PJ Pickups

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HaychHaych Frets: 1706
I have a cheap Squier Affinity PJ bass that I use for recording.

It's not a bad instrument for the price, and better with a bit of work and a few tweaks, but it lacks a bit of clarity and punch and am wondering if a set of new pickups would help with that?

As I know toffee about bass what might be a good set of PJ pickups to buy in search of getting a better tone onto SSD?

Thanks in advance.

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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 22677
    Seymour Duncan quarter pounder PJ is a stalwart set for upgrade. The EMG geezer butler set is a good option as well. Worth listening to vids online to get a view of the difference. 

    Of course there’s loads of hand wound to choose from, and they won’t actually be that much more expensive. 
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  • HaychHaych Frets: 1706
    Seymour Duncan quarter pounder PJ is a stalwart set for upgrade. The EMG geezer butler set is a good option as well. Worth listening to vids online to get a view of the difference. 

    Of course there’s loads of hand wound to choose from, and they won’t actually be that much more expensive. 
    I was looking at the SD PJ set, but I know toffee about bass so wouldn't know if it would be a worthy upgrade or a waste of 150 notes.

    Hey, Doubtfire, say hello to the Queen for us.

    Bit of trading feedback here.

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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 22677
    Haych said:
    Seymour Duncan quarter pounder PJ is a stalwart set for upgrade. The EMG geezer butler set is a good option as well. Worth listening to vids online to get a view of the difference. 

    Of course there’s loads of hand wound to choose from, and they won’t actually be that much more expensive. 
    I was looking at the SD PJ set, but I know toffee about bass so wouldn't know if it would be a worthy upgrade or a waste of 150 notes.
    Depends on what you want to achieve. 

    What’s unsatisfactory about your tone at the moment?
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 22677
    Just re-reading your post - punch and clarity?
    Both the SD and EMG set will give you some more of that, but a hand wound set enables you to say exactly what sort of tone you are looking for..
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  • HaychHaych Frets: 1706
    Yeah, it's hard to describe, but it's on the muffled and dark side at the moment.  If it had a bit (or maybe a lot, I dunno) more definition and distinction to the tone (clarity) and a bit more power to it (punch) then I reckon it would be not a bad little bass really.

    Of course, it can sound ace and it could still be the player (i.e. me) that's making it sound garbage.

    Hey, Doubtfire, say hello to the Queen for us.

    Bit of trading feedback here.

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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 22677
    Haych said:
    Yeah, it's hard to describe, but it's on the muffled and dark side at the moment.  If it had a bit (or maybe a lot, I dunno) more definition and distinction to the tone (clarity) and a bit more power to it (punch) then I reckon it would be not a bad little bass really.

    Of course, it can sound ace and it could still be the player (i.e. me) that's making it sound garbage.
    Have you had a good look at pickup height and angle? It’s actually really important on bass that it’s right and can make a big difference. 
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 14197
    I'd go with the EMG-X set over the Geezers.

    The SD QP set are ok - but their biggest problem is the P pickup doesn't sound like a P. t has too much bass and not enough mids. Fine if that is what you want, but it's not a precision sound.

    My favourite passive set would be the Aguilar 60s wind set with the humcancelling J. But they are expensive.

    EMG-X series is my vote - and they seem to be a bit cheaper than the Geezers too at the moment. Amazingly quiet for recording as well.



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  • HaychHaych Frets: 1706
    Haych said:
    Yeah, it's hard to describe, but it's on the muffled and dark side at the moment.  If it had a bit (or maybe a lot, I dunno) more definition and distinction to the tone (clarity) and a bit more power to it (punch) then I reckon it would be not a bad little bass really.

    Of course, it can sound ace and it could still be the player (i.e. me) that's making it sound garbage.
    Have you had a good look at pickup height and angle? It’s actually really important on bass that it’s right and can make a big difference. 
    Well, it seems reasonable to me but like I say I know toffee about bass so I might be way off the mark.

    Hey, Doubtfire, say hello to the Queen for us.

    Bit of trading feedback here.

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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 22677
    I'd go with the EMG-X set over the Geezers.

    The SD QP set are ok - but their biggest problem is the P pickup doesn't sound like a P. t has too much bass and not enough mids. Fine if that is what you want, but it's not a precision sound.

    My favourite passive set would be the Aguilar 60s wind set with the humcancelling J. But they are expensive.

    EMG-X series is my vote - and they seem to be a bit cheaper than the Geezers too at the moment. Amazingly quiet for recording as well.
    I’ve had the Aguilar set in the past, and the EMG-X set (!)

    I preferred the geezers to the X’s but that’s personal taste. The Aguilars are good, but I’m not sure I’d recommend them for a cheaper bass - feels like overkill when there’s other good options out there. 

    The SD QP P in my set is actually not bad at a P bass sound - I would agree there’s less mids, but not as much as I’d expected from the reviews 
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 7500
    Seymour Duncan quarter pounder
    FFS, the product name is written on the packaging. It is SPB-3 Quarter Pound for Precision Bass.

    Quarter Pounder is a registered trade mark of McDonald's.

    My advice to anyone installing a Quarter Pounder™ in a bass guitar is to combine it with a Greasebucket™ tone control.

    Impeach Bridgehouse! 
    Be seeing you.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 22677
    Seymour Duncan quarter pounder
    FFS, the product name is written on the packaging. It is SPB-3 Quarter Pound for Precision Bass.

    Quarter Pounder is a registered trade mark of McDonald's.

    My advice to anyone installing a Quarter Pounder™ in a bass guitar is to combine it with a Greasebucket™ tone control.

    Impeach Bridgehouse! 
    <IP tracking software turned on>
    <monitor mode activated>


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  • pintspillerpintspiller Frets: 931
    Have you experimented with compression and EQ? Will be cheaper than hardware upgrade if it's only for studio work.
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  • HaychHaych Frets: 1706
    Have you experimented with compression and EQ? Will be cheaper than hardware upgrade if it's only for studio work.
    Yep, this is about the best I can get it and I've EQ'd it to an inch of it's life.  Even then it starts to get a bit mushy below B, which I didn't use much for this little ditty.

    Don't expect much, the playing/timing etc is awful but it was just a quick thing to experiment with the bass tones:



    Hey, Doubtfire, say hello to the Queen for us.

    Bit of trading feedback here.

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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 7500
    Haych said:
    Squier Affinity PJ bass … lacks a bit of clarity and punch
    My first move would be to change the strings. The factory ones are rubbish.
     
    The stock Affinity pickups will almost certainly be the stud poles and underslung ceramic type. Optimise the P pickup sound by adjusting it to taste. Optimise the J pickup by disconnecting it from the controls and removing it completely.
     
    Be seeing you.
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  • HaychHaych Frets: 1706
    Haych said:
    Squier Affinity PJ bass … lacks a bit of clarity and punch
    My first move would be to change the strings. The factory ones are rubbish.
     
    The stock Affinity pickups will almost certainly be the stud poles and underslung ceramic type. Optimise the P pickup sound by adjusting it to taste. Optimise the J pickup by disconnecting it from the controls and removing it completely.
     
    Strings are D'Addario, I'm pretty sure.  They've been changed since I bought it a couple of times.

    I take it you're not a fan of the J Pickup.

    I was going to modify it so they were on separate outputs so they could be recorded simultaneously to different tracks and blended in the DAW.  Still might but whether it serves a useful purpose is another thing altogether.

    Hey, Doubtfire, say hello to the Queen for us.

    Bit of trading feedback here.

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  • steamabacussteamabacus Frets: 1000
    I have a Squier PJ, not an Affinity but the level above - Standard is it? - Indonesian made.

    I replaced the pickups, initially getting a second-hand SD Quarter Pound (er...is that ok, Funkfingers?) for the bridge position J but I couldn't find a cheap second-hand SD P pick-up and ended up buying a brand new Tonerider Precision Plus.

    I was very impressed with the Tonerider - sounded great, 'proper' Fender pick-up style construction (no plastic bobbins, cloth hook-up wire). Cost around £30 a few years ago.

    You couldn't go far wrong with a Tonerider PJ set (probably somewhere between £60-70 now?)
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  • I had the Geezer P pickup and I was much happier after replacing it with the Duncan SPB1. It’s been a while since the Geezer was in but I remember feeling like it didn’t quite have enough clarity for me. 

    The SPB1 sounds just like I expect a P bass to sound. I’m not sure what J pickup would balance best with it but I’d happily recommend it as a choice for a P pickup. FWIW I play fairly heavy rock music, despite it being a ‘vintage’ style pickup it handles higher gain tones and steel strings great
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 51964
    Personally I wouldn't even consider a PJ set unless the J was overwound compared to the P and preferably hum-cancelling - eg a Duncan Hot Jazz Stack combined with any vintage-style P pickup.

    Otherwise the J is a weak, thin-sounding hum generator whose only function is to make the P pickup sound good on its own and bad when combined... just a way to ruin a good P-Bass, basically.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • The Fender '62 Custom Shop P pickup is ideal for a 'classic' punchy P sound.
    Fender Custom Shop '62 Precision Bass Pickup (gak.co.uk)

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  • PhilKingPhilKing Frets: 892
    When I was building a PJ for a friend, I used a SD Quarter Pound and a SD Musicman SMB-4A in the bridge position.  He was in a metal band and was a big fan of Steve Harris, so he wanted a full sound, though they had some Rush like tunes.  With series/parallel switching on the Musicman and the blend, you had a very large palate of tones.
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 18104
    Haych said:
    Seymour Duncan quarter pounder PJ is a stalwart set for upgrade. The EMG geezer butler set is a good option as well. Worth listening to vids online to get a view of the difference. 

    Of course there’s loads of hand wound to choose from, and they won’t actually be that much more expensive. 
    I was looking at the SD PJ set, but I know toffee about bass so wouldn't know if it would be a worthy upgrade or a waste of 150 notes.
    Keep an eye out for secondhand on eBay. If you fit them and don't like them you can probably get your money back reselling. 
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 7500
    ICBM said:
    Personally, I wouldn't even consider a PJ set unless the J was overwound compared to the P and preferably hum-cancelling 
    That pretty much describes the EMG-GZR PJ set. I have them in a 2014 Squier VM bass. I have mixed feelings about them. 
    guitarfishbay said:
    I had the Geezer P pickup and I was much happier after replacing it with the Duncan SPB1. It’s been a while since the Geezer was in but I remember feeling like it didn’t quite have enough clarity for me. 
    Geezer uses enormous gauge DR Black Beauty strings. (Makes sense for down tuning.) If the outer wraps are stainless steel, that might explain where he gets some of the high frequency detail.

    Duncan SPB1... sounds just like I expect a P bass to sound.
    Alnico 5 rod magnet polepieces and 11k is the formula. Elderly flat wound strings complete the picture.

    Haych said:
    I take it you're not a fan of the J Pickup.
    Only when paired with another one. 


    I toy with the idea of combining a P middle pickup with an Oil City Pickups Overkill J. Unfortunately, those pickups would be worth more than my Squier bass.

    Be seeing you.
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  • JeremiahJeremiah Frets: 388
    I have a Squier Affinity PJ bass and have replaced the P pickup with a Seymour Duncan SPB1 - it sounds good to me, though I have mine strung with flatwounds and tuned BEAD, so it's pretty thumpy, which is what I wanted. I also replaced the bridge with a Gotoh, though this was more because the original bridge had very sharp screws sticking up that cut into my hand, rather than anything to do with tone.

    I haven't replaced the J pickup, as I didn't really get the bass for the J sound, so I'm not sure if it's worth spending the money. If I did, though, it would be a hot, noise cancelling pickup as @ICBM suggested.
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 3579
    I'd suggest a useful exercise might be to find some videos on Youtube of people playing that bass with the stock pickups. If any of them get the kind of tone you're looking for then you'll know it's not the pickups that are the problem.

    Then again you might find that every example you find has the same tone problems then you could listen to some other pickups in videos to see which get you where you want.

    On the other hand, I'm with ICBM on the P only setting - if you haven't tried turning the bridge pickup all the way down (soloing the P pickup) then try that and you might get there instantly.
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