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Aria Mb-1e Pickup


Prostheta
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Reference pictures from a pickup autopsy (rare also):

http://s26.photobucket.com/albums/c104/AriaProII/Aria%20Pro%20II%20SB%20Broken%20Pickup/

It looks like a 2x Jazz pickups side by side with only two strings having poles underneath (2x poles each) with a winding going around the full width of the bobbin. What differences would this make in the sound....? I've heard 11.2kΩ as a "factory spec" for the pickup and that they are pretty mid-range heavy pickups, although no information on the wire gauge/type or polepiece type as of yet.

Do-able? Practical?

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Interesting, especially as Westone seem to have copied the aesthetic of the Aria super bass design. Scroll down from this post:

http://forum.westoneguitars.net/t1383-spectrum-series-ii-spb311-bass-restoration#10639

Not only are the pickups similar, but so are the headstock shapes on some Westones and the method of anchoring strings through and under the bridge. Do you know anything further to this Wez? Apparently Kent Armstrong will (re)wind MB-1E copies (some association with Aria I think) plus Wizard pickups in the UK will do rewinds. I believe Wizard and Kent were associated when Kent worked in the UK?

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yeah, i knew they were both matsumoku which is why i pointed it out. I was watching a broken version of a westone one finish on ebay a few months ago and there was just a messed up spectrum II westone that finished quite cheap with one of these in it yesterday

dont know much more about them other than a good rep and they look interesting... my experience of other matsumoku pickups has been pretty good so far

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It seems that Kent Lawrence would be the best option for a one-off as long as shipping/import from the US doesn't screw me royally. From anecdotal evidence, his sound even better than the originals although better is of course subjective. Sounds like the evidence is mounting for building an SB-CB this summer then.

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Witgh a DCR at 11.2K I would assume that they use AWG43 wire. Its still quite a bit of wire there and that might also explain why it is mid range heavy. Is it you that makes the autopsy Carl? If so the measurements of the coils and magnets and the outline measurements would be enough to make a decent replica. A non injured pickup would even make it possible to make a clone, casting the pickup in a as near the original shape as possible.

Generally I think that the slightly odd setup with magnets in only half of the coil is an attempt to make the pickup brighter. There will be no canselation of vibrations as no string is pickud up by both coils and that will brighten up the sound a bit. That set up works fine and it is still hum canseling (think P-bass with enlongated coils). However there will be more tonal variations possible if it would have magnets for all strings in both coils. You could then have two single coil sounds, humbuckin serial and paralell sound (a bit sting rayish) and even out of phase sound.

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Thanks all. An interesting set of choices, especially for a rocket scientist over-thinker like me ;-)

Peter: It wasn't myself who did the autopsy....if it were, I would have measured the wire gauge, dimensions and resistance of whichever coil still functioned. I am sure that only one of the coils died in that example taking out the other coil in the process, so I am sure more could have been learned from it also. Still, it is revealing in the aspects of the pickup it did show.

Workingman: If my summer build is the Aria SB-CB, the MB-1E pickup enigma will probably be solved via the Kent Armstrong route although a replacement Aria wouldn't be out of the question. Since each KA pickup is handmade, tweaks could be added into the mix although I am unsure as to what would be appropriate.

I already suspected that it was essentially a P-Bass style pickup in function, however the full-width coil with no corresponding poles confused me a hugely. Surely this will double the amount of wire wound onto the bobbins by approximately two for a disproportionately small amount of return (other than increased induction)....not really sensible business practice if you are selling these in production instruments....? There must be some very positive reason/result as to why it was designed as it was, as the following this pickup has is fairly substantial. Whether design or serendipity, no idea.

My options in the context of why I am inquiring (summer build) are either to acquire an MB-1E or a KA clone, or to alter the specs by fitting something like a dual-mode EMG TW/TX or a P-in-a-soapbar pickup like an EMG35-P4X. I'd rather stick to the original design, however given that I haven't entirely solved the BB circuit (looks like a simple buffer) being authentic might be out of the window somewhat. :D

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Interesting morning of research. I haven't entirely ruled out the possibility of winding my own pickups (if only for the experience) using materials from here in Finland in addition to mounting an MB-1E pickup or a clone of one. I haven't managed to come up with a dirt cheap old sewing machine yet (searching the local Kirpputoria for them) but given that I have more time on my hands than things to do....

So it has been ascertained that the design of the MB-1E is a pair of full-width J-style winds with a P-style pole configuration. That leaves a little room for experimentation or alternatively opportunity to open a whole new can of worms in my head. That's never a good idea, but hey I enjoy it. I'm a rocket scientist. :D

SP Elektroniikka sell MM bobbins in addition to J bobbins, along with slugs, mags and wire, etc. It looks feasible to create a "JP" hybrid using two J bobbins, or even use MM bobbins for an alternate sensing pattern. An "MMP" hybrid if you will! No idea how that would sound, but it might be a fun practical experiment should I take steps into winding my own.

What I have been thinking about also is that SB-1000 basses using the MB-1E pickup are powered by an 18v pre-amp and the individual pickup coils appear to be summed "within the pre-amp". Whether this makes a difference or not, I am not certain. I do however believe that a lot of the magic comes from the pre-amp, and that perhaps the pickup and pre-amp are designed to work together as a system rather than as divisible components. Is this approach common, and might it explain some of the weirdness of the pickup design and the unique sound of the SB?

really nails the essence of the tone/instrument, unlike most videos "reviews". In one part (~1:15) the sound of the bass being run in passive mode is covered. An interesting difference in tone. I haven't managed to find any kind of schematic on the "BB" circuit, although the varitone is fairly well documented. Any thoughts?

Apologies in advance if I appear to be vaccilating from one idea to another or going off on tangents. I have more time than most people to explore ideas (whether stupid or not) which probably makes me somewhat of a propellerhead. I also tend to explore ideas through vocalising. I'm sure that you'll all get the fireworks and banners out when I eventually manage to buy a sewing machine or put a router to some wood. Or my head. As in wood to head, not router to head. :D


PS. Are there any suppliers of soapbar pickup housings in Europe similar to Mojotone? The Alembic shape looks similar in aesthetic to the MB-1E, although I am unsure of the dimensions ATM.

Edited by Prostheta
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SP Elektroniikka sell MM bobbins in addition to J bobbins, along with slugs, mags and wire, etc. It looks feasible to create a "JP" hybrid using two J bobbins, or even use MM bobbins for an alternate sensing pattern. An "MMP" hybrid if you will! No idea how that would sound, but it might be a fun practical experiment should I take steps into winding my own.

MM bobbins will need the huge MM magnets and that will affect the output. It will also add metal in the pickup, increasing inductance. The lack of magnets in one half of both coils reduce the inductance and boost the treble.

PS. Are there any suppliers of soapbar pickup housings in Europe similar to Mojotone? The Alembic shape looks similar in aesthetic to the MB-1E, although I am unsure of the dimensions ATM.

Not that I know of, but it would be great to find one...

I have seen the SP page before but my finish is non-existing and I cannot understand if they ship to other contrys. The MM bobbins and even more so the magnets are extremely hard to find, so I might place an order if they ship across the baltic sea.

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If you require anything remailing from SP, let me know Peter. I can manage a reasonable translation if needs be. Chances are I will "piggy back" an order to get materials for spinning a few of my own pickups also. As I understand it though, postage is very expensive in Finland so it might not work out very economically. I'll ask our local Posti as we have friends there.

I've been discussing the corresponding electronics of the SB-1000 which the MB-1E resides in (mostly). It appears the BB circuit ("black box"!) is likely a simple unity gain buffer, which is a disappointment (expecting some kind of godly mojo box) but also reassuring as it means the pickup is largely responsible for the tone rather than a combination of "tuning" between two separate items. A kind Matsumoko forum user informed me that he found an RC4558 dual op-amp underneath all the epoxy of a dead BB. Since the SB-1000s run off 2x 9v batteries, I'm not surprised that these eventually fail as these are rated at a 12-15v maximum supply if memory serves! A low-noise low-consumption JFET like a TL061/TL062 would make more sense from an efficiency and longevity perspective, at least to me.

I figure that if I can get ahold of a few housings (I believe the size is near identical to the EMG-35 housing as this is a common retrofit) I can experiment with different windings, etc. using the bass as a testbed. Apparently Aria will sell the pickup separately, so I might do both if finances are friendly (it's summer festival time soon...) and the shipping/import won't crucify me. A proper frame of reference would be a good idea. I need to find some way of building my own winder first, of course!

I'll post what I can find out about housings, etc. No joy so far, but I haven't been looking that long to be fair. :D

Good times.

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  • 2 months later...

Bit of a belated update. I have been chatting to a Mat fan who has been kindly enough to mail me an RSB to take dimensions from, and a couple of pickups to analyse. One dead, one not. The dead one had the following underneath all of the epoxy potting (a nightmare to remove):

IMG_4717.JPG

IMG_4722.JPG

IMG_4723.JPG

IMG_4724.JPG

IMG_4725.JPG

Are these pickup bobbins a work of beauty or what? Didn't find out what the cause of the dead pickup was, however the massive impact including cracked casing, epoxy and magnets was likely contributive. :D

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