ReWind Electric "Vintage Pickup Repairs Photo Thread" (eye candy central)

Discussion in 'Vendor Classifieds' started by cooljuk, Jul 3, 2016.

  1. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    The hardest part of my job is delivering this type of news to clients. Fortunately, in this case, it seems only the magnet was flipped and the rest of the pickup was all original, including the actual coils. It's not always such a positive turnout, however, and there have been more than a few times that I had to inform someone that the "100% original PAF" they paid good money for has been rewound or otherwise modified or repaired.

    It pays to know what to look for when buying.

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  2. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    You definitely don't see these everyday!

    Does anyone know what they are?

    [​IMG]
     
  3. kakerlak

    kakerlak Senior Member

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    Sort of look like those Valco pickups you see on Supros after they quit using the black and white (now yellow) plastic-covered ones that bolted on through the fretboard.
     
  4. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    Good call! They are from an Airline JB Hutto. The "Jack White" guitar.

    I was REALLY impressed with how these sounded outside of that guitar, in a more typical wood guitar. Very full and bold and detailed. Not at all how then come across in the fiberglass bodied guitars.

    Definitely unique in their sound but right up there with my favorite PAFs, P-90s, DynaSonics, and 70's WRHBs.

    ...and they are made of scrap materials. Just whatever was around or cheap, obviously.

    This was the problem with one of them:
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. kakerlak

    kakerlak Senior Member

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    Wacky stuff. I have an early (wood) Supro Ozark that has the black plastic covered pickup, like this:
    [​IMG]

    I wonder how much it differs inside (if any). Really outstanding early '50s Sun blues kind of tone. It's remarkable to me how many of these early, crude designs sound so great.
     
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  6. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    That's a gem! Real clean. I've not been inside one to tell you the whole story, but I took a full set of electrical, mechanical, and magnetic measurements from the JB Huttos, as well as a detailed selection of photos. ....in case you ever want to compare.

    Though it only tells part of the whole story, some of the reason that these earlier pickups tend to sound so much nicer is simply because the only materials available were often what we consider today to be "better." The wire is a great example. There was no poly wire to be considered the "cheap and fast option" the only suitable wire that was available for use was wither plain enamel or heavy formvar, which are considered high end or esoteric by today's standards.

    Again, it's not the whole story, but certainly playing into the more interesting sounds of older pickups is inconsistencies in materials and build then. Things were a little looser in spec and tolerances were more slack. These inconsistencies can come though, in a few different ways, as sonic improvements to our ears and minds.

    I'd say plain old dumb luck also had a big hand in some of these gems. The size and shape of the magnets that Gibson and others used, for instance, was not due to detailed calculations of what would sound best or give the best combination of output and inductance or anything that well thought out but simply because they were what was already available in industry for other applications and could be had cheap and fast.

    There's certainly plenty more than those parts to the whole picture, and I don't claim to even know it all, but I definitely find this stuff fascinating and it just makes these old gems so much more special. Things aligned, for whatever reason, allowing some fantastic pickups to be made in the 1950's and 1960's. Even some in the 1940's. By the 70's, manufacturers were beginning to "master" production of them from a sales standpoint and had found many shortcuts to take to increase production and lower costs. That's when many (but definitely not all!) of the "happy accidents" began to fade out of production and many could consider the resulting sounds to be less than ideal. ...that can apply to pretty much all gear in the electronic music industry. Not just guitar electronics, but professional studio gear and the home consumer hi-fi market gear. Always some exceptions, of course.

    :cheers2:


    Obligatory eye candy photo: 1960 PAF, turned inside out.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    A particularly fantastic sounding 1966 Fender Precision Bass pickup.

    Check out how that lacquer on the pole pieces has aged! It's long past yellow, well into a deep amber, basically straight-up orange.
    [​IMG]

    It's made the gray forbon have a real olive drab color! ...maybe these are mil spec. ;)

    [​IMG]

    Matches those coils real nice, too!

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. kakerlak

    kakerlak Senior Member

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    I wonder if the Fender Precision Bass is the most recorded guitar model of all time...
     
  9. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    Smart-ass! :cheers2:

    Honestly, I think that has a chance of actually being the case. ...and not only the Precision Bass but 60's Precision Basses, in particular! ...as far as electric bass guitar goes, I mean.

    One thing that was really cool about that '66 pickup above is that the coil on the bass side was a little taller and the coil on the treble side was a little hotter (just typical hand-build parts slop, not intentionally). That gives the bass end a bit more brightness and clarity and the treble side a little more oomph to compensate for the smaller steel cores in those strings. I can honestly say that, if I could keep any P-bass pickup that ever crossed my bench, it would be that one. A real gem.

    Here's another pic:

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    Just another boring day in the office, slaving away for the man.

    [​IMG]

    Ya, right! :fingersx:
     
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  11. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    What's more beautiful than a 1960 PAF? ...especially one in top-tits condition?

    Not much. Not much at all!

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    Maybe I should have given a NSFW warning on this post?
     
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  12. kakerlak

    kakerlak Senior Member

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    Taken apart any more wacky pickups, lately, James?
     
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  13. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    You know it! Occasionally, I even get out a camera. :)

    Here's a MLP member's Patent Number Decal Pickup, from a Norlin LP Custom.

    Let's study the keeper bar a bit. Original P-90 and PAF keeper bars were different from these later ones. They were cold machined. Nice and smooth on the four main surfaces with excellent contact with the magnet and (nearly) always sat flat on the baseplate and the bobbin sat flat on top. They were sheared (a fancy way of saying "precisely broken") at the ends, which sometimes lead to a steep bend towards the end. That's why I said "nearly" above.

    The even earlier ones from pedal steels were another version, as well, having threaded "turrets" machined into them. That's an entire post of it's own, though.

    These later mid-60's-or-so and beyond keeper bars are not made the same way. They don't appear to be cast, as some modern ones are. I think they are still made of key stock / bar stock. The holes may be die cut, though. In any case, the four main surfaces are all wonky and wobbly. Not flat at all. The two largest surfaces do show some characteristics of what a cast part can look like, but the sides still make me think otherwise, as they have a very particular shape and marks to them that bar stock has. These wobbly shapes create a poor fit with the baseplate and screw bobbin, as well as with the magnet.

    The poor fit with the baseplate and bobbin can leave the bobbin not sitting level with the baseplate or the other bobbin. Especially, when you account for rough cast magnets being loose in spec and surface the screw bobbin can often sit loose or tilted back, away from the other bobbin, as the magnet pushes up on it, from one side underneath. The other problem here is that the keeper bar and/or pole screws can be loose. Loose screws and slugs are a common cause of feedback in T-Tops, that I find. Usually, the keeper is tight enough from all the various parts contacting it but often a couple screws are just flopping about in the breeze. There are examples I've found where the entire setup is loose, however.

    The poor fit with the magnet can create some variance in sound. Air gaps do strange things with magnets. Though air space is a great way to isolate magnets from each other to avoid misaligning/degausing, when that airspace is small enough between two magnets, or between a magnet and magnetized steel parts, magnetism is actually measured extremely high in that gap. The real world result is that you can have inconsistencies from one similar pickup to the next or inconstancies from one side of the pickup to the other.

    Here's the warped keeper bar from the early 70's T-Top.
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    still sheared at the ends...
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    Here's a nice clean example of a keeper bar from a 1953 P-90:
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    VERY straight and even and Gibson even took the time to grind down the corner on one side. Anyone who's built enough vintage-accurate pickups will understand exactly why they did this, as we've all had to do it as well.
    [​IMG]
    You can see the reamed holes clearly in this one:
    [​IMG]
     
  14. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    Here's some more shots of the rest of that T-Top. @NorlinBlackBeauty has some really amazing shots of the rest of the guitar posted around the forum.

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  15. kakerlak

    kakerlak Senior Member

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    James, that's interesting. I'd have guessed that those keeper bars were just the result of dies gradually dulling and starting to increasingly deform the bar stock when punching screwholes, but if it's something that just starts up at some point, then it must be a change in supply/process.
     
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  16. Brewdude

    Brewdude Senior Member

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    Seriously one of the most interesting threads on MLP!
     
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  17. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    Yes, it's a distinctly different process and result. You can tell, as soon as you open up a pickup, which type of keeper bar it is. The warped and wobbly types started showing up sometime around the transition from Patent-Number-Decal-PAF-Bobbin-Humbuckers to Patent-Number-Decal-T-Tops.


    Here's that milled-turret style keeper bar that I mentioned perviously. This is from a 1941 Gibson:

    [​IMG]

    The underside:
    [​IMG]

    Here it is in comparison to a PAF keeper bar, for size reference:
    [​IMG]
     
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  18. kakerlak

    kakerlak Senior Member

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    Damn, that's a huge difference in pole-piece spread. That must've been one of those super-slanty ones?
     
  19. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    Yes, on a EH145 (or was it a EH185?) lap steel with wide spacing, as well.

    [​IMG]
     
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