There are so many Jazz Bass pickups on the market today that it’s a little overwhelming. But if you’re looking to upgrade your current J-Bass, there’s no better cost-effective way than to change the pickups.
Thankfully the huge selection of J-pickups gives you lots of options to nail down that tone you’re looking for.
I can’t review every Jazz Bass pickup out there (it would take forever), however, I have personally played these four. While everyone hears things a little differently I’ve tried to describe each pickup as specifically as possible so that you can get a good idea of what to expect tone wise.
Fender Custom Shop 60’s Jazz Bass
I used these pickups for years in several Jazz basses and have really liked them. They have a nice warm tone with some clarity in the upper mids. They’re not for anyone looking for a modern hi-fi sound but are perfect for the bassist after a vintage tone. The Custom Shops will give you a little more output than most other standard Jazz Bass pickups. The tone is nicely balanced with good, solid lows and a sweet mid-range. The highs are not zingy or biting but then neither is a real vintage Jazz pickup. Instead, you get a nice mellow, singing quality when you’re playing up high. All in all, a really good vintage sounding Jazz pickup made by the original company that started it all.
Lindy Fralin Vintage Jazz
I have these pickups currently in my Fender ’62 reissue bass and, I’m a big fan. They sound a little more focused than the Fender Custom Shops with more detail and clarity in the highs. The lows are full and growly and the mids are strong with lots of punch. Fralins are generally more expensive than the Fenders, which I believe is in part due to the fact that they are hand wound. the Fralins will also give you a little more output than the Fender pickups and a more refined sound that I would describe as modern-vintage. I actually think the Fenders are more accurate to a real vintage Jazz pickup, but the Fralins give you that extra punch that can really help when trying to cut through while still retaining that vintage tone.
Seymour Duncan Antiquity
I’ve never owned these pickups, but I have played them on other basses. They sound very similar to the Lindy Fralins but with slightly less mid-range and a tad leaner in the bottom end. They still give you that vintage vibe, sounding real smooth and warm. These Pickups are “aged” to look like real old vintage J-Bass pickups, which some people will find really cool and others not so much. Overall I like the vintage tone and look of the Antiquity’s and would definitely recommend them to anyone who wants both a good vintage sound and old look to match…..very useful if you’re replacing pickups on a vintage Fender.
Fender Original Jazz Bass
This is Fender’s standard 60’s style Jazz pickups that were found on their ’62 reissue Jazz Bass and their Geddy Lee Jazz Bass model. Similar to the Custom Shop set in tone but with a little less overall output and slightly more mid-range. I found these pickups a little nasally but still very faithful to the original 60’s sound. The lows are full, if a little boomy, and the highs are crisp with pretty good articulation. These pickups are definitely a step up from the standard Fender Jazz models found on most of their basses.
Obviously, there are many more Jazz Bass pickups out there (Lollar pickups are next on my list), but this will at least give you an idea of how some of the most popular