An article from GITEC about the Fender Wide Range humbucker

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Antigua Tele, Sep 17, 2019.

  1. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    The German guitar research group GITEC has posted a PDF with detailed information on the history and technical aspects of Fender Wide Range humbuckers. Not having had my hands on a WRH, I didn't realize that it actually has 12 of those CuNiFe screw-magnets, with six on top, and the other six screwed in from the bottom.

    Maybe the most important things to take from it is how similar the WRH was or wasn't the a modern PAF-style pickup, since they have come to serve as a stand-in, now that truly vintage correct WRH's are no longer manufactured. According to the article, the WRH had a resonant peak around 3.0kHz with 470pF load across the pickup (typical PAF is about 2.5kHz) and a relatively higher Q factor. The good news is that if you ever need or want a higher Q factor, you can replace 250k pots with 500k, or 500k with 1 meg, respectively, so if it turned out that this represented the majority of the difference, it shouldn't be too difficult to replicate the response of a WRH with modern PAF parts.

    the PDF: https://www.gitec-forum-eng.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/tz_fender_wide_range_humbucker_pt_1.pdf
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  2. Bruxist

    Bruxist Friend of Leo's

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    Very cool. Thanks for sharing this.
     
  3. Seasicksailor

    Seasicksailor Friend of Leo's

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    Interesting! Looking forward to parts 2 and 3.
     
  4. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    With the work week over, I had a chance to read the article more closely. So the original Wide Range Humbuckers had loaded (470pF) peaks around 3.2kHz, which is about the same as the average modern Tele bridge pickup. The reissue WRHB's had peaks around 3.4 to 3.7kHz, which for all intents and purposes, is close enough.

    The bigger difference was the Q factor. This dictate a maximum brightness the pickups delivers when the tone and volume are dimed at 10. A pickup with a high Q is often too bright, so a high Q is not always desirable, but if tonal flexibility is important, it's better to start with the high Q, and then knock the brightness down with the tone control to taste. The steel slugs of the reissue take the Q factor down to about half of what it was with the original CuNiFe's, because steel causes stronger eddy currents than CuNiFe. A solution is to increase the pot values. I don't know if the original Deluxe Thinline Telecaster came with 250k or 500k pots, but whatever the case, in a reissue version Tele with a reissue version of the WRHB, stepping up the tone and volume pots to 500k or 1 meg would serve to increase the Q factor, and should very likely restore the tonality of an original WRHB.

    Another difference between CuNiFe and steel slugs is that CuNiFe is an actual magnet where as steel is not, it's just a permeable medium. Since the steel is not itself a magnet, the magnetic field that emanates from the magnetized steel is a lot weaker than an AlNiCo magnet of similar dimensions. So what difference does that have on the sound? Looking at specs for CuNiFe https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/materials-science/alnico , it's an even weaker magnet than AlNiCo 3, it's value was more in the fact that it was machinable, not that it was strong. The magnetic strength of the steel pole pieces and the CuNiFe magnets is probably rather close, which is to say that neither is especially strong.

    In summary, I think that if you account for the reduced Q factor by using higher value control pots, the reissue WRHB should sound very much like the originals.
     
    DADGAD, Fretting out and Telecaster88 like this.
  5. MickM

    MickM Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    My old original '72 Thinline came with 1 Meg pots which I recently replaced with the same.(couldn't clean the scratch/pop out of 'em) Also I'd be interested in Telenators opinion of this article since he spent lots of time with the WRHB's.
     
  6. SPUDCASTER

    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Will try the 500k's on my '72RI. Anything might help.

    Not really impressed with the reissues. Then again, was never overly impressed with the originals.

    Guess I've always been a singlecoil fan. But, they are quiet.

    The big headstock still kind of bugs me. The guitar does play nice though. Got that going for me.
     
  7. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

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    The original WRHBs - as in the Tele Thinline, Deluxe, and Custom - were paired with 1M audio volume pots and 1M linear tone pots.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fender_Telecaster_Custom
    Although other sources suggest they were both audio tapers ...
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fender_Wide_Range
    The pots did (always?) have different part numbers ..
    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Qg2AxIhqfKA/SikkZP_xOxI/AAAAAAAAADs/RV2H4RzS0p0/s1600-h/teledeluxe.jpg

    I've heard the bar magnet strength on the reissues described as 'weak'. Its position is shown here ...
    https://web.archive.org/web/2016031...pickups/repairs/WRHB-Ri-LeeR_NotGoodSounding/
    Additionally, the 'revoiced' version for the Lee Renaldo signature jazzblaster reissue WRHB had the bar magnet placed on the side by Fender, rather than underneath (although apparently it didn't improve the reissue WRHBs much) ...
    https://web.archive.org/web/2016031...om/pickups/repairs/WRHB-Ri-LeeR_V-2-0-Proto1/

    While most people who modify the Fender WRHB reissues replace the bar magnet with (non-CuNiFe) magnetic pole pieces (some also add rewound bobbins and add the reflector plate too), just replacing the bar magnet with a stronger one has also been done.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
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  8. J-fish

    J-fish Tele-Meister

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    I read the article, maybe with not much attention.. I didn't understand about the metal cover of the vintage versus reissue.. Were/are they both nickel? Or brass?
     
  9. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    It said the reissue actually had a "magnetic" cover, which would mean it was very likely made from steal. Steel is bad choice of metal for a pickup cover. I've never come across a pickup cover that was made of steel, it would be an oddity, but then again it was a uniquely shaped pickup part made for a limited run of guitars, so it's not unbelievable that it could have been made from steel.
     
  10. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    I was wondering about this, a typical bar magnet wouldn't be able to reach both sides of the pole piece since the coils are set farther apart. Unfortunately, from the picture, I can't tell how much gap there is, or if it's even on both sides, or gapped on a particular side. Fortunately though, steel pole pieces work well enough with some air gap, due to their high permeability. There is, after all, several milliliters of air between the top of the pickup and the guitar strings, and the output is still decent. The whole system can be looked at as a sum of total reluctance, and a little gap between the magnet and the poles would increase that reluctance by some small amount. Raising the humbuckers a little closer to the strings could offset that increase in reluctance at the bar magnet.
     
  11. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

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    More pics of the reissues' magnet ...

    [​IMG]
    https://mojopickups.blogspot.com/2012/07/reworking-reissue-wide-range-humbucker.html

    [​IMG]
    https://dylantalkstone.com/products/fender-wide-range-humbucker-reissue-rewind-and-mod-service

    [​IMG]
    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/wide-...tion-and-reincarnation-longish-w-pics.357015/
     
  12. J-fish

    J-fish Tele-Meister

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    Thank you. How would steel compare to brass cover in terms of eddy current losses?
    I'm just trying to understand how much the Q factor is dampened in respect to the vintage Wide Range, with a loaded situation
     
  13. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I didn't read the article. A vintage Wide range came with 1m pots. How could you then replicate that sound with a current one with 1m pots?

    Anyway. I've had the reissues with 1m pots. I've had PAF style with 1m pots. Including A3 custom buckers. they are all cool pickups. They are not very similar to the Vintage Wide Rages I now own.

    I don't know if that's the theory actually espoused in the article. But if so, it's flat wrong.
     
  14. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    I've never had a steel cover to test, so I can't compare them directly, although I've compared steel tele bridges to other materials. Steel causes significant eddy currents, at least as significant as brass. The amount of eddy currents caused by a metal is a result of it's conductivity and permeability combined, because eddy currents are an electrical/magnetic interaction. The conductivity of steel is a lot lower than brass, but the permeability is very high compared to brass, which is effectively non-magnetic. Steel is so susceptible to causing eddy currents that in transformers they use laminated steel, or lots of individual sheets, in order to disrupt the electrical current paths that would otherwise become eddy currents.

    The other problem with a steel cover is that it would draw the magnetic flux outwards along the top of them pickup, when ideally it should extend upwards, towards the guitar strings. That probably causes the output signal to be a bit weaker than it would be otherwise.

    But to reiterate, the steel pole pieces in the reissues is likely the primary cause of a lower Q factor, as opposed to the original CuNiFe, regardless of the cover that is used.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
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  15. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    The funny thing about 1 meg pots is that if you talk about putting them, or even 500k pots, in a Strat or a Tele, people are appalled by the thought of pairing the stock single coils with high value pots, and yet it was standard on Jags and Jazzmasters, and I can't recall ever seeing anyone comment about those guitars being problematically bright.
     
  16. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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  17. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Telenator has done a lot of work and documenting. WRHB originals have very weak magnets. You can feel that when you hold them together. They repel/attract very mildly compared to alnico slugs or ceramic bars.

    The screwpoles go into the bobbins, they touch neither the baseplate or the covers. Inside the baseplate which is cad plated conductive steel is a brass shim separating the bobbins from the plate. Screws from underneath mount the bobbins.

    The other thing is the winds are quite different to a PAF. Even though the resissues are somewhat similar in DCR and gauss they sound more like PAFs.

    I am working on a Custom Partscaster I built ten years ago for a friend with original WRHB.

    I just had all the magnets out recently sorting them out.

    Half the magnets in each row are N to the slot, half are south, so that the neck side, three slugs in from the top are South, three from the bottom are North to the slot, so the whole row is South.

    The bridge side the three in from the top are North to the slot and the three in from the bottom are South to the slot so the row is North.

    If you mix them up incorrectly, you get funkadelic twank..... (Ask me how I know)

    Seth Lover apparently wanted the PAF to be as responsive as the WRHB - Gibson was happy with his earlier prototypes so that's the PAF. He said the WRHB was what he envisaged from his earliest work.

    A full range pickup like a single coil with hum cancelling.

    PAFs are great in their own way but the frequency cutoffs are noticeable.

    IMO a bar magnet pickup has not much chance of sounding exactly like a WR. Close maybe, but no cigar.

    283150-ae9146f533e851c46f943ad764d6ad50.jpg

    IMG_20190817_142154.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
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  18. J-fish

    J-fish Tele-Meister

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    I don't have a Wide Range now, but I played with one reissue Tele custom many times in the past, and it really sounded dull. I was wondering how much one could approximate a vintage Wide Range sound only by replacing the pots with 1 M ohms.
    I'm afraid that the reissue are kinda like those chinese Telecaster neck pickups, which have steel pole pieces and also lossy metal covers. Now, those are really dull and with a non existent resonant peak.
     
  19. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Did the reissues have 1 meg pots also? That's the big question. If they didn't, then the brightness can be brought back to something acceptable by putting 1 meg pots in. If they did, and they're still dull sounding, there's almost nothing that can be done about it.
     
  20. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's

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    I think I get these now. Weaker magnets and further apart than a normal HB, allowing two single coil-type bobbins too co-exist without the magnets interacting too much with their opposite neighbours. Surely this is like close to wiring two normal Strat-strength, low magnet strength, RWRP single coils in series? The 1 meg pots I imagine are to balance out the boominess of two regular coils in series.

    Is the only reason this hasn’t been replicated with alnico in the Fender reissues is because you can’t make alnico into screws effectively so it wouldn’t look accurate. I think Telenator did some all alnicos. I wonder whether the construction or the cunifes make the most difference?

    It would be nice for Fender to do an alnico version perhaps rather than construct them like normal HBs for looks.
     
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