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norm barrows

an idea born of bipolar pickups

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just saw a video on bipolar pickups:     two 3-pole single coils, side by side in a single coil housing.     basically they took a 6 pole single coil, cut it in half, then wound each half, then put it back together, with two sets of leads.

it came in a pre-wired kit for a SSS strat, and used a 5 way switch.        the bridge position of the five way tapped the treble half of the bridge pickup, and the bass half of the neck pickup.   so you got the big bottom end of the neck position and the bright treble of the bridge position, all at once.

while shopping for cigar box guitar kits and parts, i came across 3 pole cigar box guitar pickups - both single coil and humbucker.

so, get two 3-pole humbuckers, and put one at the neck under the three bass strings, and one at the bridge under the three treble strings, and wire them both together to make a single full pickup.      you could do it with single coils.

seems like the best of both worlds - having one's cake and eating it too, very WITH my religion ! <g>.

 

any thoughts?

 

anyone tried something like this?

now it has me thinking about doing the same thing but with 6 pole single coils mounted at an angle under the three bass or three treble strings - should be even hotter.

 

Edited by norm barrows

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it's not really any different from a p bass pickup.  dimarzio and seymour have been doing this for bass for j pickups for a long time... except two two pole pickups in one j pickup housing.  I've wired up a few basses such that I'd get the treb from neck and bass from bridge or visa versa.  the difference between that and a humbucker is the hum cancelation... very different since the two coils are 'sensing' different things.  As such it def preserves the bass a bit. 

Also, g & l has been doing this for years (will ray tele).  In terms of wanting a traditional single coil sound... not going to do it... nor is it going to give you the beef of a humbucker... but it's a nice in between thing with hum cancelling. 

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On 1/17/2020 at 9:55 AM, mistermikev said:

but it's a nice in between thing with hum cancelling. 

  seems like just about everything is some sort of "in between the two (single coil and humbucker) sound".

the lipstick pickup is the only thing i've heard so far in the way of "in-between sounding pickups" that seems to have any real uniqueness to the sound (and just now i can't recall what it was...). 

all the rest seem to be "its a humbucker, but brighter", or "its a single coil, but with more bass", etc.

but there are a couple of pickups i have yet to test - p 90s, filtertrons, etc.

i suppose i ought to get a p90 eh?   just to see what the big deal is.   a lot of folks use them.....

or is it just another "in-between" pickup?

   

 

For future reference:

i also tested:

* pickups both above and below the strings in parallel - nothing special.

* a single coil at the bridge, with a humbucker just above it. its works. but which side of the pickups are on the left vs right side  of the guitar's center line matters. one way the fields seem to add, the other way they seem to subtract  so with the proper orientation, the single coil for example seems to be louder than a single coil alone.  both single coil and humbucker tones are unaffected by the presence of the other pickup - aside from the single coil being a bit louder perhaps.   but just using one coil split humbucker is easier and seems to work just as well.

* pickups in series - same idea as mics in series vs parallel - IE probably a bad idea. second coil chokes out the treble output of the first coil, while adding bass signal.

* coil split humbucker vs single coil.  the active coil should be the one closest to the bridge for the maximum twangy single coil tone.  used in this manner,  a coil split seems to be a sufficient approximation of a true single coil.

 

 

Edited by norm barrows

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I don't think you'll find a p90 to be a good sub for a hb or sc.  it's a dif animal alltogether due to the large footprint and typical overwind.  very fat sounding and quite pleasant.

another one that's not on you list... single coil with a dummy 2nd coil.  again, not a humbucker... but it does a nice single coil w/o hum.  little less output so again... not a pure single.

I've done as much or more testing as anyone and have found there is no magic bullet... just a lot of great compromises.

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On 1/19/2020 at 5:11 PM, mistermikev said:

very fat sounding and quite pleasant.

i really should get one. chances are i'd like it.   about 1/3 of my playing is done with a clean jazz tone, vs my more typical van halen metal tone.

 

 

speaking of metal...

the red guitar build is finally finished.

frets are not perfectly level, but close enough for about 2mm of action. 

neck is not perfectly straight left to right in the pocket.           loosening the neck screws and re-torquing under load to correct the angle was not sufficient.           sanding side of pocket will be required.        but difference in distance from outside strings to edge of fretboard is only about 1mm.

an odd thing.....      the fretboard seems to slope down towards the treble side of the neck.   bridge and pickup are similarly sloped down left to right  for correct adjustment.    a flaw in the neck?     its a $30 or so ebay special.

it ended up as an ultra basic superstrat. one piece bolt on mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard. one piece mahogany body. floyd rose double locking (but NOT lockable as it comes from the OEM) trem. 

i made a lock bar for the trem for stringing and tuning. so you can slip the lock bar under the tail of the trem, and it will hold it in the neutral position while you change strings, tune up, etc.  the "lock bar" is simply a small bit of wood, about the size of a double thick popsicle stick. just slip it under the trem, do you work, then toss it in the guitar case for next time.

it has a single EMG 81x at the bridge, hot wired straight to the jack, no tone, no volume, nothing.

i decided not to change the silver frets for gold ones.   why mess up a perfectly good fretted neck? 

the body was pre-routed for a 22 fret strat type neck apparently.  i used a 24 fret superstrat type neck, which mean re-routing the bridge and bridge pickup cavities. and adding material to the original bridge pickup cavity to mount the bridge posts to.

i made a matching wood cover plate for the neck pickup cavity.   i had a head stock inlay that was too big, so i put it on the pickup cavity cover.

i'll post pics one i figure out whats up with my no data service issue.  i live in a cell phone dead spot. might be insufficient signal strength.

 

 

On 1/19/2020 at 5:11 PM, mistermikev said:

single coil with a dummy 2nd coil.

noiseless single coil eh? any difference in tone?.

 

 

 

 

>>  I've done as much or more testing as anyone and have found there is no magic bullet... just a lot of great compromises.

yes it seems to be a continuous spectrum, with single coil at one end, and humbucker at the other.  at one end you have more treble, and at the other, more bass.

so far lipstick is the only one with a somewhat unique sound that i've heard.  probably more mid than the rest of them, can't recall offhand.   i have one slated to go into my fretless tailtuner build (guitar #2).      but it not like i jumped on ebay and ordered a dozen "right quick like" cause they were significantly different or anyhing like that.

 

gold foils might be one to check out, they supposedly have a rather flat response curve (good bass, mid, AND treble).

everything i've learned from electronics shop, then audiophile stuff, then playing guitar,  then sound engineer stuff says a flatter response curve tends to be easier to work with.  "less cleanup in post" so to speak.  

Sometimes i think i should have been a musician instead of an engineer.      " Oh Mom! If you'd only let me play blues on the Steinway, things might have been very different.".

My mom was a frustrated concert pianist. she graduated college, had a government job, an apartment, no furniture, and a Steinway grand.    I have visions of her as a young graduate, eating ramen noodles and playing Chopin.  <g>.

 

 

Edited by norm barrows

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neck sloping down... sounds like they probably put the radius on wrong or perhaps attached the fretboard off center.  probably not ideal but shouldn't effect play-ability/function.

any difference in tone - well yeah.  always some difference.  when you wire them in series you get a little less brightness like a humbucker but no extra oomf.  in parallel you get a little cut in output.  probably an over-simplification but that's the jist.

afa other pickups... there's a whole world out there.  wide range humbuckers (aka seth lover), mini humbuckers, rails, and on and on.  then all the dif magnet types.  I love anything A2.  so many guitars, so little time.

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7 minutes ago, mistermikev said:

afa other pickups... there's a whole world out there.  wide range humbuckers (aka seth lover), mini humbuckers, rails, and on and on.

wide rage didn't seem to be anything super special - from the vids at least. 

mini hums - yes, i need to test those, supposed to be a bit different, maybe one that truly isn't just a   [single coil | humbucker] with [more | less]   [bass | treble] .

i've tested the various types of rails. by and large its merely a pickup form factor - nothing more.    quads are supposed to be hotter, but i didn't really notice much difference.       more or less just another humbucker. 

 

'

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16 minutes ago, mistermikev said:

neck sloping down... sounds like they probably put the radius on wrong or perhaps attached the fretboard off center. 

as i recall, it sort of looked like the fretboard side of the neck was not level left to right. or maybe the fretboard was thicker on the bass side.    neck not quite vertical in the jig when they sanded the fretboard radius perhaps?

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i forgot to mention i also tested wiring the coils of a single humbucker in parallel, and series and parallel with one out of phase.  again, nothing super special in the way of tones.  

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4 hours ago, norm barrows said:

 the fretboard seems to slope down towards the treble side of the neck.   bridge and pickup are similarly sloped down left to right  for correct adjustment.    a flaw in the neck?

A flaw indeed. Either it has twisted or as has been said, the fretboard has been poorly seated. Either way, you're lucky that the slope goes that direction as it actually can make playing a tad easier! A counterclockvise twisted neck with the upper treble frets being the highest spot on the neck would rattle as the tail of a Crotalus!

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13 hours ago, norm barrows said:

i forgot to mention i also tested wiring the coils of a single humbucker in parallel, and series and parallel with one out of phase.  again, nothing super special in the way of tones.  

I have found quite the opposite.  to some it's 'nothing', to others it's 'everything' -that's understandable.  For years I couldn't really appreciate the difference between parallel and series.  admittedly, it's a fairly subtle difference, but the short version is: parallel is 'spank' and series will drive your tube amp a bit harder ie 'grit'.  It is literally the difference between strat and les paul, and is one of my favorite things to do wiring-wise.  that said, it's not for everyone

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9 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

Either way, you're lucky that the slope goes that direction as it actually can make playing a tad easier!

indeed!   i've been checking out twisted neck designs as seen in Torzal guitars....

https://www.torzalguitars.com/guitars

Torzal_Guitars_Guitars_Content_1_640.jpg

 

an interesting concept - but difficult to implement. 

i'm thinking a slightly different approach.....

a really minimalist guitar, and then you angle the strap horn and leg horn forward or backward in relation to the surface of the guitar body to angle the entire guitar similar to a twisted neck.

 

this image inspired the basic minimalist concept.     i think i finally found a worthy build for that nice PRS type neck i have....

J47307000001000-00-500x500.jpg.cc5ce4950a714b707574946feb9f739d.jpg

514430000000000-00-500x500.jpg.dc484d8e83d4e95968fea90e0f88ff2a.jpg

 

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21 minutes ago, mistermikev said:

For years I couldn't really appreciate the difference between parallel and series.  admittedly, it's a fairly subtle difference, but the short version is: parallel is 'spank' and series will drive your tube amp a bit harder ie 'grit'.

i suspect that pickups play a bigger role in tones derived from over-driven amp circuits than they do in effects processing based non-overdriven tones.   for non-overdrive based tones, its merely a difference in frequency response curve and sensitivity.    amp overdrive is considered to be signal noise - IE you need a bigger amp cause you're clipping.

i really need to get a real tube amp and explore the "other way" of creating tones.  any suggestions for a basic unit to get started with?

 

FYI  lower humbucker all the way down, and raise the screws all the way up for an unusual tone (nosey as i recall).   This should probably be posted in my thread about bipolar pickups.  But i wanted to post the info before i forget to mention it.

 

 

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I'm of the opinion that all tube amps are good tube amps.  that said... I certainly have my favorites and it all depends on the kind of sound you are going for.  For cleans... hard to beat a twin/princeton/deluxe (ie fender).  For dirty cleans... hard to beat a bassman.  for really dirty, it's hard to beat a marshall or mesa.  I think the marshall dsl series is really quite nice for moderate prices... might take a look at dsl15 as an intro to tubes if yer more of a rocker.  Another good intro to tubes would be a peavey classic 30 or fender blues jr... if you are more into the classic/bluesy thing.  if you want to blow the doors off and live like a pro maybe a mesa dual or triple rectifier and a 4x12!

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1 hour ago, mistermikev said:

and it all depends on the kind of sound you are going for

thanks for the tips.

what about orange? everyone seems to like them.   but they didn't even exist when i started playing.   back then a mesa boogie and a marshall 4x12 was a pretty common setup as i recall.   Not sure - tube amps were a little beyond my means back then.

i hate this, i need a piece of gear, its going to be a technical purchase based on specs. so now i have to become an expert on that type of gear to determine what to buy.   what a pain.   

is there an amp known to work well for both blues and metal on OD channel?    i would think that one would use the clean channel on a tube amp for jazz sounds - yes ? no? maybe ?

  

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well... for my money... the marshal stuff has a great clean channel that can really nail bluesy, and it has a great rock channel, so I'd probably go that route.  I freq use the green channel on my dsl... def not as crystal clear as my fender, but it's a great sound for clean/bluesy.  the dsl red channel is pretty gnarly, but not quite what I like for solo stuff... but toss a nice boost or compressor out front and it def does the job for me.

orange is def good stuff... just not the first thing that comes to mind for me.  I'm sure an orange could do a lot of what you are looking for.

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guess i'm going to be watching a bunch of tube amp review vids at some point! <g>.

well, at least it will be more fun than becoming an expert on nutritious kitten food - which was the last thing i recall having to become an expert at.     i was adopted by a starving homeless kitten.

 

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On 1/22/2020 at 1:06 PM, mistermikev said:

Another good intro to tubes would be a peavey classic 30 or fender blues jr...

Fender blues jr. was my into into tube amps. Great amp in my opinion, but perhaps a bit of a one trick pony. My boy has it now.

Now I use a Dr. Z Maz 18. I'm far from an amp expert, but I surely do love the way this one sounds.

SR

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32 minutes ago, ScottR said:

Fender blues jr. was my into into tube amps. Great amp in my opinion, but perhaps a bit of a one trick pony. My boy has it now.

Now I use a Dr. Z Maz 18. I'm far from an amp expert, but I surely do love the way this one sounds.

SR

right on.  never played a dr z myself but I'm told they are very popular amongst the country players... so I imagine it has a great clean tone.  have a maz 18 in my axefx and so I've had a taste of that anyway.  I'm sure I'd love it in real life... then again I can't think of a tube amp that I really hated. I've love late 60s bassman's to an old peavey heritage... hard to go wrong with tubes.

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