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Jazzmaster and P90s- whats the difference if any

tjmicsak

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5,610
They look almost identical but looking at the SD Antiquities they appear to be different pickups. Could a Jazzmaster pickup fit inside a soapbar cover?
 

gi doc

Member
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256
From what I understand the Jazzmaster has it's magnets as the pole pieces vs the P90s have a bar magnet......so there's quiet a bit more magnet with the P90's. The Jazzmaster is a cleaner pickup with not as much grind. I think they are the exact size though.
 

HyakuShiki

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1,016
Jazzmaster pickups are a very different size than P-90s. They're much larger and wider. Usually, master builders can do P-90s in Jazzmaster casings, but I don't think I've ever seen a Jazzmaster pickup in a P-90 setting.
 

Larry Mal

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1,752
They aren't at all the same, so there's that. Don't be fooled by superficial appearances.

Jazzmasters are designed to be clear and warm, with great note articulation. They distort in a unique way.

P90s have a warm distortion and grind to them, very mid range sounding and whatnot.
 

scotticus

Member
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866
They aren't at all the same, so there's that. Don't be fooled by superficial appearances.

Jazzmasters are designed to be clear and warm, with great note articulation. They distort in a unique way.

P90s have a warm distortion and grind to them, very mid range sounding and whatnot.
This is a good description, very reflective of my experience with my JM and my SG with p90s. I'd add that when played clean, both have a warm fat sound to them, with the JM pickup having a unique high end kind of sparkle that I can't really describe well. Both pickups cover some similar ground but are still quite unique. In my experience it's not redundant having both.
 

TheBuffalo

Gold Supporting Member
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2,625
I've heard that jm pickups are just strat pickups in a bigger form or casing.

Any truth to that?
 

bluescube

Silver Supporting Member
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3,714
Copied from Lollar pickups:

Vintage design Jazzmaster pickups have a coil only 1/8" tall, compared to the height of a strat at about 7/16" tall. Having such a short coil limits the amount of wire you can get around the magnets. It takes a far wider coil for the same amount of turns on a more traditional design single coil like a Strat, Jaguar or Tele pickup. Wound to the same amount of turns, a Jazzmaster is 1.5" wide compared to a Strat at 9/16" wide. This means the coil wire travels at a greater distance on the Jazzmaster bobbin, resulting in more feet of wire per turn. The Jazzmaster dc resistance (in K-Ohms) reads much higher than a Strat, even though the output is very similar between the two designs. The Jazzmaster and Strat actually have a similar amount of turns and share a lot of similarities in design, yet they have quite different tone from each other. Wind a Jazzmaster and a Strat coil to the same amount of turns and the Jazzmaster will read about 8K ohms but the Strat will only read about 6.4K ohms. The frequency response is quite different but the output is actually about the same.
The Jazzmaster seems somewhat louder than a Strat pickup due to the increased bass and mids, but the extra fatness is somewhat misleading as far as the actual voltage produced. You'll notice the amount of distortion the amp produces is similar to running a Strat at the same volume level, whereas a pickup like a humbucker or P-90 will drive an amp a lot harder at the same volume setting. Japanese made Jazzmasters (CIJ models) have pickups made like Stratocasters and do not sound the same as vintage or American made models. These pickups use a standard Jazzmaster pickup cover but underneath is hiding the equivalent of a Stratocaster pickup. Another factor that affects tone is pole piece magnet length. The Jazzmaster magnets are only 1/2" tall compared to typical Strat pole piece magnets at about 5/8" tall. The shorter magnet has less power, so this softens up the treble response of the pickup
 

TheBuffalo

Gold Supporting Member
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2,625
There is a recent thread here that contained a picture comparing an MIJ JM pup (which is basically a strat wind on a JM size bobbin) and a "real" aftermarket JM pup. It shows the difference between the two very clearly. They are nothing alike in terms of construction or sound.
Im not saying they sound the same at all, most know that when you change the size of a pickup the sound is going to change alot, but what i meant was that i believe they are a very similar design

would love to see that pic though
 

Joe Naylor

Member
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965
At first glance a P90 and Jazzmaster pickup appear similar, but they are actually very different. Both are large single-coil designs with a wide coil (but not identical), which senses a larger area of string, and that contributes to increased lows and mids. This is why a Jazzmaster pickup has a fatter tone than a Strat pickup, which uses a taller and narrower coil.

Without delving into every single detail of both designs, the most significant difference between a P90 and Jazzmaster pickup is the magnetic structure. The Jazzmaster uses six small alnico polepieces (1/2" tall x 3/16 dia.), while the P90 features steel polepieces coupled to two large alnico bar magnets (2-1/2" x 1/2" x 1/8") mounted on the bottom of the pickup. The P90 has almost four times as much magnet! That extra horsepower makes the P90 louder and more prone to overdriving an amp, while the wider magnetic field results in more lower mids, producing that signature P90 grind. On the other hand, the Jazzmaster's small and narrow magnets produce less power and less mids, resulting in a cleaner tone that retains that classic Jazzmaster twang.
 

Larry Mal

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1,752
Here's a Japanese made Jazzmaster pickup (the smaller of the two) next to a custom wind that I had made:



It's also worth bearing in mind that when you see the term "P90", you are discussing a pickup that has been in constant production since 1947, if I am correct, making it probably the longest running made pickup in current lineups of guitar models that there is.

So, a P90 is less a pickup than it is a style of pickup, or family of pickup, same as you would find with Fender type single coil pickups or PAF type hum buckers (or any pickup, really). Some P90s are wound hotter than others, so will distort more easily, that kind of thing. It would be hard to list all the differences that you could expect with different winds of P90s, especially since I don't know much about pickup construction, really.

That being said, though, if I can generalize, a P90 will usually distort quicker, and lead to a kind of overdriven "bluesy" tone pretty quickly. They will have plenty of high end, but less "sparkle", if that means anything. The volume and tone knob is your friend with P90s, they can get what you might call a "barking tone" that can be pretty unpleasant rather quickly... I have three guitars with P90s, and am still learning the ins and outs of them.

Frankly, compared to Fender guitars, they require some knowledge and work. At least with me they do. You can't necessarily expect to just turn all the knobs up and get to playing.

Regarding the Jazzmaster pickups, I usually tell people, imagine what Leo Fender was designing those guitars to be. It's right there in the name. Leo knew that jazz musicians would want warm, vibrant sounds with very low distortion, and very much note articulation so that you can hear the individual notes of the more complex chords that jazz musicians will play. They have a very crisp and open high end- frankly, the Jazzmaster is my favorite guitar, so you should take my enthusiasm with some suspicion.

There's a video on this page of Fender's, it'll illustrate the clean sounds pretty well.

http://www.fender.com/series/americ...round-lam-rosewood-fingerboard-olympic-white/

That being said, though, there are other factors in the design of the Jazzmaster that add a lot to the sound other than simply the pickups. The fact is, there isn't another mass produced guitar like it and there never was.
 

zastruga

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1,877
Im not saying they sound the same at all, most know that when you change the size of a pickup the sound is going to change alot, but what i meant was that i believe they are a very similar design

would love to see that pic though
Here it is:


CIJ JM on the left, notice that it's pretty much just Strat pickup shaped.
Seymour Duncan Antiquity on the right, notice that's it's very flat and wound wide. That's a proper vintage style Jazzmaster pickup.

And for further comparison, here's a P90. Adjustable pole pieces, big honking bar magnet on the bottom, and a coil shape that looks nothing like either JM or Strat pickups.
 

zastruga

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1,877
In other words, the only real similarity is that they both kind of look like bars of soap when you put the covers on.
 

Hulakatt

Has done terrible things for a klondike bar
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14,648
As far as the JM pickup vs the strat pickup:
The Jazzmaster pickup is, I believe, wound with a similar theory to the strat pickups but shallower much wider so that the magnetic field covers a wider area under the strings and produces a mellower tone than the strat pickups. At least that was the design intention of Leo.

JM pickup vs P-90
On the JM the magnets are the pole pieces, on the P-90 the magnet surrounds steel slug pole pieces. So, much more magnet in a P-90 but one step away from the vibrations of the string as opposed to the JM.
 






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