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Post new topic Rickenbacker pickups & string balance
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Author Topic:  Rickenbacker pickups & string balance
Noah Miller


From:
Rocky Hill, CT
Post  Posted 20 May 2014 9:46 am    
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I've owned two Rick 8-string steels (three necks total) with horseshoe pickups, and I'm noticing a pattern: the highest string is always weaker than the others. The Rick 6-stringers I've played didn't have this problem, but their high strings weren't quite as far toward the edge of the coil.

Is this a common issue, or am I just unlucky?
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chas smith


From:
Encino, CA, USA
Post  Posted 20 May 2014 10:27 am    
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Rickenbacker, back in the 40's, was overstocked with 6-string pickups that they had wound, So, to make an 8-string pickup, sometimes they scabbed a pole on each end of the the 6-string pup and added a few more windings. I have D-8 guitar that has that "feature".
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Rick Aiello


From:
Berryville, VA USA
Post  Posted 20 May 2014 5:57 pm    
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The other issue is the gradient of flux density as you move toward the curve of the magnets ...

With a set of good cobalt steel horseshoes .... The flux density "at the mouth" is around 220 gauss (probe centered between magnet flanges) ... As you go toward the curves ... It drops by more than half ... And at the curve it is zero ...

The seven stringers were built differently ... A pole dead center in the gap between the two magnets ... The two bobbin mounting screws were steel and acted as pole pieces ... So the outermost two strings were very close to where the sixers are ...

What makes some 8's more noticeable than others ... Is toward the late 50's ... They started running out of the good cobalt stock ... So the highest mid gap reading can be as low as 90 gauss in some of the 60's horseshoes ...

When I made magnets for Lollar ... I made extra long ones for the 8 stringers ... I Called them " Longfellows" ... Laughing

The prewar 10 string Bakelites had very long magnets ... To help compensate for the physics of horseshoe magnet flux density distribution ...
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Noah Miller


From:
Rocky Hill, CT
Post  Posted 21 May 2014 3:32 am    
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That makes sense, but the weird thing is that the low string - which is just as close to the end of the magnet and the end of the coil - is at normal strength.

Is it possible to raise the pole without damaging the bobbin, or is that a waste of time anyway?
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Rick Aiello


From:
Berryville, VA USA
Post  Posted 21 May 2014 3:58 am    
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Trying to raise the poles is a dangerous maneuver ...

The magnet wire is wound around that bare extra pole ... So trying to tap out a few mm will short the coil ...

And I've fixed more than a few bobbins where they cracked in half by folks trying to adjust the poles ... Those slugs are in tight ...

I'd be happy to remag yours ... Could be that the bass side magnet is stronger ( they rarely are within 20 gauss of each other) ... And over time they run down 40+ %

But before messing with anything .. Try putting a bigger string on there ... Could be as simple as increasing the diameter of the hi string to achieve a more balanced output ...

I use an 0.017 E ....
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Frank Welsh


From:
Upstate New York, USA
Post  Posted 21 May 2014 4:08 am    
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Noah, my issue with my 6 string Rickenbacher hollow body steel (from around 1932)is that the third string is noticeably weaker than the rest - about half the volume. There is no apparent damage to the pickup and everything "looks" normal. The output and tone from all the other strings is just great.

Could it be that there is something inherent in the aging process of the horseshoe pickup design that results in this problem regardless of the number of strings? I can't figure out why the one string should be relatively weak and the others so strong.

I use standard strings sets that balance perfectly volume-wise on all my other steels, so it's not the string that's the problem.

I wonder if we both have the same cause for our pickup problems - perhaps something inside the pickup degrades over a long period of time.
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Rick Aiello


From:
Berryville, VA USA
Post  Posted 21 May 2014 5:00 am    
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Frank, take a flashlight and look in there ... A big issue with horseshoe pickups is string placement over the pole ...

Unlike pole's that are magnets ... Or pickups that use screws (with big heads) ... The slugs in Rickys are quite tiny ... And the string placement over the pole is a much bigger issue than units with alnico poles, etc.

Check to see if that string is centered over the slug ... Bad bridge slotting jobs sometime results in the string sitting off to the left or right ...

There really isn't much going on inside a Ricky unit ... Just 38 AWG wound around a Bakelite core with imbedded iron slugs ... So without having the unit here, it's tough to diagnose issues ...

The only other thing I can think of that would screw up output to just one string ... Is if the iron slug in question has oxidized badly and/or has lost contact with the bottom flange of the magnet ...

Just trying to help Mr. Green
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Chris Lucker


From:
Los Angeles, California USA
Post  Posted 21 May 2014 5:56 am    
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I had the single ten that Jon frye made for Eddie Bush of the Royal Hawaiians in 1961. Nice rosewood guitar with a rickenbacker ten string horseshoe pickup. It only really picked up the middle eight strings. Despite the strings having the pickups intended spacing.
On Bigsby blade pickups, on the other hand, you can pickup way outside the blade.
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Noah Miller


From:
Rocky Hill, CT
Post  Posted 21 May 2014 8:11 am    
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Rick Aiello wrote:
The magnet wire is wound around that bare extra pole ... So trying to tap out a few mm will short the coil ...

But before messing with anything .. Try putting a bigger string on there.


Ah, good to know. Forget it then, I'm perfectly happy with a B7 instead of a B8. I tried a larger string, but it didn't make nearly enough difference.
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Frank Welsh


From:
Upstate New York, USA
Post  Posted 21 May 2014 8:48 am    
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Rick, Noah, all six strings pass directly over the centers of their respective polepieces of the pickup in my N.S. model Rick.

I suspect oxidation is the problem (now 82 years old!! - the pickup, not me - yet) and may also be the issue with the other pickups mentioned in this thread. When I bought the guitar some 20 years ago, there were touches of rust on the back as well as around the string anchoring holes behind the bridge. Prior to my ownership there may have been questionable storage conditions for this guitar.

Perhaps the overall condition of Noah's guitar can give some similar clue to the problem with his pickup.

Thanks for the info.
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Joe Burke


From:
Toronto, Canada
Post  Posted 2 Oct 2019 7:50 am    
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I too am having a problem with my Rickenbacker 8 string pick up. The 8th sting (lowest) is noticeably weaker than the rest. And the 7th slightly weaker. I'm taking it to get looked at tomorrow morning. Possible get it re magnetized.

Otherwise it's a beautiful sounding lap steel!

If anyone has any new suggestions, I'd love to hear from you.
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Joe Burke


From:
Toronto, Canada
Post  Posted 6 Oct 2019 2:07 pm    
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Here’s a follow up to my Rickenbacker horseshoe pickup question above.

I took it to a local (Near Toronto) pickup expert. He’d worked on a lot of Rickenbacker and other string thru pick ups. Right we he notice that the nut, that the string rest on before they go through the pick up, had worn down. In other words the strings were sitting on the Bakelite, and therefore not giving a clear sound.

He replaced that nut and re magnetized the pick up (and cleaned up the wiring).

It now sounds beautiful! Better than when I bought it!

Here’s an after photo.
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David DeLoach


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 6 Oct 2019 2:26 pm    
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Is this an issue with the Rickenbacher 7 string pickups?
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