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Old June 21st, 2013, 09:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Firebird Pickup vs. Mini-humbucker?

Hello All,

First off, I'm a relatively new member. Been reading for a while and have made a few comments, but this is my first post. So here goes...

I've been on another Neil Young gear kick as of late and was reading a few articles about Old Black where both Neil and his tech Larry Cragg make the point that the bridge pickup is not a Mini-humbucker, but a Firebird pickup. In one article Larry describes the difference between the two briefly, but I was wondering if anyone here can explain the internal differences between the two. And further, is the Seymour Duncan Antiquity Firebird pickup an accurate recreation?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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Old June 21st, 2013, 10:43 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I've used the lollar firebird in the neck. I would say its more like a single coil than a humbucker. Fat and clear. Very nice.
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Old June 21st, 2013, 03:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Firebird pickups have two alnico bar magnets, one in the center of each bobbin, with the coil wire wound around it. They do not have pole pieces or slugs because the magnet takes up the center of each bobbin. Minihumbuckers are built like a traditional humbucker, with one bar magnet centered underneath the two bobbins, and with slugs on one bobbin and pole screws on the other.
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Old June 22nd, 2013, 09:12 AM   #4 (permalink)
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what spakdplank said.

also, be aware that some (perhaps most?) of the current crop of gibson firebirds are not built vintage style - they have different coil wire and magnets. the true vintage build firebird pup is in a class by itself and will have 42awg wire on its bobbins and a5 bar magnets for each coil. you will want the classic vintage firebird, not the "modern" firebird and definitely not a mini-hummer.
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Old June 22nd, 2013, 09:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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A mini-humbucker is not built like a full-size.

They have one large coil and a smaller coil next to it with the single bar magnet below that. The poles of the large coil are connected to the magnet by a steel plate or 'comb'.

Minis are crisper and brighter than full-size
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Old June 22nd, 2013, 03:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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OK Doctor, substitute built "similar to" for "like" a full size. My point was how they differ from a firebird, not how they differ from a full size.
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Old June 23rd, 2013, 07:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Best description I have of the earliest Firebird pickup is that the two coils faced inwards against a central pole. Which is kinda weird, until you realise it is the string interrupting the magnetic field that generates current in the coil(s)



Pretty sure those are item numbers, needs a 'key', not dimensions.
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Old June 23rd, 2013, 09:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefrs View Post
Best description I have of the earliest Firebird pickup is that the two coils faced inwards against a central pole. Which is kinda weird, until you realise it is the string interrupting the magnetic field that generates current in the coil(s)



Pretty sure those are item numbers, needs a 'key', not dimensions.
i've never heard or seen that configuration for a vintage firebird pup. it don't look kosher to me at all, not for a firebird. back in '63 my bud's '63 firebird III pup's looked like this, and they had The Tone ...

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Old June 24th, 2013, 09:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info! I have a mini-humbucker in my '79 Les Paul and I love it, but I may have to drop the Loller Firebird in there and see how it sounds.
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Old June 24th, 2013, 01:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Rob's FB picture is the structure I am familiar with. I had an import toaster looking (but not sounding) pickup that had the same configeration as in Jefr's diagram.
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Old June 24th, 2013, 02:29 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Well, I don't have a 63 Firebird to take apart but it's not the first time I've heard of inward facing coils on the very earliest ones. I think the idea was to give a better focus on the strings, like a single coil does. Whatever, it did not last long and the more conventional twin alnico cored pickup is very well regarded.

I have in the past built a few decidedly odd pickups but running the coil sideways is not one that springs out as a good idea to me ;)
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Old June 24th, 2013, 02:55 PM   #12 (permalink)
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That image is from one of Bill Lawrence's patents, for his sidewinder design. It works beautifully :D
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Old June 24th, 2013, 03:25 PM   #13 (permalink)
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So it is, and it also looks like an rearranged 'air-coil' (also Lawrence)
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