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Covers On or Off Humbuckers?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by texmck54, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    On for improved noise reduction, off for double white or zebra.
    I can barely hear a difference, I just like the look of double white or zebra coils.
    Makes me feel all rock & roll. :rolleyes:;):)
     
  2. brapscallion

    brapscallion TDPRI Member

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    Cannot Stand, AT ALL, humbuckers uncovered. I think it makes the guitar look ugly and clumsy.

    So much so that I covered mine up when I got my Jazzmaster.

    And don't even get me started on those 'Zebra' abominations.
     
  3. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    Agree. Coils aren't lingerie. They're underwear.
     
  4. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    It's coming. I realize the shortcomings of the blog page, but there will be a follow up part 2. I figure the whole thing can be done for less than $100, that's all parts including the USB box. I can see that it's going to be a busy summer. I am painfully aware of the distance between doing something privately and making it really accessible to the world. The existing page is written at the level of people who would be able to actually build the equipment themselves, thus I felt at liberty to make it very dry and technical. That will change with the provision of a complete working system.

    Hmm. I know a lot of electrical engineers. There have been one or two that were snooty, but most of them have been patient teachers and gurus. In fact I owe most of what I learned in the early days to one EE friend. I guess I should join up over there on MEF and put on my fire suit. But I'm more interested in getting the thing working and better documented (as you suggest), than defending it. Perhaps that battle will come later.
     
  5. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    One thing you could also do to really help, but without taking up too much of your time, is link to other webpages for the basics as they come up, the way that a lot of blogs hyperlink key words in a sentence. Faraday's law of induction, or LC parallel resonance, a lot guitarists don't know that it's the place to start, and you'd save yourself from having to explain it.

    Wikipedia's technical articles tend to be to be written for people who already seem to understand what is being discussed, but sites like this one are great http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/tex...rent/chpt-6/q-and-bandwidth-resonant-circuit/ or http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/textbook/alternating-current/chpt-5/review-of-r-x-and-z/

    MEF only has three or four regular electrical engineers, depending on where you draw the line, and one of them happens to be Scott from Zexcoil, so it's not a big group.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  6. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Regarding the double blind test, a lot of that has been done already on YouTube, and I think it's always regarded as anecdotal and not conclusive. People will rationalize that you could tell the difference outside of the test conditions, for example, maybe the test subjects needed more time to compare things, or maybe the YouTube recordings are not high enough quality, etc. I'd hope that a resource about how pickups work could be created, one which is so clear and comprehensive, that it convinces guitarists that pickups are not the mysteries wrapped in enigmas that they would have us believe they are. I think a critical ear is more effective than a double blind test in the long run.

    Here's one example of an A/B test that sticks out in my mind as utterly failing to show a difference where you'd hope to find one, the DiMarzio 36th Anniversary vs the PAF Master http://sixstringsamurai.co.nz/2014/...zio-paf-off-paf-master-vs-36-anniversary-paf/ And here is another one comparing three new Fender Stratocaster sets To be honest, I almost find these videos embarrassing, because after so much passionate talk about how we LOVE this pickup set, and HATE that other pickup set, you see these side by side comparisons, and try desperately to hear any kind of difference whatsoever.

    I had done a similar test with a Fender Fideli'tron and a TV Jones Filter'tron, both with sound and measurements, only to find that the bridge pickups were literally identical, and the neck Fideli'tron was wound just slightly ever so hotter, and yet I saw a lot multiple guitar forum threads of guys swapping the Fender Fideli'trons for the TV Jones, saying how much better they post-upgrade... and that's the power of suggestion. If enough people can be encouraged to create test rigs, they might test the stock pickups they pull out, then test the new pickups they're putting in, and compare what they hear with what they measured, and see if they hear with a more critical ear as a result. It would be nice to have more than what seems to be one or two people on the entire internet doing this sort of thing, especially when the parts required costs less than a pickup set.
     
  7. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    I actually agree. Those conditions provide at most, an interesting demonstration. The flaws of MP3 coding are well known. Although I happen to be listening on headphones right now, most people would just have their crappy computer speakers. I've never seen one where the player didn't know which one it was, so it's only blind, not double blind. Sometimes they tell you what you're listening to, so it isn't even blind. Even when it is, the number of guesses is too small - typically you are shown one A/B. There is no randomization (just look that up). Sometimes they play through an amp with effects turned on. So on and so forth. These videos don't come close to a reliable, conclusive test no matter what they're trying to prove.
     
  8. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

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    However, there is a consistent difference between each guitar in all the sound samples in this case. I don't think the lossy audio is a significant factor. Assuming the bridge hardware is he same, it's mainly the pickups at the given height settings and the necks that makes the difference. The AlNiCo III pickups on the '56 are weaker. Setting them closer to the string to compensate would increase the 2nd note harmonic, as well as the higher harmonics to some extent. I gave my impressions in the YT comments. The 59' sounds the least appealing to me in each sample. It could be partially that the parasitic + cable capacitance puts the circuit resonance in a harsh or brittle range. I think the guitar also lacks bass, and the neck may damp upper-mids in a way that makes it sound cardboard-like. The 65' has better bass and a less harsh high end. The '56 has the clear rounded-glassy highs I generally attribute to a Maple FB.
     
  9. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    It's good that you attribute some of the differences to the guitars themselves and not the pickups, a lot of people wouldn't.

    All of the pickups, though, do differ form one another slightly. There is no doubt. I've never tried to claim all pickups sound the same.

    But, I disagree with the idea that the differences are so noticeable, or can't be eliminated by tweaking the EQ on the amp. This isn't a blind test, you can see the name of the pickup on the bottom of the screen, so instantly your subconscious goes to work, biasing what you hear. As does the color of the guitar you see being played. What is impressive to me is how similar they all sound, despite the lack of effort to make it a "blind" test. Another problem here is that we don't know how these guitars have been set up, relative to each other. A higher action will yield different sound and playing style than a guitar set up with low action.

    In the same way that people tend not to realize they are being tricked until the trick is revealed, it's unlikely that people will realize the influence of psycho-acoustic suggestion until some circumstance comes along that makes it very obvious that their ears have deceived them.
     
  10. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

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    Sure, eq can make them all the same, but the slight differences in guitar damping will still be there - - something you'd more likely notice playing rather than just listening to each guitar. The effect of the guitar with regards to the electrified signal is string damping. It can only subtract from the string sound. There's no doubt it's not a blind test, but I liked the '59 color scheme best. I really had no bias or interest in any being better or worse going in, but the differences in the '56 and '65 were not surprising at all. To adequately compare, you need to listen to each sample section in rapid succession (in three tabs), while specifically focusing on a given range. The differences will become apparent.

    I'm fairly certain my ~$100 SX Hawk would sound indistinguishable from the '56 with the same saddles and pickups (it has Brass parts). I was lucky to get one with a solid neck and heavier Basswood body, essentially making it a lightweight alder body Strat at 7.6 lbs. It's a very good sounding guitar. I also had a midramgy SX I got rid of.
     
  11. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    I kinda wish I was born fifty years from now, after psychology had more time to advance and become common knowledge. People have a tendency to set in their likes and dislikes. Once someone decides they like one thing and dislike another, they think that their preferences are set in stone, as though it were a personality trait, when in reality it's just them being close minded.

    It appears that nearly everyone's baseline for "taste" correlates to the popular sounds they were exposed to in high school, when they go their first hit of rock music. From there, they will say "this is good, this is bad" when they really mean "based on my growing up in the 70's, I prefer this tone", but novices will come along and not realize that, they will think "this guy is in his 50's / 60's, he's been around a while, he must know what he's talking about", and that original bias gets traded around like a dirty needle. Hence crazy affinity for all things '59, all things nitro, PIO caps. They've like viruses that go around infecting guitarists.

    I've tried to make it a point to where when I hear a tone I don't like, I try to like it, and more often then not simply trying is all it takes. I end up being satisfied more often than not, which is a very good thing.
     
  12. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm talking about actual physical effects. Listening loud reveals that the '59 has the harshest high end. It causes the most ear-fatigue, at least to me. It seems to lack bass, but it could just be more pronounced upper-mids caused by the higher capacitance. The "cardboard" quality isn't necessarily bad. It actually sounds good to me in some cases. Someone else may like the sound of the guitar best. I just tried to point out the specific differences.
     
  13. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

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    Certainly do any research you want folks, but I'm pretty sure all the testing and measurements being done these days had been done by Bill Lawrence throughout the 70's when he was chief engineer at Gibson Nashville. The problem is, he didn't publish his methodology and data. I do have some data on different materials used in a given coil. Bill was pretty open about a lot of stuff, but I'm not sure how Becky feels about sharing those things. I don't want to step on her toes there. There is a simple small quote I really wish I could find that explains a few valuable things about core materials, but it was lost in a server incident at some point.

    I do recall that cold roll Steel and Stainless poles increased inductance in a 5.8k DCR coil by ~2x AlNiCo, but Stainless doesn't reduce highs much. I have some cheap Stainless/ceramic 4k DCR Strat pickups that measure about the same inductance as my cheap AlNiCo V 5.8k DCR Strat pickups. I prefer the Stainless to the thinner sounding AlNiCo's, probably because the pole surfaces are all flat to the coil surface, so I can get stronger bass, but definably because I can get the coils close without note modulations. BL told me he did not like AlNiCo V pole pickups for that reason. I strongly agree, based on my experience with the AlNiCo V pole pickups from a '65 Strat I once briefly owned.

    I'm not sure scatter-winding does reduce parasitic capacitance. In fact, the opposite may be true as more crossing wire insulation is squashed around the bobbin edges. The net affect of such coil layering is a larger coil perlength of wire. Not sure what advantage people think there is in that. I know a guy who uses an expensive programmable CNC winder that regulates tension and can reproduce winding patterns. He says there is a sound difference in the patterns, but doesn't know what the differencesare. The classic argument is that coil-layering sounds less harsh, but the opposite is true for the Wilde pickups I have, which all have the densest possible coils. BL does make a pickup with a mid-dip. Fender Big Dippers and Lollar Dirty Blonde are such pickup sets, albeit not noiseless. I guess it can be achieved with certain core and coil parameters. Maybe it has to do with cancellations within the coil from the return field?
     
  14. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    You don't have to look through old notes to find the resistivity and permeability figures for steel. All these same principles apply in inductor and transformer design.

    The concept if getting more or less fundamental to harmonics based on magnetic aperture width, and similar ideas, is a promising explanation as to why the tone varies with gauss strenght and/or distance, but I'm still not seeing a good explanation underpinning how that would work, exactly.

    The basis of my skepticism is that you only have the one guitar string, and to split up the ratio of fundamental to harmonics, you would require two separate strings: one expressing the fundamental amplitude, and another differently expressing harmonic amplitudes. It seems to me that the fact that there is only one string per note, necessarily ties the fundamental and harmonic amplitudes together. Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, that's possible.

    I don't like to cite Bill Lawrence because I think it sets a bad example of deferring to a person rather than hard facts, but his opinion was apparently that every coil is "scatter wound" by virtue of the tiny wire in relation to the wide bobbin, you'd never get side-by-side layering, even with an automated winder. That sounds reasonable to me. If you wantch a coil get wound, you'd be hard pressed to believe it's laying that wire neatly.

    I've observed many different coils widths, though. The narrowest Strat pickup was wound with 42 AWG, probably 0.48", and the fatest was about 0.53", wound with a bulbous coil, so it's safe to say that within that difference of 0.05", there is air or wax, slightly changing the inner winding capacitance by some small amount.

    More importantly though, changing the capacitance of a pickup isn't going to impart any magical qualities. The length of guitar cable used has a much bigger effect on the overall parallel C.

    That's a good point about the return field cancellation. You'd think that would effect "pancake" coils in particular, such as Jazzmaster pickups and P-90s, but the return path is further off axis than the primary polarity, so I think all you're talking about is a slight decrease in output voltage with no distortions, hence no tonal consequence. In order for something to effect tone, you have to find the mechanism by which it becomes non-linear, or distorted.
     
  15. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

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    You misunderstood my explanation of fundamentals vs upper harmonics.Perhaps it's better put as simply lower vs upper harmonics. The way it balances apparently has to do with the first ~3 harmonics to the higher ones, because they are generally stronger within the proximity of a Microcoil, and some other Wilde designs. Can't prove it off hand. A test could be conducted comparing other pickups, if you are so inclined. You can do all your own research for sure, but I don't mind deferring to the findings of experts in the field.

    I've seen pickups with PC (Parasitic Capacitance) of ~300pF. The average b4 modern CNC winding with properly adjusted tension was ~100pf. There are now pickups with PC below 20pF. My 8' BL-150 guitar cable is ~170pF. How much it matters depends on the pickup inductance and how much high end extension you want. It matters a lot to me for some pickups.

    What I mean by "layering" the coil wire is the practice of pulling the wire diagonally across the coil within one wind cycle to create gaps between layers. There may be be subtle dips/peaks in the frequency response as the opposing magnetic field in the diamagnetic copper wire then tends to wrap around the layers, rather than around the entire coil? That maybe part what people are hearing.That could certainly be done without increasing PC or creating semi-shorts when insulation is too thin at the edges if very sensitive machines are used.

    I really think we should take this up elsewhere. It's all OT. I'll leave off here. Check your 'Profile Posts' section.
     
  16. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

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    As a teenager, I'd remove the covers. That's what everyone did. having learned what mr Lawrence taught me about eddy currents and such, I leave them on now.
    And really, it looks better, too.
    Buckers get blurry enuff without any help, with gain.
    Had best results with Gibson scatterwounds. Covers on.
    Best of both worlds.
     
  17. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Double Platinum Supporter

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    It also depends on what they're covered with. Some are covered with plastic and it's just for asthetics.

    I don't get the whole underwear vs lingerie debate. Naked is better.
     
  18. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    It appears to me, after conducting research of my own, that there are two common metals used for covers: impure brass and impure nickel silver. The impure brass is more conductive than nickel silver, and therefore causes greater eddy losses. Most covers you get nowadays are the crappy brass. In product descriptions they will say "nickel plated" or lie and just say "nickel cover", and omit the "crappy brass underneath" part. Genuine nickel silver covers will be a lot more magnetically transparent than cheap brass, if you can be especially sure you've found it. You can tell which is which if you look on the inside of the cover where there the plating is missing (or sand some of it away), the brass will be goldish, true nickel silver will look silver... somewhat obvious.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  19. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    The only 'buckers I have are patent #ers. I ain't takin' the covers off of those.
     
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