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Beefing up the bridge pickup on a P/J bass, open to ideas/mods etc


shoulderpet
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Am looking to beef up the bridge pickup in my Ibanez Mezzo, P pickup is lovely, really fat sounding but at the moment I rarely use the bridge pickup because as I have found with every p/j bass I have played the bridge pickup brightens the tone but the trade off is that the tone gets thinner, I have always found this to be the case with p/j basses so I am looking at how I can beef up the bridge pickup.  Am considering either a MM style humbucker or putting 2 J pickups in one case and wiring them in series , am looking for a fatter bridge pickup with less treble more low end and more mids, basically darker and fatter,  I have a Violin bass with a pickup right up by the neck and another in the middle position and I love way that I can blend in the middle pickup and the tone doesnt thin out (though I know I wont achieve this with a bridge pickup would be good to minimize the thinning out inherent with both pickups on with a p/j bass) any suggestions?

Edited by shoulderpet
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My Lull PJ4 has a Nordstrand P and Dual Coil, the Dual Coil cleans up the P but adds a tighter mid punch as opposed to thinning it. It’s so good that it’s often hard to go back to a straight P tone.

I’m talking about blended though, I’m not as keen on the ‘both on’ tone  

https://nordstrandaudio.com/collections/4-string-soapbar-bass-pickups/products/dual-coil-4

Edited by Chiliwailer
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I have the Nordstrand NPJ4SE PJ set in my MIM Mustang. The Js have a split coil and are hum cancelling. Never have any trouble with an underpowered J.

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1 hour ago, Chiliwailer said:

My Lull PJ4 has a Nordstrand P and Dual Coil, the Dual Coil cleans up the P but adds a tighter mid punch as opposed to thinning it. It’s so good that it’s often hard to go back to a straight P tone.

I’m talking about blended though, I’m not as keen on the ‘both on’ tone  

https://nordstrandaudio.com/collections/4-string-soapbar-bass-pickups/products/dual-coil-4

Thank you for that, I hadn't considered Nordstrand, the Big Blade 4 looks interesting also, they do a "warm and wooly" pickup winding which sounds like in neck position it might be too undefined but in bridge position it might be just the ticket

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16 minutes ago, shoulderpet said:

Thank you for that, I hadn't considered Nordstrand, the Big Blade 4 looks interesting also, they do a "warm and wooly" pickup winding which sounds like in neck position it might be too undefined but in bridge position it might be just the ticket

Nordstrand customer service on email is very good - like Chris said earlier, worth dropping them a line perhaps. 

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This is one of my main gripes about P/J basses; The J is often the weak link.

Fixes?

No cost- Can you lower the P pickup height and raise the J without losing too much tone?

Drop-in- What others have suggested; Stacked Js, Side by side humbuckers in J casings. Maybe an overwound or high output single-coil J?

Bizarre- Try a weaker P, but that would seem to undermine the tone you already favour

Out with the router- MM. My favourite? The MEC TwinJazz- found in various Warwicks (Dolphin, Fortress Masterman, Infinity) Like a good MM, it can be run in parallel or single coil. 

It's a good aesthetic match, and AFAIK, they've got blade polepieces,  so nice even output regardless of string alignment. Catch? Very expensive. 

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Some good ideas here, one thing I think I need to clarify is that I have no issues with a J pickup being quieter, what I am after is a bridge pickup that has a beefier tone (ie more bass,more low mids, less treble) so that adding in the bridge pickup just adds in a touch of clarity rather than thinning out the tone.

Also not a fan of the hollow quality that seems to be inherent in P/J basses when both pickups are on, just something funky happens with the mids that just sounds hollow.

 

 

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5 hours ago, shoulderpet said:

 

Also not a fan of the hollow quality that seems to be inherent in P/J basses when both pickups are on, just something funky happens with the mids that just sounds hollow.

 

 

What you’re describing might be the wiring in parallel characteristic, a series/parallel switch could alter that. 

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Not immediately familiar with the Mezzo, but something @Chiliwailer mentioned made me think. 

Does the Mezzo have a 3 position pickup switch,  VVT or volume, pick-up blend and tone?

If it's the switch (I HATE them) there's no way to greatly alter each pickup's contribution to the overall tone. Perhaps there's some sort of cancellation going on between the pickups that's causing the thinning of the tone that you're trying to resolve. 

In the OP, you suggest 2 jazz coils in series as a potential solution. My personal experience of pickups in series has been... varied. Musicman do it best (SR5 in my case- but parallel still sounded better) the S1 Jazz was "different" but still slightly less useful than the standard wiring. My Streamline had series/parallel on both pickups and was useless in series. I've recently discovered that the humbuckers in the Ibanez SRX700 I owned might have been series wired. That would explain why I couldn't get a tone I liked out of it! If you do opt for a coil tap o on a  bridge humbucker of any sort, don't rule out a parallel option! Series wiring of the coils of the same pickup can result in a mid- forward "shouty" tone with a big gain in output but a relative loss of bottom end when compared to parallel.

 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Chiliwailer said:

What you’re describing might be the wiring in parallel characteristic, a series/parallel switch could alter that. 

Yes I think so, maybe a very midrange heavy j pickup might counter that, I'm thinking I will try that first and then try one of the Nordstrand pickups I mentioned earlier on the thread if that doesn't work out

Edited by shoulderpet
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I replaced a rear Jazz pickup with a MM and it worked really well with the front P-bass pickup, giving you two distinctive sounds to choose from.

As has been mentioned, it does require a bit of routing. And you need to wire the MM pickup in series to match the output of the P pickup. It's a great combo though.

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5 hours ago, stevie said:

I replaced a rear Jazz pickup with a MM and it worked really well with the front P-bass pickup, giving you two distinctive sounds to choose from.

As has been mentioned, it does require a bit of routing. And you need to wire the MM pickup in series to match the output of the P pickup. It's a great combo though.

Hmm I am seriously considering a MM style pickup, maybe a Wilkinson, will be am inexpensive way to test the waters

WSM4_3_398dd0de-aa20-4537-9504-2e7f14e63

 

 

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When I fitted the MM pickup to my P/J, I had already tried a number of different Jazz pickups, but they all sounded weedy in that rear position. OK if you play like Jaco, but I didn't find any of them very usable, even in combination with the P.

 

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FB_IMG_1588859480800.thumb.jpg.dd9b1bdf67a37640ec4adc213d485cc0.jpg

The switches are for the bridge pickup exclusively; series/parallel and 2x coil on/off. In series it is fatter, darker and louder. In parallel nice and middy. Either coil single turns it into a regular seventies or sixties jazz bass tone (with more bark, lacquered bubinga fretboard baby!).

 

Edited by DiMarco
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, DiMarco said:

 

FB_IMG_1588859480800.thumb.jpg.dd9b1bdf67a37640ec4adc213d485cc0.jpg

The switches are for the bridge pickup exclusively; series/parallel and 2x coil on/off. In series it is fatter, darker and louder. In parallel nice and middy. Either coil single turns it into a regular seventies or sixties jazz bass tone (with more bark, lacquered bubinga fretboard baby!).

 

Nice is that an aftermarket pickup?

Edited by shoulderpet
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I think the position of the pickup is a very big part of the sound. A Stingray pickup for example is placed a bit further from the bridge as well as being a humbucker. Check out some Sandberg demos, they have a humbucker in the J bridge position.

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