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Okay - here's a simple one to show my ign'ance.  I have a bass (ESP Ltd B-50) which has two pickups.  One (neck position) is the P-bass style with two parts.  The other is the J-Bass style in the bridge.  The P-Bass one is a humbucker of some type, and therefore noiseless.  The J-Bass one, however, is noisy as hell!!!  Even when totally clean.  I like the tone of it, though, it's just unusable for recording (which is all I really do with my bass).  Are they all like this?  And what about those J-Basses with two pickups - are they like teles where people often use both in parallel or series to cut the noise?


Don't know about your ESP,  it's PUs or wiring, but the Jbass style pickup shouldn't be real noisy, there's some problem there that needs troubleshooting...

"And what about those J-Basses with two pickups - are they like teles where people often use both in parallel or series to cut the noise?"

Any Jazz Bass with std. Fender wiring always has BOTH pickups active; there is no selector switch, rather separate volume pots.
you are most likely experiencing the typical EMI noise from a standard single-coil J-bass pickup. by it's nature, a P-bass pickup is noice cancelling because it has two RWRP coils. to eliminate the noise you can do several things

- add cavity shielding to all of your pickup and control cavities. copper foil and special shielding paing work equally well for this. be sure to connect all of your pickup cavities and the control cavity to a common ground location for even better results

- replace the bridge single-coil pickup with a humcancelling model (stacked or split)  I really, really, really, really (did I say really?) like the Nordstrand NJ4SE pickups for this application. you get the best of a modern growl with vintage sizzle ... but these aren't inexpensive. if this was my bass I'd replace both pickups with a Nordstrand NP4JSE P/J set

- repair any bad grounding issues your bass currently has

the optimum resolution would be to do all of these - but remember that bassists lived with some EMI noise for years until other pickup types were invented.

all the best,

yes - P-bass pickups, by their design, are humcancelling. this is why P-basses with just their on split-coil pickup set are notably hum-free

all the best,

a typical Jazz bass has two single-coil pickups that in and of themselves are not hum cancelling. these pickups are reverse wound and have reverse polarity from each other (commonly referred to as RWRP or RPRW) - and the beauty is that when both pickups are at an equal volume level they become humcancelling just like a standard P-bass pickup. when you have one pickup with more or less volume, the degree that you hear the EMI is equal to the amount of difference between volumes (less volume difference = quieter, more volume difference = noisier)

contrary to what most guitarists believe, we bassists do not normally play with both pickups at the same volume because more bassists appreciate the subtlety of blending the pickups with differing amounts ... for some songs we favor the neck pickup, and for others we favor the bridge (for example, Jaco and Marcus usually favor the bridge for their solos)

it is also becoming increasingly popular to see a Jazz basses (even authentic Fender Jazz basses!) wired with Volume + Blend + Passive tone

note that if your bridge is grounded, you will not hear hum when playing just a single pickup if your fingers are touching your strings. so if a single-coil pickup's EMI is gastly to you you can either keep your fingers on the strings (like most bassists do, even when playing an open string ... you need to damp off the other strings from ringing)

all the best,

This is a newer version of my bass:

The pots are scratchy on mine now, and I plan on replacing them soon.  My question is, should I replace the pickups as well?  The J-bass pickup has a lot of hum so I never use it.  The P-bass sounds okay, but should I replace them both?  Maybe with some GFS ones?

How crappy are the pickups on a bass this cheap?
yes and no, get sd quarter pounders, or noiseless, or stacked, or any thing for that matter.