Pickups For Lefties


PonyOne
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I'm building a guitar (well, i'm getting a Warmoth neck & body and doing everything else myself) in about a month or so and have everything selected or already purchased for it but the pickups.

I'm a lefty and so finding pickups that are what I want can be a real pain. Seymour Duncan has a few up on their page (all strat-types), which is cool; it's a Jazzmaster body that's going to have a hum-sing-sing config. because I want to be able to get a humbucker in for the loud metal stuff and a few good bluesy singles. So that's done, pretty much.

Does anyone know of a good, hot 'bucker, like a DiMarzio SuperDistortion or Tone Zone, that comes lefty? Or is there any way that I can get a normal one and modify it for my use? I flipped the hums in one of my guitars but it doesn't sound too good. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.
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# 1
Lordathestrings
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Originally posted by PonyOne
...I flipped the hums in one of my guitars but it doesn't sound too good...
I'm puzzled by that statement. Unless the pole pieces are fixed at various heights to anticipate the different string sizes across the pickup, it shouldn't matter which way it faces. You can get into phase cancellation problems if two pickups have the same magnetic poles facing each other, but that can happen on any guitar. This is why the middle single-coil on three-single-coil-pickup guitars is made with its magnets reversed relative to the other two.

The single-coil Strat-type pickups have non-adjustable pole pieces which are set at different heights to balance the sound of the strings. A set intended for a right-hand guitar should work just fine in a left-hand guitar, turned 180 degrees to accomodate the reversal of the string order. A 'bridge' pickup is a 'bridge' pickup.

All of the DiMarzio humbuckers are built with identical pole pieces all the way across. Some of them can be individually adjusted to suit the installation. None of them must be specifiied as 'right' or 'left', although there are different models to fit different string spacings. If I wanted to convert my LP-style Yamaha SBG 1000 to lefty, i'd have to change the nut, swap the bridge saddles around, and find some way to mount the controls on the other side of the body. The only change to the pickups would be to raise one end and lower the other to balance the sound across the strings.
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# 2
James8831
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and my electrical theory is hazy...but i think the only way that i can see getting "left handed" pickups would matter is if you are using vintage staggered strat types (on a tight radius fingerboard) where the height of the pollpeice is staggered differently according to how close the designer thinks the poll should be from the string [and is non-adjustable]. Basically, if you take a (for example)standard fender type single coil and remove it to put it in the equivalent hole in a left handed scratchplate you reverse it's relationship to how it was in the RIGHT handed scratch plate, but, as long as you put the pups in their correct holes they will have the same relationship to each other when in the Left handed plate -in Stratocastrators this is vital as the middle is generally REVERSE WOUND AND REVERSE POLARITY in relation to the Neck and Bridge, this is to get humcancelling in p2 and 4 of the switch...whew:) [how far adrift am I ,anyone?].

PS :If your humbucker you changed is two conductor (wires) then try soldering the wires back on "the wrong way round", ie white where the black went and vice versa.


From my experience of (re)building you may want to have some different value pots and caps around and experiment with them to get the pups you chose responding the best you can. Make sure you get her well sheilded and earthed as well..

Have a go here

http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/menu.html

The book "Customising Your Electric Guitar" - Adrian Legg is also quite helpful.


cheers
Accuracy,you say? hmm interesting concept..
# 3
Lordathestrings
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All good stuff.
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# 4
James8831
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Took so long writing this that it was little redundant :D


Accuracy,you say? hmm interesting concept..
# 5
James8831
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You are one fast typist! (and I aint:)) LOL
Accuracy,you say? hmm interesting concept..
# 6
Lordathestrings
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Originally posted by James8831
You are one fast typist! (and I aint:)) LOL
Now, if I could translate my keyboard speed to speed on the frets! :D
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# 7
Raskolnikov
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I personally like a neck humbucker sound better than a bridge humbucker.

I guess I'm weird.
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# 8
Lordathestrings
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So, I'm weird too, then. I think the neck pickup offers a rounder, more 'musical' tone.
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# 9
James8831
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70 percent of the time (?!) any guitar i play is left in the neck (neck and mid on strat types) position .

One is so much more refined in that particular location.
Accuracy,you say? hmm interesting concept..
# 10
educatedfilm
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yeah.. i'm lefty... and in the process of biulding a lefty gutiar.... all the pick ups are standard... 2 paf humbuckers and 1 single... so really... I'm just repeating what's already been said.. lol
about fliping your humbucker round.. haven't you just put it out of phase? that's what peter green did on his guitars... and you get a nasal kinda sound...
I'm trying to think of any assymetric pickups... but i cant think of any... oh yeah i CAN!!!!! JASSMASTERS!!!!!
they're not symetrical are they?... they're split... into a z shape... and if you flipped it, it would still be a z shape.. and it your lefty you'd want a mirror of z... but to be honest, i'm not sure about asymetric pick ups in the first place...
# 11
Lordathestrings
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Originally posted by educatedfilm
... about fliping your humbucker round.. haven't you just put it out of phase? that's what peter green did on his guitars... and you get a nasal kinda sound...
Yes, humbuckers have the magnets on one side with the 'North' pole at the top, and the other side has the 'South' pole at the top. If a pair of 'buckers are placed so the same poles are near each other, the signals partially cancel. This can produce some interesting sounds, but I prefer to place my pickups properly. I use a switch to reverse the phase of one of the pickups, and then I adjust the relative volumes with separate tone and volume controls. This can yield sounds ranging from a mildly 'hollow' tone, to something that approaches a T-Wah effect. I wrote a long-winded treatise on the subject here and a little more about how humbuckers buck hum.
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# 12
educatedfilm
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heheh... hopefully, i'm gonna get loads of in/ out of phase options... and since i'll have both single and humbuckers, the humbucker sound should vary... beucase phase difference is all about how different the sounds are... ie esentially what you hear is the DIFFERENCE... as opposed to the cumulative effect... and with single and humbuckers that should be intresting (less hollow/ nasal and papery sounding than just 2 humbuckers)..
Lord: would i just have to put one phase switch for 3 pick ups? or would i have to put one for each? It's still in the developmental stages at the mo...
# 13
Lordathestrings
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That depends on how many pickups you want to combine. If you're looking at in/out-of-pahse combinations of either HB with the single-coil, then a phase switch for the single coil should be enough. Adding a combination of in/out-of-phase HBs means you will also need a phase switch for one of the 'buckers.
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# 14
educatedfilm
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I'm talking about switching phasing for every combination... I just thought you would only need 2 switchs... for changing the phase of 2 of the pickups (doesn't matter which ones)... so that you can have any two pickups in/ out of phase relative to each other...
I was just wondering, whether the phase switching could just be done by one switch (2way)... where if it was one way it would put one pick up out of phase, and if it was the other way the other pickup would be out of phase... and if you dont want to use an out phase set up, set the redundant pick up/ the one not being used to out of phase...

My electronics knowledge is non existant (practically)... so i'm just imagining...
# 15
Lordathestrings
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Originally posted by educatedfilm
... My electronics knowledge is non existant (practically)... so i'm just imagining...
Hah! You don't get off so easy on this one, my man. This is not an electronics problem, but one of switch logic. In other words, what you need is some skill in Boolean computation. Your variables are B (bridge), M (middle), and N (neck). Phase is represented as "B" for normal phase, and "not B" for reversed phase, of the bridge pickup, for example. Now you want to define your combinations in terms of Boolean 'and' and 'or' operators. Aren't you glad you paid attention in Math class?
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# 16
educatedfilm
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"Aren't you glad you paid attention in Math class?"

Bollox did I! That's why i've had to resit... You mean you paid attention...

heheh... ok my friend...
I want the following combinations
With a 2 way switch, the phases would be at position:
1)"N", " M", "notB"
2)"not N", "M", "B"
It's pick ups are set up like a strat (ie you can only chose {"N" + "M"} or {"M" + "B") .. so you can pick
that's it... you just select any of the 2 you want.. from this you can get every combination for that simply by selecting 2 pick ups you want at a time...
I was wondering if there was way you could wire pickups so you would combine ANY pick ups you want (ie so you could do {"N" + "B")... if you could do this you would simply need one more combination which is:
3)"N", "M", "not B"
and that would do EVERY combination

I hope that made sense... it's just annoying when you've got a good idea.. but can put it across...

[Edited by educatedfilm on 03-24-2002 at 01:21 PM]
# 17
Lordathestrings
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Originally posted by educatedfilm
Bollox did I! That's why i've had to resit... You mean you paid attention...
Well now, let's have a look...

"It's pick ups are set up like a strat (ie you can only chose {"N" + "M"} or {"M" + "B"}"

So if you have a phase switch for the M pickup, and a normal 5-position Strat-type pup selector, you get:
B
B + (M or notM)
M
N + (M or notM)
N


...lacking only conbinations of N and B. Note that you don't need to change the phase of either humbucker. It doesn't matter which pickup in the selected pair gets reversed. You can implement this with almost-standard Strat controls, adding a push-pull phase switch to one of the pots.

To add combinations of the humbuckers, you will need another position, probably using a rotary switch for the pup selector. You will also need to add a phase switch for one of the 'buckers. This yields:

B
B + (M or notM)
M
N + (M or notM)
N
N + (B or notB)


It may turn out that some combinations are not very useful. Since you are building this guitar yourself, you have the option of trying out various switchgear sets before drilling and cutting holes for installation.
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# 18
educatedfilm
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thanks... your right... I thought about only changing the phase of the middle pick up... but then i thought that was wrong, and abandoned the idea.. but your right...
I'm intrested in getting Any choice of pick up... would i just go about this simply using on/ off push switches for each pick up? (Wouldn't this be easier than having a dodgy pick up selector? and phase of each pick up will be with a push switch? so for 6 switches you'll get all the options... heheh) cos i would love to have a guitar with LOADS of options... heheh... I pay alot of attention to tone... lol

[Edited by educatedfilm on 03-24-2002 at 02:03 PM]
# 19
Lordathestrings
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Have you heard the phrase 'option paralysis'? The last thing you need is to have such a profusion of switches that you have trouble deciding which one(s) to play with!

The two phase switches must be separate, else the out-of-phase combinations of HB and M would cancel out.

A 6 position, multi-pole rotary selector switch is a readily available item. The combinations can be wired to occur in any order you choose, making it feasible (if you like), to arrange them in sequence by the way they sound, rather than by which pups are engaged.

I don't recommend using a whole bunch of slide or toggle switches. When you want to change settings, its much better to move 1 selector and 1 phase switch, than to fuss about with a confusing array of slides or toggles.
Lordathestrings
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# 20