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Steel Beneth The Pickup


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I got a customer that wants an AANJ type neck joint on a Strat. He also wants it moved as far into the body as possible. Now the problem:

I always use this type of STEEL neck inserts and machine type screws. If I use this on the guitar for my customer it will mean that the inserts might end up beneath the neck pickup. The inserts is made of MAGNETIC (not magnetically charged) steel. My concern is that a piece of steel in close proximity of the pup magnets will change the shape of the magnetic field, and thereby change the sound of the pup.

Does anyone have any experience of this?

Will this change the sound of the neck pickup?

A few notes:

No, the customer will not accept a set neck or neck-through.

No, I don’t want to use brass inserts, because my neck screws is made out of stainless steel (torx type screw heads) and I’m afraid that someone might over tight the screws and destroy the bras threads

No I have not found stainless steel insets (not magnetically material)

I would appreciate some help from anyone with experience from this.

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That link shows the inserts ARE brass

I use the same type, but steel.

I always use this type of STEEL neck inserts and machine type screws

Couldn't find any pics of the type I use.

I'm using stailess steel bolts, so the bolts will not affect the magnetic field. I have thought about using something like the weld nuts, but I haven't been able to find Stainless steel weld nuts on this side of the atlantic. Does anyone have a good source for it?

Edited by SwedishLuthier
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I’m on a budget on this project. I would like to actually EARN some money for a change…

Anyway I will check the cost to get those made. Thanks for the tip.

But I still would like to know if someone has used magnetic steel in close proximity (not in contact with) of the rod in a strat pup.

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Here's an interesting link regarding magnetic shielding

I'm wondering how much interference you'll have really...I mean, you're talking about a couple small bits of metal there, that's really not a lot.

Have you run any tests? Why not take one of your guitars with an equivalent pickup and drive in a couple of inserts directly below the pickup --I'd be willing to bet that the sound won't change at all.

But just in case, you could add a magnet underneath to boost the magnetic field, right?

Oh and another thing, if you've seen the pickguard on my tele --it's steel.

It completely obliterated the sound of the P90 I had installed. On the other hand, the neck pickup is barely affected, if at all. And of course, the bridge pickup is surrounded in steel. And this is a much larger piece of steel than you're dealing with.

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If I use this on the guitar for my customer it will mean that the inserts might end up beneath the neck pickup.

I'm having a hard time visualizing why you have a problem here. The neck mounting inserts will be screwed into the neck. Why would they interfere with the neck pickup? That would place the pickup right on (or under?) the neck, doesn't make sense! The AANJ necks also have a hefty overhang. Regardless of how far into the body you set the neck there should still be quite a lot of space between your inserts and neck pickup.

Edited by Southpa
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I'm having a hard time visualizing why you have a problem here.  The neck mounting inserts will be screwed into the neck.  Why would they interfere with the neck pickup? 

Heres a pic:

neckinsert.jpg

See what I mean? The oval lines represent the magnetic field, and with the design we are planning we might end up with something similar with this picture. You can see the steel inserts interfering with the magnetic field. And remember that it isn't my design, it’s my customers…

Have you run any tests? Why not take one of your guitars with an equivalent pickup and drive in a couple of inserts directly below the pickup --I'd be willing to bet that the sound won't change at all. 

Thanks for the link idch. Actually it got me MORE convinced that steel under the pup will change the sound. The small chunks of metal will actually be quite large and MAYBE have to be placed directly under the magnetic poles of the pup. I’m not very keen on inserting steel inserts in one of my guitar. I’m thinking of making a test rig with two pups mounted in some scrap wood, held upside down over the strings of any guitar, and one having steel inserts beneath and one not. Did anyone at all understand that? :D

For some interesting facts about pups and how the shape of the magnetic fields change the sound look here and here

At the end I might have to convince the customer to change the design, but it would be much more fun to be able to fulfil his wishes 100%.

Edited by SwedishLuthier
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The Stewmac link was interesting...I'm going to have to play around with steel strips under my pups!

But it seems to me that your inserts might actually provide a bonus --the steel can be used to focus the magnetic waves upward, and get more 'bite' out of the neck pickup...

You could play around with adding a steel plate, to provide additional focus (is it possible to shape the magnetic field?)

And as an added added bonus, you can even make the pickup 'squeal like a pig'... :D

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Stainless steel is not necessarily a solution. 316 stainless is non-magnetic. Other stainless alloys are very definitely magnetic. 316 stainless is also much softer than other stainless, though it wouldn't make much difference in this case.

Make sure your bolts are non-magnetic also, since the right inserts won't matter with the wrong bolts. As mentioned, just being stainless is not sufficient.

Just use brass. You aren't going to strip them unless you abuse the hell out of them and way overtighten them.

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Oink, oink idch<_<

My screws are non magnetic stailess with torx heads. if you have tried 6mm stainless torx screws you know that they will put an enourmous force on the threads on the nut. Brass IS a solution but i would like to avoid it if possible for this reason.

I’m not shure if steel inserts will focus the magnetic field or if it will actually do the opposite. The customer has his mind set on some very ecpensive John Suhr pups, and I do not want to alter their sound.

I will make a jig to test what effect those steel inserts will have. I will also try to neutralise the possible effect by inserting steel plates to direct the magnetic field up around the strings, so that the inserts will have a minor impact on the sound.

And yeas, it is possible to shape the magnetic field. That is what the steel plate under the Tele bridge pup does. Compare the FEMM simulations on Steven Kerstings page regarding the A5 rods and the A5 rods with steel base plate. The only thing that differs is the steel plate and the magnetic field actually takes on a quite different shape. What are the effects on the sound? Well I will have to try it.

I'll get back when I have tested it

Edited by SwedishLuthier
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VOICE OF REASON

Okay, it's probably NOT going to affect the sound of the guitar at all, at least in any noticeable fashion. Manufacturers have been using steel screws under pickups for years and nobody seems to complain that the guitars suddenly sound bad. Any distortion in the field is going to be towards the bottom and will probably not affect string sensing at all.

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VOICE OF REASON

Okay, it's probably NOT going to affect the sound of the guitar at all, at least in any noticeable fashion. Manufacturers have been using steel screws under pickups for years and nobody seems to complain that the guitars suddenly sound bad. Any distortion in the field is going to be towards the bottom and will probably not affect string sensing at all.

The man has a point! Any change will be margial. Look at steel pickup rings....same deal.

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Why will it being a torx head put more force on the actual screw

The torx will enable the USER to APPLY much higher torque on the screw compared to an ordinary screw head. This torque will put a lot more pressure on the threads. This pressure might destroy the threads on a brass insert. I have considered using brass inserts, but I have used steel inserts for more than 10 years and, if possible, prefer to stay with them. Call me unadventurous…

Wood screws don't strip out of a Strat/tele wooden neck under normal conditions.

That’s simply not true. I have had numerous guitars in my shop where the screws have been over tightened (and that’s an easy thing to do) and the holes had to be filled and redrilled. This is a standard operation for most repairmen, and you will it on most of our prise lists, including mine.

VOICE OF REASON

Okay, it's probably NOT going to affect the sound of the guitar at all, at least in any noticeable fashion. Manufacturers have been using steel screws under pickups for years and nobody seems to complain that the guitars suddenly sound bad. Any distortion in the field is going to be towards the bottom and will probably not affect string sensing at all.

The man has a point! Any change will be margial. Look at steel pickup rings....same deal.

Steel screws under single coil pickups? I may have missed something but I have never seen it! A singe coil is made out of vulcanised fibre sheets (non magnetic), copper windings (non magnetic) and magnetic rods (magnetic). The screws are placed on the side of the magnetic field, not under, directly into the fibre. No metal at all UNDER the pup. And yeas, the humbucker use a metal plate under the coils, but it is made out of non magnetic material. The Tele bridge pup has a steel (magnetic) plate under the magnet rods, and everybody knows that removing this have a HUGE effect on the sound. I have tried this.

Also: Change from a steel base Tele bridge to a brass, and you WILL notice a difference in sound. I have tried that too

And remember that the bushings are no small piece of metal, like a pickup screw. They are about ½” wide and about the same length. Quite a lot of magnetic material, and much bigger then the magnetic rods themselves. What I think is that this steel would probably direct the magnetic field down and away from the stings quite a lot if placed directly against the magnetic rods. Anyway it will affect the magnetic field in one way or another. I don’t think we need to debate this. The question is how much that would affect the sound. For those of you that doubt the effect of steel under magnetic rods, pls have a look at the link to Steven Kersting’s FEMM simulations of magnetic fields in pups.

Now I will of cause have some distance between the rods and the inserts. The magnetic field decrease quite a lot with distance so a larger distance between the rods and the inserts will consequently lessen the impact.

As I said, I will run a couple of tests and get back with the results.

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From an engineering perspective, using brass inserts and steel screws wouldn't be ideal to start with as the metals have a different electronegativity and one of them will disintigrate over time.

Could you find a hollow tube with the correct internal diameter (made of stainless) and tap a suitable thread down the centre?

I'm like idch here - I really don't know the answer but would be very interested in what happens, it all sounds very interesting.

The forum at Ampge seems to have closed now, so you can't ask there unfortunately. The main man there was Jason Lollar, you could try to send him an email through his web site and see if he responds.

On a side note - I'll hopefully be comming over to Stockholm at some point next year (it'll be my first time back to Sweden since I was born). Fancy a beer?

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The torx will enable the USER to APPLY much higher torque on the screw compared to an ordinary screw head. This torque will put a lot more pressure on the threads. This pressure might destroy the threads on a brass insert. I have considered using brass inserts, but I have used steel inserts for more than 10 years and, if possible, prefer to stay with them. Call me unadventurous…

Wood screws don't strip out of a Strat/tele wooden neck under normal conditions.

That’s simply not true. I have had numerous guitars in my shop where the screws have been over tightened (and that’s an easy thing to do) and the holes had to be filled and redrilled. This is a standard operation for most repairmen, and you will it on most of our prise lists, including mine.

Sorry, I was excluding the stupid people in the world. I guess my point was that if they can strip a brass insert before pulling it out of the neck, they just need a slap for being so stupid. I can see why you are designing this way. But it would appear to be common sense to the average user.

The problem is you are designing for abuse. Its seriously inflates the cost of any product. This would be why warranties don't cover abuse.

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On a side note - I'll hopefully be comming over to Stockholm at some point next year (it'll be my first time back to Sweden since I was born).  Fancy a beer?

PM me.

The problem is you are designing for abuse. Its seriously inflates the cost of any product.

You’re right; I'm trying to come up with something foolproof. But then again fools are very inventive…

As I wrote I have had a lot of guitars in the shop with over tightened neck screws. The cost isn’t the main problem if I can use standard hardware items available. A few bucks, and 1/2 hour more work at most.

I’ll test it and get back. Better start up the winder tonight…

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From an engineering perspective, using brass inserts and steel screws wouldn't be ideal to start with as the metals have a different electronegativity and one of them will disintigrate over time.

Well....they are really close together on the galvanic chart so maybe after a loooooong time (depends on the type of stainless though)

AM350 (active)

Stainless steel 310 (active)

Stainless steel 301 (active)

Stainless steel 304 (active)

Stainless steel 430 (active)

Stainless steel 410 (active)

Stainless steel 17-7PH (active)

Tungsten

Niobium (columbium) 1% Zr

Brass, Yellow, 268

Uranium 8% Mo.

Brass, Naval, 464

Yellow Brass

Muntz Metal 280

Brass (plated)

I’ll test it and get back.

Im very interested as well. It will most likely make a difference. But how much is the question.

By the way idch that steel pickguard is cool looking despite the effect it has.

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From an engineering perspective, using brass inserts and steel screws wouldn't be ideal to start with as the metals have a different electronegativity and one of them will disintigrate over time.

That corrosion is unlikely to happen in a climate-controlled atmosphere like a house, studio or club. Maybe if you left the guitar outside, but not inside with normal A/C. Actually, the dissimilar metals will make for a smoother turn, especially if one is brass.

I'm pretty sure the inserts I get from Home Depot are cast aluminum...brass is probably better.

If it were me, I'd void the "manufacturer's warranty" if the customers tried to make this adjustment themselves.

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By the way idch that steel pickguard is cool looking despite the effect it has.

Hey thanks...I like it so much I abandoned the idea of having a third pickup--the pickguard just looks too cool (and besides, my wife loves it--the first time she's been enthusiastic about any of my guitar projects! Can't get rid of it now, eh?)

The point is, SL, your true goal is to wow your client into loving the rest of the guitar!

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You’re right; I'm trying to come up with something foolproof. But then again fools are very inventive…

Never underestimate how many true idiots there are in the world :D

You could always glue the neck in and then cut the heads off the bolts and glue them to the back plate before glueing that to the botom of the axe :D

GuitarGuy/Erik - Yup they are close on the chart, got to admit I didn't look it up. It was more of an "on principle" kind of thing.

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