Jazzmaster Pickups: Everything You Need to Know

Posted on October 31 2022

Jazzmaster guitars were first associated with surfer music–think The Ventures, Roy Orbison, Pops Staples, and the Beach Boys. Fender originally wanted to make a proper-sounding guitar to push Jazz musicians toward a new sound. The next push was toward Rock musicians when Jazz musicians didn't bite right away. Fortunately, the guitar found itself a home with the surf music vibe. You may call to mind Beach Boys, "the Cali-forn-i-a", and the flawless harmonic, melodic highs and lows backed by some of the brightest sounding guitars which marked the 60s-era Surf Music. Jazzmaster pickups have remastered the iconic bright and clear sound, adding a rich fluidity to more than just Surf Music. 

What is a Jazzmaster? 

The Jazzmaster was a Fender guitar built for dynamic range and stellar purposes in the late 1950s. The latter creation of the Jazzmaster was an honest shot at reviving Jazz and then Rock music. Jimmi Hendrix did finally take the bait and played the Jazzmaster in 1966. It was supposed to be the Benz of guitars in the 50s, but it didn't gather the fanfare Fender hoped for and desired. Jazz players weren't interested in the new guitar style despite its creative flare. Today, its distinctive, eye-catching design is why guitarists choose it. It is, however, a comfortable guitar to hold. The legendary Jazzmaster sound is one of the purest and tonally clean that you'll hear out of the box without a complete set-up. 

What is a Jazzmaster Pickup? 

A Jazzmaster pickup is a single coil pickup modification used to help guitarists achieve the clean, straightforward bell-chime of the 50's era Jazzmaster guitars. The clarity and cleanliness in Jazzmaster's renowned premium sound are what the Jazzmaster pickups strive to reproduce. Let's dig into the sound a little more.

Jazzmaster Sound 

The two circuits on the Jazzmaster are the rhythm circuit and the lead circuit. That rhythm circuit provides a warmer sound causing it to sound a bit muffled while the lead is tinny or chimney for a bit of a twang. These tonal differences give the pickups brightness and thinness. The thinner spaced-out coils help produce warmer tones. The Jazzmaster guitar itself provides tonal variety that the pickups seek to carry on. The pickups expand your playing power, usually making them a guitarist's choice for variability. 

Additionally, because of their brightness, you may want to leave out the treble bleed if this is a problem for you. Some of the increased brightness is because of the build of the bridge. The fatness of the tone drops off with the design, contributing to the treble being overwhelming. Continually, musicians describe these pickups as articulate and unmuddied, with less low-end and noise-cancelling abilities. The hum is cancelled with the neck and bridge pickups because they are reverse wounds. Without both mods, there is an increased 60-cycle hum.

Furthermore, their low output can cause you to lose volume if you push your amp too hard with these pickups–they are still hot and will retain clarity. Now, should you bother with modifying your stock pickups for the Jazzmasters? It depends on what you're drooling after. We know musicians can be Bloodhounds about tones.

Are Jazzmaster Pickups for You?

Are you chasing the cleanest pure sound? Jazzmaster pickups are for you. It requires very few extras; when you decide to use a compressor and turn down the gain, your sound will be much more elevated. If you coast off blissful warm tones like an ASAT in the neck position, the brights of the Jazzmaster pickups may not do it for you. Additionally, these pickups may not be for you if you need a lot of punch in your tonal range. These won't work if you're looking for that brown sound or a creamy purr. One of our all-time favourites is the 59'. The 59' Jazzmaster Pickup gets its sound profile from the 1959 Jazzmasters–the golden era. 

Whom You Become With Jazzmaster Pickups

Subtle scoops, spacious, depth in the neck pickup, and breezy light tones add to the harmony and clarity. Perfect twang playing the middle position stabilizes into a warmth of the original Jazzmaster. When you play your guitar with these pickups for the first time, you'll notice you sound like you're in a one-man band. Every string takes on a separate personality, and its tonal differences are clear and profound. There's a cosiness to playing with the Jazzmaster style rarely duplicated. 

You might feel like you're wading in the ocean on a calm, warm water day or sitting at the corner table of a dimly lit smoked-out pub watching the guitarists strum effortlessly. Only the guitarist is you. With straight amp play, you will have no other joy than the minimalist yet dynamic palate of tones delivered by the 59'. We promise you won't be limited to any music genre, despite the Jazzmasters target musicians initially being from the Jazz, Rock, and Blues eras. 

Affordable 59s

Jazzmaster pickups are an affordable mod for an authentic sound. If your sound isn't quite achieved at first, try, try, try again. We suggest getting your hands dirty with 250k pots. We partially pot (potentiometer) the 59s to maintain the clarity we mentioned. It also keeps the strings responsive and eliminates any squealing. 

Thick 54s

A more dense sound gets delivered with the Jazzmaster 54 P90. If you feel limited now, the P90 is like the open road. As we mentioned earlier, the Jazzmaster stock needed very little mod. With the 54 P90, you'll get the same traditional range and a vintage buffet of tones as in the 1954 Gibson Les Paul. Tones are fat without the blare, and it still maintains a toothiness when you play harder. Our P90 pickups aren't waxed, which won't remove clarity or responsiveness. We recreated more of our favourite Jazzmaster pickups available in full sets. Each pickup is hand modelled and fashioned after the iconic Jazzmaster sound. 

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