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"Dead" pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Din Of Win, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. So,

    I recently bought a '74 Univox Hi-Flyer bass. The previous owner had taken out the original pickups and replaced them with pickups from a Gretsch Electromatic.

    He had wired them incorrectly, so i took it to a local shop. While i was there i asked if he might be able to use the original pickups instead.

    So, he calls me a few days later and says that they're "dead", and just re-wired the existing pickups.

    Now, i've played bass for a while, and i've never heard of pickups dying. They're just some passive humbuckers. Can they really die??! :(
  2. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    my only dead experience was when the coils were broken and unraveling, but that would account for a dead low output sound
  3. Weird, they're a bit rusty... but i played on an old Harmony P bass with crazy rusted pole pieces and it sounded fine.

    Is there any remedy to the possible 'low output' diagnosis?
  4. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    There are a few things that can cause a pickup to completely die.

    A very strong magnetic field can degauss the magnet(s). I've never seen this happen, though.

    The windings can corrode to the extent that there's no longer any continuity. (I've only seen this happen once.)

    The wire at the end of the winding/beginning of the lead can break. (I've seen this often.)

    The last scenario can be repaired quite easily.
  5. I know a guy who has an old stack-knob Jazz bass and both pickups demagnetized so much that the output was eventually unusable. Never did understand why, but it happened.
  6. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013
    Here's a stupid question....? I see a lot that people use 9v batteries to check polarity.... If someone did that to a p/u would that de-magnetize the magnets in it. And on the other hand, if doing that to a metal pole piece pickup, would that re-magnetize it? Would be interesting to know, wish I had some extra pickups around, I'd whip out the dc p/s and see what happens, lol.
  7. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    You might be better off with the Gretsch pickups.

    As far as pickups being "dead," check with a DMM (set the scale to 20 kOhms). No reading = dead pickup.
  8. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    That's for speakers, the phase of the voice coil (not magnet polarity).

    Use a compass to check the polarity of magnets. You can also use another magnet if you know which ends are north and south. Opposites (north and south) attract; like polarities repell each other. DON'T let the magnets touch each other; just get them close enough so you can feel the attracting or repelling force.

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