Faux Firebird pickups - alnico II mags

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Dacious, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    From reading I've done it seems real old Firebird pickups were a peculiar creature. Top is your mini-PAF Deluxe type with screw poles/slugs and single magnet
    mini-vs-bird.jpg
    Real 'bird pickups used small bobbins with Alnico 2 blades. Most modern copies don't.

    I've had success swapping alnico magnets into various ceramics, in my Setzer Hotrod for instance. The MIJ Filtertrons had the right wind and I swapped in a pair of PAF magnets in each, which are the same width/length but half the height. They sound great.

    I found some Firebird knockoffs for $15 a pop measuring close to originals . I am building a 'bird into a Firebird VII clone like this one.
    images (54).jpeg

    So I got three gold pickups. Got six Stewmac alnico 2 blades for $50 including the steel plate and metal tab to bridge the magnets over the B-G string.
    IMG_20200814_171442.jpg

    Use my Leatherman to cut the cover solder.
    Inside, two bobbins wired series and a ceramic magnet bridging two blades up inside the bobbins.

    IMG_20200814_172653.jpg
    That's the ceramic magnet and two blades.
    Alnico blades are helpfully marked red in North side so this is a N-S pair.
    IMG_20200814_172322.jpg

    You can carefully push the steel blade out with the new magnet.
    IMG_20200814_172305.jpg
    Here's the new magnets installed. The bobbins are slightly taller but that's not a worry. I just push them to the top.
    IMG_20200814_172856.jpg
    I just have to make a 5mm wooden shim to take place of the ceramic magnet.

    These bobbins were potted too. A stainless steel plate goes underneath and a small tab across the two bobbins over B-G string run.

    Solder cover back on, job's good. About 7.5 Kohm DC resistance. Genuine old Firebirds are 6.5-6.6kohm.

    I won't get the body for a while but looking forward to trying them out.

    IMG_20200812_173225.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
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  2. dougstrum

    dougstrum Tele-Afflicted

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    Good job man! The trick is getting the bobbins out of the wax filled cover:confused:
     
  3. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    good job :)
     
  4. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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  5. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    Looks cool to me and thanks for the detailed photos. My puzzlement: Why stainless steel for the "keeper" plate? It needs to be magnetically attractive to work as a keeper plate. Most SS isn't, and the stuff that is isn't very attractive.
     
  6. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    Seems like a lot of trouble
     
  7. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's not a keeper plate as such. It's thought to be a magnetic field compressor or focusser similar to the copper clad plate on the Tele bridge. Ditto WRHBs - they have a plate in the base under the poles

    The little tab on top is to dampen slightly the B-G strings. Old ones had it.

    Well I could just use them as-is, but I had a 2016 and 2018 Firebird and it was the neck profile rather than pickups I didn't like, but I know the sound in my head I want and the new pickups aren't it. My whole faux Firebird will cost less than a boutique set of aftermarket 'bird pickups cost. It won't be true being bolt neck but it should be close enough.

    These owe me total about $US140. Including gold mountings and screws.

    I'd love a Custom Shop VII like the one I posted - Phil Manzanera is one of my early heroes - but I couldn't justify it and be scared to use it at gigs.

    I also have time in lockdown and love tinkering with this stuff.

    These pickups commonly used by the Cigar Box 3-string guitar cult because they're compact humbuckers of decent output with blades rather than polepieces and I think in the US they're sold as Snake-Oil pickups.

    I was interested when I read their specs and that they were blades inside, as most cheap clone bird pickups are wound like the Gibson modern ceramics to over 10kohm and some use slugs.

    I just took a punt that the Stewmac blades that they sell for their minihum kits would be the same dimensions, and they're a snug fit in the bobbins.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
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  8. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    Neat!
    Let us know how it sounds!
     
  9. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Afflicted

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    Neat project and fun-to-read thread with interesting detail and clear photos. Thanks; looking forward to the next step!
     
  10. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Just to be sure can you please verify for me - are these the mini hums you used?

    https://www.cbgitty.com/guitar-inst...-assembly-with-mounting-ring-easy-to-install/

    Other options are higher DCR and higher price...


    "Chrome "Snake Oil" Mini Humbucking Pickups by Foundry-Tone

    SKU:
    54-008-01
    UPC:
    608939837461" ?

    The price is different from what you mentioned, and the ones I found are wound to a higher resistance. I think I must have the wrong ones?

    Maybe "
    SKU:
    54-021-01
    UPC:
    608939833746"
    ?


    And the StewMac #5458 A2 bar magnets, correct?

    Thank you for the info - been thinking about this too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  11. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes. Underneath they look identical to mine. Yes 5458 magnets, the stainless steel bits are #5454 @ $4.75 each

    Here's where I got my pickups - they have chrome, black, gold and aged brass. They all sell matching strap buttons and tuners. They show 7.2kohm. mine measure a bit more, but they could be heat related.

    https://cbgemporium.com/collections/humbuckers
     
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  12. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you. Take a look at the link I just edited in, I think I may have found your type - lower DCR than the ones I said at first. 7K for the linked ones.
     
  13. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes that's them.
     
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  14. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks again. Been waiting for really clear direction before pulling the trigger. Next step is probably a painful paypal hit ;)
     
  15. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here's a demo - sounds a bit Firebird-y clean Snake oil.

     
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  16. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    NICE! That's you?
     
  17. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    No, I'm in Oz. It's just a taste of the Snake oil ones.
     
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  18. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Aha. That guy was totally right-side-up, I should have known.*

    * First time you've heard that lame joke, I'm sure.
     
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  19. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity

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    The Snake Oil pickup is a bit larger than the regular minibucker and original Firebird pickups. The SD mini that Gitty sells is the size of the originals as is the GFS Minibirds.

    You can use either, just that the bigger ones will posibly need a bigger route and bigger mounting ring.

    Taking the entire pickup down can end up with a broken coil wire if not careful. That small plate across the top is one I didn't use. They do help keep the assembly together. I did make sure that I made a steel plate to cover the entire bottom of the coils and would fit tightly inside the cover so as not to create any microphonic problems. Then a spacer to make up the lost room of the bottom magnet so the rear cover plate(brass) would fit right to re-solder the blobs.

    These pickups are hard to deal with. The GFS ones are heavily wax potted and were easier to convert, but the SD one that Gitty sells for 17 bucks isn't sealed at all and I had to seal it myself. It was fun to do, but then I've messed around with electronics for a number of years. It can be done if you have the ability to pickup on things quickly. I only converted because I was strapped for cash at the time or I would've bought the ones Rob makes. He uses A5 magnets as opposed to the A2 magnets Stewmac sells. I like the A2 mags so far, but I also like the vids of Rob's with the A5 mags. I can see a point for either magnet.
     
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  20. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here's my collection of bits. Guys at Pitbull guitars in Perth WA are getting me a mahogany Firebird body with triple pickup routes and only bridge posts drilled. IMG_20200815_104124.jpg
     
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