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Thread: Increasing treble/bite and reducing midrange in humbucker

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    Increasing treble/bite and reducing midrange in humbucker

    I have a bridge pickup with the following specs and want to increase the treble bite and slightly scoop the midrange in the area of 500-800 Hz while keeping total output the same or slightly lower.

    • Alnico 5 polished
    • 11.2k total DCR
    • Mismatched coils (7.1k and 4.1k)
    • Slug coil (7.1k coil) oriented inside
    • Fillister screws 3/4" long (4.1k coil) oriented bridge side

    • Pickup is installed in maple body, rock maple neck, rosewood fretboard, vintage tremolo unit, and I believe the maple body has something to do with the lack of bite and excess midrange.
    • I have this same pickup in two other guitars and it does not lack treble bite, and the midrange is not excessive

    I really want to keep this pickup because it mates very well with the the two single coils (HSS) and the split (7.1k) tone is perfect with the middle pickup. The midrange is a bit overbearing when the humbucker is used by itself though.

    Q: What is the best way to mod this pickup to get the frequency response I want?
    Q: Shorter fillisters?
    Q: Hex screws the same length or shorter?
    Q: Magnet swap?
    Q: Flip the pickup around?
    Q: A combination of one or more of the above?

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    ... I have this same pickup in two other guitars and it does not lack treble bite, and the midrange is not excessive...
    Do all three guitars have the same pots, capacitors, switching etc.?
    The easiest fix would be to add a treble bleed circuit.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Well I'm not a pickup winder, but in my experience mid heavy pickups are that way due to either high capacitance or too much loading. With high capacitance the coils self capacitance (and the guitar cable capacitance) combine with the coils inductance to form a pronounced resonant peak. The higher the capacitance the lower the peaked frequency will be. The only way to reduce the pickups own capacitance would be to rewind it (pretty much as a different pickup ). Too much loading would be something like a very long guitar cable, a control arrangement that has two tone controls engaged on some switch settings, two volume controls in parallel with some switch settings or some combination of these things. You might be able to get more treble bite by using a shorter cable. Like a ten foot if you usually roll with a twenty foot. Or you might be able to arrange your switching to disengage the tone control when that pickup is selected. If you are using 250k pots, maybe try 500k. The shorter cable would raise the resonant peaks frequency and the other things would actually increase the resonant peak by a couple of dB making the pickup "brighter". Even when the volume is at full.

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    I am asking specifically about ideas to tweak the existing pickup. No doubt the issue is the maple wood in this guitar body and I want to adjust it out.

    All my guitars have treble bleeds - and the TBs have no affect on the circuit when the volume is wide open.
    I use 10' cables to my pedalboards always, 22 pF/ft
    I have 500k pots

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Turning the pickup around is worth a shot.
    Put the larger coil toward the bridge. Larger coil toward the bridge should make it a little brighter than other way around?
    Another thing you can try is to wire the humbucker out of phase.
    If you like that sound, put in a push pull so you can flip the phase back and forth on the humbucker.
    Also what about the gauss of the magnet. Does it seem the same as the others?
    Not all A5s sound the same, you can try swapping magnets.
    I would try A2, A5, and A8s. If you use A2, I like them fully charged.
    A8s can be discharged a bit, or full charge, which ever you prefer.
    GL,
    T

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    Last edited by big_teee; 01-05-2019 at 03:15 AM.
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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tone Meister View Post
    ...and I want to adjust it out...
    That's a good way to describe it. Anything you do will be subtraction. You can't 'make the pickup have more treble response other than very subtle changes by varying the screws, slugs etc.
    I wonder what the resonant peak is in humbucker mode with such a huge amount of offset in the coils?

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Agree! I generally like the more open sound of mismatched coils. I haven't had the unfortunate experience of ever perceiving one as mid heavy. But it was mentioned that the guitar is greatly responsible for this. I like T's idea of having the larger of the two coils at rear. Worth a shot. Also, if there's any way to tilt the pickup or adjust screws so the magnetism over the smaller coil is giving a higher proportion of signal compared to how it's adjusted now.?.

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    I doubt that changing the orientation will have much effect as the pickup coils are acting in concert.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_H View Post
    I doubt that changing the orientation will have much effect as the pickup coils are acting in concert.
    But not with the exact same signal. Why couldn't the stronger of the two coils being positioned closer to the bridge be brighter? I know it means that the weaker coil would have it's relative string length position altered analogous as well, but it still seems plausible to me. I might be missing some physics attribute of the principals at work here.

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    But not with the exact same signal. Why couldn't the stronger of the two coils being positioned closer to the bridge be brighter? I know it means that the weaker coil would have it's relative string length position altered analogous as well, but it still seems plausible to me. I might be missing some physics attribute of the principals at work here.
    I'm no physicist, but it seems to me that the two connected coils form a common inductor. Another thing to consider, reversing the pickup would put the pole screws further away from the bridge, and could have the opposite effect.

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    The only way to reduce the pickups own capacitance would be to rewind it (pretty much as a different pickup ).
    The influence of PU self-capacitance on sound is generally weak. Most PUs have a capacitance between 50pF and 200pF. This adds to the guitar cable capacitance of several hundred pF.
    Rewinding the coils using the same gauge and lenght of wire can hardly change PU capacitance by more than 50pF if any.

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    I wonder what the resonant peak is in humbucker mode with such a huge amount of offset in the coils?
    Offset doesn't matter for resonance, as the inductances of both coils just add (+ an increase by 10...20% caused by magnetic coupling) for total inductance.

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    Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    Two thoughts come to mind without rewinding the coils, assuming the wiring (signal path, pot value(s), pot tapers, caps, etc) is not the issue:

    1) Try fully charging the A5

    2) If you know what the alloy content is for the slugs & screws, try changing that ( ie 1018 to 1022)

    Be careful when changing screws and slugs so you don't damage the actual coil or the bobbin. Some molded bobbins actually expose part of the slug/rod to the magnet wire by design...so unless you are wiling to potentially rewind the bobbin keep the current slugs in place.

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    Last edited by Jim Darr; 01-05-2019 at 04:31 PM.
    =============================================

    Keep Winding...Keep Playing!!!

    Jim

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tone Meister View Post
    I really want to keep this pickup because it mates very well with the the two single coils (HSS) and the split (7.1k) tone is perfect with the middle pickup. The midrange is a bit overbearing when the humbucker is used by itself though.
    I guess everyone has tried to go easy about this so far. And of course you're aware too, but...

    Anything you do to significantly change how the pickup sounds by itself will have an equal affect on it's sound when paired with other pickups. So you can't keep the combined pickup sounds you have now and only change the individual pickup sound by making changes to the pickup or how it's mounted. You may be able to make changes to the circuit that are exclusive to that pickup being selected alone though. That would allow you to keep all the existing combined pickup sounds you have now.

    Can you provide a wiring schematic for the guitar? And are you currently using only one half of a dual 5-way blade switch?

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    Hack with a Workbench Tone Meister's Avatar
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    Wow, lots of great techinical contributions to this topic.

    UPDATE: Changed the 3/4" fillisters over to 1/2" hex (socket cap machine screw made from black oxide coated plain 1022 steel). Was told the shorter screws would alter the magnetic field and thus add some degree of treble response. The concave hex screws were reported to reduce some midrange as well. Lowered the pickup some and raised the hex screws up about 1/8" above the bobbin

    RESULTS: Most definitely headed in the right direction. Treble response was increased noticeably and I do perceive an ever so slight decrease in midrange, although that perception could well be in error because of increased treble information.

    NEXT MOVE: I will use the guitar tonight and see how it responds in the rig. I do plan to try an unoriented rough case A5 next before shutting the hood on it. Stay tuned

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    I guess everyone has tried to go easy about this so far. And of course you're aware too, but...

    Anything you do to significantly change how the pickup sounds by itself will have an equal affect on it's sound when paired with other pickups. So you can't keep the combined pickup sounds you have now ....
    I think I can because the slug coil will remain unaltered, and that is the coil that is combined with the RWRP middle pickup. I have already altered the bridge-side screw coil with the shorter screws of a different head design (fillisters swapped for cap head hex) and the combined sound in position 4 is so far unchanged.

    Now if I do end up swapping out the full strength polished A5 magnet for an UOA5, then I would expect the position 4 (bridge slug split + middle) to change in some way. Whether good or bad remains to be seen. At least I have a decent baseline as a departure point

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    Here is the schematic I'm using, except this guitar uses one volume and one tone.

    500K volume
    250K tone
    0.022uF tone cap

    Click image for larger version. 

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Have you tried wiring the input to the tone direct from the jack.
    Which is kind of like 50s wiring on an old LP.
    I usually like it fed direct, and not through the volume pot.
    You may or may not like it but worth a shot!
    I usually do a 250k volume on a HSS guitar, and a 500 or 1meg tone, for greater roll of.
    T

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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    Have you tried wiring the input to the tone direct from the jack.
    Which is kind of like 50s wiring on an old LP.
    I usually like it fed direct, and not through the volume pot.
    You may or may not like it but worth a shot!
    I usually do a 250k volume on a HSS guitar, and a 500 or 1meg tone, for greater roll of.
    T
    Now that "50's wiring" could be something to try, for sure. Can you draw that up for me so I get it right?

    I love the way these single coils sound with the 500K pots, and a 250 would only roll off more treble on the humbucker I'm afraid. I started using 250K pots for tone controls in my own guitars back in the 70's because the taper is perfect for the way I like to work. I buy vintage audio taper pots from CTS in bulk and measure each one and match them to the job. So the components and wiring in my control cavity is always the result of very deliberate decisions.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Here you go.
    A picture is worth a thousand words!


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    Now if I do end up swapping out the full strength polished A5 magnet for an UOA5, then I would expect the position 4 (bridge slug split + middle) to change in some way.
    UOA5 is weaker and has a higher permeability than standard anisotropic A5 (actually higher than most other magnet types). Both properties will tend to reduce treble.
    Do you need the tone control for the bridge PU? Does it help to disconnect it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmholtz View Post
    UOA5 is weaker and has a higher permeability than standard anisotropic A5. Both properties will slightly reduce treble.
    Do you need the tone control for the bridge PU? Does it help to disconnect it?
    The bridge tone is not a must have, but I do like having the option. I use my volume and tone controls regularly and have gotten used to having bridge & neck tone contol and an open middle pickup.

    Glad you corrected me on the magnet. Now the pickup is vey close with the screw changes and lowering the pickup some. If I were to consider swapping the magnet, what would you suggest, if anything?

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    The bridge tone is not a must have, but I do like having the option.
    You might at least try to increase to 500k.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    The 500k with the vintage wiring I showed should give more tone roll off.
    T

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    A 250k tone pot is like 500k tone pot turned "halfway" down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    The 500k with the vintage wiring I showed should give more tone roll off.
    T
    "Vintage wiring" doesn't make a difference at full volume.

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    If I were to consider swapping the magnet, what would you suggest, if anything
    As anisotropic A5 is already one of the strongest alnicos (when fully charged) having low permeability, a real difference in terms of stronger highs would require the use of ceramic. (Not for me, though). Ceramic magnets are stronger and have minimum permeability.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmholtz View Post
    "Vintage wiring" doesn't make a difference at full volume.
    Most players use the volume.
    You're nit picking.
    You throw out your ideas, I'll throw out mine.
    T

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    Master Destroyer nosaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmholtz View Post
    "Vintage wiring" doesn't make a difference at full volume.
    It the 50's wiring that he's referring too...in which the pickups and pots are wired so it changes the LCR network around.

    https://www.premierguitar.com/articl...n-a-telecaster
    nosaj

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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    Most players use the volume.
    You're nit picking.
    You throw out your ideas, I'll throw out mine.
    T
    What's wrong with my statement?
    Most players compare sounds at full volume.
    I love the 50s wiring with my Les Pauls because I prefer to somewhat back the tone at the bridge PU.

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    Here's to good ideas, hope it all works out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmholtz View Post
    You might at least try to increase to 500k.
    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    The 500k with the vintage wiring I showed should give more tone roll off.
    T
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmholtz View Post
    A 250k tone pot is like 500k tone pot turned "halfway" down.

    I purposely select 250k tone pots and smaller tone capacitors because I like a subtle rolloff and the taper isn't as sudden. I use varying shades of hf rolloff and never require the rapid and drastic changes that result from 500pk pots and larger tone caps( >0.033uF)

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tone Meister View Post
    I purposely select 250k tone pots and smaller tone capacitors because I like a subtle rolloff and the taper isn't as sudden. I use varying shades of hf rolloff and never require the rapid and drastic changes that result from 500pk pots and larger tone caps( >0.033uF)
    Sounds like you have it under control.
    Good luck, I'm done!
    T

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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    Sounds like you have it under control.
    Good luck, I'm done!
    T
    Headed in the right direction, yes. Most definitely open to the 50's wiring or disconnecting the tone from the bridge.

    I will certainly know more after tonight's show. Thanks for all the great information!

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    I purposely select 250k tone pots and smaller tone capacitors because I like a subtle rolloff and the taper isn't as sudden.
    What about a linear taper 500k tone pot? Linear is less "sudden" than audio/log taper.

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