No, the pickup placement is not abnormal for a Jazz bass; they're where they always are.
I have not had time to spend practicing either my guitar or learning Ableton in the last six weeks that I had thought I'd have over Xmas. I need to crank out some product for Mrs. Piob to hear before I buy a bass or I'll get an eyebrow raise. I'm hoping to bring in the guitar and amp for around $600-750. It seems Peavy is the way to go for a decent and listenable bass amp.