5 best jazz bass pickups

Often the choice of pickups is an area forgotten by musicians when it comes to finding the sound they are looking for. It is usually spent all or much of the budget in effects pedals or amplifiers, without taking into account that the origin of the sound is based on the quality of the guitar or bass: woods, construction, materials and of course,  pickups.

Structure and functioning of a Pickup

The sound of a stringed instrument is generated by the vibration of the same according to their length, their thickness, their tension and the interaction with the structure of the instrument. The sound is given by the fundamental frequency of vibration of the string plus a series of harmonics that, combining with the fundamental characterize the timbre of the instrument. This is precisely what we want to capture and amplify with pickups.

The pickups consist of a permanent magnet that generates a magnetic field and a winding around the magnet formed by several turns of wire and which constitutes an electric coil. We can easily visualize this concept through a simple experiment. Take a magnet, a piece of paper and some iron filings. Place the magnet under the sheet of paper and spread the iron filings on top of it. The iron filings should be arranged more or less neatly between the south pole and the north pole of the magnet as shown. You can thus easily observe the lines of force of the magnetic field generated by a magnet.

Brief notes on the principles of functioning of a pickup

Let’s go back to the guitar now. The vibration of the string causes a variation in the magnetic field which, due to the effect of electromagnetism, will generate an electric current in the winding; this current will then be transmitted to the amplifier. The perturbation of the magnetic field will depend on the oscillation of the string (fundamental frequency/harmonics/speed of movement of the string etc.) and consequently the current induced in the coil will be the mirror of the vibration.

Features of a pickup

The characteristic tone of each pickup is the result of a combination of different magnetic materials.

  • Based on the magnetic material with which they are constructed, the pickups are subdivided into Alnico and Ceramics.
  • In relation to the number of coils, the pickups differ in Single coil (single coil) and Humbucker (double coil).

The method of copper winding is essential. Thus less winding or turns of copper wire produces a cleaner and more transparent sound, but with less output voltage or output. A more laps, more output and more medium tones but less high tones. When a string is struck, the vibration resonates between the wood and the strings. The vibration is picked up by the pickup and converted into electric alternating current. In turn, this current is amplified, so the type of wood, the paint and varnish of the instrument, the caliber of the strings, colors the sound and the overall tone of the instrument.

Best jazz bass pickups

Like pedals, pickups are part of your sound and perhaps most importantly, they reflect all the nuances of your performance. You could calmly use any pickup or even make them yourself, but choosing the right pickup will make the timbre of your instrument, the tone of your amplifier and your technique harmoniously agree. In this way you will get your characteristic sound.

Obviously, what pickups you should choose depends on your taste and the type of music you make. Depending on the tones you are looking for, as for the guitar: for a more jazz or blues sound you may need low output pickups (Fender CS 54, 69); for a more powerful rock sound, better with pickups that deliver more mid and bass tones (Duncan SSL5, EMG DG20). In Electric Basses, there are very good options within the Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio brands: for Jazz, Funk or Rock music.

The same can be applied for the combination of pads and amplifiers. With more powerful Pads you can take the distortion further, and at the same time that your amplifier sounds louder. The best advice as always at the time of the election is to try and learn about the different types of pickups that exist in the market. The offer is very broad and for all types of budgets. In addition many of the manufacturers and specialized magazines, spread samples of sound of each pickup for the different models of Guitar and Bass.  

Fender Custom Shop ’60s Jazz Bass Pickups

The Fender Jazz Bass is an instrument that stimulates the imagination. The basses of this model lend themselves well to fresh and precise grooves, slaps and solos. Of course there are plenty of ways to adapt the sound of an instrument, one of which is replacing the original pickups with real Fender Custom Shop specimens. The ’60s Jazz Bass pickup set will considerably improve the sound of your bass, without weighing too much on your budget.

  • The set consists of two Custom Shop pickups
  • The Alnico V magnets and the Formvar magnetic wire guarantee, together with the overwound configuration, huge punches and outputs
  • The bass and the mids will feel great

From a dynamic point of view these pickups will increase your reach and make your performances even more expressive. What is certain is that your Jazz Bass will reach a new level with these pickups. With a little practice you will have them mounted in an hour, thanks to the fixing materials included.   

Construction: Single Coil

It is the first design that was attributed to pickups. They get a pretty bright sound paying special attention to very powerful high pitches. However, as a counterpart to consider, it only has a single coil, so the sunken ones are quite constant and in volumes that are so high that they can adulterate the sound of the piece itself.  

Magnet: Alnico V

Alnico is a ferromagnetic alloy containing iron, aluminum, nickel and cobalt used to build permanent magnets. To obtain different Alnico alloys it is sufficient to change the proportion between the constituents. This way you get Alnico II, Alnico III, Alnico IV, Alnico V etc … Among these, the most used are Alnico V and II. The Alnico V alloy consists of cobalt (24%), nickel (14%), aluminum (8%), copper (3%) and iron (for the remainder). Alnico V generates a stronger magnetic field than the Alnico II and for this reason is considered optimal for bridge pickups, on which there is generally a lower vibration of the strings. It is particularly indicated for a rather aggressive sound. With the same coils and dimensions of magnetic bar, in a pickup in Alnico minor is the degree (I, II, IV, V) the lower the magnetic field generated and consequently the output signal; this corresponds to a slightly “softer” and less defined tone on the high frequencies.

Tip:In fact, as we will see later, the chemical constitution of a pickup’s magnet is just one of the elements that determine its sound.

DiMarzio Model J Bass Pickup Set

DiMarzio Model J(TM) offers a warmer and larger of the traditional Fender Jazz Bass sound. The set is designed for maximum versatility, and is ideal for your Jazz Bass, is also the perfect complement to fretless basses.


  • Type of construction: single coil
  • Magnet: Ceramic
  • Position: Complete Set, for Neck & Bridge positions
  • Color: Black
  • Character: Modern

In general the Alnico pickups is associated a softer and round tone, a cleaner and “vintage” sound, while the ceramic pickups is associated with a more powerful and gritty sound, more suitable to the distortions and more present on the high frequencies. It must be specified that the tone of a pickup does not depend only on the magnet but also on many other factors such as the type, diameter and length of the wire used, the size of the coil, the height and size and magnetization of the magnet, etc.

For this it is good to choose between the two types not based on the magnet itself but based on the sound we are looking for, making as many tests as possible of the various models that the market offers and that the various brands make available. If your musical references are of a “vintage” nature, you can easily stay on the alnico. Built with this material you will find any type of pickup for every taste, tone and power. Keep on the Alnico for single coils and for a Vintage sound in general and experimented with ceramic humbukers if you are looking for an aggressive rock sound rich in harmonics suitable for the use of modern tremolo.

Seymour Duncan SJB3 Quarter Pound Jazz Bass Bridge Pickup

The SJB3 is mounted on standard bass guitars from the Jazz Bass series.  It is designed for studio and touring musicians with special requirements for attacking sound. Among the sound characteristics of the SJB3model can be identified: a powerful attack, excellent sustain and full timbre. Such impressive results have been achieved thanks to the use of 5 mm magnets and the innovation technology of Seymour Duncan.


  • Type of construction: single coil
  • Magnet: Alnico V
  • Pole pieces: flush-mount
  • Position: available in both Neck & Bridge positions
  • Output: low
  • Color: Black
  • Character: Modern

DiMarzio Model P+J Bass Pickup Set


  • Type of construction: single coil
  • Magnet: Alnico V and Ceramic
  • Position: the set is designed for installation in the Neck (P) and Bridge (J) position
  • Color: Black

Model P reproduces the sound of the bass in the style of precision bass and provides complete noise reduction.  Increased recoil emphasizes the nature and resonance of the instrument more. The depth of the J Model sound will also flawlessly sound the fretless bass. Glissando with a double stop and subtle “violin” vibrato sound in the classical spirit if you slightly tidy up the tone control. DiMarzio Model J ™ has a noise reduction system, but it is not implemented on the stack principle. Each of the coils works with a specific pair of strings.

The positioning of the pickups along the tuning fork is absolutely one of the factors that most influence the sound of a bass or an electric guitar. As a general rule we can establish that:

  • the more the pickups are distant from each other, the more variations of sound we will get on the instrument
  • the closer we approach a pickup at the center of the vibration of the vacuum chord i.e. at the 12th fret, the more the sound will be warm, voluminous and full of bass
  • the closer we approach a bridge pickup, the better the sound will be.

This is one of the reasons why we hear a difference in the sound even by pinching the string more towards the neck or more towards the bridge.

Yibuy One Pair Red Metal Pickups for Electric Guitar

Designed for electric guitars, this product is for punk, metal, as well as other musical genres that have the peculiarity of using distortion, as well as high profits.  


  • Type of construction: humbucker
  • Material: Metal
  • Magnet: Ceramic magnets
  • Color: Red

The humbucker pickups (they are also known as metal pickups) are two single coil pickups coupled but with the coils magnetically and electrically inverted with respect to each other (the current runs in the opposite direction through the two coils and the magnets are also oriented in opposite directions). The sound of the humbucker pickup is fuller and less brilliant than the sound of a single coil pickup. This is due not only to its electrical structure but also to the fact that it captures the sound of a larger portion of string by detecting more harmonics.

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1 Response

  1. Used UltraJazz, but it permanently "scooped", which is great when that's what you want. But I couldn't lose it, even when soloing one pickup. Then I come across Dimarzio Model J more traditional sounding in their lineup. More mids with polite highs and tight lows.

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