Saturday, April 1, 2023

Upgrading Squire Jazz Bass Pickups

The HUM of single coil pickups has always driven me crazy. On a Jazz Bass, turning up both pickups does cancel out the hum, and that has been the way I always recorded my bass parts. This is a Squire Affinity J Bass and I must say the finish of the neck and frets or "sound" of the pickups were never a problem to me.  Only the hum when using gain, like I always do. 

But using both pickups on 100% also meant I never got the NECK only or BRIDGE only sound on its own.  With my Strat or RG, I almost exclusively use the bridge pickup. I completely understood why EVH's Frankenstrat only had a bridge pickup. 

To remedy this, I ordered WILDE J-45N and J-45L humbucking pickups from the Wilde website.  They have reasonable postage rate to Japan. May have been $12, which is good.  

Started by removing the old strings. Loosened them, then cut them with heavy gauge side cutters. 

 I noted the pickup height of the original pickups before unscrewing them. 

I took photos of how it was all connected and made some diagrams of what I wanted to change it to.

I used solder wick in removing the old connections. The original pickup Black (-ve) where all soldered to one of the the potentiometer backs. And each had only a black and white wire.  Takes a lot of heat to solder to that much potentiometer metal. A 100W soldering iron would be more appropriate to do that.  Wilde calls one the LEAD (L) pickup, the other Neck (N) .

I have a 60W soldering iron and the gear required. Used solder wick to remove the old connections. The new pickup BLACK (-ve) and BLUE (shield) where soldered to the bare ground wire connecting all the pot bodies together, instead of to the potentiometer back.  Much less heat required, so more likely to not get a dry joint. Used plenty of liquid flux as well as the flux cored solder to make good joints.

Used the original screws and springs from the old pickups in putting in the new pickups. I did like that you didn't have to remove the pick guard, as you do in a Strat, to change the pickups.

Replaced the strings with ERNIE BALL HYBRID SLINKY BASS.  No idea why, but they are almost half the price of the other brands. Is it just because they don't have the thread covering each end (the silk) of the string? Not being a "real" Bass player, they seem fine to me.
I then setup pickup height and intonation.

And now I can use the bridge or neck pick up individually, or in any combination without hum. 

Project a success.

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