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Want Some Opinions And Ideas On Pickup Finish Options


thegarehanman
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Hey guys, I'm getting set up to do a small run of pickups. I've been doing some testing with some designs that I think will be a hit. More on that later.

What I want to know now is what sort of stuff you would like to see available in terms of appearance of pickups. Right now here's my list of finish options I plan to offer, tell me what you think and if there's anything you think should be added to the list.

-carbon fiber

-zylon (looks like woven gold)

-texalium (looks like woven silver)

-engine turned aluminum

-copper

-corroded copper

-EIRW

-Cocobolo

-Ebony

-Striped Ebony

-Flamed Maple

-Gloss Black

-Gloss White

-Flat Black

-clear (pole pieces and magnet wire visable)

peace,

russ

PS

I will likely also make carbon fiber, zylon, and texalium humbucker, single coil, and p90 covers for retrofitting existing pickups.

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Hey Russ...

Been doing a little of this stuff and research myself lately for my project guitar. Will provide details later but a recent addition is a pickup ring in emu leather and tortoise shell accents. The back covers will be matching I suspect. The rest of the guitar has a chrome with mini black machine bolt kind of theme...

Anyhow...In searching for options did come across some pickups with a range of tops including pearl and tortise, wood of course, carbon fibre, even abalone.

Check out this site for instance....www.fretsonthenet.com

PRCarbFib7str.JPG

I like these ones in particular...tortside.jpg and this is interesting, but a little gaudy...PRabalonestrd.JPG

It all depends on the guitar I guess. For "project Guitars" people are probably looking for something unique, other guitars often look a bit strange if there is just a token aesthetic mod (like wooden pickup rings without matching accents on the guitar) without a theme to tie them all in. For factory guitars, the factory parts often do look best.

For example, my old black LP Custom was modded in the 70's in the "brass age". Gold plated brass pickup rings, brass nut, etc (I don't know quite what we were thinking back then)...of course this guitar got a good twenty years of playing and gigging in my hands and dated back to the late 60's before that. The brass, gold theme has aged really well...remnants of gold are still on the rings but most is brass now and comes up with a really cool green patina...a real relic look.

It would not have worked on an ordinary guitar unless this "theme" had been carried through though.

On my latest mod-rod, I have had to carry this theme to the trem knob and selector switch, and even the controls.

I have even been driven to making my own pots and switches and these have been picked out in tortoise, aluminium and black bolts too.

Being able to provide options, but if the pickups themselves are made in a particular finish, it may be hard to sell logistically and may not transfer as well from instrument to instrument. You may have carbon fibre ones, but your customer wants something else. The idea of covers is a good thing though as this is less of a commitment...perhaps offer a cover of choice with the pickup as a selling point to attract attention to the product/s...

Good luck with that, and will be in touch about my own project...got a bit of a snag in the domestic situation to deal with that is delaying things. For people interested in this guitar and switches, all will be revealed in good time... :Dpete

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  • 3 weeks later...

What about making VERY thin veneers of the various materials with a sticky backing? They could be adhered to the tops of the pickups without any modification at all.

My only question with any of the metal itels would be tone alteration. I'm clearly not an expert on this subject, but has that been considered?

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Obviously if any of these materials negatively affect the sound of the pickup, I will not be offering them. However, there's no reason the impact couldn't be positive. A few preliminary tests incline me to believe that because these metals are non-ferrous and thin(about 1/64" thick), there will be little to no noticeable effect. Carbon fiber will actually be a functional component of all of my parts, but for this particular application, it won't be cosmetic (or even visible, for that matter).

To wet your whistles, here's a rendering that I'm going to have rapid prototyped soon. It's one of two slightly unique (the other one less so than this) designs I've been working on.

th_TopIsoOfAssem.jpg

th_BtmIsoOfAssem.jpg

As for offering thin veneers. I'm interested in the pickups' function more than their form. None the less, the appearance must be professional, and adhesive backed covers do not look professional imo. The finishes will be on covers (which are seperate from the coil. originally I had toyed with epoxy potted pickups where the potting doubled as the "cover," but I've seen strayed away from that method) though, so buying a certain style cover with a pickup won't mean a commitment to that look or a need to get another pickup for a new look.

peace,

russ

Edited by thegarehanman
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Fantastic Russ...so not a direct replacement...

So...what is "rapid prototyping" and what is the market do you think for such a unique non-typical device.

Also, I take it there are individual coils there, perhaps we could do a sustainer version reserecting some of the old Hex research and stuff I have worked on to incorporate into the design somehow...if only for a test run perhaps...

Intriguing... pete

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Pete, while I do intend to sell these things, I could care less what the market is. I'm just building stuff that I would like to try. I'm just trying to have fun really, and if I recoup a bit of what I spend developing this stuff, then great. I intend to wind some pickups that are not drop-in replacements, these will be geared towards folks like us who like to build from the ground up. However, when possible, I hope to offer drop-in versions of these pickups. Obviously, the one pictured above will not have such a fate.

As an undergraduate ME student, developing stuff like this (as well as the performance honda parts I just started developing at my new job) are excellent portfolio fluffers, at least if you have any aspiration to do design work, as opposed to field work.

Rapid prototyping is basically an additive manufacturing process (additive in that material is added to create the part, rather than removed like in milling). There are 3 or 4 current methods of rapid prototyping, but the method I will be using is "Fused Deposition Modeling." Basically, material is built up, layer by layer to create your plastic model. The only material that can be used for this is ABS plastic. I'll use these parts to create molds which will be used to make the cast resin parts that will actually be used for the pickups. It's a pricey process for guys like us, but compared to machining and things like that where you only want 1 part, the price can't be beaten.

As for that pickup, you're correct, that's 6 coils you see. The design is the result of a lot of pondering, staring at walls, tedious math accompanied by frappacinos, and then testing with very unattractive mock-up coils. I'd definitely be interested in trying out the hex coils. Once I get some of these made, we'll talk about you getting your hands on a set.

peace,

russ

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And here are the renderings of the p90 style pickup I'll be having rapid prototyped as well.

th_exploded.jpg

th_top.jpg

th_dimetric.jpg

peace,

russ

PS

Pete, by the way, upon quick inspection, that humbucker ring made from carbon fiber that you posted a picture of is actually just plastic covered with a black/grey checkerboard pattern. Carbon fiber does not have that much definition to the perpendicular weaves. Hope he's not selling that stuff as real carbon fiber. :D

Edited by thegarehanman
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Carbon Fiber and Cocobolo would be my top choices. Any idea on pricing for your pickups?

Not sure, but I have no intention of price gouging, as I always get irritated seeing these "boutique" pickups selling for hundreds. The first few sets will go out to certain builders for free or at cost. Hopefully I can get feedback from a broad range of builders.

peace,

russ

EDIT:

A few more pics for ya :D

th_cropcircles2-1.jpg

th_cropcircles1-1.jpg

th_bowtie2-1.jpg

In case anyone was wondering, the multi-coil pickup is designed with a (approximate) 2" string spacing in mind and does take into account for a string spread (which is important since the poles are not oriented in a straight line that is perpendicular to the neck's centerline).

Edited by thegarehanman
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well i think one of the wierd shaped pickups with a black cover but leaving the round sections clear would be a good look - not sure if the round section of the cover would be seperate or not - i would take one of those in a jiffy for an fanned fret build

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The multi coil version is so "way out" that it is going to put off a lot of people with the mere shape (not me, I like the design) so I would vote for an even more way out, clear version. Magnet wire is pretty enought to be exposed.

Love to here what your ideas behind your design choises

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Carbon Fiber and Cocobolo would be my top choices. Any idea on pricing for your pickups?

Not sure, but I have no intention of price gouging, as I always get irritated seeing these "boutique" pickups selling for hundreds. The first few sets will go out to certain builders for free or at cost. Hopefully I can get feedback from a broad range of builders.

Excellent! I'm looking forward to trying them out on my next build.

I know how handy rapid prototyping can be. I used to use SLA extensively when I worked in the automotive aftermarket myself. Even before that, I created a product idea of my own, a boost gauge pod for Audi A4's that integrated into the air vents, and had it SLA'd and created molds using 'smooth on' mold rubber and cast them in plastic. People loved it so much I couldn't keep up with demand and sold the idea to the company that I eventually went to work for.

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Wez-The cover is one piece, but that's not to say a cover that has clear centers and a black perimeter isn't possible (in fact, I know exactly how to accomplish it). Once I get the molds together, we can talk it over.

aidlook- I don't know how well the "embossed chrome" could be pulled off since it would need to be painted on, but I might look into that. I do actually intend to have a hand-painted option (not really anything like a black/chrome look) along the lines of the zvex pedals sort of style.

Daniel- I'll shoot you a pm when I get everything together. The multi-coil pickup will be available before the p90 style one, simply because the custom base-plates I'm having laser cut for the p90 will take at least a month and a half to get in.

The multi coil version is so "way out" that it is going to put off a lot of people with the mere shape (not me, I like the design) so I would vote for an even more way out, clear version. Magnet wire is pretty enought to be exposed.

Love to here what your ideas behind your design choises

Well, my goal was to get a fat jazzmaster sort of sound on the treble strings and a clear, crisp sound on the bass strings. I wanted to do it without compromising either goal and whithout making certain strings sound out of place, tonally, compared to the rest of the strings. I experimented with a model that used only one coil, with a a-symetrical wind, but that really didn't work out as I had hoped. The arrangement of the coils is not ideal, but is necessary to keep the pickup compact. Fortunately, the individual coils allow for tweaking of the tone of individual strings, to compensate for their different locations. I'm toying with offering the set with each coil in its own cover, so that they can be used with wider string spacings, like on a fanned fret guitar.

peace,

russ

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I'm toying with offering the set with each coil in its own cover, so that they can be used with wider string spacings, like on a fanned fret guitar.

That would allow for some very creative guitars. The more options available to builders the better.

I already have a really interesting concept that would work perfectly with that multi-coil pickup. (you need to think of a name for it, and soon. I'm at a loss just referring to it) :D :D

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Russ, you mentioned offering pickup covers. Would you be able to do them in copper? If so, I might be interested in humbucker and tele neck pickup covers with some sort of hammered/distressed finish. Depending on how things go, maybe on a regular basis.

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orgmorg, I might be offering carbon fiber covers, but I don't have the facilities to offer stamped metal covers. You might consider buying yourself some nickle plated covers and sanding back to the copper coat. I believe the covers get a copper coat then nickle. For chrome covers, they would get the chrome after the nickle, I believe. At the cheap price of humbucker covers, it's worth a shot.

As for "hex-tone," I'm going to sleep on that one; it's a good suggestion.

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how well the "embossed chrome" could be pulled off since it would need to be painted on, but I might look into that. I do actually intend to have a hand-painted option (not really anything like a black/chrome look) along the lines of the zvex pedals sort of style.

Maybe some high-gloss wire in the crop circle groove..

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how well the "embossed chrome" could be pulled off since it would need to be painted on, but I might look into that. I do actually intend to have a hand-painted option (not really anything like a black/chrome look) along the lines of the zvex pedals sort of style.

Maybe some high-gloss wire in the crop circle groove..

That idea actually crossed my mind after the chrome thing was mentioned. I only wonder how well it could be done (mostly, the concern would be for where the end of the wire meets the beginning). In a few weeks, I'll have the molds to play around with. I'll get this sort of stuff sorted out then.

peace,

russ

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I'm toying with offering the set with each coil in its own cover, so that they can be used with wider string spacings, like on a fanned fret guitar.

Clint Searcy (searcy string works) makes pickups exactly like that.

wfalk2string_202-285x386.jpg

The original Bartolini pickups had one coil per string, and Wal basses have two separate coils per string, forming a humbucker for each string.

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