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.
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.
Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Jazz Bass Pickups (Our Pick)
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).
Jazz Bass Pickup Set
60’s J-bass sound with modern touches
Increased power & hum cancellation
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.
The set ships with the mounting hardware and solder-less install system. The pickups have a wide range of tones and are very quiet.
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.