When people hear Jazz Bass, they think that this instrument is for jazz music only, and while originally it was designed for that purpose, this instrument has done wonders when it comes to being a jack of all trades for many genres. In my musical journey, I have always owned a jazz bass guitar since it is always useful, and it comes in handy for delivering some thick tasty baselines.
However, like any other instrument you are not stuck with the stock sound of your guitar as you can definitely modify it to better suit your needs. You can opt for different amplification, change your tones, adopt new effects pedals and finally, you can always swap your pickups to give a new breath to your instrument. While most of us don’t really like the idea of swapping the stock pickups of our guitars, it might be one of the best decisions you make as it can give your instrument a breath of fresh air and excitement.
For that reason, I have decided to write a complete guide on how to get the best jazz bass pickups in the market. I should also mention before moving on that I will also try to inform you how to make a better choice when it comes to replacement pickups, the top picks in the market, and so much more. Now, this guide was written based on my personal experience as a bassist, expert consultation, market research, and buyer feedback.
Without forgetting I would suggest you first take a look at our top picks which are the very best in the market at delivering you perfect tones, performance, value for the price, reliability, and durability, you won’t be disappointed at any of them. Now without further ado, let’s get on with it.
Which Are The Best Jazz Bass Pickups?
5. EMG JVX Bass Pickup
We are going to start off this list with a pretty interesting set of pickups coming in from EMG, the JVX Jazz Bass Pickups. These pickups will deliver the best of both worlds, both active and passive pickup advantages in their body.
The tone of these pickups sounds exactly like passive pickups which are natural and warm, but they also deliver the hot output, power, and silence of active pickups. The overall sound of these is pretty much excellent and I should mention that the tones are pretty much true to the original.
While they are a little bit bigger than most Jazz Bass pickups, the installation may be difficult, but its not a challenge for a professional.
4. Seymour Duncan SJB3 Quarter Pound
Next on the list, we don’t have a set of pickups but instead, an individual bridge pickup that is a nice way to upgrade and shape the sound of your Jazz Bass guitar, the Seymour Duncan SJB3 Quarter Pound. This pickup will definitely provide a much-needed upgrade to any J Bass without spending a lot.
I should mention that during testing I saw that the Seymour Duncan SJB3 Quarter Pound was a pretty capable and versatile pickup that delivers tones for all styles of music without any compromise. These are built in California and use quarter-inch Alnico V magnets with hot-coil windings.
As a result of that, it delivers a strong meaty sound with decent output. I also found out that the volume is not an issue with this pickup, and for the price that it comes at it is excellent.
3. DiMarzio DP123 Model J
Moving on we have a set of pickups coming in from DiMarzio, a brand that has delivered the best replacement pickups in the market, and their DP123 Model J bass pickups. These pickups replicate the vintage Jazz Bass output very accurately with some modern features that will impress you.
I should also mention that these pickups are made out of ceramic magnets, resembling humbucker pickups while still being single-coils. They are capable of delivering a super powerful tone with extreme clarity even if you pump up the gain and volume to the max.
They work wonderfully with gain and are excellent overall, but I would like a bit more punch in the lows. However, they deliver some excellent qualities such as the warm tone with natural vibes all over it.
2. Lindy Fralin 4 String Jazz
The runner up on this list is a brand that is not the most famous in the guitar accessory market, but one that has gathered quite a loyal fanbase, Lindy Franlin, and its 4 String Jazz bass pickup set. You will be extremely impressed with the tones, the output, and the value for the price with these.
These pickups deliver a very true to life vintage Fender tone that we are fans of, also they deliver a bit more punch and higher output than you would imagine for a retro focused sound. They are equipped with the Alnico IV magnets and are also handmade in Virginia.
They deliver plenty of versatility and present a fat and thick mid-range with rounded bass, allowing this bass guitar to work with a wide variety of genres.
1. Fender Custom Shop ’60s Jazz
We are going to the top of this list with the Fender Custom Shop ’60s Jazz Pickup sets coming in from Fender, and it is no surprise as to why. These pickups deliver the vintage sound of the Jazz Bass instrument with modern features that make them fan favorites, let’s see.
If you listen to the tone of the Fender Custom Shop ’60s Jazz you would think that they are the original 1960 Jazz Bass single-coil pickups, but like I said the modern improvements make things much better. Speaking of which are the larger output and more punch to make them more attractive even for more modern players.
They are equipped with Alnico V magnets with overwound coils and they deliver lows full of clarity, highs with more bite than you would expect and a defined mid-range. I should state that the sound is pretty articulate and hot, most recommended for Jazz Bass owners.
Things You Should Know About Jazz Bass Pickups
A Short History Lesson About Fender Jazz Bass
In 1960, Fender introduced the Deluxe Model bass guitar which was designed and marketed as a ‘stablemate’ of the original Jazzmaster bass guitar which on its own was also marketed as a Deluxe model. So to avoid any confusion the company opted for the Jazz Bass by Fender name to differentiate it. It was also pretty different from the Precision Bass guitar that was released at the same time by Fender, and it was more attractive for jazz musicians at that time, but everybody fell in love with it.
The other differences between those two guitars were not just the name, as the Fender Jazz Bass guitar has two single-coil pickups on its body, of which had two pole pieces sitting per string. This quality-made guitar a bit stronger on the treble, which was an answer to the competing Rickenbacker bass guitar, that was introduced around the same time, 1957 to be exact and had a brighter sound than its competitors.
On top of that, the Fender Jazz Bass guitar had also a bit more asymmetrical body with a more contoured shape, which Fender dubbed as Offset Waist Contour, along with the biggest selling point besides the pickups a narrower neck at the nut than the Precision Bass which was similar to the Jazzmaster guitars which delivered a bit more speed.
Fender had a strong idea in mind since at the time most jazz musicians used upright-basses, it encouraged them to switch to electric bass. Originally this instrument had two stacked knobs, resulting in four total knobs, two for volume and two for the tone for each pickup. Now they mostly have three knobs, two for volume on each pickup and one for the overall tone.
Like I said earlier the biggest difference in this bass guitar is that it has two single-coil pickups, placed one at the bridge and one at the neck position, which in combination deliver a lot more performance than you would have ever thought, and the creative freedom is definitely priceless with these. Now let’s get going.
What Should a Good Jazz Bass Pickup Deliver?
First, off you should know that 99 percent of jazz bass pickup is a single-coil one instead of a humbucker, but then again there are some exceptions as some bassists prefer to do modifications to their Jazz basses, however, most of the time you will see single-coil pickups. If you know anything about guitar pickups, you already know that single-coil pickups are responsible for brighter, sharper and more defined sound that is perfect, it is especially helpful for keeping the low-range from getting out of hand and becoming muddy.
I should mention that there are two pole-pieces per string, which provides a tight sound and strong highs, which many musicians are fans of. But then again single-coil pickups always have some disadvantages that come in, most notably the background interference, which results in the humming sound that is inconvenient and annoying when the volume and gain increase.
For that reason, a good jazz bass pickup will always deliver a sharp and defined bass, with a tasty amount of brightness in its tones, while also decreasing the noises. This might sound a little hard to do, but there are excellent options and examples in the market that deliver those exact parameters in their sounds. Now you can check the options above to get one of those as they complete the checklist of an excellent jazz bass pickup.
What is the Difference in Sound Between Jazz Bass and Precision Bass Pickups?
I already covered this above but to make it clear I will talk about it again. Now for those that don’t know Precision Bass guitar pickups deliver a thicker and richer tone that is without any background hum, thanks to its staggered single-coils that form a humbucking pickup. On the other hand, Jazz Bass guitar pickups deliver a bit brighter and cleaner sound, and it is a bit more susceptible to the occasional hum.
However, this might be subjective since the sound of your pickup will be affected by the tonewoods of your guitar, the amplification, effects pedals that you have in disposition, the tones that you have dialed in and your personal playing style, all of this play a big factor in the sound, but to get a good idea about the soundcheck various videos about the sound of the pickup in question.
Why Should I Change My Pickups?
There are a lot of reasons to change or swap your pickups, but most bassists don’t ever consider changing their pickups, but some do. Regardless if you own a Squier Affinity J Bass that is pretty affordable or a 1000 dollar special-edition Jazz Bass you might want to spice things up a bit after some time. This is especially important for those that have more affordable guitars with good tonewoods or for those that have an old Jazz Bass lying around, a good pair of new pickups will make things much easier for you and will give a new breath of life to your guitar playing. You can also make a choice to get one instead of a set, so you can modify your sound to your needs, but sets too are pretty attractive options.
However, you should be a little careful when it comes to installation since swapping pickups can be a little complicated for most and if I haven’t been in and out with guitars and electronics, I couldn’t accomplish it alone. So if you want to swap them get help from a friend that can do it properly, or go to an instrument shop for a professional to complete it for a price.
Other Pickups To Look At
- Humbucker Pickups
- Passive Metal Pickups
- P Bass Pickups
- Single Coil Pickups
- Acoustic Pickups
- Telecaster Pickups
Well, that is it for today, my fellow bassists! I hope that I have provided you enough information about jazz bass pickups that now you feel ready about pulling the trigger on one or on a set. Now don’t forget to check the top picks that I have provided to get a good idea about the best options in the market, and I should also mention to you that if you get one of those you won’t be disappointed. I think that after reading this guide you are informed and ready when it comes to jazz bass pickups, now and in the future. Until next time have fun with your new pickups.