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Thread: Old stratocaster pups

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    Forum Member stardust's Avatar
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    Old stratocaster pups

    Hi, after playing on lace sensors for 30 years I had my original pick ups (1966) rewond and mounted on my Stratocaster.The sound (no need to say) is excellent! the only trouble is that I forgot that originaly , on that pic ups, the E and B string has much less volume because of the scattered poles. so, the question is, is there anybody who can give some suggestion/trick to solve (at least in part) the problem? Thanks to all.

  2. #2
    Forum Member DanTheBluesMan's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    I think the term you're looking for is 'staggered' poles, not 'scattered'

    some people have experimented with pushing the pole pieces down so they are more even with the lower ones. Remember that back in the day string gauges were much thicker than are available today. You can try raising the treble side of the pickup higher than the bass side to see if that helps.

    Just be careful if you do lower the pole pieces that you do not just hammer them with a metal hammer. They are magnets and can be dagaussed by striking with a metal object. Be sure to use a piece of wood or plexiglass and preferably use a plastic or hard rubber mallet. Definitely do not work on the pickups while they're installed in the body or pickguard.

    I do not think they are different lengths as I doubt if Fender would have gone to that expense as to have each magnet made for a particular string so it is my guess that you should be able to lower the height. However, once you do that I don't know if you can gain access to the rear side of the bobbin to push them back up if you decide you rather have them back to original form.

    It might be advisable to get a new set of pickups with flat pole pieces and keep the original's pole pieces unmolested. Rewound vintage pickups are reasonably accepted but once you start messing with the pole pieces I think most people would look elsewhere before they take a chance on them.

  3. #3
    Forum Member stardust's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    Quote Originally Posted by DanTheBluesMan View Post
    I think the term you're looking for is 'staggered' poles, not 'scattered'

    some people have experimented with pushing the pole pieces down so they are more even with the lower ones. Remember that back in the day string gauges were much thicker than are available today. You can try raising the treble side of the pickup higher than the bass side to see if that helps.

    Just be careful if you do lower the pole pieces that you do not just hammer them with a metal hammer. They are magnets and can be dagaussed by striking with a metal object. Be sure to use a piece of wood or plexiglass and preferably use a plastic or hard rubber mallet. Definitely do not work on the pickups while they're installed in the body or pickguard.

    I do not think they are different lengths as I doubt if Fender would have gone to that expense as to have each magnet made for a particular string so it is my guess that you should be able to lower the height. However, once you do that I don't know if you can gain access to the rear side of the bobbin to push them back up if you decide you rather have them back to original form.

    It might be advisable to get a new set of pickups with flat pole pieces and keep the original's pole pieces unmolested. Rewound vintage pickups are reasonably accepted but once you start messing with the pole pieces I think most people would look elsewhere before they take a chance on them.
    Thank you very much Dan the blues man.I ,too, thought to get the pole higher.But I'm too afraid to damage them, you know they are 52 years old and sound very good.I forgot this trouble after 30 years of not using them, otherwise I'd tell the man who made the rewinding, to set the poles properly before rewinding. thanks anyway.

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    Forum Member chuckocaster's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    The magnets are different lengths, and pushing them up or down is very risky! I know guys have done it successfully but it’s an easy way to ruin the pup.

    I personally prefer flat pole pups, the different staggers produce different sounds. Best advice I can give is to just adjust them with the screws by ear, the factory spec heights need to be thought of as a starting point.
    "don't worry, i'm a professional!"

  5. #5
    Forum Member stardust's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckocaster View Post
    The magnets are different lengths, and pushing them up or down is very risky! I know guys have done it successfully but it’s an easy way to ruin the pup.

    I personally prefer flat pole pups, the different staggers produce different sounds. Best advice I can give is to just adjust them with the screws by ear, the factory spec heights need to be thought of as a starting point.
    You cannot adjiust by screwes because they have no screwes (the poles)

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    Forum Member stardust's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    "I personally prefer flat pole pups, the different staggers produce different sounds. Best advice I can give is to just adjust them with the screws by ear, the factory spec heights need to be thought of as a starting point."
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    When i buyed (1966) all stratocasters had staggered poles on their pups, so there was no chance to take it different.
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    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    Well, another "they sound excellent but how do I fix them thread."

    I work for the company that makes pickup magnets. You don't want to hammer them, they are pretty brittle. You'd need to make a jig to hold the pup and then use an arbor press to adjust the stagger. A 3D printer is handy here.

    I would encourage you to try both nickel and steel strings and compare before you do anything. The difference in magnetic permeance between the metals is enough to sometimes solve some issues like this.

    Another trick is to add a baseplate, that will allow you to drop the pups enough the stagger won't matter.

    But, letting reality sink in - if they don't sound right, take them out and try something better. Old crap is old crap, just because they're "vintage" doesn't mean they sound good in a particular guitar. Most vintage pickups really aren't all that and a bag of chips anyway. Modern stuff is usually better.

    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

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    Forum Member DanTheBluesMan's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckocaster View Post
    The magnets are different lengths, and pushing them up or down is very risky! I know guys have done it successfully but it’s an easy way to ruin the pup.

    I personally prefer flat pole pups, the different staggers produce different sounds. Best advice I can give is to just adjust them with the screws by ear, the factory spec heights need to be thought of as a starting point.
    I did some looking and found staggered pole pickups that also showed the bottom and yes, the bottom were flat so the magnets are different lengths. Learn something new every day.

  9. #9
    Forum Member stardust's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    "I would encourage you to try both nickel and steel strings and compare before you do anything. The difference in magnetic permeance between the metals is enough to sometimes solve some issues like this."
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I was thinking the same thing,too.(Just to start) Thank you Offshore Angler.
    I'll try with cobalto string, any way is not only a matter of vintage or not vintage, but they sound really good! in my opinion.

  10. #10
    Forum Member stardust's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    "Another trick is to add a baseplate, that will allow you to drop the pups enough the stagger won't matter."
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Offshore, please what do you mean with that? where should add a baseplate? Thanks.

  11. #11
    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    I would not adjust the polepieces by pressing them in until you talk to the person who rewound the pickups. The original Fender bobbins were lacquered before winding and the windings can hang on the lacquer and tear when the polepiece is moved. I did this on a set of Texas Special pickups. 2 pickups were fine. 1 was ruined.

  12. #12
    Forum Member stardust's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    Quote Originally Posted by Don View Post
    I would not adjust the polepieces by pressing them in until you talk to the person who rewound the pickups. The original Fender bobbins were lacquered before winding and the windings can hang on the lacquer and tear when the polepiece is moved. I did this on a set of Texas Special pickups. 2 pickups were fine. 1 was ruined.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    You're right, something like that happened to me about 35 years. Someone told me to re-magnetize the two poles that lacks in volume.Anyone has ever heard about it?

  13. #13
    Forum Member chuckocaster's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    I was talking about the 2 height adjustment screws, there’s one on the bass and one treble side
    "don't worry, i'm a professional!"

  14. #14
    Forum Member stardust's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckocaster View Post
    I was talking about the 2 height adjustment screws, there’s one on the bass and one treble side
    What if i try to add a little magnet at the base of E and B string? did anyone has ever done it?

  15. #15
    Forum Member chuckocaster's Avatar
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    Re: Old stratocaster pups

    Offshore Angler already gave you good advice, as did I. If the pickups don’t work for you, buy some nice ones. Duncan Antiquities, Lollar, Lindy Fralin, etc. Not trying to be a jerk, but it seems like you’re not technically inclined. So pay someone else to get your guitar right. Best of luck to you
    "don't worry, i'm a professional!"

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