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Do pickups lose quality over time?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by dscottyg, Apr 14, 2021.

  1. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    I believe that I can hear a slight "weakening" of the pickups in my older guitars.

    (But it could also be my hearing.)

    It's not a big deal, and generally I can adjust any difference by raising the pickups slightly closer to the strings.

    imo.
     
  2. stephent2

    stephent2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    it's called Degaussing, some folks prefer the sound old pickups for that reason. (Some) Boutique pickup builders degauss their magnets.
     
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  3. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Heat can cause wax potting to melt and thereby allow the windings to become loose...and microphonic. Yes, It takes some certain level, but a hot car or trailer in the summertime in Texas will do it. That heat will also ruin some glue joints. Of course, bolt on neck guitars don’t have that problem.
     
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  4. doghouseman

    doghouseman Tele-Holic

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    If the pickups are dipped in wax, the wax can melt off over time, especially if the guitar is left in a hot place.

    For my newer guitars, I take care to never leave them in a hot car.
     
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  5. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I think Jerry might be an exception. First of all, look at the number of HOURS he put on his pickups. He also didn't play 5 different guitars during a concert. Possibly part of his reasoning for change-outs was also to prevent failures. Dunno. But one could certainly argue his tone didn't change a bit in his last 10-15 years!
     
  6. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    1. Yes. There will be no discernable, functional change in your lifetime or those of your great, great, great, great, great grandchildren.

    2. :lol:
     
  7. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I think the biggest take away from this for me is that natural aging is the LEAST likely thing to significantly alter your pickups' tone. It much more likely for pickups to be damaged by abuse or accidents.
     
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  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Since you don't know how used pickups were handled and stored, and they might have been thrown in a box with speakers and who knows what else, you should not pay more than $10 for a used pickup, even if CS.

    Also note that those little stickers FCS puts on those pickups are applied to a waxy surface and fall off.
    So there is no way to even know it really is a CS pickup as opposed to something else with a CS sticker.

    Pay little or nothing for used pickups!
    Bad, very bad, stay away and leave them for the experts!
    Better still, send them to me and I'll dispose of them properly.
     
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  9. dscottyg

    dscottyg Tele-Meister

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    Hey I’m asking the questions here, pal. Go post your own thread.
     
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  10. aging_rocker

    aging_rocker Tele-Afflicted

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    I suspect that some of the mojo may ooze out of the pickup if it is left in a warm, damp environment for too long. But the oozing will be so gradual that you will never notice.

    And if you think you do notice a change, a quarter-turn of the height adjustment screw will more than compensate.
     
  11. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    I've seen pickups arrive degaussed, but they can be recharged easily.

    Here's a test:
    Lay the pickup on a table and touch the pole pieces with a screwdriver. When you pull up, so you feel a fair amount of force? Do you feel the same amount of force for each pole piece?
    If you can, compare it to another pickup.
     
  12. mjtrip001

    mjtrip001 TDPRI Member

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    I'm going to say either - no they don't, or if anything they improve over time..
     
  13. Albud

    Albud NEW MEMBER!

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    My 55 year old Rickenbacker sounds the same now as when I bought it in '85.
     
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  14. johnnylaw

    johnnylaw Tele-Afflicted

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    This doesn’t directly answer your question, but I would install them and play the pants off them. If they have the music there, then they’re (you’re) good!
    Sounds like a cool project either way!
     
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  15. Arfage

    Arfage Tele-Meister

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    Aging generally makes AlNiCo sound better. Ceramic is said to never change. That's one of the reasons vintage guitars are so expensive. That's how Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio built a whole industry around the P.A.F. design and "pickup aging" and all that. Some people prefer a modern newly made non-aged pickup too. Those pickups are pre-aged to sound that way. They won't change being a few years old. If you don't like them just go for something more modern and side-step the "vintage" type stuff.
     
  16. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana Tele-Holic

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    mmhmm
    Have you measured them yet? That’s the first thing I would do to see if the windings are still intact.

    Then hook them up and see how they sound. You can deal with microphonics and magnet strength after that if needed. I doubt the magnet has degaussed any unless someone ran a magnet over them.
     
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  17. Bluzzjazz

    Bluzzjazz TDPRI Member

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    I have a 67 Stratocaster, that I have owned since 74. Sounds just as sweet now as I can remember. I also have a 72 gold top Les Paul Deluxe that I’ve had since 75 and those Minis sing and sustain just as good now as they ever have. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about the age.
     
  18. Tark1

    Tark1 TDPRI Member

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    There are several 'facts' about pickup ageing that are completely unproven; the magnets weaken with time, the crystalline properties of the winding wire changes with time and the windings may loosen - leading to an increase in microphonics. Pickup makers will tell you that the magnets do age with time and this can be heard. Many of them offer artificial ageing. In practice because of steep changes in the field around a magnet, it is difficult to accurately measure the strength of small magnets and no-one knows if 10% variation is even audible. Magnet makers will tell you that Alnico magnets lose 1 or 2% in the first year or so and if they aren't mistreated and are installed in a stable magnetic circuit they will remain stable after that. Copper pickup wire crystalline structure does age - no-one knows if this matters. Corrosion is the biggest enemy of pickups and may eventually kill an old pickup.
     
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  19. AKBluesDude

    AKBluesDude TDPRI Member

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    I try out pickups as a hobby and in my experience played pickups sound better. Probably the most accurate comparison (and memorable) was when I acquired two Fender Custom Shop Custom classic strats. Both made the same year, just different colors. Both guitars had Texas Special pickups. The guitar that had been played a lot sounded a whole lot better than the case queen. I've done other side by side comparisons of same model pickups and the older ones always come ahead. My favorite winder is Peter Florance would often degauss (de-magnetize) his pickups, maybe did it to all of them. Throbak degausses some of their pickups too.
     
  20. Jjmatashi

    Jjmatashi TDPRI Member

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    Guitar Mojo wins over science any day!!! :D:lol:
     
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