did away with any sort of need for a J-Bass. It sounds awesome.

    I know it doesn't sound the same (it's a unique sound on its own right), but I've never been a fan of the Jazz Bass sound anyway, so a humless-sort-of-Jazz-Bass sound into my P-Bass for the cost of a pot is more than enough.

    What puzzled me about your comment is the concentric pot thing. A good pot should have none of those issues. I know mine don't, they measure along the lines of the specified values +/- tolerance and there's no crossing between them. That would be hard to do even on purpose.
     
  18. kracdown

    kracdown Custom User Title Gold Supporting Member

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    I'd agree, but the fiesta red on this thing is awful. It came stock with the gold guard. Like I said in earlier posts, I'll have MJT refinish it at some point. Given that it's really just a recording tool I'm in no rush.
     
  19. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    It's the extra loading from another tone pot (which also has various tone bleeding depending on volume settings) that makes the bass lose some punch. If you add the resistors to make each V/T stack independent, you get more loading and loss of volume.
    To each their own, I simply prefer the simple VVT set up and it's sound.
     
  20. Juan Wayne

    Juan Wayne Member

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    Ah, alright, my bad. I thought you meant like one pot loaded the other no matter the connection scheme, which wouldn't be surprising to hear; everything seems valid when people scream tone sucking.

    I think the best one was this time I got on an argument that lasted literally hours, when someone suddenly started saying pvc-isolated and cloth-isolated wires sounded dramatically different on the same guitar, for some reason that was never explained, as if electricity had more or less resistance jumping into the air depending on the isolating material.
     

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