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How can I tell if pickups are 4-string or 5-string or rails?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Skips, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. Skips


    Feb 19, 2003
    If there are no exposed polls, and they are sealed in...I dunno, it feels like silicon.
    The manufacturer says that they are rails so they can be used with either 4 or 5 string basses, but with some past experience, I've come to learn that they might be completely making that up.

    I though if I could get some scrap iron or steel and grind it down and collect the dust and put that on a sheet of wax paper maybe if I put the PU underneath it would show the pattern..is there an easier way?

    And, does it really matter that much if it's a wide 4-string and I use it for a 5-string bass? I tried a 4-string electric mandolin that someone build (not incredibley well, either) with a 6-string guitar pickup, and I really couldn't notice any volume drop betweenthe strings...will the same hold true for a bass?
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    who is the manufacturer? Most mfr's have info on their website that tells you this

    And it can matter, I once got a 5 string J set from bartolini. Those J's were in line humbuckers, with two coils side by side. I was accidentally given a 4 string bridge J pickup, so the A string got little coverage.
  3. jja412

    jja412 Fine gear enthusiast

    Feb 2, 2004
    St. Louis
    I had a very similar experience with Barts. I was mistakenly sent 59J's, the 5 string model hum cancelling, insted of 9J's - the 4 string version. It took me a long time to figure out what the heck was wroing. Checked my soldering/wiring about 20 times. The E/A string were loud and clear, but the D/G were thin and wimpy. Very frustrating.
  4. Great idea, that should help. Wrap the PU completely in wax paper too, in case some falls off the other wax paper...I've had steel wool shavings collect on pups and that's a pain to get off.
  5. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    Usually I just take a small allen wrench (like for bridge saddles) and drag it across the pup to locate the magnets. I run into all the time in determining string spacing. It's all I've ever needed. But it seems I read an account of a resin that's made that actually outlines pole pieces/configuration. And I think they did just drop the resin on a piece of wax paper handheld over the face of the pup. Never done it but I'm guessing using iron shavings or the like will give the magnetic lines of force - but you may be a concentration at the pole piece(s).
  6. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    You don't need to actually grind metal, you should be able to get iron shavings somewhere in your town.
  7. Govithoy should be right, you should be able to find pre-ground iron fillings around somewhere, hobby shops are my guess.

    If it was me, I'd stick the fillings into a little clear plastic bag thing, like what put sandwiches and stuff into. That way you're protecting the pups from stray fillings and its easier to keep ahold of them.

    Josh D
  8. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    If I'm not wrong, I believe that EMG used to and possibly still does sell a small "card" that does exactly this. I've never seen one first hand, but I remember hearing about them. You might want to check their web site.
  9. Skips


    Feb 19, 2003
    I remember reading about the EMG cards, but I didn't really want to spend any money.


    That's the result I got...

    Using a damp cloth, the filings came right off the pickup with no problem.