The 1962 Fender Jazz Control
The Fender Jazz Bass is one of the three most iconic bass types known in the musical world (with the other two being the mighty Precision Bass, and the Music Man Stingray). With that, there are a number of truly excellent replacement pickups to install in order to get your desired sound (with many of them found right here). But there’s one other tonal option Jazz Bass aficionados can do to get more control from their bass; install the original stacked vol/tone controls from 1960-1962.
Originally released in 1960 as the “Deluxe Model,” it was renamed the Jazz Bass as Fender felt that the narrow, more rounded neck would appeal to jazz musicians. With two single coil pickups, the original control plate had stacked volume/tone control knobs, one for each pickup. In 1961, the current control setup of volume-volume-tone was introduced, and in 1962 the stacked volume-tone configuration was taken out of production. So why try out this option, when it only lasted in production for about two years?
I was curious myself, and after having some “discretionary income” come in, decided to buy all the parts to wire up one and drop it into my Jazz Bass (one of the many things I love about the Jazz is the ability to easily swap out parts. But I digress). With $80 in parts and a PDF of the wiring diagram, I quickly soldered it together, and dropped it into the Jazz. I also figured that since I was going “old school” with this, what better pickups to drop in than the Antiquity for Jazz Bass set. What I heard made me a fan.
Unlike the current control configuration where the tone control is the master for both pickups, the stacked volume-tone setup allows you more tonal variety for each individual pickup. You can fine tune each pickups’ individual sound before blending them together. I found that I would tend to make the bridge pickup brighter than normal, which provided more focus to the darkness of the neck pickup. That characteristic of the Fender Jazz Bass is there, but just with some more tonal options under the hood.
The stacked volume/tone knob configuration from the Fender Jazz Bass from 1960-1962 is a great alternative to the the volume-volume-tone setup that we are all used to. The separate tone knobs help to affect the sound of each individual pickup, allowing you to fine tune your sound well before playing with the volume knobs to blend them together. For those that have the time to wire it up (click on the image to the left for a larger image), they’re in for a treat.