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Acoustic Control Corporation Black Widow Bass Pickup

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  • Acoustic Control Corporation Black Widow Bass Pickup

    Thought everyone would like to see this. I got a Black Widow bass pickup in that the owner wants rebuilt. One of the pole screws had broken off when he tried to adjust it. He super glued it back on, but the pickup had very uneven response across strings. So after discussing the options, we decided that I would build a new pickup in the chrome surround of the original, and make it look the part.

    When I got the pickup in the mail I was shocked to see it was filled with Bondo! Someone had also epoxied the 4 conductor cable to the case. I don't know if the cable or the bondo are original. I find it hard to believe the pickup had a 4 conductor cable from back then, but this is the first one I've seen in person, or at least out of the bass.

    For those unfamiliar, the Black Widow was designed by Paul Barth (from Rickenbacker). Barth's company Bartell made the first few Widows. Semi Moseley of Mosrite fame said he built the last 200. Barth also had some built by Hohner. Only about 1,000 guitars were made. I don't know how many of these were basses.

    Here is it as I received it. That small piece of silver plastic and the newspaper are from inside the pickup.



    The back. I saw a small ridge and pried it off with a screw driver, and it was that small silver piece of plastic. Inside the pickup was packed with newspaper.

    There is a bare wire wrapped around the poles that connects to the bare drain wire from the 4 conductor cable.



    Closeup of the inside showing the newspaper, and bobbin-less coils.



    Taking a reading of one of the coils:



    The other one read 9.81k.

    I removed the poles, and then worked at chipping the bondo away enough to pry the pickup out of the surround.



    Top view. You can see the thin black plastic facade in the background. Unfortunately it cracked, so I will probably end up making a new one.



    Note how one coil is under the other.

    Side view. You can see the ceramic magnet under the coils.



    I was hoping to find a date on some of the newspaper, but none of it is big enough to read more than a few words, and none of it has a date.

    So the plan is to build a similar pickup with adjustable poles. But I'm going to use two threaded keeper bars, and mini hum bobbins. Hopefully the keepers will make the tone more even across the pickup. If not, I will try adding some hidden poles between the poles.

    Stay tuned!
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein


    http://coneyislandguitars.com
    www.soundcloud.com/davidravenmoon

  • #2
    So how much Mojo did the newspaper impart to the "tone"?

    Comment


    • #3
      Wow, newspaper and bondo. And I thought I was using hi-tech materials...
      making 63 and 66 T-bird pickups at ThunderBucker Ranch

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jazz P Bass View Post
        So how much Mojo did the newspaper impart to the "tone"?
        Depends on which section of the paper it was taken from!

        I'm hoping it was Arts and Leisure, and not the sports section.
        It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein


        http://coneyislandguitars.com
        www.soundcloud.com/davidravenmoon

        Comment


        • #5
          This is certainly an unusual one. Very interested.
          Pickup prototype checklist: [x] FR4 [x] Cu AWG 42 [x] Neo magnets [x] Willpower [ ] Time - Winding suspended due to exams.

          Originally posted by David Schwab
          Then you have neos... which is a fuzzy bunny wrapped in barbed wire.

          Comment


          • #6
            Here's a Black Widow guitar...

            It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein


            http://coneyislandguitars.com
            www.soundcloud.com/davidravenmoon

            Comment


            • #7
              This particular pickup seems to have come from a Moseley built bass:

              It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein


              http://coneyislandguitars.com
              www.soundcloud.com/davidravenmoon

              Comment


              • #8
                It looks like an italian EKO instrument from the '60s.

                What happened to the frets missing on the fretboard? Their dog ate'em...?

                Odd is the only word it comes to mind when looking at it. Is is short-scaled, BTW?
                Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
                Milano, Italy

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by LtKojak View Post
                  It looks like an italian EKO instrument from the '60s.

                  What happened to the frets missing on the fretboard? Their dog ate'em...?

                  Odd is the only word it comes to mind when looking at it. Is is short-scaled, BTW?
                  It looks short scale, but I'm not sure. Originally the basses had 24 frets. I seems that the ones Mosrite made had the last 4 frets left off. I don't know why. He only made about 200 and then stopped. Then they went to Hohner to make the remaining instruments. They had F holes and went back to single coil pickups.

                  So it seem the pickup I have was made by Mosrite. Mosrite pickups were made by Carvin, but this is not a Carvin pickup. I have no idea who made the pickups for these basses.
                  It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein


                  http://coneyislandguitars.com
                  www.soundcloud.com/davidravenmoon

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by David Schwab View Post
                    It looks short scale, but I'm not sure. Originally the basses had 24 frets. I seems that the ones Mosrite made had the last 4 frets left off. I don't know why. He only made about 200 and then stopped. Then they went to Hohner to make the remaining instruments. They had F holes and went back to single coil pickups.

                    So it seem the pickup I have was made by Mosrite. Mosrite pickups were made by Carvin, but this is not a Carvin pickup. I have no idea who made the pickups for these basses.
                    Actually, the first Acoustic Black widows were made by Bartell in Riverside, CA. They only made a small amount before Acoustic shifted production to Matsumoku in Japan, which accounts for a vast majority of BWs. At the end of the run, production came back to the states and Mosrite, who supposedly made the last couple of hundred. Hohner never made any Black widows. You might be thinking of the basses Bartell made for them.

                    The guitars had 22 frets when Bartell made them, 24 frets after that. Basses always had 21 frets.

                    More info here: Acoustic Black Widow guitars and basses
                    Last edited by TheEHMan; 04-10-2012, 05:26 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TheEHMan View Post
                      Actually, the first Acoustic Black widows were made by Bartell in Riverside, CA. They only made a small amount before Acoustic shifted production to Matsumoku in Japan, which accounts for a vast majority of BWs. At the end of the run, production came back to the states and Mosrite, who supposedly made the last couple of hundred. Hohner never made any Black widows. You might be thinking of the basses Bartell made for them.

                      The guitars had 22 frets when Bartell made them, 24 frets after that. Basses always had 21 frets.

                      More info here: Acoustic Black Widow guitars and basses
                      I got my info from that link as well as a couple of other places.

                      Right, Bartell made the Hohner basses, but they were pretty much the same design as the Acoustic basses.

                      http://www.allthetransients.com/subd...dow/story.html

                      In 1972, solid state amp pioneers Acoustic Control Corporation introduced thier first and only guitar and bass models, the Black Widow. Guitar maker Paul Barth, whos history includes work with Rickenbacker on thier first electrics, did the original designs for the Black Widow. Barths company Bartell made the first few Widows. They had smaller cutaways, a normal neck join, 20 or 22 fret neck, and normal humbuckers.

                      Acoustic's Harvey Gerst then took that original design and revamped it, essentially taking it up a notch to a whole new kind of guitar. Gerst deepend the cutaways, and upped the fret count to 24. The pickups were changed to hotter, lap steel style single coils with lots of wire and lots of magnet. The controls were shifted up a bit so the volume was accessable while playing for swells. The bridge rollers were enlarged for more sustain. Weight was added to the body for a better balance. And the novel neck design was introduced.

                      Barth coudnt keep up with the numbers Acoustic wanted, so the designs were taken to Matsumoto Moko in Japan. At the time, they were producing some of the finest guitars coming out of Asia, that still rival the American made stuff. The majority of Black Widows out there in the world are Matsumokus.

                      Then at some point (after Harvey left, so details are missing) Acoustic brought production back to the states, and put it in the capable hands of Semie Mosley, whose Mosrite guitars already shared some design elements with the Widow. The fact that Paul and Semie both worked together at Rickenbacker is no surprise. Its my understanding that a few things changed back to a more normal design after this transition, namely the neck join. Shortly after Mosley took on the Widows, he stopped.

                      At some other point, Paul Barth took his design to Hohner. To date, Ive only seen Hohner Widow basses. The overall shape is the same as the Acoustic, and they have the carved top like them as well. The major differences are f-holes on a chambered body, two pickups (on the bass), and an option to have it in natural maple finish with a maple fretboard. Also, while (to my knowledge) Acoustic only made fretted basses, the Hohners were primarily fretless (with one fretted one seen). Smaller differences are the black pad on the back, and bridge/tailpiece design. They have "Hohner" on the headstock and a label in the f-hole stating "Mfg. by Bartell of California".
                      Here's a Hohner/Bartell Black Widow bass.



                      It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein


                      http://coneyislandguitars.com
                      www.soundcloud.com/davidravenmoon

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Black Widow doesn't apply to the Hohners, just to the Acoustic. Hohner simply listed them as XK-250 (black) and XK-251 (blonde).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TheEHMan View Post
                          Black Widow doesn't apply to the Hohners, just to the Acoustic. Hohner simply listed them as XK-250 (black) and XK-251 (blonde).
                          Right, the name doesn't apply, but it's pretty much the same bass and still built by Bartell. Only now it's hollow.
                          It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein


                          http://coneyislandguitars.com
                          www.soundcloud.com/davidravenmoon

                          Comment

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