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Thread: Trademarks or Patents on Pole Piece Placement?

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    Senior Member Chris Turner's Avatar
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    Trademarks or Patents on Pole Piece Placement?

    So, I was thinking... since the Double-cream color patent issue has come up before, could something like pole piece placement/layout be something that someone could trademark or patent?

    The somewhat obvious example is Nordstrand with their diagonally arranged pole pieces on some of their pickups. But could other arrangements be TMd? Seems silly to think they could be, but you never know.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Sure, you can patent it, if it's something that hasn't been done. Kevin Beller got patent 5148733 for the Duncan Trembucker poles. There's been others too, like Fender's patent (2968204) for dual magnets under the strings, or between the strings (as on a P or J pickup), the adjustable poles on the G&L pickup (4686881), and there was another one by a guy who's name I forget, where he had poles that were basically steel tubes, so it was a round pole piece with a hole in the middle.

    The DiMarzio thing is a trademark, and you can see it doesn't apply to double cream Cavin pickups with 22 poles, or Lawrence blade pickups. But that's not covering the poles, just the look (trade dress) of the pickup.

    Does Nordstrand have a trademark or patent on that pickup?
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    Senior Member Chris Turner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    Does Nordstrand have a trademark or patent on that pickup?
    No idea... they have several different pickups with the staggered pole pieces. I'd have to do a patent search.

  4. #4
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Turner View Post
    No idea... they have several different pickups with the staggered pole pieces. I'd have to do a patent search.
    I don't think they do. It's basically similar to a Fender pickup, with the poles skewed.
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    We could also just ask Carey Nordstrand

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    Senior Member Chris Turner's Avatar
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    Just found this, too: https://www.talkbass.com/threads/bar...esigns.1199775


    Seems as though it ended amicably enough, probably because there was no patent or trademark to defend.

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    Reading Bartolini's copy it seems like Bartolini are implying that Bill was playing around with this design back in the 1970s. I know that Mørch tried out the angled pole pieces and someone posted a photo of those here too .
    I'd say feel free to experiment with the design but if you bring it to market be prepared to cover it up or face the wrath of the TalkBass crazies. They are a lot like the Breitbart crazies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David King View Post
    Reading Bartolini's copy it seems like Bartolini are implying that Bill was playing around with this design back in the 1970s. I know that Mørch tried out the angled pole pieces and someone posted a photo of those here too .
    I'd say feel free to experiment with the design but if you bring it to market be prepared to cover it up or face the wrath of the TalkBass crazies. They are a lot like the Breitbart crazies.

    If you want to increase the length of string sampled by the pickup this is the way to do it without needing pole pieces with a special shape. So it decreases the level of the signal from the very highest string harmonics, which will make no difference at all if you play a very "bassy" bass, and something you probably do not want to do if you play a very lively bass.

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    Even though patents are applied to these pole piece layouts, I don't believe any of them make a great difference in how the string is read. If you subscribe to the work of Kirk T. McDonald http://www.physics.princeton.edu/~mc...les/guitar.pdf , most of the sound comes from the string moving towards and away from the pickup. For the pole piece to make a difference, it needs to somehow manage change the proportion of harmonic content, because if you don't change that, you end up with no tonal difference. For string movement towards and away from the pickup, the harmonic content is the same, regardless of whether the pole piece is round, square, diagonal, staple shaped, etc. But, according to Kirk T. McDonald, the side to side string movement also generates a voltage, though only of the second harmonic and higher, and this type of movement would differ based on the pole piece shape, but according to McDonald, this portion of the string movement only accounts for a small amount of the generated voltage. The staple pole piece in particular would make for an interesting symmetry, but from what I'd reading in that PDF, it seems that it would be nearly impossible to hear it's contribution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kolbeck View Post
    Even though patents are applied to these pole piece layouts, I don't believe any of them make a great difference in how the string is read. If you subscribe to the work of Kirk T. McDonald http://www.physics.princeton.edu/~mc...les/guitar.pdf , most of the sound comes from the string moving towards and away from the pickup. For the pole piece to make a difference, it needs to somehow manage change the proportion of harmonic content, because if you don't change that, you end up with no tonal difference. For string movement towards and away from the pickup, the harmonic content is the same, regardless of whether the pole piece is round, square, diagonal, staple shaped, etc. But, according to Kirk T. McDonald, the side to side string movement also generates a voltage, though only of the second harmonic and higher, and this type of movement would differ based on the pole piece shape, but according to McDonald, this portion of the string movement only accounts for a small amount of the generated voltage. The staple pole piece in particular would make for an interesting symmetry, but from what I'd reading in that PDF, it seems that it would be nearly impossible to hear it's contribution.
    But remember that the second harmonic is a doubling of the fundamental, and so on. Presumably there is some intermod as well, but I do not think that that has been analyzed. You are right that it is a small effect, but because it does involve a nonlinearity it might be audible in some cases. Increasing the width of the pole piece in the dimension across the string would tend to decrease the effect somewhat. The extreme case of this is a blade pickup.

  11. #11
    rjb
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    From the peanut gallery

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Sulzer View Post
    From the Increasing the width of the pole piece in the dimension across the string would tend to decrease the effect somewhat. The extreme case of this is a blade pickup.
    Ray Butts knew this in 1957.
    (See two paragraphs starting at line 12 of column 4.)
    https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=p.../US2892371.pdf


    -rb

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    Senior Member Chris Turner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David King View Post
    Reading Bartolini's copy it seems like Bartolini are implying that Bill was playing around with this design back in the 1970s. I know that Mørch tried out the angled pole pieces and someone posted a photo of those here too .
    I'd say feel free to experiment with the design but if you bring it to market be prepared to cover it up or face the wrath of the TalkBass crazies. They are a lot like the Breitbart crazies.

    Honestly, if I were to take any pickups to market as a company, I'd shy away from the staggered arrangement, patent or not. Just too much association with Nordstand in the looks category... which is a bit weird, perhaps, given that the hundreds of Jazz bass and P bass pickup makers out there never get a second thought when using the vertical dual pole piece arrangement.

    I was wondering more for my own case, where I'll be selling a set of pickups to a single person to go in their custom bass. After some more experimenting, I'm leaning toward utilizing different pole pieces.

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    Senior Member Chris Turner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Turner View Post
    Just found this, too: https://www.talkbass.com/threads/bar...esigns.1199775


    Seems as though it ended amicably enough, probably because there was no patent or trademark to defend.

    Turns out there was a licensing agreement worked out between the two. That makes sense to me.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    In my bass experimenting, I always liked 1 larger pole, instead of 2.
    Either 5/16", or 3/8" rod magnets.
    Half as many rods to fool with, and works great.
    YMMV,
    T
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    Senior Member Chris Turner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    In my bass experimenting, I always liked 1 larger pole, instead of 2.
    Either 5/16", or 3/8" rod magnets.
    Half as many rods to fool with, and works great.
    YMMV,
    T

    In my case, given the bobbins I'm using, 1/4" rods are what I have to use if I'm going with just alnico rods. There's not really two rods per string, per se... rather, one rod per coil per string, and two rows of coils. But I was playing with the idea of having each coil slightly above or below string center, depending on the row the coil was in. The issue I was trying to solve was that in cases of extreme string bending, particularly if the pickup is placed near the neck, the string moves far enough out of the strongest part of the magnetic field that there's a noticeable volume drop (same thing happens in the neck pickup that Ovation used in their Magnum series).

    I think I'm going to use a different magnet/pole piece solution to solve this.

    I'm with you on the single pole piece thing, though. I like the stronger attack that having a single, centered pole piece gives you.

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    Lace

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    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by jvin248 View Post
    Reverend Rail-hammer
    Lace
    Roy Butts, 1957.
    See post 11.
    Last edited by rjb; 03-14-2017 at 07:29 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Sulzer View Post
    But remember that the second harmonic is a doubling of the fundamental, and so on. Presumably there is some intermod as well, but I do not think that that has been analyzed. You are right that it is a small effect, but because it does involve a nonlinearity it might be audible in some cases. Increasing the width of the pole piece in the dimension across the string would tend to decrease the effect somewhat. The extreme case of this is a blade pickup.
    It seems that, in addition to the effect being small, the only way to really change the effect is to have a pole piece that is wider or narrower. A very thin pole piece would maximize the effect, but that would make string bending problematic. It might be OK for a bass guitar, where string bending isn't a thing. A very wide pole piece, like those of a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound, or an Ernie Ball Bass, would just be a bit more like a rail type, further suppressing those already negligible 2nd harmonics.

    There might also be some interesting effects with split pole pieces, such as with a Fender Jazz Bass pickup or staple pole pieces, but I think the effect would just become all that much smaller than what you get with a discrete pole piece. The patented pickup mentioned about appeared to have two poles like a Fender Jazz Bass, but they were merely offset. From what I read in the McDonald PDF, it doesn't seem like the slight offset would make much difference by itself.

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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    In my experimenting, I always liked 1 larger pole, instead of 2
    That's what SHE said...
    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
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    I suspect the real sonic difference comes from the coil being effectively further away from the poles, i.e. an air gap that will dull down the tone significantly. Basically the opposite of a Wal's single tight bobbin per string.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David King View Post
    Reading Bartolini's copy it seems like Bartolini are implying that Bill was playing around with this design back in the 1970s. I know that Mørch tried out the angled pole pieces and someone posted a photo of those here too .
    I'd say feel free to experiment with the design but if you bring it to market be prepared to cover it up or face the wrath of the TalkBass crazies. They are a lot like the Breitbart crazies.
    Bill had those parallelogram shaped, flat topped pole pieces. I don't think he ever did anything like this, because he didn't use round pole pieces. That was part of his patents.

    bart2.png

    But Bill doesn't own the company anymore, so I suppose the new owner decided to do this. It's clearly copying Nordstrand. But I'd also imagine they are much better pickups. And Nordstrand copies other pickup makers too...

    And yeah, lots of people at TB have mental issues.. lol
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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    In my bass experimenting, I always liked 1 larger pole, instead of 2.
    I guess Leo didn't agree, but he later went on to use one big pole on the Musicman pickups. Do you understand why he did that? It softens the attack which helped with the early bass amps at the time.

    I dislike the MM pickups... I prefer blades over poles every time.
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    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    Do you understand why he did that?
    Because Fender's electric mandolins didn't meet sales expectations, and he had a bunch of short 4-pole pickups?

  24. #24
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    Because Fender's electric mandolins didn't meet sales expectations, and he had a bunch of short 4-pole pickups?
    He patented a pickup design (2968204) with the poles between the strings. He shows a guitar pickup in the patent, but he went on to use it on the split coil P bass and Jazz bass pickups.

    In his patent he claims that normal pickups have a "strong, and relatively harsh, twang or percussive sound followed by a very rapid decay..." He also talks about the warbling you get with string rod magnets under the strings.

    I'd guess it also helped to prevent distortion from the bassman amp on the attacks.

    screen-shot-2017-03-23-1.39.45-pm.png
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