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Adjustable Pickups...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by photoshopgeek, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. Hey Guys,

    I've been thinking about pickup placement and got to wondering...

    Why do pickups have to remain static? Their placement have such a major role in the sound of the instrument that having spontaneous control over their placement would be very advantageous.

    Creating a system for this would be pretty simple. You could fabricate a simple track for the whole pickup assembly to glide back and forth on. You could also find a way to make the the space in between visually pleasing, or a way to conceal the space. Wouldn't be that difficult.

    I can think of one reason this wouldn't be advisable. You would need to take out more wood than usual. The thing is, with the wood that you have to route out for static pickups, how much does the wood between the pickups contribute to sustaining the vibrations of the strings?

    I could have everything completely wrong...

    What do you think?

  2. I have seen exactly what you are describing before. One of the major Boutique builders had one as a test mule. Sorry, I can't remember who it was. I don't think the missing wood would have any noticeable effect.
  3. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Westone Rail Bass.
  4. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
  5. Here's mine: DSC01089.
  6. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Noice! :cool:
  7. Sweet! That's the concept, just in a wood bass. And I was think of two pickups, just for the added variations.

    Btw dmusic, how does it sound? Do you get the desired effect?
  8. heytrid


    Feb 12, 2008
    Calgary AB
    Gibson Grabber also had the sliding pickup in it, not quite as far as full rang ehowever but it did slide
  9. Well, yeah, you can get really different tones from it, for sure. The pickup is a humbucker, passive. It's also a short scale, 32". I use it from time to time for 'ghetto' gigs, where we're crammed into a corner or something.
    My favorite tone is found with the pup an inch or so forward of where it is in the pic, like where a Music Man would have it. Sounds pretty fat. Warm and punchy. Slide it up to the neck and it's an EBO. Plus everybody asks about it. It's actually all wood except for the steel bars.
    One obvious issue to keep in mind if you really want to make something like it is, the pickup, pot, and jack are all contained within the sliding 'pod', to avoid loose, exposed wiring. Bridge/string grounding is accomplished by a sliding 'brush' within the pod(actually a small spring), that slides on the lower rod. This rod is wired to the bridge.
    The only 'problem' with it is it's darn near impossible to slap it, because there's nothing to stop your plucking finger from falling into the 'hole'. I found out real quick that I rely on the body of a normal bass for this. YMMV. But overall, pretty cool. Found it on the 'Bay.
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    And the Spalt vViper.

    Also, Leiber has a pickup where the coils stay in place, but magnets slide in a track, for a similar effect.

    And there was one where the pup was on rails, with a servo or stepper motor to move it, with several position memories.
  11. i know a guy who's got one and likes it alot. keeps his somewhere in the P position. eddie breckenridge from thrice also plays one of these, and ive seen him using different positions, but mostly all the way towards the neck. perhaps different settings for different songs? i know he has a couple of them now.


    as far as the build.. perhaps 2 singles on this track that move independently? of course with selector, phase, series and parallel switches. this would give you nearly infinite tones.

    hell.. if you strike gold on this.. id buy one :D
  12. And I thought I was totally original... lol
    Oh well... Guess it's all been done before...

    How bout two humbuckers able to move independently with full range and this schematic! Overkill? lol :D

  13. Stifflip


    Jan 20, 2006
    Here's Spalt's take on the subject:

    The difference here of course is that it changes the pickup angle.
  14. That is freakin awesome! :bassist:
  15. Stifflip


    Jan 20, 2006
    Yeah, tell me about it. I've been wanting to try one since it was first introduced, which, if I remember correctly, was somewhere in the end of the 1990's. I love the curves and contours of the body, and how the neck is set deep in the body for stability and great access to the upper register.

    I have no clue how that wiper is supposed stay put on one spot if it has no locking mechanism. From this picture and angle, I see none. If friction is what holds the pickup in one position, it is going to loosen over time. The second thing that bothers me about this bass is the headstock. A bass this beautiful deserves a more sophisticated headstock, not this piece of scrap wood found somewhere on the shop floor. Although I do think that Spalt will make a custom headstock on request. These seem to be really rare, too. I haven't found any here in Europe (some surprise).
  16. Absentia


    Feb 25, 2009
  17. TimboZ


    Jan 4, 2009
    South of Buffalo
  18. I had a Gibson Grabber in the late '70's and I loved it. Sold it to buy my P-bass. I've wished a million times I had it back.

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