Does size really matters?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Balor, Jan 22, 2005.

  1. Balor


    Sep 24, 2000
    Montréal, Québec
    This is not what you might think... nor those it have anything to do with the width of the pickup. It's a bit more specific then that. This is a question about pole pieces. Given a similar magnet size, weight and structure, will the size, shape and configuration of the pole pieces affect the tone of the pickup? Those examples are from the Delano site. The smaller double dots are alnico and the bigger single dots are ferrite so there not directly comparable.

    So is it just cosmetics or is there a tonal diffenrence?


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  2. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Well, it's hard to draw a direct comparison, as usually there are not large pole pieces made of alnico, in my experience. I had some large magnet jazz pickups in my American Deluxe, and I really likes them. I cannot say their exact difference, but I did notice more lows with the doubled pole piece pickup. The large pole pieces seem to have more mids.
  3. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    logically yes, you're sensing a larger portion of the string with a larger diameter magnet so I'm guessing it would sound less clean and punchy than the same pup using smaller magnets of the same material. For sure, the shape, mass, location, and material of the magnet will alter the magnetic field which will alter the tone. Call Delano, they make the pup and they can tell you what they think.

    Also, the probability of two basses having identical acoustic properties (aside from a number of other variables) is slim so it's not a good practice to compare pickups in different basses in order to draw a reliable conclusion about the pickups themselves. Characteristics of a pickup will follow it from bass to bass but I've never had a pup yet (over 50 sets) that was not affected by the acoustic properties of a bass and you really can't tell which is which till you isolate the two. But it's better than no comparison at all and does provide some information to work with.

    Also, there is quite a selection of MM pups with the large pole alncio 5 magnets - Carvin, SD, Nordstrand, among others. Not sure but I think the Stingrays are Alnico 5, whereas the Sterlings are ceramic. Alnico 5 is generally used for pups designed to priduce a vintage tone.

    The only mention I recall of Ferrite was in the old PV Foundation basses and they'll generally considered pretty decent pups.
  4. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    Well, One difference is the offset polepeices. In the first example, the magnets are not directly under the string. This provides more punch, and less sustain, while the larger one, being directly under the pickup, creates a more even signal.

    That said, Seymour Duncan claims it's Quarter Pounder pickups (1/4" pole peices) have more low end.
  5. Hmmm.

    That's curious. Most Jazz style pickups I've seen have the actual magnets along the underside of the pickup with metal, but not intrinsically magnetic, pole pieces.
  6. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    I just assumed most pole pieces are magnets and have just recently ran across something stating that's not always the case and I'm not sure how that works. Some basplates are actually magnetic and even some pups screws are magnetized to influence the magnetic field. From what I've observed, about every J pup I've had has had magnetic pole pieces in that the poles themselves attrack a metal object - construction being basically a couple bobbins to hold the magnetic poles with copper wire coiled around them. The only exception that comes to mind is a set of japanese fenders.
  7. Balor


    Sep 24, 2000
    Montréal, Québec
    Thanks for the answers guys, it really nice to have other opinion on this kind of subject.

    This question comes from an 8 string with a novax fretboard I'm commissioning from a friend. While searching for a custom pickup builder I fund Bassculture. The guy as many options and one of them is the size of the pole pieces: 1x10mm or 2x5mm. So I could ask for a MM style pickup or Fodera style humbucker or pretty much anything in between. The shape and magnet type are almost known quantities, but the size of the pole piece is still a mystery. I'll have to ask Christoph at Bassculture on Monday, but it doesn't hurt to have more then one opinion!

    Check out this link: pole piece effect.... It doesn’t say how the size of the pole might affect the tone, but how the magnetic field change the way the string moves. My guess is that a double pole piece is more likely to approximate this effect than a lager pole...?

    take care