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Ric-esque pickups for five string

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Martin Beer, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    I've just picked up a nice piece of black walnut which would make an excellent pair of body wings for a through-neck bass, so I have a potential project in mind. I like narrow-spaced five strings (like MM spacing), and my idea would be to build a five string with similar pickup positions to a Rickenbacker 4001/4003 with the aim of getting the sound into that ballpark, though it wouldn't be a straight copy in other respects. I'm not looking to precisely recreate any particular model or era of Rick sound, just to get some of that character out of it.
    I've been looking around at what my options are for single coil pickups with a bit of brightness to them which would work for a narrow-spaced fiver. Classic Amplification have some, but I'd need to check string spacing. Hanson Chi-Sonics could work and would look great. Carvin do their J99 pickup in a soapbar version, and while those are less pretty they might be an option.
    Is there anything else out there I should be looking at? The other option is to wind something myself - I've done this a couple of times in the past but I find it a bit of a PITA, to be honest!
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Well, of course, custom pickup makers, I just got an order in from Curtis Novak, is BS/DS is his version of the Starfire / Bisonic / Darkstar sound. I don't know if he does 5s, never seen a 5 string darkstar, but that's what the "custom" part is about, right? ;) I think Ric's sound is partially due to the way their pickups are wound, Curtis says something similar: CurtisNovak.com - Pickups and Guitars | Frequently Asked Questions FAQ TV Jones Thunder'Mags claim to have a Ric-ish tone, but I've never seen a 5 there, either, but one could always ask - if nothing else, someone can point you to someone who can make what you want (perhaps at some extra cost, of course).
  3. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    Novak's work looks great, though I have a feeling the cost would be a bit more than I could go for (though no doubt worth it).
    However, I know that a few posters on here have used other pickups in the Rickenbacker positions and got the sort of results I am looking for, so I suspect that almost any bright single coil which fits my spacing might get me close enough.
  4. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Since I own a Rickenbacker 4002, with two early Ric humbuckers, I can say from direct experience that a pair of EMG 35HZ's run through a good bass & treble preamp, like an EMG, sound good for that style.

    It's more the construction: neck through-maple, that will have influence on the tone. I have a RIC HB2 humbucker in my custom half-fanned P/J bass. Does it sound like a Rick? No. It sounds like a P-bass with an edge, since the pickup is in the D-G position.

    Second, it is not the resistance, but the low inductance of the pickups that retain the clarity and give the tone. They are wound with 44 gauge wire, and have a different magnet structure on the high-gains, and large alnico slugs on the toasters.
    Martin Beer likes this.
  5. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    I would tend to avoid active circuitry, not for any tone reasons but because I like the simplicity and lack of battery of a passive system. But yes, that clarity is what I'm looking for. I think my construction will be close enough to get the sound into the right area as while my wings will be walnut rather than maple, it's a fairly dense piece and I intend to recreate the shallow body depth too.
    I wonder if a pair of Lawrence J-45s in the right positions might get me close, (perhaps using the lower inductance "neck" version in both positions), since they're reputedly very clear sounding. Even if it turns out somewhat different, I'm sure it would get me something worth listening to.
  6. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    The Classic Amplification 5 string pickups can go about 2 1/4" from B-G. That's somewhere around 15 mm spacing. It's definitely tight but I adapted fairly quickly. The Kahler bridge it the only one that I could find that will go narrow enough.

    Here's a link with sound clips to a build that I did trying to imitate the Ric sound using SD Quarter Pounders that Ric5 recommended. Spacing is more conventional. You can be the judge of how close it is.
  7. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    Listening to that, I like the highs better on the Classic Amplification pickups but the SDs are not bad, particularly with the series cap on the bridge pickup.

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