I was busy and kept putting it off, but I finally was able to finish replacing the pickup, so I would like to write about it here. I moved at a snail’s pace replacing the pickup so it took me about an hour and a half. It was easy work that anyone could do, so please check out my work.
The bass I replaced pickups to is my 2011 Fender USA Jazz Bass, which I play often. I like its koa body. The original pickups are the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless (SCN). As the name suggests, the SCN is noise-free and I liked it a lot, but I decided to replace it to change the mood.
My workbench was as usual, a sofa. The photo above is a bridge pickup, but this time, I replaced the neck pickup only.
Here is the pickup I installed this time!
FThis is a famous Fralin pickup for the Fender Jazz Bass. It’s a vintage model that has the 1960’s Fender specifications.
However, this pickup had a glossy pickup cover that didn’t match the bass I installed it on... So, I decided to buy another pickup cover case in a rough matte finish. Since I didn’t bother measuring between the pole pieces, I chose the closed type with no holes. I bought a cover for bridge pickup as well.
I first checked to see if the pickups fit into the covers. Although it seemed to be slightly tight, the Jazz Bass pickup sizes don’t vary much, so both the Fralin and original Fender pickups fit.
Then, make sure that the sound is produced properly before you move on. I don’t have a tester, so I took a hot wire and placed it on the output jack and made sure it worked. If there’s no problem, you can start installing the pickup! First, I removed the control cavity cover on the back. I play this bass a lot so it looks messy.
The lugs are neatly screwed for grounding.
I temporarily removed the knob and pot to make soldering easier. These are my favorite metal knobs with slotted screws.
I definitely recommend an MN taper single shaft pot because it pumps the neck and bridge pickups up to full volume even in the center position.
I used a solder sucker when removing the pot! I really like this part of the guitar repair process. My soldering iron is a cheap one that I bought somewhere for about 1,000 yen. I've been using it for about 5 years, but it still works fine. I regret that I didn’t buy one with an On/Off switch since it’s a little inconvenient without one.
I removed the yellow hot wire in the middle terminal and the cold wire attached to the lug. It was difficult to take pictures while working on this, so I apologize for having only a few pictures.
The Fralin Jazz Bass pickup has cloth wires, which have a vintage taste! I stripped off the cloth insulation to bare the core wire. An easier way for me to strip a cloth wire is by using nippers only in the beginning and then cutting the insulation with scissors. I suck at this.
After that, I pre-soldered the core wire, pot terminal, and lug, and attached the hot and ground wires respectively. I used the Kester 44 solder wire. The white wire of the Fralin pickup is for the hot wire, & black for the grounding wire. I tried to be careful not to melt the insulation of the other wires...
Soldered it. Then, I plugged the bass in and tapped on the pole pieces to check if the output worked. Also, I turned the knob to check if it properly worked.
When putting the pot back in, adjust the nut and the side screw of the knob to adjust the rotation to your liking. If you don’t do this carefully, the knobs will come loose.
Put the cavity cover back on and it’s done! I also did maintenance on the body, the rosewood fingerboard, and other parts of the bass. I usually wipe the metal parts with a dry cloth, random polish for the body, and lemon oil for the fretboard, but this time I used some Yuzu Oil that I got as a gift and I like it a lot for the fingerboard. (On the right: Sago / Yuzu Oil, on the left: KEN SMITH / CLASSIC WAX POLISH)
The Yuzu Oil from the Sago guitar workshop worked beautifully, and it has been very useful and perfect for keeping the fretboard moist. It’s also easy to apply.
This time, I chose the Fender 8250M strings. I used the Fender strings for the first time, and I discovered that they had colored ball ends.
The maintenance is now complete! I just had the frets replaced a while ago so it looks so nice and shiny. I’m surprised at how much changing the pickup covers to the closed type transformed the whole look of the bass. I was afraid that the closed pickup covers would affect the tone, but as far as I can tell I don’t really hear any difference. The next time I’m bored I will measure the pole piece pitch precisely and change the covers with holes.
I lost a gold screw for the neck pickup. I think it’s somewhere around there. I still have to find it.
As for the tone of the pickup, I think it is very natural. It's a sophisticated and clean sound that should pair great with any preamp, pedal, or amp. Since it is brand new, the outline of the sound is clear and it has strong output. I’m happy to have the Lindy Fralin pickup that I always wanted on my bass. I will use this for now.