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Author Topic: Jazz pickup locations - 60s vs 70s  (Read 26872 times)
EscapeNote
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« on: February 10, 2011, 06:35:12 PM »

Am wondering why pickup location of Fender Jazz basses was changed sometime in the 70s and what exactly changed?

Any general consensus as to the tonal effect of the change?

Am thinking of getting an NYC Jazz style or Will Lee, curious about the pickup placement aspect.
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Gerard Burick
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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2011, 11:48:31 PM »

I don't know the specifics of Fender basses themselves, but pickups that are closer to the neck tend to grab some more low end and over tones, IMO.  I've had some Jazz basses, PJs, Ps and even a Tobias with one big fat Bartolini in it. 

I'm a huge fan of having a nice spread on pickups.  I think it looks cooler and I like the overall sound when both pickups are on 100% or the pickup pan is centered.

I've always been curious about the soapbar locations on Modern Sadowsky models.  Though it's true that you still get plenty of low end with them both closer to the bridge.

SO... have you played many JJ basses with different pickup placements?  What did you think?
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gillento
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2011, 12:25:25 AM »

My UV70 5 string has the 70's spacing.

The bridge PU is about 1cm (1/4") closer to the bridge.

The german bass builder Hotwire has some soundfiles online that show the sonic difference between both spacings:

http://www.hotwire-bass.de/basses/flash/seiten/flash_en.htm
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leond
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2011, 01:51:20 PM »

Am wondering why pickup location of Fender Jazz basses was changed sometime in the 70s and what exactly changed?

The location of the bridge pickup was moved closer to the bridge because the pickup stuck out from the bridge cover they were using at the time.  By moving it closer to the bridge, the entire pickup was covered by the cover.
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EscapeNote
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2011, 03:21:53 PM »

Quote
SO... have you played many JJ basses with different pickup placements?  What did you think?

Gerard, I have managed to play for close to 35 years without ever having a Jazz bass - at various times I've played Ric, MM, Yamaha, am currently playing a couple of Sadowsky 24/5 basses and a modded Fender Precision Deluxe.  I've gotten it in my head that I'm probably short changing myself as a bassist by not having a Jazz style bass in my toolbox, so have been reading up and asking questions.  Only very recently became aware of the 60s/70s placement difference.

I know from experience how much the placement of a pickup can profoundly affect the tone that comes out of a bass.  For the longest time I tended to go for an even balance between pickups (on 2 pickup basses) but have recently been favoring the bridge a bit more, going for a sweet spot where there's more articulation from the bridge pickup yet keeping the neck pickup in to the degree that a solid fundamental is retained in the notes up and down the bass.

I'm guessing that the change Fender made in 70s - 1/4" closer to the bridge - didn't make as significant a tonal change as it would have if they'd made that same adjustment with the neck pickup.  But that's only a hunch.  If I go and buy a bass off the shelf in a store I'm apt to not even think about it, instead just go with my gut instead.  But if I opt to have Roger build me a Jazz style bass then I thought I should at least get as informed as possible about this aspect of it...
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2011, 05:50:48 PM »

Am wondering why pickup location of Fender Jazz basses was changed sometime in the 70s and what exactly changed?

The location of the bridge pickup was moved closer to the bridge because the pickup stuck out from the bridge cover they were using at the time.  By moving it closer to the bridge, the entire pickup was covered by the cover.

You win Leond!  This is the correct answer.  The actual distance the bridge pickup was moved is .40" (just under 1/2").  It was done just for cosmetic reasons....as you said, to fit under the bridge cover.  Tonality had nothing to do with it!  The tonal effect when soloed is a bit more of a midrange tone.  Many people associate the 70's bridge PU tone with Jaco, but he played on 60's instruments.

Roger
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classicjazz
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2011, 01:01:41 AM »

I have a NYC Standard 4 Fretless, and I went with the '70s location for the pickups. I find it gives me a bit more of that mid growl and punch which I like for Fretless. More than the previous Fender Jazz Fretless basses I've owned.


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