1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Dimarzio Patent Question: Airbucker Tapered Slugs and Spacer

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Golem, Oct 30, 2020.

  1. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    847
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Location:
    United States Of America
    WHAT ARE AIRBUCKERS?
    Airbuckers are full-sized humbuckers that contain a gap or space between the magnet and the polepieces. The distance is quite small, and may be filled with nothing but air or by some non-magnetic material. The purpose of the gap is to lessen the magnetic field over the pickup, which in turn lets the string vibrate more freely. This results in a purer, more open sound and improved sustain.

    The other purpose of the “air” design is to reliably reproduce the performance of vintage humbuckers (1950s and 60s), many of which contain magnets weakened by age and mishandling. Weakened or "aged" magnets are inherently unstable, and therefore cause unpredictable performance. Airbuckers utilize stable, full-strength magnets, yet the magnetic field is the same as produced by an "aged" magnet, thus offering the performance advantage without the unpredictability.

    https://www.dimarzio.com/node/1725

    I've been lead to believe (I don't dissect pickups), that they accomplish this by using a spacer (I heard surgical tube) and tapered slugs. Obviously, you can't use the trademarked term airbuckers. But could other pickup winders use the same tech (covered by Patent which only lasts for several years) and not face patent issues? It's more a matter of curiosity as I don't wind pickups, but happen to like this approach in their pickups. Could I ask a custom winder to do it?
     
  2. Blues Twanger

    Blues Twanger Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    188
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2007
    Location:
    NYC and VT
    Maybe you've had better luck than me but I don't care for Airbuckers. They seem to do their job too well, softening attack so much it detracted from nuance.
     
  3. SbS

    SbS Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    499
    Joined:
    May 29, 2020
    Location:
    Finland
    Can't tell the answer, on the other hand DiMarzio is known for patenting like.. letter combinations.

    I've got 36th Anniversary which is to my knowledge are made like that. And I'm pleased with it.

    Hard to imagine they could patent an air gap between magnet and screws? Or just use different kind of tubing / spacing if so? Or leaving a gap by "accident" / sloppy tolerances :p. Guessing / reading somewhere DiMarzio made this partly because it's an easy way to manufacture "vintage" output, but still using the same AlNiCo magnet bars in the manufacturing process.

    How anyone is able to make humbuckers or single coils in the first place if patents are that detailed? But some of the pickup experts could know how these things go.
     
  4. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    847
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Location:
    United States Of America
    @Squier by Squier I think you may be confusing trademarks with patents. I don't know about other countries but in the US patents are good for only a few years and are technical in nature. Trademarks examples include :

    Example Trademark Devices
    • letters and words.
    • logos.
    • pictures.
    • a combination of words and a logo.
    • slogans.
    • colors.
    • product shapes.
    • sounds.
     
  5. SbS

    SbS Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    499
    Joined:
    May 29, 2020
    Location:
    Finland

    Aah, yes sorry, you're right. DiMarzio PAF is a of course a trademark.
     
    Golem likes this.
  6. SbS

    SbS Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    499
    Joined:
    May 29, 2020
    Location:
    Finland
    Golem likes this.
  7. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    847
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Location:
    United States Of America
    Looks right. According to one site I found:

    A U.S. utility patent, explained above, is generally granted for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed; however, periodic fees are required to maintain the enforceability of the patent. A design patent is generally granted protection for 14 years measured from the date the design patent is granted.

    The patent you found was in 93 so it should be expired. Patents being held too long is considered to stifle innovation. I won't speak for other fields, but I work in software and often feel that patents stifle innovation.
     
  8. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,947
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2014
    Location:
    west coast
    I'm looking at the patent and I see that it says:

    The spacer element is in the form of a bar which retains and supports the pole pieces and, when assembled with the magnet, maintains the pole pieces in the desired spaced relationship to the magnetic poles.

    The Air Buckers I've opened up actually used little round gaskets, not a retaining bar, and they refer specifically to an "elongated retaining bar" all throughout the document, so their own implementation doesn't fit the terms of the patent, so I would guess that if you were to also use gaskets you would also skirt the specifics of the patent, but I don't know how loosely court would or wouldn't interpret the patent, because in general, it describes using magnetic air gap for musical purposes, which is a very broad idea, and in fact the distance between the pickup and the guitar string itself is an air gap.

    The amazing thing about the patent is that, if we were talking about industrial transformers, where air gaps serve a technical purpose, the idea of patenting air gaps would be absurd. It virtually the same as patenting the position of a resistor in a circuit, because air is to magnetism what a resistor is to electric current.
     
  9. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    847
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Location:
    United States Of America
    Part of what you say also reminds me that few companies would have the resources to fight Dimarzio (if Dimarzio stole their design or Dimarzio claimed that their company used their patent). Big companies like Duncan could as would major guitar manufacturers. But a small company couldn't. I believe Chris Kinman lost by default in a lawsuit Dimarzio filed for this reason.

    I would argue this issue is more general than just with guitar pickup patents though.
     
  10. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,684
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Location:
    Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
    .

    Looks expired ... if referencing that patent linked above.
    "
    2012-03-21 Anticipated expiration
    Status Expired
    "

    Reading the claims section ... the spacer does not preclude a ring/grommet.

    Even if the 'air gap' technology does not physically 'work' ... it does perform exceptionally well for Marketing.
    Buyers too often firmly believe the mystical airs presented by wand waving Marketing teams.

    .
     
    Blues Twanger likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.