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P-Bass Bobbin For Mandolin Pup

8/30/2004 7:15 AM
Billy Mostyn P-Bass Bobbin For Mandolin Pup
I have a friend that makes electric mandolins and I would like to try making a pickup for him. He often uses one of a P-Bass pair of pickups for his mandos. I was thinking of trying to wind on a P Bass bobbin for him but was wondering what would be a reasonable resistance to wind to for a good midrange mando tone. I'll be experimenting with different windings but just wondering what my learned friends at this forum would suggest.
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8/30/2004 9:22 AM
Josh Pardes

I wish it was that easy to come up with a number for you, but it depends on what guage of wire you are using and what kind of tone your buddy is looking for. Your best bet is to wind it to as high a resistance as you think you could possibly need and give it a try. If it is muddy then take a few hundred ohms off the bobbin and give it another listen. Keep doing this until you have it dialed in how you want it. If I personally was going to build a prototype of this kind of pickup, I would use A5 magnets, 40 guage wire and wind the bobbin full, not really caring so much about the resistance. Here's my reasoning: You want this to be a low output pickup so it plays as clean as possible and helps retain the natural tone of the instrument (disregard this if that is what you are after), and you will want the pickup to sense as many harmonic overtones as possible, specially with the high notes that mandolins can produce. The fatter coil will help with that and will warm up those high notes. Good luck with your project.  
8/30/2004 1:32 PM
Billy Mostyn
Hi Josh. I thought about the high mandolin overtones as well. The original P-Bass DC resistance (from memory) was 10.5k, so I have taken on board what you say about winding a pretty full bobbin and then testing and taking some windings off if necessary. Makes a lot of sense. I was going to use 42AWG and alnico V magnets. I'll have a test mandolin to try different types of pickups but this was my first thought for a pickup as my mate uses one half of p bass pair and pole spacing is not a problem. Thought this would be the best way to start.
9/4/2004 5:23 AM
Fred Hammon

I agree that the mandolin overtones are a consideration... also I've heard so many bad sounding piezo contact pickups in mandos that will clear a room in 30 seconds or less. Warm yet pronounced is what I would shoot for. I'm thinking a finer gauge would be better. Heavier gauges can sound "honky" instead of clearer. Try #43 or #44 @ maybe 10K to 14K. Magnet size/mass contribute to timbre as well. The "quarter lb" type will accent the mids and the string tension can take extra flux (maybe) if you want to go in that direction.
9/4/2004 3:10 AM
Kyle Cavanaugh

You could take two P-Bass coils and make a stacked humbucker out of it, too, I did this for a Uke I converted to steel string and tuned like a Mandolin.
9/4/2004 3:07 AM
Billy Mostyn
Thanks Fred and Kyle. You have both given me good "food for thought" here. It will be an interesting project. My friend is going to provide a test solid body mando with a long cavity routed so that I can experiment with different types of pickups and be able to try them in different positions on the body.  
Thanks for your imput. I'll let you know how the experiments go.
9/4/2004 4:34 AM
Kyle Cavanaugh

I thought I'd mention. I put the pickup towards the neck of the guitar and it sounded REALLY fat and gave it a very untrue charecter to it, kind of like a overwound strat pup or something in the neck. Plus, the spacing was too wide for that, the high E (well there's only one E) was off by so much it was right in between the two poles and serious volume drop occured obviously. I'm pretty sure on a mandolin you may want it more towards the bridge. The coarses much be too much for it otherwise! Why do you think 12 string players use the bridge pup so much? For the jangle!

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