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Thread: Bass-a-tar pickups with 2 outputs (Low E and A bass strings/remaining 4 standard)

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    Bass-a-tar pickups with 2 outputs (Low E and A bass strings/remaining 4 standard)

    New to this forum and I wasn't able to find any information on something like this.

    I dabble in effects construction/modding/amp service. I'm just starting get into building pickups, I'm not good with the theory yet, so I have some questions.

    One of my good customers has a custom guitar that has 2 bass strings on the bottom with rest being standard guitar. He's Frankensteined in some p bass pickups and has them wired to a separate output. At first he wanted me to just make two 4 string humbuckers for the neck and bridge, and leave the p - bass PUs in the middle. Then I got to thinking. What if all 3 were some thing similar to Paul Rubenstein's hexaphonic pickups, but with 1 set of 2 string pickups and 1 set of 4 string pickups?

    Here's what I'm planning so far:
    1. Cut the stand humbucker bobbins carefully and then wind the 2 separate coils accordingly. (this would mean a total of 12 coils for humbuckers)
    2. Glue the bobbins back together,assemble as normal, and the baseplate would help hold everything together.
    3. We could add another 5 way switch... maybe some coil tapping options... one output to a bass amp and the other to a guitar amp.

    My questions:
    1. Am I wasting my time?
    2.If I'm not wasting my time, what kind of DCR should i go for on each of the bass and guitar coils?
    3. Should I try to isolate the magnetic fields of the bass and guitar coils? If so, with what?

    Regarding #3 Paul B seems to get some good isolation on his hexaphonic, I wonder if he isolates.


    Thanks and any input is greatly appreciated!

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    Last edited by Nate Mender; 11-22-2013 at 12:04 AM. Reason: typos

  2. #2
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Hi Nate:
    Welcome to the forum.
    Not really sure what your trying to do and having trouble visuallizing.
    Some pictures would help.
    On the cutting regular humbuckers?
    Are these bass or guitar humbuckers.
    There are bass pickup covers, bobbins, and magnets in different length for up to 6 six strings.
    Bass
    Bass
    Bar Magnets
    T

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    It's only Rock and Roll, but I like it!

    Terry

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    Thanks for the reply!

    Here is a simple drawing of what I'm thinking to all 3 of the piclups. Switching, coil tapping, and volume/tone controls not included. Click image for larger version. 

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    I've already ordered a bunch of parts form mojotone (seems like they have the best prices), and I'm planning on using alnico 5 for the middle & neck, and 2 for the bridge. I also bought 42awg and 43awg wire thinking that I might need to use 43 to get the desired DCR since the coils are going to be smaller than a standard humbucker.

    Should I go by number of winds or to DC resistance?
    Am I going to have use something like mu metal in between the 2 and 4 string coils to separate the bass and guitar PUs?
    I was thinking about doing this for all 3 pickups, bhould I just do it to say the bridge and middle, and just do a 4 string pickup for the neck?

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    Last edited by Nate Mender; 11-22-2013 at 05:32 PM.

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    Supporting Member eschertron's Avatar
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    I'd take a step back and ask some design questions:
    Am I placing hurdles in my path by trying to jam coils into a small space? Would the effect be equally served by placing the bass string coils in a HB next to the guitar string HB? Would the difference in sound be noticeable? Acceptable?
    Would the customer be willing to have additional routes in the body of his instrument? Would the change enhance or detract from the entertainment value of the bass-a-tar?
    Would these changes make further design easier or harder overall for me, the luthier/engineer?

    I'll be anxious to see how your project progresses. Have fun with it!

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    If it still won't get loud enough, it's probably broken. - Steve Conner
    If the thing works, stop fixing it. - Enzo
    We need more chaos in music, in art... I'm here to make it. - Justin Thomas
    MANY things in human experience can be easily differentiated, yet *impossible* to express as a measurement. - Juan Fahey


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    I wish I had pics of the guitar... I'll see if he can send me some, but it's a Schecter Hellcat sorta like this one, but it has 3 HB, and a fender style 5way: Click image for larger version. 

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    He's already had a luthier modify the nut, bridge, and tuners to accept the bass strings, cut the pickguard to make the full size pbass pickups fit, and also routed a spot for a second output jack. So, right now he has normal HB in the neck and bridge, and full size pbass in the middle. This causes a lot of bleed, so our main goal is to prevent the bass strings bleeding into the guitar pickups and vice versa.

    I am wondering if I should just build and 2 string HB pickup for the middle position, and two 4 string HB for the N/B. If I have to wind to DCR they might not fit under the cover and on the baseplate.

    I bought extra bobbins so I might just need to experiment.

    Thanks!

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Sounds like a one of a kind, and you are pretty much on your own.
    It is an interesting project, and let us know what you come up with.
    I get some odd requests from time to time.
    I look it over, and if It is something I wouldn't do or use myself, I usually Pass, but then I'm retired, and will survive either way!
    The exception to that was the neck and middle hidden pickups in an Tele Esquire.
    Before I was done, I wish I had passed on it as well.
    Won't do it again.
    Good Luck,
    T

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    It's only Rock and Roll, but I like it!

    Terry

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    Supporting Member eschertron's Avatar
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    +1 to what Terry said.

    Your first post sounds like an awful lot of design, testing, redesign, etc for what may be a one-of-a-kind. Unless you plan to capitalize on the hybrid humbucker design that you mentioned, it will require a crazy amount of time and materials. Unless, of course, you're the guy who's designs work well on the very first try! Think carefully about how much you'll invest of your time on the design in post #1, and if the customer is willing to fund the development, go crazy! Otherwise, your best bet might be a different concept of the layout. I like your idea of the 2 string / 4 string split, not sure how many different ways you can come up with, to achieve the same goal. As Chuck H says "There are so many ways to skin a cat, I'm surprised that there are any cats left".

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    If it still won't get loud enough, it's probably broken. - Steve Conner
    If the thing works, stop fixing it. - Enzo
    We need more chaos in music, in art... I'm here to make it. - Justin Thomas
    MANY things in human experience can be easily differentiated, yet *impossible* to express as a measurement. - Juan Fahey


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    Thanks for the words of encouragement

    I sent an email to Paul Rubenstein, and got a super quick response. He suggested winding each coil to 5k and no shielding.

    The parts should be here next week, and I'll post any updates, prototypes, test results, sound clips etc.

    I really enjoy doing R&D, and he's paying for all the materials, so I don't mind if I fail.

    Thanks for the input guys!

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  9. #9
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    Here's an idea

    As I understand it, you want a normal guitar pickup for the top 4 strings and a bass pickup for the two low, each on a separate output. You already have a normal pickup and a bass pickup in place, but the problem is that they are both under too many strings.

    If that is right, degauss the poles under the strings you don't want, or remove the poles, whichever is appropriate. This is what Gretsch did during the stereo craze - just took stuff they already had, removed half the poles, voila - new product.

    IMHO that is the most obvious, reliable solution - address the problem head on. If the customer can't be talked out of a novel pickup design, maybe what he really wants is to design pickups; you could sell him a winder and spool of wire!

    BTW have you looked and Charlie Hunter's guitars? I have no idea what's going on with those - I had the ReadY, Set, Shango! CD for a while before someone told me it's one guy playing bass and guitar LOL. I can tell you that there is literally decades worth of real world problem solving wrapped up in whatever he's playing. I would at least give them a glance.

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    Thanks again for all your input! I thought I'd post an update.

    So far most my main problems have been with my homemade winder.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Had an issue with the counter (the old calculator trick), but I've got a digital counter from ebay on the way. I also had issue with adjusting the wire stops to keep it on the inside of the bobbins. Patience was the the best fix for that.

    The only other issue I've had is having enough space for the the coil wire. As you can see the upper left 2 string coil is way to big. I used 42awg, and while I was able to fit it on there the 42 takes too much space. So, on the other 3 coils I used 43, and it gave me more space. I went for 5k winds on each coil. That gave me 1k5 (3k both coils) DCR on the 2 string pu, and about 3k (6k both coils) on the 4 string. Initial tests are encouraging and separation seems to be very good. Once I get them installed I plan on recording the separate outputs in Cubase, and I'll do a screen shot of the wave forms.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    More to come after the holidays.

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    I can tell you that there is literally decades worth of real world problem solving wrapped up in whatever he's playing.

    thats funny! I have been making those pickups for Charlie since 2004 and I made quite a few before that. Charlie has bought alot of those pickups, almost everytime I make a new set for him I have tweeked them in some way so they were developed over time and I already knew the problems associated with those types of pickups and had some solutions.
    I wont tell how to do it because i have countless hours in on it and charlies paid alot of money top play with pickup design. Of course I shared a good portion of the costs but it was great to have someone else take enough interest in it to throw some $ at it.
    Its not that tough- getting good seperation takes some hoop jumping, balancing coils with varying lengths and amount of pole pieces is where it gets tricky if you are attempting to do that
    If you go on my website and read some of the articles on there- read the right ones and alot of it is in there. It wont spell it out but if you have some background already youll find alot of the variables you are looking for there.
    have fun with it!

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    Thanks Jason!!!

    I'm a huge fan of your work, and have installed several of your pick ups for customers. Most recently I put a set of El Rayos in a 335. Going through my deluxe reverb I could not put the guitar down.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of info I can find on your website.

    I'll continue to post updates.

    -Nate

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    They're done! After much trial and error I got the installed. I definitely have some tweaks to do if I do another set, but they sound much better than what he had in there before. He's very happy, and that's the most important thing. I put coil splitting switches for the guitar pickups and a Jazz bass style pickup blend knob for the others. I also had to remake the pick guard for the standard humbuckers.
    Below are some pics. I'm going to try to upload a sound clip in a little bit.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    there's also a screen shot of the separation of the 2 pickups while hitting each string. The top one is the guitar pickup and the bottom bass.

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    This was the easiest way to share a sound sample.

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    Congrats. Sounds real good.

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