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Diy pickup sound different per string

Postby Demious » Sun Oct 27, 2019 9:51 am

This is the first time I tried to build a pickup myself and the result seems a bit mystifying. The low E en the B string sound great, but the A string lacks a little volume and the D, G and high E have a conciderable volume drop and sound less clean then the others.
I followed instructions like I saw in many youtube tutorials. It are the same pole-pieces, surrounded by the same coil, magnetised by the same magnet, so Id think the mechanics would be the same for each string.
Could someone give me some insight in what would cause poles within the same pickup to respond so different?
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Re: Diy pickup sound different per string

Postby Wonks » Sun Oct 27, 2019 9:58 am

I assume this is a single coil as you have magnetic pole pieces? Flat or staggered pole pieces?

The windings will be the same, so the only possible differences could be height of string above the pole piece or the strength of each magnet.

If you are magnetising the pole pieces with another magnet, then there's a good chance that they haven't all achieves the same strength during the process. Commercial pickup makers will use an electromagnet for magnetisation, so they get a nice constant strength (and can also adjust the level of magnetisation to a degree).
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Re: Diy pickup sound different per string

Postby Demious » Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:08 am

Hi Wonks,

Sorry, I should have given more details. Its indeed a single coil, but with steel pole pieces, with an Alnico V magnet bar underneath, so all pole pieces should get the same strength from the underlying magnet.
The pole pieces are all the same length, but that was also the case with the pickup that was in there before. I considered the distance between the poles and the strings, but then the high E sould be louder then the B string and I notice the opposite. Also I raised the outer strings a little and lowered the inner strings a little, to compensate, but the difference in volume did not decrease.

I hope this extra information is helpful, if more is needed, let me know.
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Re: Diy pickup sound different per string

Postby Wonks » Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:11 pm

Thanks for the extra info.

Did you take any pictures whilst you were constructing the pickup? Does the magnet sit flat under the steel pole pieces or does it sit to one side (or both sides like a P-90)?

If sitting right underneath, did you use a bar magnet designed for single coils? If you used one for a humbucker, that could explain a lot of the problem.

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Re: Diy pickup sound different per string

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:49 pm

The mass of the string affects the signal generated*, so the low E and either G if plain or B if the G is wound would generate the greatest signal getting progressively lower as you go from thick strings to thinner ones. Usually a plain G is the loudest which is why it often sticks out on a Strat with 'vintage stagger' pickups and a plain G (early Strats were set up for would G strings).

* The core only for non-magnetic (Brass/Bronze/Copper wound) acoustic strings.
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Re: Diy pickup sound different per string

Postby Wonks » Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:01 pm

The most even string-string response does come from flat polepieces, a lot of the pup manufacturers say.
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Re: Diy pickup sound different per string

Postby Demious » Sun Oct 27, 2019 3:11 pm

Thanks for the info guys!

@Wonks -I knew something wasnt right with the magnets! I ordered single coil magnets and the size is clearly meant for single coil, they arent wide enough to connect to both rows of pole pieces. In the position as the bars are in your picture, the magnet is devided left and right, not top and bottom. I contacted the seller about it, but he insisted that this was correct.
I noticed that when the magnet is positioned evenly over the pole pieces, the pole pieces dont get magnetised, so I positioned it with one half on top of the pole pieces and the other half to the side and this way the pole pieces seemed to be magnetised properly when I tapted a screwdriver on them.
But I think Im gonna have a talk with that vendor and I'll go look for other magnets. Thanks for clearing this up, I had it right in the first place, but that vendor really got me doubting myself.
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Re: Diy pickup sound different per string

Postby Wonks » Sun Oct 27, 2019 4:44 pm

I thought it must be something fairly basic. Well, at least you now know what the problem is.

Single coil pickups don't often have a bar magnet underneath. The very cheap single-coil pickups do, where a ceramic magnet and steel pole pieces are cheaper to include than alnico rod magnet pole pieces. The main exception is the P-90, where there's a magnet either side of the screw pole pieces.

If this is for a Strat or Tele style single coil, you may want to look at getting some alnico 5 rod magnets, then you can do away with the magnet underneath.
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