Dimarzio conversion?

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by Eric R, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. Eric R

    Eric R Member

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    As i like the historic correct look of a les paul guitar, I wil never mount a dimarzio with them hexametric style polepieces.

    Now, the thing is, I do like the sound of a Humbucker From Hell by Dimarzio. wich gives a lot of clarity in neck pos.
    So, here's the thing.

    Could it be converted by lowering the polepieces on one side, and replace the slugs for vintage style screw polepieces on the other side and then mount a nickle (or better, worn nickle) cover?
    So the pickup wil look like a vintage humbucker, not altering the looks of the guitar.

    Anyone done this allready?
     
  2. freefrog

    freefrog Senior Member

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    If the poles are conventional screws with hex heads, slugs won't fit in the bobbin. If the hex poles are big cylindrical screws like in the Super Dist (although I don't think it to be the case), conventional screw poles will be too thin for the holes.

    Anyway, changing the hex poles for regular slugs and screws would probably change the mass of permeable material, the magnetic field and the interaction between coils, modifying the inductance and the tone accordingly.
    Adding a cover to the pickup would most likely achieve to alter the sound.

    I'd rather use a "cosmetic" cover or top plate, emulating a more traditional look. Maybe I'd go for a plastic cover with a single row of holes... or for a thin plastic sticker foil printed to look like a normal P.A.F.ish humbucker.

    Now, do what you want & be happy...
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
  3. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Senior Member

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    Aftermarket covers may not sometimes fit on Dimarzios..might have to get one from them..

    Hex head DiMarzio is definitely "correct" for 70's early '80s look..they were EVERYWHERE.
     
  4. Eric R

    Eric R Member

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    Kris,

    They might be "correct" in that era, but in fact I'm lookin' for that '59 look ;)
    I allready sent them blokes at Dimarzio this as a "custom pickup" request, getting an answer is to much to ask I guess.
     
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  5. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    There are (afaik) two sizes of hex screws possibly used:

    [​IMG]

    The Humbucker from Hell bobbins only uses the smaller variety as see on the right. Standard fillister screws can replace that type. Even if the threading is not the same, the soft plastic bobbins will put up no resistance, typical phillips head type screws should fit the bobbins fine. Their might be some resistance with the base plate, but that metal is rather this, and those holes be can drilled out if necessary.

    The slug side would be more tricky. You'd have to carefully drill out the volume of pastic that's there to thread with the screws, in order to make clearance for slugs. Humbucker from Hell sets are not real expensive, so I wouldn't be afraid to mess with them and give it a shot.

    If you have screws and slugs on hand, it should be fairly easy to determine how well it will work out before you make any permanent modifications to the bobbins or base plate.

    If you want to just buy a set that comes close and already has slugs and screws, the DiMarzio EJ Custom bridge has nearly identical electrical values to the Humbucker from Hell.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
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  6. Eric R

    Eric R Member

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    Antigua, that is great info Thanks!!!! I am not planning on replacing the slug side of the pickup. As that side is going to be covered with a nickle cover.

    Then, chasenblues, I see why, the hex head might be thicker and therefor the holes in the cover would be to small. anyhow, if those hex screws would be replace by Standard fillister screws (thanks for filling me in on how these are called Antigua) they would fit a cover just fine.
    Nevertheless, the cover don't have to be Dimarzio's, any other aftermarket nickle cover would do. As long it fits.

    I'll keep you guys posted on this.
    My confidence is growing on this project, thanks!
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
  7. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    The Humbucker from Hell can take a cover. The radius of the hex head and a standard fillister screw head are nearly identical.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Eric R

    Eric R Member

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    You are a great help Antigua!!
    Is that your pickup? and if yes, are you willing to sell that From Hell to me? or,.. maybe trade it with me for a Gibson 496R ?
     
  9. freefrog

    freefrog Senior Member

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    I'm not Chasenblue but let me reply that it's not only a question of pole pieces & cover fitting or not.

    Even if you're lucky enough to find components whose tonal influence is negligible (and that, in itself, is already less than sure IMHO), there's a risk to end with loosened pole pieces and/or cover.
    Loose components in/on a magnetic transducer potentially open a large door to high pitched squeal under OD/Dist.
    I have already wasted too much time to solve such issues with pickups dislocated by too much tinkering. The best solution IME is to avoid anything loosened in the structure of the pickup (even if the guitar doesn't belong to a high gain player: the jazz cats who have already seen a pole piece sinking by itself in the enlarged bobbin hole of a cheap humbucker also know what I'm talking about).

    That being said without any intention to rain in your parade: I'll be happy for you if you succeed in your project. But personally, I'd stick to the idea of a purely cosmetic modification and wouldn't change the pole pieces if I wanted a pickup to keep its original tone + immunity against squealing.

    YMMV.

    Good luck anyway... :)
     
  10. Eric R

    Eric R Member

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    Hi Freefrog, thanks for taking the time to tell me this.
    I kinda lean towards keep using bluesbucker in stead (wich i am already doing) but was just wondering if I could pull this off and make the switch to brighter and more transparent sound on neck pos.

    I am realistic about the posibility that I might end up with a broken pickup.
    So no harm done there.

    And,.. I was replying on a post of Chasenblue but I figured that he removed his post after.
     
  11. DarrellV

    DarrellV Likes > Posts Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    Just FWIW there is also the permeability of the replacement screws to be considered too.

    Antigua or other winders can tell me if I'm wrong, but there have been discussions about the the difference between high carbon steel hardware grade screws and the softer iron ones used for pole pieces.

    Maybe Dimarzio uses hardware grade already, IDK so it may not be an issue.

    But the loose coils and tonal changes from different grade screws are a real possibility.

    Doesn't mean you shouldn't try... I love to experiment myself!
     
  12. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    I measured the inductance of the HfH at 2.3H. That's a very low value for a PAF style humbucker. Replacing the hex screws with fillister screws and slugs might change the inductance by 100mH at best, which is a drop in the bucket. You'll go from a bright pickup to a bright pickup. This would be more of a concern if you were modding a more traditional PAF that was right one the edge of becoming too hot, or too weak.

    If you only replace one row of hex screws with a fillister screws, I'm certain the inductance will hardly change at all. The amount of steel mass in the two is nearly identical. More important would be assuring that the screws are about the same mength, and not substantially longer or shorter, or else that will definitely change the magnetic reluctance between the string and coils, in addition to the overall inductance.

    It's unlikely that the grades of steel used will differ enough to change magnetic reluctance between the string and coils, but that's the very thing that is changed when you raise or lower a pickup, so the steel grades would have to be very different, and I'm betting they're no different at all.

    If you put a cover over the HfH, it will lower the Q factor a bit, by about 1 to 2dB at resosance. It's a small enough amount that half of guitarists notice the difference, but the other half doesn't.
     
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  13. freefrog

    freefrog Senior Member

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    You're welcome.

    There's a few other ways than changing pickups to achieve what you wanna do but the context doesn't allow me to develop further explanations (and I can't afford to spend hours in arguments possibly due to a disagreement or misunderstanding about necessarily reductionist online statements... So, my contributions will remain voluntarily limited to an attempt to share based on my own experience).

    Feel free to PM me if I can help you - knowing that I'll be absent the next three days and that my free time will be again seriously limited after that. :)
     
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  14. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    "Inductance, inductance, inductance."

    Good grief, Antigua. Could you be any more narrow-minded? It's all you talk about, as if it's THE defining property of a pickup's voice. You're points are no different than someone who argues a 7.2k DCR pickup to have a brighter sound than an 8k DCR pickup. In fact, we've all seen you make that very same argument elsewhere. You really aught to broaden your mind.

    Have you every considered that there is more to a pickup than one single type of electrical measurement? ...probably not because you have spent your "pickup career" comparing Epiphone pickups to numbers in a chart. You should really accept that you are what you eat and your research is lacking in substance.

    Carry on with your BS. Clearly, I can't stop you from professing your limited views and theories more than anyone can stop a street-corner-preacher from professing the end of days. All I can say is talk is cheap and results speak volumes.





    To the OP: How many humbuckers have you tried and how many custom builders have you spoken with about giving you want you want in both looks and sound? You could try something from the ground-up built to be the look and sound you are after, rather than trying to micky-mouse together something from existing products that don't meet your specific needs. If you're limiting yourself to 2 or 3 options you are familiar with, you're missing out on the entire rest of the world out there.
     
  15. Eric R

    Eric R Member

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    Cooljuk,

    You got me there! I might be limiting myself to just Dimarzio, but I do know that the world doesnt end there.

    I've tryed the next humbuckers over the years:

    Neck:
    Gibson burstbucker
    Gibson 496R
    Seymour Duncan Jazz
    Seymour Alnico 2 (slash)
    Dimarzio EJ custom
    Dimarzio Humbucker From Hell
    Dimarzio Bluesbucker

    Bridge:
    Gibson burstbucker
    Gibson 500T
    Seymour Duncan TB4
    Seymour Duncan TB5
    Seymour Duncan TB6
    Seymour Duncan TB11
    Dimarzio Rick Derringer
    Dimarzio Tone Zone
    Dimarzio Air Zone
    Dimarzio Air Norton
    Dimarzio Super Distortion
    Dimarzio Norton

    In the end I liked the From Hell most for using neck pos. So that's the thing, I like this particular pickup but need it to look "vintage correct"

    Some would say to go for the EJ model because of the tonal specs but I found the output not matching up with the Norton i'm using.
    The Bluesbucker I'm currently using has an output difference also but not as much as the EJ models so it is more acceptable.

    Knowing that the output of the HFH is slightly higher then the Bluesbucker... etc. you get my drift.

    I actualy never talked with a custom pickup builder.
    If I would, I'd basicly be asking for a replica of the HFH in a vintage lookin' package.
     
  16. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    I also mentioned magnetic reluctance and Q factor. There will only be a small number of differences present when you have two pickups that share an identical foot print.
     
  17. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    The EJ Custom bridge really is a HfH in a different package. Where are you getting the impression from that they output is different? I can tell you that their output is virtually the same through both experience and physics. I own both, and didn't note that one was especially louder than the other when plugged in, and on the physics side, both use standard 1/8" AlNiCo 5 bars and have 2.3H series inductance, so where is that difference in output going to come from?

    The EJ Custom and the Humbucker from Hell have less than half the inductance of the Seymour Duncan and Gibson pickups you mentioned, and probably a quarter of the inductance of the other DiMarzios listed, so the EJ and the HfH are in a different league, electrically, from all other other pickups. Both are in the same range as a Gretsch Filter'tron, and so the EJ Custom is markettes as a Filter'tron sound alike. Truth be told, a lot of high gain players like low output pickups, because the higher treble response renders a more cutting lead tone, like Stratocaster single coils, but high gain players don't think of "Gretsch Filter'trons" when they think high-gain, so for marketting purposes, essentially the same pickup is given hex shapes screws and given an evil name "Humbucker from Hell" in order to make the same pickup appeal to a different type of guitar player.

    I haven't had my hands on a DiMarzio Bluesbucker, but there are facts about it that can be inferred from their tech details on their website http://www.dimarzio.com/node/2148 . It has a DC resistance of 10k and they say it sounds like a P-90, and it contains a ceramic magnet. P-90's are "hot" compared to traditional PAFs, they have a higher inductance and a lower resonant peak. If they are comparing any pickup to a P-90, it's going to be closer to the Norton in terms of output and sound, and much further away from the HfH or the EJ Custom.
     
  18. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    That would be exactly my suggestion.

    From your (impressively lengthy!) list, it looks like you've only played wax potted, poly-wire wound pickups, most or all using modern steels. That's just an observation, though, not intended as criticism or solution.
     
  19. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    Right. More "by the numbers only" solutions from you that work out on paper. ...but, as always, without real-world experience. You would do well to re-read freefrog's post above. Getting a pickup to measure on a scope or meter the way you want doesn't mean you have a usable pickup that works as intended in the real world.

    Put in some time working with actual gigging musicians using your products or mods before giving out detrimental advise such as...
    Do you even realize you are know as "the bad pickup advice guy" among the pros? I'm not trying to be personally rude, but put some consideration into that and decide if it's a hat you really want to wear, as amateurs read this stuff and take it as professional and factual advice, not realizing these are YOUR THEORIES and not time-tested real-world solutions. Some things you state as fact are just flat-out wrong.
     
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  20. Eric R

    Eric R Member

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    Antiqua, you said and I quote: "The EJ Custom bridge really is a HfH in a different package. Where are you getting the impression from that they output is different?"

    Well, that is in fact http://www.dimarzio.com
    Telling me the EJ custom Neck (DP211) has output rate of 178 mV (DCR 7.01 Kohm)
    And the Humbucker From Hell (DP156) has output rate of 226 mV (DCR 5,89 Kohm)
    So going with the output rate, it tells me that the HFH has more output.
    But then again, I aint the expert. The thing I do know is that I've played with the EJ custom and the HFH and I found out that the HFH worked better for me. so, do the numbers add up at that point?

    @ Cooljuk, 'what would you suggest? waxpotted, modern steel. all these terms are more into the depth then I have gone.
    Normaly when I select my pickups, I'd be lookin' for the type of magnet, then the tonal specs and output. But then again, I came from an era when there were only 2 known brands in my surroundings wich made great pickups, being Seymour Duncan and Dimarzo.
    As being a big time Slash fan and Joe Satriani enthousiastic, I gravitate towards those two brands.

    Another thing: I discovered that using ceramic magnet such as 500T humbucker doen'nt float my boat. But, does this mean that I need to turn my head on all ceramic pickups?

    Don't get me wrong here, I am not an pickup expert, I am a player with demands. Every adaquate advice is welcome!
     

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