7 Best Jazz Bass Pickups (For Warm, Vintage Tones)

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  • In the market for replacement Fender Jazz bass pickups?
  • Lindy Fralin, Seymour Duncan, Aguilar, and more.
  • We round up 7 of the best pickups for a J-bass
  • While you’re here, also check out our post on the best low-watt amps for jazz

Frankly, the ‘best’ jazz bass pickups is a rather frivolous term.

When it comes to choices, you’ve got actives, passive, single-coil, hum-canceling, massive or regular pole pieces, and a ton of options with different voicings. Everyone is out to out-Fender Fender, including Fender.

If you allow me to oversimplify, there are two paths to a J-bass replacement pickup.

One, you pledge allegiance to authentic ‘60s and ‘70s J-bass tones and buy pickups with period-correct parts and design.

Two, you explore a J-style pickup set with modern touches and “improvements” that dare to deviate from the iconic J-Bass tone.

I stand by to the former, occasionally indulging a J-bass with a humbucker.

After experimenting with a dozen or so J-style pickups, I settled for the Lindy Fralin and Duncan Antiquity II –  two pickups poles apart in terms of tone, but good choices to round out my bass collection.

In this article, I put forth 7 different jazz bass pickups for you to consider.

Tone is a highly subjective and individual choice but I hope this list, along with the brief reviews, can cut short your chase with an ah-hah moment. Until then, hang on to your stocks.

What are the Best Jazz Bass Pickups?

  1. Seymour Duncan Antiquity II
  2. Seymour Duncan Antiquity II

    Seymour Duncan's Antiquity II Jazz Bass single-coil pickup set is a re-creation of the more aggressive pickups found in the original 1960s Jazz Basses.

    Why We Love It:
    • Vintage warmth like none other
    • A great choice for road-worn bass guitars
    • Very responsive to tone control
    View Price On Sweetwater
  3. DiMarzio Model J Bass Pickup 
  4. DiMarzio Model J Bass Pickup 

    The Dimarzio Model J bass pickup is designed to deliver the signature warmth and roundness of the famous Fender Jazz Bass sound.

    Why We Love It:
    • Tight lows, relaxed mids, and polite highs
    • Quality at a throwaway price
    View Price On Sweetwater
  5. Lindy Fralin J-Style Bass Set BK
  6. Lindy Fralin J-Style Bass Set BK

    Fralin Jazz Bass Pickups are fat, loud, punchy, clear, and are an excellent choice for people who don’t want to venture too far away from the authentic Fender Jazz bass guitar sound.

    Why We Love It:
    • Famed for definition and clarity
    • Tones are well-balanced
    • Vintage sound
    View Price On Thomman

Seymour Duncan Antiquity II is my top pick among jazz bass replacement pickups. These phat, vintage-sounding pickups are a less polite version of the Fender Custom 60s. They cost less, have fewer QA issues, and sound delectably chewy. But tone being subjective, YMMV.

DiMarzio Model J pickups blow the competition out of the water in terms of value. Don’t mistake them for the ‘cheapest’ pickups in this roundup and don’t recoil in horror at the idea of a humbucker. The pickups pack enough attack and punch necessary to convert the purists.

Our premium pick, the Lindy Fralin Jazz Bass Pickups, offers the truest J-bass tone. They are clean, balanced, and smooth. There are rather pricey, but the cost is justified by their ability to recreate a more refined version of the ’60s Fender Jazz Bass guitar sounds.

Here’s the full list of the jazz bass pickups you can approach with buyer confidence.

  1. Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Jazz Bass Pickups (Our Pick)
  2. DiMarzio Model J Bass Pickups (Best Value)
  3. Lindy Fralin J-Style Bass Pickups (Premium Option)
  4. Aguilar AG 4J-HC Jazz Bass Pickups
  5. Lollar 4S Jazz Bass Pickups
  6. Fender Custom 60s Jazz Bass Pickups
  7. EMG JVX 4-string Jazz Bass Pickups

1. Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Jazz Bass Pickups

OUR PICK!
Seymour Duncan Antiquity II

Seymour Duncan's Antiquity II Jazz Bass single-coil pickup set is a re-creation of the more aggressive pickups found in the original 1960s Jazz Basses.

Why We Love It:
  • Vintage warmth like none other
  • A great choice for road-worn bass guitars
  • Very responsive to tone control
View Price On Sweetwater

Looking for a late ‘60s treasure – a fat bottom end with smooth highs?

Upgrade to the Antiquity II Jazz Bass set for midrange punch and vintage warmth like none other.

These pickups have a dark tone, low end for days, and a tad more high-end clarity than the Antiquity I.

Key Features

  • Vintage voiced (mid/late ‘60s) J-bass pickup
  • Alnico 5 rod magnets
  • Frobon bobbins with enamel mag wire
  • Wax-potted and hum-free
  • For 4-string bass guitar

Review

Seymour Duncan crafts these pickups using period-correct materials to recreate the aggressive tones of J-bass pickups from the late ‘60s.

The Antiquity II single-coils feature specially calibrated Alnico 5 magnets, push-back cloth wire, 60s-era gray flatwork, and wax potting.

These pickups are called ‘Antiquity’ because they are pre-worn, making them a great choice for road-worn bass guitars.

But the aesthetics are not the only thing that exhibits character. The pickups sound deliciously dark, with fat lows, and smooth highs.

The Antiquity II set is more aggressive compared to the Fender Custom ’60s and more aggressive and less beefy than the Fender Vintage ’63 set.

These pickups are very responsive to tone control and can sound uber-vintage with flat-wound strings.

Rumor has it that you can slap on some flats and sound a lot like a P-bass. However, the pickups are famous for a badass bottom end, which sadly comes at the cost of definition.

Don’t get these if you want growl or feisty tones to cut the mix. They have none of that top-end sparkle either.

Verdict

The SD Antiquity II set costs more than the average replacement jazz bass pickups. But they offer an enjoyable mix of thick lows and enveloping goodness.

The clarity and definition are reasonable, given that they are built for a muscular vintage tone with chewy goodness.

2. DiMarzio Model J Bass Pickup

BEST VALUE
DiMarzio Model J Bass Pickup 

The Dimarzio Model J bass pickup is designed to deliver the signature warmth and roundness of the famous Fender Jazz Bass sound.

Why We Love It:
  • Tight lows, relaxed mids, and polite highs
  • Quality at a throwaway price
View Price On Sweetwater

Dimarzio offers Model J, Area J, and Ultra J in its J-style pickup catalog.

I picked the traditional-sounding Model-J, famed for its tight lows, relaxed mids, and polite highs. The Area J is more fat and vintage-sounding, and the Ultra-J sounds modern (read: the Marcus Miller sound).

Key Features

  • Jazz Bass Pickup Set
  • 60’s J-bass sound with modern touches
  • Ceramic Magnets
  • Increased power & hum cancellation

Review

These single-coil split humbucker pickups have ceramic magnets. They use four-conductor wiring and have adjustable pole pieces, coated in some kind of shielding wax.

The split-coin bucks the hum, making these a dead quiet option for J-style bass guitars.

They may not look the part because of the adjustable pole pieces and a wee logo on the pickup cover.

Moreover, the Model J pickups are on the opposite side of the sound spectrum compared to the SQ Antiquity II. They have a huge tone, a ballsy growl, and massive punch.

Expect massive lows and high output. However, the highs need to be coaxed for more definition with EQ.

The overall character is full and warm but they are somewhat lacking in terms of clarity. An active preamp or a passive tone knob can give you the low cut you need for definition.

The pickups have a signature warmth and roundness and respond well to the tone controls. But the response differs based on your instrument’s tonewood and resonant character.

On the whole, they are worth a try because they score very high on the bang-for-buck scale.

Verdict

The DiMarzio Model J promises big and thick lows by the boatloads – at a throwaway price. The tone is undeniably huge, almost to the point of being ridiculous.

A pair costs under $100, making them an absolute steal if you want to experiment with a pair in a Fender Jazz Bass guitar.

3. Lindy Fralin J-Style Bass Pickup Set

PREMIUM OPTION
Lindy Fralin J-Style Bass Set BK

Fralin Jazz Bass Pickups are fat, loud, punchy, clear, and are an excellent choice for people who don’t want to venture too far away from the authentic Fender Jazz bass guitar sound.

Why We Love It:
  • Famed for definition and clarity
  • Tones are well-balanced
  • Vintage sound
View Price On Thomman

Lindy Fralin bass pickups are a big hit in the bass community, and for good reason. This jazz bass replacement pickup is famed for definition and clarity.

It’s an excellent choice for people who don’t want to venture too far away from the authentic Fender Jazz bass guitar sound.

Key Features

  • USA-made Jazz Bass Pickups
  • Hand-wound, high-output single coils
  • Alnico 5 magnets
  • Wax-potted and hum-free
  • For 4-string bass guitars

Review

The Fralin Jazz Bass Pickups are (hand) crafted with high-quality components and hand-wound using a proprietary ‘sectioning’ winding technique.

Each pickup sports USA-made magnets, a fiberboard, and hand-built bobbins. Plus, each pickup is waxed to prevent microphonics.

This pickup uses vintage specifications and features ALNICO V magnets and 42 gauge Heavy Formvar wire, wound to 8.4 K on the neck and 8.8 K on the bridge.

Used as a single or a set, they are an excellent choice if you want to replace the stock pickups in your Jazz bass.

Sound-wise, Lindy Fralin J-bass pickups are famed for their articulation. Think of them are the 60’s sound with modern oomph and high output.

The tones are bright, clear, and well-balanced. The lows are tight, the mid-range is warm, and there is top-end sparkle for days.

These p’ups are designed to break up late and allow dynamic playing to shine with increased presence. The manufacturer recommends 250K pots for the Fralins J-bass pickups.

A change of pots is not mandatory. But it’s a quick and inexpensive upgrade that will reflect in your tone.

Verdict

Consider the Lindy Fralins if you want an extra bite with your vintage sound. Their sublime grain makes them worth the extra price.

But these pickups recreate the ‘60s J-Bass sound. Opt for the -5% Underwind pickups if you want a ‘70s sound or mid-scooped tone for slap/funk playing.

4. Aguilar AG 4J HC Jazz Bass Pickups Set

Aguilar AG 4P/J-HC 4-String Pickup Set

No matter what style you play, you're in for a serious sonic upgrade when you equip your Jazz Bass-style pickups with these Aguilar AG 4J-HC hum-canceling pickups. 

Why We Love It:
  • Eliminates 60Hz hum
  • Clear tones and solid performance
  • Exceptionally clean sound
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

Looking to upgrade the stock pickups in your Jazz Bass? Aguilar has stellar bass guitar pickups for four and five-string bass guitars.

The 4J HC comes with the promise of clear tones and solid performance, as close as possible to the single-coil sound but without hum.

Key Features

  • Passive J-style Bass Pickups
  • Hum-cancelling split-coil design
  • Alnico Magnets
  • Neck & Bridge Set
  • For 4 and 5-string bass guitars

Review

Under the matte black casing, these J-bass pickups are fitted with Alnico V magnets, Teflon-coated leads, and 42 gauge Formvar wire.

Their split-coil design eliminates the 60Hz hum associated with single-coil pickups and leaves the lows and mids intact. All character, no hum.

I have used Aguilar HC pickups in a Fender American Standard J-bass. They are dead quiet and sound exceptionally clean.

These jazz bass pickups are super responsive to the tone control and touch. The set sounds warm, punchy, and clear – with no tone coloration whatsoever.

In fact, they are so clean that some bass players may find them sterile-sounding. Rest assured, the bass always sits well in a mix and the tone won’t break up easily.

Also, the pickups sound smooth and modern – not vintage. Aguilar has other options if you are after the ’60s and ’70s tone.

Verdict

The Aguilar AG 4J-HC hum-canceling pickups have lots of tones and character. They are warm, modern-sounding, and responsive.

Plus, they exhibit exceptional string-to-string balance. However, they are not as spanky and quick to growl, which can be a bother for some.

In the hum-canceling realm, these are one of the best jazz bass pickups out there.

5. Lollar 4S J-Bass Pickup Set

Lollar J-Bass 4S Set

If your bass playing includes slap, melodic lead lines, or chords, you’ll love this take on the original ‘60s J-Bass pickup.

Why We Love It:
  • JB sound with clever refinements
  • Fat but focused lows
  • Very responsive to tone control
View Price On Thomman

Lollar pickups are a big hit among guitar players but this pickup set is worth its weight in gold.

Again, this is a take on the ‘60s JB sound with clever refinements. Expect fat but focused lows and clear and warm highs. Better yet, listen to the sound samples to know what to expect.

Key Features

  • Vintage voiced Jazz Bass Pickups
  • 60’s Jazz bass tone with modern touches
  • Hand crafted with premium components
  • Boutique sounds for a price
  • For 4 and 5-string bass guitars

Review

The Lollar J-style bass pickups are crafted with premium components, resulting in exemplary build quality. They feature Alnico 5 magnets and raised pole pieces for extra bite.

Their string-to-string balance is very even, but the hairy grain is very different from the ‘60s sound.

As with Fralins, the Lollar set is its own take on vintage-spec J-style pickups. But the Lollars are slightly hotter.

That’s because the Lollar set has more winding for higher output levels. They both sound refined, with the Lollars being closer to the ’62 sound and more wallet-friendly.

Tone-wise, there are ample lows and highs with a tight bottom-end and top-end clarity for melodic lines.

The pickups are capable of clarity and balance for chords and double stops, wrapped in an enveloped roundness. They work equally well for fingerstyle, slap, and plucking.

The sounds are rife with overtones with detailed articulations. Lastly, these bass pickups are very responsive to tone control.

Crank the tone knob and brace for some serious bite. Conversely, roll it off for a more mellow, sweet easy tone. Plus, you have a 5-string version on offer.

Verdict

Lollar has an unrivaled reputation for crafting stellar bass guitar pickups.

These pickups sound smooth and well-rounded with a bit of hair. Consider a set of these J-style bass pickups for a more sophisticated and high-output version of the classic vintage sound.

6. Fender Custom ‘60s Jazz Bass Pickups

Fender Custom Shop '60s J Bass Pickup Set

Take the best-selling Fender bass pickups in the world, then overwind them for more punch, midrange, bass, and output, and you've got these '60s Jazz Bass tone monsters. 

Why We Love It:
  • Delivers the classic-era Jazz Bass tone
  • It sounds great in the bridge position
  • Defined mid-range punch
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

Fender Custom 60s are the stock pickups in many Custom Shop Fender basses. These overwound single-coils are designed for thump and output.

They are more present, musical, and punchy within the vintage realm. Fender enthusiasts may find them to be a worthwhile upgrade.

Key Features

  • Over-wound Jazz Bass pickup set
  • Classic-era sound with more bite
  • Alnico 5 flush-mount magnets
  • Period-correct components
  • For 4-string bass guitars

Review

The all-black Custom ’60 bass pickups are out to deliver the classic-era Jazz Bass tone but with more power and output.

These over-wound pickups are famed for being clear and hot, with a mid-range punch and fantastic balance across strings.

Feder has chosen a period-correct design with cloth output wire, fiber bobbins, flush-mount Alnico 5 magnets, and Formvar wire.

They are capable of bark and growl, with loads of clarity when you dig in. But they are still considered polite, moderate-output pickups.

The bridge pickup can provide a good amount of growl and honk when needed. The neck pickup is mellow and ripe for sweet, warm tones.

I reckon the pickup would sound great in the bridge position for fretless bass guitars, especially if you like a fuller sound.

The Fender CS60s are a fairly pricey upgrade if you are only looking to experiment.

Nevertheless, they have the character and tones that can bring an MIA, MIM, or Squier Affinity bass to life. Plus, they are easy to install and ship with all the necessary hardware for the job.

Verdict

In a word, the Fender Custom 60s J-bass pickups are fatter sounding with more low mids and less shimmer in the high-end.

Consider these if you want more clarity and punch compared to stock pickups.

7. EMG JVX Jazz Bass Pickup Set

 

Looking for an updated version of the classic Jazz Bass sound with active architecture?

This pickup set is available with black, white, red, and ivory caps. Loaded with ceramic magnets, they are bright and hot – ideal for bass players who want a modern, not-too-fat Jazz Bass sound.

Key Features

  • Active single-coil J-bass pickup set
  • Ceramic magnets
  • Offset, exposed pole pieces
  • Ships with a solderless install system
  • Only for 4-string bass guitars

Review

This bass guitar pickup set looks vintage because of the exposed (offset) pole pieces. But it has none of the noise issues associated with vintage passives.

The set uses exposed pole pieces and can be coupled with EMG’s X Series preamp. The pickups are dead quiet and super easy to install.

The bass pickups sound articulate and well-defined. It punches through the mix and is capable of all the bite and growl you desire.

The lows are tight, the mids are burpy (with a slight scoop), and the highs are crisp and zingy without sounding harsh.

Tonally speaking, the EMG JVX sounds like an extra crispy version of the original Fender J-Bass sound. They sound clean and clear with excellent string-to-string balance and volume.

The tonal character is aggressive and growl, and the growl remains constant throughout the sound spectrum.

That is probably why the JVX set is popular among slap bass players. However, the sound is neither tied to the traditional sound nor is it a one-trick pony for slap enthusiasts.

The pickups are versatile, incredibly usable, and sound great in dense mixes.

Verdict

Consider the hum-free EMG JVX J Bass Pickup Set if you want punchy, percussive tones with clear highs and mids.

The set ships with the mounting hardware and solder-less install system. The pickups have a wide range of tones and are very quiet.

FAQ’s

Do Fender Jazz basses have active pickups?

Fender offers a few Jazz bass guitars with active pickups and electronics in their present-day catalog.

The most popular of these is the Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass (4 and 5-string versions). The Flea Signature Jazz Bass also has active pickups.

Plus, you can swap the pickups on any Fender Jazz bass with aftermarket active pickups.

Are all Jazz pickups the same size?

Most jazz pickups have a fairly standard size for neck and bridge pickups. The width generally ranges between .72 to .74” and the length is 3.60” (neck) and 3.73” (bridge).

You may see more variations in screw width. That said, there are dozens of jazz pickups from different manufacturers, resulting in varying pickup sizes and combinations for Jazz bass pickups.

How do I make my Jazz bass sound like a precision?

To get your Jazz bass to sound like a precision, turn the neck pickup control knob to full and roll off the tone and bridge pickup controls halfway.

Roll off the treble and turn up the bass on your amp. Pluck notes between the neck pickup and fingerboard (close to the neck) for a precision-like sound.

Adjust the right hand and fine-tune the controls to taste, but don’t expect a Jazz bass to sound exactly like a precision bass.

Are Jazz Bass pickups single coil?

Most Jazz bases (Fender J-style bass guitars) use single-coil pickups – vintage-voiced, high output, or hum-canceling.

Two single-coil pickups are a part of the traditional Jazz bass design, regardless of the manufacturer.

However, there are a few exceptions where you might see a Jazz bass with a P-J set or humbucking pickups.

Are Jazz basses good for metal?

Jazz basses are a good choice for metal and rock. They cut through the mix and have plenty of growls, which is desirable for the genre.

You can also use active electronics or hot pickups for more output and punch. Ian Hill (Judas Priest), Martin Mendez (Opeth), and James Lomenzo (White Lion) are some examples of metal bass players who use Jazz Bass.

Ever thought about putting bass pickups on a guitar? Check out Using Bass Pickups On Guitar (3 Reasons To Not Do It)