Can a slug humbucker coil be converted into a Tele or slug P-90 type pickup?

efstop

Silver Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 29, 2015
Messages
9,893
Reaction score
24,778
The pickup in my '09 Melody Maker is just the slug half of a humbucker, on a narrow plate that mounts to the guard like any other pickup would (no ring.)

Can I remove the magnet from the bottom and replace the slugs with Alnico slugs and approximate a Tele/Strat/slug P-90 pickup? This would mean there is no mounting issue, and no enlarging of the narrow body rout or the guard. I already have guitars with large single coils - P-90, P-100 and slug P-90.
I could also leave the magnet in place and replace the slugs with mags anyway, eh?

Would it be better to send the pickup away and have a new pickup with the appropriate size bobbin installed on the plate?

Note 1 - the only screws on the plate go into the bobbin
Note 2 - I read online that the current coil likely reads 4.5-4.7 K
 

cooljuk

Transducer Producer
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
17,041
Reaction score
25,050
Gibson has done absolutely weird things with the smaller Melody Maker size single coils in the last few decades, none generally regarded as great sounding, as I understand. Please share some photos of the insides of your pickup so I can know which version, exactly, you have.

What I have done for replacements is use two Fender bridge top bobbin flanges, which fit perfect in the cover, perhaps with some light shaping, and build a pickup around that. Typically, I've done an AlNiCo bar inside the coil/flanges like a more traditional vintage style Melody Maker pickup, however, it would actually be less work to use rod magnets, Fender style, as the flanges (flatwork) are already punched that way.

With an appropriate size steel base, which you may or may not already have, one could build a completely legit Tele bridge pickup in there. ...with or without plastic cover, if you want stealth. The only difference, in that case, between that pickup and an actual Tele bridge pickup is just the little bump out on the lower flange where the eyelets are. Yours would have to have the hookup lead connected differently, but that won't change the sound at all and can't be seen from outside the guitar.

That said, that's just the pickup. The sound of a Tele is the pickup + the bridge, saddles, and control plate/harness. Your guitar won't sound like a Tele unless you put one of those awful warped stamped steel bridges and the appropriate style saddles and control plate/electronics on it. Then, it could get pretty close!
 

Wound_Up

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
37
Reaction score
24
Gibson has done absolutely weird things with the smaller Melody Maker size single coils in the last few decades, none generally regarded as great sounding, as I understand. Please share some photos of the insides of your pickup so I can know which version, exactly, you have.

What I have done for replacements is use two Fender bridge top bobbin flanges, which fit perfect in the cover, perhaps with some light shaping, and build a pickup around that. Typically, I've done an AlNiCo bar inside the coil/flanges like a more traditional vintage style Melody Maker pickup, however, it would actually be less work to use rod magnets, Fender style, as the flanges (flatwork) are already punched that way.

With an appropriate size steel base, which you may or may not already have, one could build a completely legit Tele bridge pickup in there. ...with or without plastic cover, if you want stealth. The only difference, in that case, between that pickup and an actual Tele bridge pickup is just the little bump out on the lower flange where the eyelets are. Yours would have to have the hookup lead connected differently, but that won't change the sound at all and can't be seen from outside the guitar.

That said, that's just the pickup. The sound of a Tele is the pickup + the bridge, saddles, and control plate/harness. Your guitar won't sound like a Tele unless you put one of those awful warped stamped steel bridges and the appropriate style saddles and control plate/electronics on it. Then, it could get pretty close!
Where exactly does the control plate sit in the signal path? And how does it affect tone?


This oughtta be good lol
 

cooljuk

Transducer Producer
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
17,041
Reaction score
25,050
Where exactly does the control plate sit in the signal path? And how does it affect tone?


This oughtta be good lol
It’s magnetic steel and it resonates.

If you’ve never fixed an overly microphonic Telecaster by addressing the steel control plate, you haven’t worked on enough Teles to give me grief over my response.

Was that “good” enough “lol”?
 

efstop

Silver Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 29, 2015
Messages
9,893
Reaction score
24,778
Gibson has done absolutely weird things with the smaller Melody Maker size single coils in the last few decades, none generally regarded as great sounding, as I understand. Please share some photos of the insides of your pickup so I can know which version, exactly, you have.

What I have done for replacements is use two Fender bridge top bobbin flanges, which fit perfect in the cover, perhaps with some light shaping, and build a pickup around that. Typically, I've done an AlNiCo bar inside the coil/flanges like a more traditional vintage style Melody Maker pickup, however, it would actually be less work to use rod magnets, Fender style, as the flanges (flatwork) are already punched that way.

With an appropriate size steel base, which you may or may not already have, one could build a completely legit Tele bridge pickup in there. ...with or without plastic cover, if you want stealth. The only difference, in that case, between that pickup and an actual Tele bridge pickup is just the little bump out on the lower flange where the eyelets are. Yours would have to have the hookup lead connected differently, but that won't change the sound at all and can't be seen from outside the guitar.

That said, that's just the pickup. The sound of a Tele is the pickup + the bridge, saddles, and control plate/harness. Your guitar won't sound like a Tele unless you put one of those awful warped stamped steel bridges and the appropriate style saddles and control plate/electronics on it. Then, it could get pretty close!
I'm not looking for it to sound like a Tele, I have two of those already :) I'm merely looking for something closer to a pickup that isn't one of Gibson's half-hearted attempts to be different. In otherwords, a normal pickup. A Seymour Duncan JB Jr humbucker or Duckbucker for a Strat will fit IIRC, and they don't seem to have a bump out. But I would prefer a single coil.

Pics are hard to find of this goofy pickup so I'll take the guard off and post pics by tomorrow.

Thanks!
 

cooljuk

Transducer Producer
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
17,041
Reaction score
25,050
Ok, gotcha. I did one for @geetarfreek82 and I think his original was just like that. Maybe he'll drop in and confirm.

Anyway, something like this design, if you want to DIY it, should work. I used Fender Jaguar pickup flatwork for the bobbin frame.





It fit in a regular Strat plastic pickup cover, too.


There's way more room on a bobbin like that, than on the single slug bobbin, like you have. The single slug bobbin can't really hold much wire and it's short and wide, as well, which limits the range of sounds you can get from it.

Obviously, I used an AlNiCo bar, but Fender-style rod magnets would work, as well. ...and really be much less work, not requiring modding the flatwork to take a bar.

The one above had a very full coil of 42 AWG PE wire on it but the goal wasn't for a classic sound as much as making the guitar sound awesome, in general. If you want a classic sound, you could do a Strat or something more Tele like.
 

efstop

Silver Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 29, 2015
Messages
9,893
Reaction score
24,778
Ok, gotcha. I did one for @geetarfreek82 and I think his original was just like that. Maybe he'll drop in and confirm.

Anyway, something like this design, if you want to DIY it, should work. I used Fender Jaguar pickup flatwork for the bobbin frame.





It fit in a regular Strat plastic pickup cover, too.


There's way more room on a bobbin like that, than on the single slug bobbin, like you have. The single slug bobbin can't really hold much wire and it's short and wide, as well, which limits the range of sounds you can get from it.

Obviously, I used an AlNiCo bar, but Fender-style rod magnets would work, as well. ...and really be much less work, not requiring modding the flatwork to take a bar.

The one above had a very full coil of 42 AWG PE wire on it but the goal wasn't for a classic sound as much as making the guitar sound awesome, in general. If you want a classic sound, you could do a Strat or something more Tele like.
Thanks, cooljuk! All I want is classic but I'll settle for awesome :) :cheers2:
 

efstop

Silver Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 29, 2015
Messages
9,893
Reaction score
24,778
Why bother going through the trouble?
Buy a humbucker sized p90 and you'll be all set.
It won't fit without surgery to the guard and rout. It's only 3/4" wide ;) I need a half humbucker-sized pickup or Strat sized; those are bolt ins.
 

Antigua

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
692
Reaction score
288
The pickup in my '09 Melody Maker is just the slug half of a humbucker, on a narrow plate that mounts to the guard like any other pickup would (no ring.)

Can I remove the magnet from the bottom and replace the slugs with Alnico slugs and approximate a Tele/Strat/slug P-90 pickup? This would mean there is no mounting issue, and no enlarging of the narrow body rout or the guard. I already have guitars with large single coils - P-90, P-100 and slug P-90.
I could also leave the magnet in place and replace the slugs with mags anyway, eh?

Would it be better to send the pickup away and have a new pickup with the appropriate size bobbin installed on the plate?

Note 1 - the only screws on the plate go into the bobbin
Note 2 - I read online that the current coil likely reads 4.5-4.7 K
I've never had one of those pickups in hand, so I don't know if they're precisely Fender sized, but if you want Fender tone, it would be good to either but Fender Jaguar pickups, like this https://shop.fender.com/en-US/parts/electric-guitar-parts/pickups/pure-vintage-65-jaguar-pickup-set/0992238000.html, and put a solid cover over them, like these https://www.ebay.com/i/141923565378?chn=ps&mkevt=1&mkcid=28 , or try as you suggested, pop AlNiCo pole pieces into the existing pickup. This is because the AlNiCo pole pieces cause far less eddy currents than the steel pole pieces in the existing pickups. The eddy currents decrease treble response in such a way that isn't easy to restore with EQ alone, it decreases the resonance of the pickup.

Resonance is what give Fender's AlNiCo poled pickups such a distinctive sound, in contrast to single coils with steels slugs or screws. If you buy an import Strat or Tele, they often have steel poled pickups with ceramic magnets underneath, and they will also sound more vintage if their pickups are replaced with pickups having AlNiCo pole pieces, for the same reason.

Another little appreciated fact is that the magnetic field at the tops of the AlNiCo pole pieces are stronger than the magnetic field at the tops of steel slugs or screws, because the steel is only able to conduct a fraction of the magnetic flux of the magnet underneath, where as AlNiCo pole pieces are actual magnets, so you get more string pull with AlNiCo poled pickups, and that affects how the strings moves, and the sound they produce.
 

cooljuk

Transducer Producer
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
17,041
Reaction score
25,050
If you just put AlNiCo pole pieces in that coil, in place of the slugs, with or without another magnet, you will have a thin and weak sounding pickup.
 

endial

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Messages
3,162
Reaction score
3,321
I believe I read somewhere that a big problem with the simple act of swapping out Melody Maker pups is the size of the pickup. AND the pickguard. The length is different than Fender stock.
...Or something to that effect.

-Just wanted to pop that in here while I thought of it.
 

hamerfan

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2010
Messages
470
Reaction score
161
SD solved that problem decades ago, when he invented The Mag Humbucker, later evolved to the Stag Mag Humbucker.
Flat A5 or staggered A2 rod magnets in a slug bobbin with 8.3k of 43awg wire per bobbin.
 

Wound_Up

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
37
Reaction score
24
The pickup in my '09 Melody Maker is just the slug half of a humbucker, on a narrow plate that mounts to the guard like any other pickup would (no ring.)

Can I remove the magnet from the bottom and replace the slugs with Alnico slugs and approximate a Tele/Strat/slug P-90 pickup? This would mean there is no mounting issue, and no enlarging of the narrow body rout or the guard. I already have guitars with large single coils - P-90, P-100 and slug P-90.
I could also leave the magnet in place and replace the slugs with mags anyway, eh?

Would it be better to send the pickup away and have a new pickup with the appropriate size bobbin installed on the plate?

Note 1 - the only screws on the plate go into the bobbin
Note 2 - I read online that the current coil likely reads 4.5-4.7 K
I don't see why not. Strat guys do it with ceramic mag pickups. Same exact thing. Remove the bar mag and steel slugs and replace with your choice of alnico slugs. They're not thin or weak or anything else thats unwanted when done on Strats. So I don't get why it wouldn't work for that pickup, also.
 

hamerfan

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2010
Messages
470
Reaction score
161
I don't see why not. Strat guys do it with ceramic mag pickups. Same exact thing. Remove the bar mag and steel slugs and replace with your choice of alnico slugs. They're not thin or weak or anything else thats unwanted when done on Strats. So I don't get why it wouldn't work for that pickup, also.
cooljuk answered that question already: you get a thin and weak sounding pickup. Seymour Duncan solved that by rewinding it with 43awg to 8.3k per bobbin.
 

cooljuk

Transducer Producer
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
17,041
Reaction score
25,050
cooljuk answered that question already: you get a thin and weak sounding pickup. Seymour Duncan solved that by rewinding it with 43awg to 8.3k per bobbin.
That solution is only needed it you limit yourself to working with the original modern size humbucker coil that's only a 1/4" tall. I'd also say it's not a great solution. 8.3k of 43 AWG on that little bobbin isn't many turns and the physical size of the coil is still very narrow (and very short). Not a full or clear sound.

On the original vintage Melody Maker pickups, there's much more room on the bobbin, than a PAF-size bobbin. Even with that being the case, Gibson still originally stuffed them full of wire even beyond the edges of their flanges. ...to their own detriment, as you can see in the photo (original is the orange coil).



In this other design of a vintage replacement Melody Maker pickup I made, I did use rod magnets in a custom bobbin, and I fabricated a large mild steel bar, grounded and fixed to the pole pieces, which helped shape the voice.


It sticks out the bottom a little, but it does fit the route in the vintage instruments.


Back in service, voiced in a useful way and without routing the guitar out, like the one on the right got.





At the end of the day, a typical PAF-style humbucker bobbin is generally a pretty awful platform for a single coil. Think of all the bad split coil humbucker sounds out there, and they actually have some "benefits" as singles over just one coil without the rest of the humbucker attached. I've done some single PAF-style bobbin pickups, and with magnets instead of slugs, as discussed, that were ok for some applications but I had to wind so much wire on them it was bulging out on all sides, almost as much as a 1/4" all around. I mean really over-stuffed. It wasn't something that could be practically and reliably produced in numbers, because of that, and it wouldn't fit in a route smaller than something like a Tele bridge pickup, anyway. Decent pickup, but for what practical use? None, really, other than making a full humbucker size and mount pickup that sounds sort of like a Start-Jazzmaster-ish thing (this is exactly what my Fullerton pickups where, before I discontinued them, actually).

The vintage Melody Maker pickup formats have a little more room to work with for voicing a more useful (by the standards of most) pickup than the modern versions. There's also compelling reason not to route a vintage guitar for a bigger pickup. On the modern version of the Melody Makers, with the smaller size pickup format, and no generally compelling reasons to not just route it out for a P-90 or PAF, the best solution is probably to just route it out and put something great in there. Those little singles were never a popular sound and disliked by many in the original instruments. They were even further compromised in the modern version which is just awful.
 

Wound_Up

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
37
Reaction score
24
cooljuk answered that question already: you get a thin and weak sounding pickup. Seymour Duncan solved that by rewinding it with 43awg to 8.3k per bobbin.
What question? I made a statement. Strat guys do it all the time and it's NOT thin or weak or any of that. Maybe reread my post?

"I don't see why not. Strat guys do it with ceramic mag pickups. Same exact thing. Remove the bar mag and steel slugs and replace with your choice of alnico slugs. They're not thin or weak or anything else thats unwanted when done on Strats. So I don't get why it wouldn't work for that pickup, also."

Maybe you should've done what the guy after you did and explain why they're thin & weak when Strat coils aren't, instead of attempting to answer a question I didn't ask. All you did was reiterate what was already said and provided no new info. You literally posted the exact same thing:

"You get a thin & weak sounding pickup" which doesn't tell me anything. You literally just repeated what I quoted.

Someone said they're thin & weak.

I said I don't see why it wouldn't work because people do it with Strat coils

You say they're thin & weak and SD redid them with 43awg, which isn't saying anything new. Or answering any perceived question.

Next time, explain why they're thin & weak and don't just reiterate the previously made point.
 

efstop

Silver Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 29, 2015
Messages
9,893
Reaction score
24,778
An aftermarket Strat pickup with a straight edged base (no triangle outsie) will fit, no routing necessary. The guard hole is a bit large, but the mounting holes are close enough. I think I know what I want now, I'll get back to the thread when I get a pickup.
 

hamerfan

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2010
Messages
470
Reaction score
161
We were talking about different things. You were talking about a strat bobbin. My quest was looking for a reasonable sound out of a single Gibson humbucker bobbin sized pickup, just to perserve the orginal look of the MM like the OP wished.
 


Latest Threads



Top