A Review about changing to Nordstrand pickups from Squier stock pickups for Jazz Bass: a comparison video is included.
Pickups. Sometimes we see them as the holy grail of every electric guitar.
I think that most electric bass or guitar players had, at least once, this thought:
What would happen if I replace the pickups in my guitar?
The common belief is that affordable guitars come with lesser quality pickups.
This may be true — obviously, most of the times you pay for what you get.
BUT, we tend to forget that many factors influence the sound of a guitar:
The type of wood, the quality of that specific piece of wood, electronics, and other hardware such as bridge, nut and tuning keys, and even the paint of the body.
So, just replacing the pickups might not give you a noticeable result, meaning a change in sound that is utterly different.
But sometimes, replacing the pickups might be the right solution.
For example, if you’ve found a guitar that is very comfortable for you to play, but there is something specific that you need to change in the sound.
Just like guitarists need to get more power from their single bridge pickup, and change it to a humbucker.
Or when you need a noise-cancellation pickup or going from passive to active.
There could be many other situations that are suitable for replacing pickups. You just need to remember what your initial needs are and have realistic expectations about the result.
Changing to Nordstrand Pickups
I wanted to replace my Squier Affinity Jazz Bass pickups.
The bass was given to me by a friend who quit playing bass, so I thought that it wouldn’t be a big deal for me to invest in this guitar.
I needed that bass because I wanted to have a “stand-in” bass, a one that I can take to not-so-important gigs instead of taking my Fender P-Bass or my MusicMan StingRay.
The Squier was very comfortable and sounded decent, but two major problems bothered me.
The first was slapping, and the other was the very noticeable mid-range.
With the mid-range problem, I could somehow live with, but the slapping problem was bugging me.
Every time I slapped the lower string, It sounded like the bass is choking,
Like it couldn’t handle it.
I tried to lower the pickups a little bit, but that didn’t help.
I listened to all kinds of Jazz Bass pickups comparisons on YouTube and decided to go with Nordstrand Pickups – The NJ4SV Jazz Bass Hum Cancelling Pickups.
I knew that this could be an interesting case study – taking stock pickups from an affordable/beginner bass and comparing them to high-end pickups.
That’s why I recorded and filmed the whole process – so I would be able to compare the sounds and share that with you.
So am I happy with the results? Yes, I am.
As you can hear, there is no significant difference in the overall sound. There is no change in the volume levels as well.
However, the Nordstrand pickups have more definition (especially with the low E string), depth, punch, and definitely more high-end frequencies.
And most importantly, for me, the slapping problem is solved.
There are no jumps in level while I slap, and the clarity of the sound remains.
You wouldn’t necessarily feel or hear the adding of definition and punch to the sound without comparing it to the stock pickups. But on a large stage, with a big amp or a big monitor, you would be happy to hear yourself.
For me, the high-end frequencies are a nice and important supplement that I didn’t expect.
This gives me a whole new range to explore (It feels like your tone knob can go to 11… but for real) and you can easily turn the knob back to get the darker tone of the stock pickups.
Don’t expect a big change.
It’s the little things that count.
For me, as a professional bass player,
the definition in tone and punch are essential, and I feel better when I take this bass to gigs.
If you look for a major change in sound and volume,
Maybe you should go for active pickups like the EMG JVX Bass Pickup Set.
If you’re playing involves with strong dynamics like slapping or heavy metal picking, you might want to upgrade the stock pickups, when it comes to the Squier Affinity Jazz Bass.
But if that’s not your style, the Squier pickups are perfectly fine.
So who should buy these pickups:
- Anyone keen about tone and clarity. These would be noticeable mainly on stage and not so much at the studio.
- If you like your affordable bass, but you think you can get more out of it.
- If your pickups have a problem that interferes with your style of playing.
Buy The Squier Affinity Jazz Bass – https://amzn.to/2NqmQ63
Buy The Nordstrand Jazz Bass NJ4SV Pickups – https://amzn.to/2xjrZlt
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