Pickup types

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dwankan
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Pickup types

Post by dwankan »

I'm trying to experiment with building an electric guitar out of scrap material. Of course, I expect people to say it won't sound good without a quality wood body, etc., but I just want to play around with the set up and learn how to wire and arrange the parts before I really start to build anything too serious.
I bought a bunch of random parts on ebay (that may be another mistake), and I'm looking at two pickups I bought. I'm not sure what the difference between them is. They're both humbuckers, and one has an R on the back and one has an F. I got them together, and I think one is supposed to be the neck pickup and one is supposed to be the bridge pickup, but they didn't label them at all, and the R and F are the only distinctions I can make, except that one has a thicker plastic frame around it than the other, as if it should sit closer to the strings than the other one.
I've looked on the internet for something that explains the distinction between R and F, and I'm thinking it's something that brand used to label their own parts. I'm not sure what brand they are, to be honest, but they have an imprint that seems to say something similar to epiphone, but it's in Greek letters, and I don't think that's actually what it says (my Greek is rusty). If somebody has some insight based on what I'm looking at, that would be helpful. I suppose I can just experiment, though, and see how it turns out.

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Charlie Schultz
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Charlie Schultz »

Hi dwankan and welcome. Please note that the forum rules require real (first & last) names. Please PM me or one of the mods and we will fix up your registration. Thanks.

Bill Raymond
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Bill Raymond »

Could the R and F refer to "rear" and "front"?? I would think that the pickup with the taller surround is the neck pickup (I can't remember whether folks refer to that as the front or rear pickup).

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Andy Birko
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Andy Birko »

dwankan wrote: Of course, I expect people to say it won't sound good without a quality wood body, etc.,
Please allow me to be the first to say that if you came here looking for comments like that, you came to the wrong place :D !

You'll almost definitely want to be involved in the next forum challenge.
PMoMC

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Greg Robinson
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Greg Robinson »

"R" & "F" most likely refer to "regular" and "Fender". Gibson (regular) pickups have narrower polepiece spacing, but aftermarket humbuckers made for Fender guitars usually have a wider spacing, especially if they're intended to be used at the bridge, where the string spacing is widest. The external dimensions of these pickups would normally be the same, it would just be the spacing of the polepieces, which might be why you haven't noticed it.

Bill, I think you must have meant the opposite of what you said. Pickups with a taller ring would go near the bridge, not the neck. Unless you have a reverse neck angle and the pickup is for a classical!

It really doesn't matter too much either way, so long as the string spacing is close enough that you get even response across the strings. Neck pickups will still work at the bridge and vice-versa. Often, aftermarket bridge pickups are wound hotter than their accompanying neck pickup to account for differences in string excursion and output volume. Often this is the only difference between a "neck" and "bridge" pickup. If this is the case, you can measure the DC resistance of the coils, the one that reads higher should give you more output, all things being equal. If they are different models of pickups though, this will tell you nothing.

Anyway, hope this helps.
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David King
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Re: Pickup types

Post by David King »

An easy way to start finding out about them is to measure the DC resistance. That will tell you if they are wound in series or parallel. You can also measure the distance between the outer pole screws to see if one is for wider string spacing than the other. When you get around to choosing a bridge for this project you can try to get one that puts the strings more or less over the poles.

Bill Raymond
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Bill Raymond »

Greg: Oops, you're right; I meant the opposite of what I mistakenly wrote. Sorry for the confusion.

Celeste Hall
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Celeste Hall »

I believe it is Ibanez that use F(front) for the neck, and R(rear) for the bridge. Also if the pickups are intended to be a set, then the bridge will likely have a higher DC resistance. The strings move less the closer you get to a fixed point (nut or saddle) so a pickup closer to the saddles, will have less output, then one closer to the middle of the strings, unless you put more turns on it, and that shows up as higher DC resistance.

I am kind of new here, but I am a firm believer that every sound has it's uses and is valuable if used correctly. Look at all the funky "Jetson" inspired guitars from the 60's that are sought after for slide. If you have a part or idea you are not sure of, build it and find out, at the very worst, you have something to pull out to jam with friends and have a good laugh over, and how can a laugh with friends be a bad thing.

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Greg Robinson
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Greg Robinson »

Thanks Celest, I hadn't seen F(front) and R(Rear) on Ibanez pickups before. Seymour Duncan puts F (for Fender) on their Fender spaced bridge pickups.
I've gotten humbucker baseplates from Allparts that have R stamped on the 50mm bases, and F stamped on the 53mm bases.
Lots of room for confusion!

Why doesn't everyone just stamp "Neck", "Middle" and "Bridge" on their pickups? <g>
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Bill Raymond
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Bill Raymond »

Why doesn't everyone just stamp "Neck", "Middle" and "Bridge" on their pickups?
Aw, but that would make it too easy!

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David Schwab
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Re: Pickup types

Post by David Schwab »

Greg Robinson wrote:Why doesn't everyone just stamp "Neck", "Middle" and "Bridge" on their pickups? <g>
I do!

This is probably because for the longest time the neck and bridge pickups were the same. It's the aftermarket makers like DiMarzio that stated doing different bridge and neck pickups.

Dave Locher
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Dave Locher »

If you want to go really low-teck, just temporarily wire each pickup to an output jack. Then plug each one (one at a time) into an amp on a really clean setting and lightly tap the pole pieces with a screwdriver. It works best with a headphone amplifier but I've done it with 150-watt half-stacks before. Just don't go crazy on the volume!
This will immediately give you a very clear idea of which pickup has the higher output.
I have used this technique many times to sort out random "mystery" pickups and figure out which one to install on various guitars. If the pickups seem to be equally loud, you might be able to detect differences in how bright (trebly) the output is for each. Personally I always put the highest output pickup in the bridge position but if they are roughly equal I put the darkest (dullest "thump") in the bridge position.

Dave Locher
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Dave Locher »

David Schwab wrote:
Greg Robinson wrote:Why doesn't everyone just stamp "Neck", "Middle" and "Bridge" on their pickups? <g>
I do!

This is probably because for the longest time the neck and bridge pickups were the same. It's the aftermarket makers like DiMarzio that stated doing different bridge and neck pickups.
I never understood that - every guitar I ever owned with identical pickups in both positions was louder and richer sounding in the neck pickup position, which violates my sense of an orderly universe! I frankly can't believe it took so many years for manufacturers to start pumping up the bridge pickup to balance the overall volume between them.

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Greg Robinson
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Greg Robinson »

Dave Locher wrote:
David Schwab wrote:
Greg Robinson wrote:Why doesn't everyone just stamp "Neck", "Middle" and "Bridge" on their pickups? <g>
I do!

This is probably because for the longest time the neck and bridge pickups were the same. It's the aftermarket makers like DiMarzio that stated doing different bridge and neck pickups.
I never understood that - every guitar I ever owned with identical pickups in both positions was louder and richer sounding in the neck pickup position, which violates my sense of an orderly universe! I frankly can't believe it took so many years for manufacturers to start pumping up the bridge pickup to balance the overall volume between them.
Well, you can also adjust the bridge pickup closer to the strings than the neck without causing problems because of the lower string excursion near the bridge, the same reason the string signal is lower there.
The tone of a pickup also changes depending how far it is adjusted from the strings, and this can't be easily or predictably counterbalanced by simply making the making the pickup higher-output and adjusted lower.
There's more than one way to skin a cat, and infinite ways to get tone.
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Dennis Antel
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Re: Pickup types

Post by Dennis Antel »

I just checked my parts bins and measured some baseplates. On mine the "F" is on the neck or 50mm plate and the "R" is on the bridge or 52mm plate

loyd ferrier
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Re: Pickup types

Post by loyd ferrier »

on 2 of my cheap ibanez strat style guitars, the pickups are marked R for the bridge and F for the neck positions. these are both Chinese made maxon style pups. they are also spaced as Dennis said, 50 mmneck and 52 mm bridge

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