Wide Range Humbucker Destruction and Reincarnation (longish w/ pics)

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by jrdamien, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. jrdamien

    jrdamien Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    476
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    I decided to start a fresh thread from my WRHB Mod thread to document my experiment.

    So I turned a regular ash tele body into a '72 Deluxe body and bought a pickguard/pickup assembly for $100. It was very, very used, having been part of a road guitar for over a decade. The reissue pups (MIM) were fine. But that's all they were. And I mean fine as in, plugged into an amp they make noise that sounds like some sort of humbucker. I use a couple of GFS Vintage '59's in my regular fiddle and they are works of sonic art compared to the ri pups. So the theme of this exercise being destruction (see other thread), I give you this:

    [​IMG]

    I know you've seen it before, but that's what's under the hood (although usually less rusted from sweat). It's a normal sized 'bucker with a wad of wax/fiber surrounding it to fill in the space under the covers. I kept the wax/fiber for use in re-potting.

    [​IMG]

    It's two bobbins stacked atop a single bar magnet secured to the plate with 4 screws. No spacers or keepers.

    [​IMG]

    The underside. Now here's what I DO like about these. The bobbins. In the corners are tabs, 2 per bobbin, where the coil wire starts and ends are wrapped. These protrude through the baseplate allowing 2 or 4 wire wiring on the fly. I'm sure it's used on other pups, but I have never seen it before and I think it's boss. This, apparently, is where all the r&d money was focused on the ri designs.

    The bridge pup was wound with poly wire. It was plain copper colored. The neck, however, was purple/brown, so I assume it's plain enamel. The difference was either part of the sonic design (for all the good it did), or that's what was on hand at the factory that day. The coils were otherwise machine coils - perfectly even and evenly tense from top to bottom.

    [​IMG]

    I drilled the bobbins out with a threading bit just wide enough to fit a .187 rod magnet. There's enough threading left over to use the original screws if I go a different way with these.

    Otherwise, I'm going to rewind using alnico 2 rod magnets and slightly overwound coils of 42 awg. I'll let ya'll know how it sounds!
     
  2. supersonicobr

    supersonicobr TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    83
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Location:
    Brazil
    Subscribed - hope my experiences help!

    It does look like a good idea up until you get a unit in which QC is below standard and the wire wasn't soldered correctly to the post at the factory, so one coil reads infinite DCR even though it looks perfect. Then you try to reheat the solder on the posts to close the circuit, maybe add some more, and the heat causes the post to be ejected from the bobbin by the molten plastic... breaking the start wire in a way that you're prevented from ever recovering the bobbin apart from a full rewind. Ask me how I know that... :cry:


    I think it might be deliberate - my experience is the same. Poly coverage is supposed to be thinner than PE, or is it the other way around? That (if correct), and a slight bit of overwinding, would explain why the factory RI WRHBs come at 8K neck, 9-somethingK bridge.

    Glad you're documenting it - when I did mine I didn't take pictures. Looking fwd to the results!
     
  3. jrdamien

    jrdamien Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    476
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    You are correct, sir. For some reason I thought those post went through or deep into the bobbin. Nope! Just a shallow set and the slightest about of heat send them flying out. Another sh--ty part of this pickup stock. The only work around is to find a long, thin screw, drill a pilot, and screw it in in place of the post. But this only helps before you've wound the bobbins which, in my case, is too late. :mad:
     
  4. jrdamien

    jrdamien Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    476
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Done and Done

    Didn't take long to get them done, having had a good idea of what I was going for before hand.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm not really bothered by the flat pole piece look compared to screws, though I'll get beveled rods next time.

    But...how does it sound? Well...unfortunately... :(

    Haha, just kidding. They sound amazing. It having been about a decade since I wound a pickup I was worried I'd lost the touch, especially after wading back into the pool with a set of strat pups during which I broke the wire countless times and wound a coil so lose it belonged on the front page of Gawker.

    I don't want to toot my own horn because it's not about all that. But they are remarkable sounding. Yes, I will post clips within a week. Comparing them to others is always weird because factoring in the player and the amp, what the pickup sounds like is always nothing less or more than a factor in a big equation. To me, they sound closest to the Creamery offerings and this isn't surprising, as I used Alnico 2 mags throughout.

    The neck is warm, brighter by far than most humbucker neck pups, and not muddy. It's so damn fun to play, it covers so much ground. The bridge actually sounds like a doubled tele bridge, but with very smooth highs. Everything is spongier with the A2's than with the A5's, but I like the evenness and warmth more of A2's, thus the choice.

    The middle position is it's own thing altogether. It's crazy the amount of different tones that can be dialed up. It can be crazily quaky, straight p90...

    I'll end with this. I finished the pickups today around 3 and was stunned enough that I brought it to my friend who has a RI deluxe. I literally left with his guitar and $50 to do his pickups, too. And yeah that's cheap, but I owe him quite a lot already. :lol: Regardless, if that's not a thumbs up.

    The hardest part of this was the little things - putting it all back together, etc. But very worth it!
     
  5. joaopazguitar

    joaopazguitar Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    884
    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2012
    Location:
    Porto, Portugal
    hi JRevel!

    honestly, I don't get 90% of what you wrote - I'm still scared with the idea of changing a PU :D - but it sounds like you did a great job. I'm sure you did, so Congrats! :cool:

    I have one question for ya.... what's a wide range humbucker?
    there you go, my ignorance!

    Cheers!
     
  6. CAAD8N8

    CAAD8N8 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    660
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Location:
    Ohio
    Beautiful work! Can't wait to hear the difference! My pickups are in the mail, headed your way! :)
     
  7. jrdamien

    jrdamien Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    476
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Oh man. Google wrhb and read the wiki. Way better explanation! And read a bunch about pickups. It really only seems arcane for a little while.
     
  8. jrdamien

    jrdamien Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    476
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Thanks! I can't wait for you, and all, to hear it.
     
  9. fender4life

    fender4life Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,365
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    Awesome ! Sounds like you just saved yourself a lot of $$$. I removed the screws once and took magnets out of 2 vintage style strat pups and slightly widened the hole and pounded them in. But it sounded like the output was about 1k. Not usable obviously, and then recently you or someone told me each coil's magnets should have been magnetically revered and that was why. Now you have me considering this again.

    Now did you say you rewound them, or just the magnets? If it was just mags, can you tell me where you got them and how you oriented them? And if you DID wind them, what do you think they'd sound like with the stock coils but the A2 mags?
     
  10. jrdamien

    jrdamien Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    476
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Well I never had any intention of buying replacement pickups. I've come to new conclusions in my search for tone that prohibits me from spending over a certain amount for certain things.

    Yes, if you pounded all those mags in with the same orientation, or without even knowing what orientation, you'll have very low output.

    I rewound mine. You could just replace screws with magnets. If I'm correct, this is Telenator's Mod 1. The sound clips sound ok. Remove cover, unscrew the screws, widen the hole to whatever width you need, insert rods. Loosen bobbins, remove bar magnet. Pretty easy. The mags I had I've had for awhile (I have lots of pickup magnets) but you can buy mags from StewMac, Mojotone, and ebay easily.

    And again, check Telenator's page. He has sound clips of the stock coils with mags replaced. Some people like them. Some don't. I think they sound ok. Whether they sound better than the stock pups is up to you. Go with whichever you chose, and experiment, cause why not? :twisted:
     
  11. fender4life

    fender4life Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,365
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    Well, i put the magnets back again today in the bridge p/u and this time i oriented them opposite in each coil. I don't know whether they are A2 or 5, but i suspect one of those 2 having come out of a couple vintage style strat pickups i had no intention of ever using again. If this is the telenator mod it makes sense because like he's always saying about his MOD1, it is indeed bright and you have to take the treble side down. My take on this is it absolutley fixes what i consider the only serious flaw in the RI p/u's....the wound strings are muddy while the plains are normally bright. You can't really dial the mud out of the wound strings completely, but you CAN dial it out to a very acceptable degree. But theres a problem....to do that you have to dial up the highs and then the plain strings become painful even with the treble side lowered as lot as it'll go. So in short, the wound and plain strings are way out of tonal balance. This mod fixes that 100%. But overall i feel they lose a bit of the character i liked about them. So i'm not sure i like this more or not. I'll have to give it some time. Pretty nice having the strings in balance tho ! That right there makes me feel i'll be sticking with this and doing the neck p/u too. I may even redo the bridge with alnico 2 in case they ones in it are not, and i suspect by the tone they aren't. They sound like A5 to me. I also killed one of the coils which i only found after putting it back together, ARRRRRG! So had to tear it down again, but luckily it was the outer wind that was bad and i was able to unwind it to get some length and fix it. Also, i have to take it apart ahain because the magnets while correctly orientated to each other in respect to the coils, they are opposite of the neck p/u so the middle pos is out of phase...ARRRRRG #2 ! :) So i will reverse it later today and if i decide to get A2 mags and do bother p/u's later on i will then correct the issue.

    Anyways, i think most people will prefer this. I think i will too. But i also know that i had come to really like the basic character of the stock p/u's, flaw aside. So i have to try this for a while and see if i feel it still retains enough of that. Chances are the better wond to plain tonal balance of the alnico slugs will win out, but nothing is in stone till my ears have a chance to become fully acclimated to these.
     
  12. fender4life

    fender4life Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,365
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    So i'm playing it and the more i played it the more i was sure i like it. In fact, i just had to get used to it and once i did it's definately nicer. I also think it keeps most of the single coil dynamics and tone meets HB fullness thing that i liked before. But with the neck still being stock i had to do that too, and i figured i'd get A5 for that and a set of A2 to redo the bridge because i'm not sure what the ones i used were and i like A2 there. But as i thought about it, it hit me....i have lots of old pickups ! And i had a set of holy grails i didn't like and were too beat up to sell. So i googled them and sure enough, alnico 5 ! This is where it gets good......25 minutes and i'm done from start to finish ! I took the coils off when i did the bridge p/u, but this time i realized i didn't have to. And as a bonus they fit easier. A quick go around to slightly bevel the edge that i pushed into the hole on each magnet and i was able to tap them in with the plastic handle of a screwdriver. So less than a half hour later i'm playing it ! Not a lot more work then maybe changing strings twice if that.

    Now as much as i like the improvement i got in the bridge p/u, the neck was even better. The middle is also better than ever, as it was never good at all B4. My only issue is i wish the bridge was a bit higher ouput. I had to lower the neck as far as i could and raise the bridge way up, neither being optimal for each position's tone. But at least they're almost balanced. I may add some windings the the coils, something i've done before with good success. But in any case, what a great way to improve them for cheap....for FREE if like me you had old pups you don't care for and wouldn't bother trying to sell.
     
  13. CAAD8N8

    CAAD8N8 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    660
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Location:
    Ohio
    This is my issue with my stodk RI WRHB's. I had to put longer screws on the neck HB to lower it low enough to match the bridge pickup, which is almost touching the strings. This adds further to the neck's muddiness and the bridges shrillness. I'm hoping Santa will upgrade my WRHB's this year.
     
  14. jrdamien

    jrdamien Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    476
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Brought the guitar to rehearsal tonight for a test run (guitar into muff, delay, tuner, split to Big 5E3 and a Phat Ass 66 - both amps I built).

    Man oh man oh man. :twisted:

    I'll start with the neck pup, because it shocked me the most. I wound these vintage specs but wow do they growl. They push the amp more than any pickup I have used, including a p90. With a 5e3 circuit, this is only ever a good thing. The neck pup, turned all the way up, thumps. I was doing metal like palm muting and such tricks. And yet, it was super smooth.

    Middle position is still a million trick monster but I'm new to both the pups and the deluxe control setup, so it'll be awhile before I find my go to high volume settings.

    The bridge is bright. I never got to play original wrhb's very loud, but I do remember they were bright and this bridge is that. But not harsh. My band hates ice picking and they are the first to tell me to tone it down. Like I said, a doubled tele pup that cuts sharp through all things.

    Clips still to come, but I am so damn happy. Plus, I've never really heard pickups like these. It's like two big, quiet single coils.

    Edit: Forgot to add: these aren't potted and are very microphonic at high volumes. I am undecided if this is good or bad. I personally like it, but I am a big, big Neil Young fan.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  15. fender4life

    fender4life Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,365
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    Pretty much the same experience here tonite. Quit playing in band when i was about 55, but i always tested gear at home by cranking tunes and playing near stage volume to see how a tone cut and sounded in a mix. Did that tonite and also played thru an amp I built, a marshall style single channel master volume thats like a better JCM 800. (4 years of R&D so it truly is) So i basically did the same as you tonite, and the results were as you described except i still need more balance between the bridge and neck. but i'll take care of that down the road. What I can say tho Is like you, the tone was truly worlds better. There was no more mud and the richness and squawk and grind of the attack came thru the mix like never before. It was literally a whole new and amazing guitar. I always new this tele had great tone and a rawness i really love, but the stock pickup wouldn't allow it to come thru. This mod didn't produce incredible pickups at all.....what it did was simply allow the guitar's tone to finally come thru along with the character i liked about these pickups in the first place. A far better version of that sound if you will. My main is a strat i've had and loved for years, and i can play the hell out of that thing unlike any other guitar. Tonite i feel i came closer to that then any other guitar, and it's more fun than the strat because of the rawness of the tone.

    I'm putting A2's in the bridge pup and adding some windings to it to balance it. At around 8k it'll only tale about 1k of winding to balance it with the neck. I think at that point I won't want to put it down. Thanks for the tip on the mag orientation. I now have zero reason or desire to go with any of those high $ options....this is as good as i'll ever need. I am truly thrilled with this mod.
     
  16. jrdamien

    jrdamien Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    476
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Sound Samples

    Here's something quick I put down. The buzz is my house wiring, much of it still so very old. There are four riffs per pickup, starting at neck, then middle, then bridge. First set is volume at about 2. Then volume around 5/6. Then full volume. Towards the end there is a simple finger picking that goes from quiet to loud - this is just the variance of attack. The volume knobs are the same.

    Recorded with an SM75 on a Ampeg Gemini I, bass and treble at 12 o'clock. Volume dimed throughout. What's low volume on the recording was low volume on the guitar.

    I know it get's sloppy and out of tune and that I should burn for it. But I'm not selling anything, so... :lol:

    http://snd.sc/PmgZdZ
     
  17. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Posts:
    13,106
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    Vermont
    Nice job. That sound is so much better (to my ears) than the stock pickups!
     
  18. CAAD8N8

    CAAD8N8 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    660
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Location:
    Ohio
    I'm jealous! Sounds so much better than stock! I am hoping Santa comes through with a Telenator upgrade soon. This makes me want it even more!
     
  19. jrdamien

    jrdamien Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    476
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Thank you sir. Yes, a HUGE improvement.
     
  20. jrdamien

    jrdamien Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    476
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    It's not even that it sounds better, though it does so much better. It's such a different tone than regular humbuckers.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.