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Acoustic Black Widow Pickup Dilemma

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by FourNotFive, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. FourNotFive

    FourNotFive Supporting Member

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    Picked up this Acoustic Black Widow locally:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These were made for a few years in the early 70s. Mine is made in Japan. Really good quality. The neck is super narrow (front to back) and very comfortable for me. The pad on the back is a unique touch...

    There are a few other posts here with more info on these bases including this recent post from
    map34157:
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f8/nbd-1973-acoustic-control-corp-black-widow-990610/

    Thanks to map34157 BTW for the info!

    Here's the dilemma:
    [​IMG]
    Original pickup was switched out for a single SD jazz. He said his guitar player talked him into it years ago and he threw the original one out (?!).
    It is VERY LOOSELY mounted in a plastic piece that was made to fill the giant pickup cavity. I mean so loose the it moves around when you move the bass. So much for setting pickup height...or angle for that matter!
    Works well enough to tell how mean this bass can be with the right pup in there.
    What to do...
    The good:
    The pickup route is HUGE. About 2.5" x 4.5".
    So pretty much anything would fit in there without modifying.
    The bad:
    The pickup route is HUGE.
    Nothing short of an original with the mounting ring will fill that hole. Try finding one of these basses, let alone a replacement pickup... Obviously why the custom piece of plastic is there now. Pretty much any pickup solution would need to address this.
    I was thinking maybe Darkstar type, but I've already got that sound covered on other basses. I'm thinking this bass needs to thump. Which makes me think Pbass. Location is about right for a P style too.
    I really like the reverse P style pups on the old Yamaha BB series so that's a possibility. In fact the original ones sort of look like they have the poles in reverse P configuration. You can see what the original pup looked like in map34157s post linked above.
    I don't really just want to throw regular P pups in there and mount plastic around them. I'm thinking of maybe getting something custom made. Perhaps reverse P soapbar type?
    I've looked at a lot of the stock pups available out there and haven't really seen what I'm looking for.
    Anyone got any suggestions?
    Also, any creative ideas for a pickup ring? I could get a pickguard made to cover it, but with the contoured body I can't think of a pickguard shape that would work well.

    ...and since the pup will never be original anyway I will be replacing this:
    [​IMG]
    At least that should be easy. Appears to be standard 5 hole mount (I hope). Could get a bridge with adjustable spacing if needed depending on pup selection.
  2. map34157

    map34157 Supporting Member

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  3. rhp335

    rhp335

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    Most of the Acoustic guitars and basses were built by Bartel. They also built a similar bass for Hohner.

    The pups were single coil and based on the DeArmond pup. Not sure what would be a drop in, but you might find a Hohner or Bartel surround in scrap somewhere.
  4. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member

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  5. DanGouge

    DanGouge

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    This is why Talkbass needs to buy a 3D printer that we can chip in for and then share. A mounting ring ought to be pretty simple to print.
  6. Hawkbone

    Hawkbone Supporting Member

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    That Delano would close to fit. Or, plastic cover for the hole and a piezo bridge.
  7. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Don't just TalkBass - PlayBass! Supporting Member

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    What is the string spacing at the bridge and the nut width? A Rick pickup may fit the string spacing, look great in there and sound wonderful, too.

    Of course, you'll still need some sort of surround for it, regardless.
  8. FourNotFive

    FourNotFive Supporting Member

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    The early ones were Bartel, but this was MIJ. Pickups were a lttle different, but in the same ballpark. Been keeping an eye open for any DeArmond type pups...heck, been looking at all manner of pups...

    Those Delanos are certainly interesting. Would fit, but like anything else would need some kind of ring to cover the gaps. Easy enough to have one made, I suppose. Not sure a dual coil humbucker is waht I want in there though.

    Ha ha ha, yeah we should all chip in on a 3D printer! All problems solved!

    Piezo? Hmmm....that is thinking outside the box!

    String spacing is 19mm. Getting a replacemnet bridge with adjustable spacing so that can be tweaked. Thought about a Ric pup, but since I already have a Ric I'm looking for something different.

    Thanks all for the comments / ideas...keep 'em coming.
  9. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Don't just TalkBass - PlayBass! Supporting Member

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    Maybe a Bi-Sonic or Darkstar pickup? What bridge are you getting?

    For a while Semie Moseley was involved with building the Black Widows, too.
  10. Hawkbone

    Hawkbone Supporting Member

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    I thought of piezo because I recently heard a dude in a Neil Young tribute band playing one of these and it sounded amazing - great lows and no mud.
  11. RandyMolson

    RandyMolson

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    I am pretty sure Bartell was near the end of building days by the time Acoustic picked up his design.
  12. FourNotFive

    FourNotFive Supporting Member

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    I picked up a Babicz bridge. So spacing will still be 19mm. Thought better of trying to get adjustable spacing. This rules out some of the pickups with narrower spacing that I was considering. Going to have to be either 19mm poles or bars...

    Moseley/Mosrite bulit the last batch of the Black Widows and they had a different pickup. A few Mosrite reissue pups out there but not sure on the spacing of those.

    Considering something like this:
    http://www.bestbassgear.com/duncan-cs-stack.htm
    It's a stacked single coil designed as replacement for the original P Bass pickups. Never played one of these though.

    Although it would be a different sound entirely I do really like the ChiSonics that I have on my DJ4 and I can get a single coil in the newer Alnico vintage series. These have chrome covers that would come close to filling the cavity, but I'd still have some extra space to deal with.

    I can pretty easily make another black plastic surround to cover any gaps, but I'd prefer something that looks a little sharper. Does anyone know of a place that would do custom chrome surrounds? If I could get a custom ring to fit the route I could go with any number of soapbar type pickups...
  13. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Don't just TalkBass - PlayBass! Supporting Member

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    Most good machine shops can do that for you, I would think.
  14. RSBBass

    RSBBass

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    Pretty sure the MIJ Black Widows were Matsumoku made. Matsumoku tended to use parts like pups in different lines. You may want to look and see of any of their other basses had a pup that would fit.
  15. FourNotFive

    FourNotFive Supporting Member

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    Yes, I've tried looking for other Matsumoku pups, but not really much out there. Gotta just keep looking.

    Found a couple others that have me interested:

    TV Jones Thunder'Mag:
    http://tvjones.com/pickups-2/bass-pickups/thunder-mag/
    Even available with a DeArmond style mount. Visually I really dig these and the look is similar to the original. The description is "Rickenbacker-esque. More dynamics. Aggressive but not harsh". Hmmm...

    And the Lace Alumitone Bar:
    http://www.lacemusic.com/Bassbar.php
    Sort of out of left field, but I think I might really enjoy these.

    In retrospect I should have posted this in Pickups/Electronics Forum...I started to do this as a NBD post, but ultimately changed it to be about the pup...
  16. BawanaRik

    BawanaRik Supporting Member

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    Looks great. Cool bass.

    Good luck with the pu ring.
  17. FourNotFive

    FourNotFive Supporting Member

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    Decided I am going to try one of the ChiSonic Vintage (Alnico V) pups in the Black Widow. Probably just mount the chrome cover on the existing black plastic instert and see how that goes... I'll post some pics and impressions once I get it finished.

    On a side note I think I am going to try the Lace Alumitones (P and J) in my Kramer DMZ. Not happy with what's in there now, they're not stock anyway and a crazy aluminum neck deserves crazy aluminum pickups, right?
  18. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Don't just TalkBass - PlayBass! Supporting Member

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    Great, let us know how it goes, and of course, photos! :cool:
  19. mjac28

    mjac28 50th Anniversary Ed Sullivan February 9, 1964 Gold Supporting Member

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    I would contact Curtis Novak and see if he can build you a replica.
  20. FourNotFive

    FourNotFive Supporting Member

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    "I would contact Curtis Novak and see if he can build you a replica."

    I thought heaavily about that. It was actually my first thought when I got the bass. Decided to try non-custom options first. If I don't like it then I'll give Novak a holler. I already have another spot where the Chi could happily live too...

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