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What electronics would you want on a Handmade instrument

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  • What electronics would you want on a Handmade instrument

    I'm a luthier in the Portland, Oregon area. I've started building electric hollow bodies after building acoustics for years. I'm new to pickups and I'd like some help about what pickups I should install. I'm buying my pickups off of stewmac. They are golden age brand. Check out my website to get a better sense of the guitars. Portland Guitar Acoustic Electric Hollow Body.

  • #2
    I'm guessing you could do a lot better on pricing on the pickups if you had someone local make them. I'm sure they could taylor the sound a bit too. Stewmac does have some good tools and such, but other things i think they are over priced.

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    • #3
      Since you design your total guitars, here is an idea that you could easily implement if you do a quick experiment and like the results. Make sure that each string is not shorted to other strings on both ends of the strings as this will impact this experiment.

      1. Obtain some 1 to 2 inch long magnets by about .125 to .25 inch thick.
      2. Orient one or more magnets so that the North or South pole is upward facing the string under test.
      3. Attach an alligator clip wire behind the nut and behind the bridge on the same string.
      4. Tape the magnet or magnets along the test string about .25 inch or less without affecting the string vibrations.
      5. Pluck the test string and note the output voltage in millivolts (mv) on an oscilloscope. It should be in the range or 2 to 3 mv (using the alligator clips to attach to the oscilloscope).

      Since the voltage is not useful but the string impedance is low, this is the perfect case for using a transformer to boost this 2 to 3 mv about 25 to 35 times to something near what a single coil pickup would put out. This transformer would need about a 1 to 25 or 35 turns ratio. More importantly the input of the transformer should be near 10 times higher impedance that the total string loop impedance to minimize input loading losses. An 8 ohm primary would be good to put across the string and any transformer with a secondary of near 8K Ohms to 10K Ohms would give a turns ratio of this calculation. Divide the low side into the high side and take the square root of that number to get the approximate turns ratio..

      To build this into a guitar requires some creative designs that typical guitars do not have since they use the traditional fine wire wound coil that has been in existence since the pre WW2 time period and then until after WW2 when magnets became available for consumer use. Use the truss rod as a good low resistance common ground return so that the nut end of all the strings is brought back into the body of the guitar with a thick wire extending to under the bridge area. Now for the most creative part: a separate transformer for each string that connects to the bridge end of an individual string and the common ground return. Now the output of that string and all other strings attached the same way will be boosted by the approximate turns ratio to drive the next circuit. You can attach all six transformer outputs in series to have one common signal or you can build a small low noise 6 channel mixer with small volume controls to adjust each string output individually.before sending the combined signal through the on guitar body volume and tone controls.

      See this link for more details:https://music-electronics-forum.com/...ically-curious

      I hope this helps.

      Joseph J. Rogowski
      Last edited by bbsailor; 06-21-2020, 07:53 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by mozz View Post
        I'm guessing you could do a lot better on pricing on the pickups if you had someone local make them. I'm sure they could taylor the sound a bit too. Stewmac does have some good tools and such, but other things i think they are over priced.
        I would agree with this, especially since you are doing "boutique" builds you should have something other than cookie cutter electronics. Probably want to offer a buyer the choice to choose their own electronics. I don't know any local pickup winders, but I am sure there are some around here.

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        • #5
          IMO you should do some surveys at Ultimate Guitar and Gearslutz, in the appropriate forums of course. FWIW, I've had good results with Golden Age pickups, but the ones I used were very "in your face." One client wanted the guts of his Ibanez removed and replaced with a single GA at the bridge. That guitar became a real flamethrower -- by default raunchy and somewhat mid-focused. Cleans were really not part of its résumé. I also have two GA Precision Bass pickups I used for a while in my own instruments. Dead ringers for 1970s-era Precisions: again, in-your-face and mid-focused, cf early Elvis Costello bass guitar work, though you could get around that with thoughtful EQ. (I owned several 1970s Precisions back in the day, bought brand new, so I know what they sound like.) Construction quality on all three pickups was high. Also check out builders like Klein and Lollar, both of whom are at or near the top of the hill when it comes to tone and build quality.

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