Drilled for neck screws and ferrules, and installed the threaded inserts into the neck. Also made a rough nut. Installed tuners, then it was time for a first string-up!
Now for the first experiment:
We have all seen instruments where the pickup polepieces don't exactly line up underneath the strings. For some people, it's a cosmetic issue, but rarely does it actually cause response problems - the pickups almost always do their job, even if the strings don't line up perfectly. In fact, the original Fender pickup designs, with their twin polepieces per string, are particularly forgiving in this regard.
So I like narrow-spaced five strings, and I happen to own (and love) a rare Gibson Tobias fiver that has 16mm spacing, and has Thunderbird pickups in it. But wait - the T-bird is a four-string! It turns out that the five strings on the Tobias are only marginally wider than the "normal" four-string spread on the T-bird. I'm pretty sure the T-Bird/Tobias pickups use a blade, and not individual polepieces, so it works just fine, but it became very apparent to me that many four-string pickups might just work fine for fivers as well.
(This is nothing new - lots of people have done this. There's even a guy here who has a habit of converting Rickenbacker fours to fives, and he's done quite a lot of them!)
But do you have to use blade-style four-string pickups with a fiver? Again, judging by others' experiences, no. Lots of people have used Jazz-style pickups (with their eight polepieces) and others with success.
So how far can you take this? Without any actual measuring equipment, we know that each pole creates a magnetic field for its corresponding string, but how big is this magnetic field, and how well is the string sensed if it's off by 10%? 20%? 50%? Where does it start to drop off?
One way to find out is to just do it:
This is a Duncan SMB-4D, the ceramic-magnet version of the four-string MusicMan replacement pickup. We see that the outermost strings are just barely "inside" the visual polepiece area, while the D and E strings are off by a little bit, and the A string is dead center between
polepieces. I used alligator clips to jumper from the pickup wires to an instrument lead, turned the amp on, and began to play.
Any of you care to guess the outcome here?