Slant Pole Pieces

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Llewellen, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. Llewellen

    Llewellen Guest

    Dec 23, 2016
    Nordstrand, Haeussel and probably others offer PU models with 2 pole pieces per string angled at 45 degrees. Does that configuration impart a recognizable characteristic to the tone when compared to a conventional two pole layout?
  2. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Sound probably depends more on other factors (wire gauge, winding, magnets...). But the slant gives a slightly wider aperture, and that can matter too. I’m just not sure how much the slant contributes to the sound by itself...
  3. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    The magnetic field is less even (more concentrated around the strings' rest positions) when you put the pole pieces next to each other like that - they share that with 51 P bass pickups (the 51 P bass pickup is more extreme in its concentration of magnetic field). That would give you more low order distortion (2nd and 3rd harmonic) products when the string is moving a lot than with a more even field - that aspect is probably more audible in a neck position pickup. That said, I have Nordstrands twisted pole pickups in the bridge position on a couple of my basses - I like them there. I don't think it's necessarily because of the twist, though - they're just good pickups that sound good to my ears as bridge pickups.
  4. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    It's difficult for me to put it into words, but Nordstrand calls it Character on their timbre charts for their pickups.
    The Big Singles have the slanted poles & they have heaps of character!

    I've gotten used to them now, but when I first heard & played the Big Singles they were nothing like I'd heard before & I was in turtle dove.
    Recently I played my SR1800E exclusively for a few days while I waited on my beater bass to come back from the luthier & when I plugged in the beater I remembered why I love those Nordstrand's so much!

    This is not to say the beater sounds bad, in fact it sounds great to me, but it's lacking that top end & high-mids sparkle.
    Possibly to be solved soon with some new coated stainless steel strings:

  5. Llewellen

    Llewellen Guest

    Dec 23, 2016
    So let's relate this concentrated magnetic field to string spacing. I am considering a set of Haeussel JBass PUs to retrofit to my Warwick 5 string. Haeussel tells me that the minimum string spacing their 2 pole PUs can accommodate is 17mm. Maximum string spacing on the Warwick bridge is 17mm so that would work OK for the bridge PU but obviously the spacing at the forward (neck) PU position is going to be less - probably in the range of 16-16.5mm.

    - is that going to reduce the performance of the neck PU substantially?
    - perhaps I should use a conventional 2 pole layout in the neck position if, as you say, it would have a slightly less concentrated magnetic field?
  6. Llewellen

    Llewellen Guest

    Dec 23, 2016
    I am considering these for a 5 string fretless so "character" might work out just fine :) With the stock MEC PUs currently on the bass, I very much like the tone and feel of SIT Silencers.
  7. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    String spacing might be an issue with these. In addition to the magnetic field being a bit less smooth, if you are using end to end hum cancelling pickups, and you bend a string between the two halves of the pickup (bending the D string on a 4 string towards the A string for example), there can be, with focused magnetic poles, a "magnetic valley" when the string goes rather quiet. I had issues with this on a 51 (wired for hum cancelling) style pickup. I don't have those issues with J style pickups wired for hum cancelling (wider spaced magnets seem to help a lot) - they have a bit of a valley if you bend the D string a lot on the neck pickup, but I don't bend that much. With split coil P pickups, the valley seems non-existent, even if I go out of my way to bend a ridiculous amount - wider pole spacing and the offset seem to both help, as fart as I can tell.
  8. Llewellen

    Llewellen Guest

    Dec 23, 2016
    My playing style, at least on the fretless where these PUs are intended to go, doesn't involve any bending so that's not an issue. I'm just trying to understand how sensitive this 45 degree angled layout would be to string spacing generally - i.e. would 0.5mm in either direction on the neck PU make any practical difference. This is the initial response I received from Haeussel. I'm waiting for a reply to my followup questions:

    "The two windings need space, so the smallest possible spacing is 17mm for the small double magnet versions.
    With the single big magnets (we call em MM style magnets) we can go down to 15mm spacing, as the smallest spacing possible.
    The bigmag versions sound more punchy, with a bit more bottom."
  9. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I don't think .5 mm off center would give you issues - there's more than enough aperture there to cover you. A couple mm, maybe, but 1mm or less, I think you'd be good.
  10. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Interesting topic.

    @Llewellen , when Haeussel specified a 17mm minimum spacing, that could be interpreted (at least) two different ways:
    • Due to pickup construction limitations, the focus of each magnetic subassembly can be no closer than 17mm from its neighbor, or
    • The set of pickups can accommodate string spacings of no less than 17mm at the bridge
    Do you happen to know which they mean?
    4StringTheorist likes this.
  11. Llewellen

    Llewellen Guest

    Dec 23, 2016
    I'm pretty sure they mean the former. Here is the complete response.

    "Hello Drew,
    with the small magnets we can build spacings not smaller than 17mm, see graphic for understanding:

    The two windings need space, so the smallest possibe spacing is 17mm for the small double magnet versions.
    With the single big magnets (we call em MM style magnets) we can go down to 15mm spacing, as the smallest spacing possible.
    The bigmag versions sound more punchy, with a bit more bottom."

    This is the graphic referred to:
    Slant Graphic.png
  12. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    The spacing issue seems to be related to the split coil design, not the slant of the poles. Having two poles per string, slanted or straight, limits how much room there is for wire. To allow the appropriate number of turns of wire (per coil), they need to keep at least 17mm string spacing. So I don't think either of their designs with two small poles per string will align with your string spacing. That said, it might work sufficiently well.

    I would, however, clarify with them what they mean with "17 mm spacing". It is not clear what they mean, and if they mean 17 mm at the bridge, then their neck pickup might indeed be narrower and fit just fine.
  13. Llewellen

    Llewellen Guest

    Dec 23, 2016
    Good point and I will clarify that in the next email exchange with Haeussel.

    On a related note, their JBass PUs are about 30% more expensive than the equivalent Delanos, after allowing for shipping and currency conversion. I have read some very glowing reviews of the Haeussels (with attractive adjectives) and heard some demos on the Maruszczyk site but I'm on the fence about whether their tone is 30% better and more noticeable. I guess that depends on the tone one is chasing :)
  14. Llewellen

    Llewellen Guest

    Dec 23, 2016
    In answer to the question I originally posed, here is the response from Haeussel:

    "Slanted magnets offer a wider winding geometry, and a wider winding brings a little bid more mids and lower mids. But here that´s just a „little bit“.

    They also confirmed that string spacing that deviates by less than 2mm will not significantly impact the performance of the pickups.

    Now I'm just waiting for them to confirm a price to see if it is within reason when compared to others such as Delano, Nordstrand, etc.
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Seems like slanting the pole pieces is one way to give them a larger working area due to the overlap angle without increasing the actual diameter of the pole pieces.

    Slanting may also have some effect on the geometry of the magnetic field.

    What that translates out to in terms of timbre and transfer characteristics is something I have no way of assessing since I lack the design background. But it does sound interesting enough that I’m now thinking about trying some.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2019
  16. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    This sounds like my experience with Nordstrands. It's just a somewhat fatter sound, with more mids. Haeussel doesn't seem to have such an extreme slant, so I imagine the impact on sound is smaller.

    It's also similar to the Nordstrand description (for Fat Stacks): "The traditional bi-pole magnet layout was rotated 45 degrees, increasing the size of the traditional J style coil by 50%, making the coil wider and instigating the growth of a larger magnetic aperture, facilitating the capture of each string's unique harmonic characteristics. This results in a fatter tone..."