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Can a four pole pickup be made into a two pole by removing poles?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. If you start off with (let's say) a bass pickup that has four of the pole pieces, and remove two of them (leaving the bobbins in place), will it become a two pole pickup that would still operate?

    Idea being to make a four string pickup into a two string pickup that fits into a four string pickup routing.

    This is a smaller portion of a larger idea.

    Now, imagine a dual-coil pickup, sortof like a Music Man type pickup. If two of the poles from one of the coils were removed, and two ~opposing~ poles of the other coil were removed, would it sortof create a "tetris block" P-bass pickup in a ~humbucker~ package?

  2. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Maybe - getting the poles out without tearing up the coils might be tricky.

    You'll also be left with a weirdly wound coil. I have no idea as to how it would affect the tone.

    If it were me, I'd do a rewind.

    Is this similar to the effect you're going for?

  3. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    If the routing is the same, there's probalby nothing to gain by removing them; the two poles that are "left" don't get stronger or sound different.
  4. Well, that is a ~side chain idea~ .... something that sprung up while I was writing the opening post.

    Actually my thought is to use existing pickup routs and pickups to support bass strings and/or treble strings. Ugh ... ok that sucked .... screwit ... here .... I just need to go take a friggin picture and begin this conversation properly.

    Give me a few minutes .. gotta take the pics, photoshop up a few, upload to photobucket, and post here. Uh .... lemme see here ... carry the six .... add four ..... um ..... 15 minutes? Oh wait .. make it 20 minutes, forgot to divide by 137.5.


    Thx ... Fluxhole.
  5. CBRXJ


    Jul 31, 2010
    Apple Valley Ca.
    see you in 17 minutes


    Sep 15, 2012
    SLC Utah
    Romoving the poles will work, and on a humbucking pickup you could remove two poles from either coil and be able to mix the E" and A" and the "D and G" strings independantly if you wired it that way. A friend of mine has a Conklin 9er that uses a regular pickup with poles removed so that it only picks up the lower strings.
  7. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    If you want to get more involved, a Wal type pup would be cool:


    There's a company that makes single pups like that but I can't remember their name right now.
  8. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Ovation Magnum neck pickup:

  9. Ok, all set. Before I get too far into this and forget to post a frame of reference, here's what this ~removing of poles~ idea is all tied to.



    So ok. That said, below is a picture I just took of the bass being used as a research tool. I recently got a pair of Duncan design pickups that I intend on adding to this bass for various testing reasons. Each pickup will have it's own output (just as it does now). And each pickup will be subjected to individual processing. It's all part of a test rig used to construct that last bass amp I will ever need, and also the last bass guitar I will ever assemble (Warmoth stuff). What I learn from these tests will be applied to creating that ~last bass~ I will ever buy. I've been through twenty eight basses in the last 23 years, and I've never really had "the one" that satisfied my whims. I've learned something new with each new bass and on this next Warmoth construct (my eleventh Warmoth) I plan on using everything I've learned from the last 28 basses as well as what I learn from these tests.

    Ok, that's the premise.

    Anyhow, back to topic here (refer to picture below). This is where I plan on routing cavities for new J-bass packaged pickups. R-neck and R-bridge. They are placed in stock Rickenbacker positions (which happen to be located where "Fret 24" and "Fret 36" would be located had a bass been equipped with such things. I'm not totally sure but I think the guitar-educated refer to those points as the 2nd and 3rd harmonic positions. I just call them F24 and F36).

    Soooo .. since I'll have J-bass pickup routs in those locations, I got to wondering if I could create two-pole pickups for those spots (any of the four spots). That way I may be able to experiment (~learn~) what having just the bass trings picked up at F24 combined with the treble strings pickup up at J-Bridge might do for tone when mixed with either/both of the remaining four-string pickups. Or any other combination of 2-string/4-string pickups (or ta hell with it .... try all four locations with various 2-string pickups using various mixes). I may even put each pickup's wire on a switching jack so that I may easily repatch the wiring routings from any type of series/parallel arrangements using small 3.5mm patchcords. Patchcords are something I am comfortable around (see link to "Experimental Fully Modular Bass Rig" above, or just look at my avatar).

    My ultimate setup for testing/learning/data-farming would, of course, be individual string coils that could be placed anywhere and sent to individual outputs. And that might even happen at some point. But for the purposes of satisfying my present curiousity, I'm wondering about this two-string pickup thing that fits in J-bass routs.

    I suppose it might be easier to simply rout-out everything to be able to accept nearly any type of pickup in nearly any position. I huge bathtub "universal" pickup routing. Or even do something like Leo Fender did and simply mount various pickups to little boards with I/O jacks on them that fit into a test bass like "modules" ("modular pickups" have been an idea I have entertained for a long time, well before I was exposed to this video, which was just a week ago).


    Of course if I do this pole-removal thing I'll most likely use some ebay-pickups that only have four poles to make things easier to do (unless otherwise advised).

    Ok, so there's my current insanity.

  10. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    It is easy to neuter the poles on a pickup by placing a thin sheet of steel over the ones you want to eliminate. The magnets will hold it in place reasonably well. If you are just playing around with ideas this easily reversible modification may be the best way to go.

  11. Hmm .. perhaps so. How thick does the plate need to be?
  12. Psycho cool stuff here! The Wal pickup taken from the SGD Lutherie School Of Cool (he and I have already discussed the possibility of using a Wal pickup .. it doesn't seem to be a new idea).


    This is just insanely appropriate as well ..... I had no idea that Ovation was this innovative.

  13. So it's kindof like the thing I was talking about with the Music Man pickup.

    See, this entire notion just has this strong appeal ... for those of us with strong control issues!

  14. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    look for older fender american standard pickups; they built them with the polepiece magnets inside a plastic bobbin, insulated from the coil-windings.

    you can push them right out of the bobbin without hurting anything.

    this is not true for most fender-types (including those duncan-designed, i believe), which wrap the wire right onto the magnets; move a polepiece and you get a busted coil wire and a dead pickup.

    any pickup with a screw-down polepiece you can of course just unscrew it right out.

    either way, it should do what you're thinking, allow a pickup to sense some strings but not others.
  15. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    In that case, you need one of these Atlansia basses:

  16. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I don't think that'll do what you'd expect it to do. If I recall right from a discussion at the pickups makers' forum, Bartolini actually did that intentionally on some pickups to diffuse the field more evenly, making it behave closer to a bladed pickup.

    Flux, as for your question, so long as the pickups are made using bobbins that do not let the magnet contact the wire, yes, you could remove them and leave half the coil magnet-less. I've seen two cases where that was used; one was a set of Nordstrand Precision 5 pickups where both pickup halves covered three strings, however, one half lacked two pole-pieces under the central "A" string so it wouldn't pick its signal up. The other case was with a pickup paired up with its dummy coil, where one entire coil of the humbucking pair has no pole-pieces.

    Also, if you want individual movable pole-pieces, this gentleman figured it out.
  17. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Guitarpartsusa used to carry plastic bobbins for Jazz pups but I don't see them now.


    I've got some old Jazz pups from a Peavey Milestone that have the plastic bobbins. You might find some of those.
  18. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I think DiMarzio Model Js have them too, considering they have adjustable (and thus removable) polepieces, though they're not everyone's cup of tea.
  19. Awesome!
  20. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Another option is that if your pups have slugs and a bar magnet instead of magnetic pole pieces, you can remove the bar magnet and put disc magnets under the slugs you want use.