Viewing entries in
Pickups

SS90

At the start of the summer, I was contacted by Alex Sorokin of Sorokin Guitars about doing a P90 for his Junior builds. 

The thing that really got me into this project was the near psychotic attention to detail of these guitars, hand made in Canada too. I was pretty excited to collaborate with another Canadian that soaks-in the history and the details of what they were doing in Kalamazoo, Michigan in the 1950's. 

After some back and forth, I sent some test winds of what I thought he was looking for, some tweaks here and there and another round of winding and testing and I think we nailed it. Alex explained that he's tried nearly every modern pickup available and this was the one. 

The target tone was a 56 LP junior. Open, clear, gritty, fat when it needs to be, articulate, everything you want in a P90. I think this pickup landed right on the edge of just enough. A nice slab of mahogany and a Dog Ear pickup is such a great combination. 

We split the difference between Alex's own  '56 Junior and a '56 owned by a friend of mine....and each of us might explain they're the best sounding guitars they know of. 

Sorokin double cut

The SS90 uses 1018 carbon steel 5-40 Fillister head pole screws, A5 magnets, 42 Plain Enamel wire, a component combination I find works so well for my P90's. 

We took the 9022 and 9077 models as the starting points for where we wanted to go with this pickup. Alex tested both in his guitars, decided the A5 9077 model was what the guitars called for and we went from there.  

Similar to my 9077 model, the SS90 is wound for a bit more push and just a touch more low mids. Just a few more turns than the traditional 10,000.  Hand tensioned into the traverse for my take on a linear, machine wound P90. 

Alex explained that while doing repairs on a '52 Gold Top, he found orange cloth on the hookup wire of the factory P90, an interesting anomaly, so he had Luxe Radio & Musical Instrument Co create that wire and that's what we use on the SS90. 

The orange wire is a detail reserved for Sorokin Guitars only, we'll be using standard issue braided shield with black cloth on non-Sorokin builds. 

The SS90 wind is available as on option on the order page.

The Doug And Pat Show Humbucker Shootout.

The Doug And Pat Show Humbucker Shootout 4 is now up on youtube. This time around they put up a few different Pickup builders against Oscar, a well known '58 Gold Top. When I sent them my pickups, I was a little nervous about how they would stack up to a set of great sounding  original PAF's. 

They informed me that mine would be going in a '94 Heritage 150 and they'd directly compare it to not just an ordinary old Les Paul, they'd be doing a/b tests with a guitar that you could call the tone standard. 

After seeing the video, my nerves are a little better. I must say I'm quite pleased how the review turned out. 

There's a feature on my pickups at the start of the video and they do a demo later on, right around the 22:30 mark of the video. They have a set of my Model 22's and the 68v's in this episode.

 

 

Tele Overhaul

Tele Overhaul

I'm not sure if it's just the week I've been having or what, but I've had a couple Tele's lately that ended up with my humbuckers in them.

This one turned out to be the best Tele I've played since the 2nd week of October 2007, yeah, I remember those kinds of things.

This one was nice to start with. A modern American Tele of some series I probably don't keep track of. Ash body, brass saddles, nice see through blond, but just needed a little something else. The customer dropped it off and said do what you would do to a Tele if it were yours.

So, I had some custom pick guards cut, we ended up going with  matte black, single ply 8 hole PG. Swapped the screws with some proper slot heads, added some compensated brass saddles and Flat top knobs. 500k CTS Audio pots and a .022uf PIO cap. Subtle stuff that adds to the Guitar.

I wound a Model 22 to match the factory bridge pickup, right around 7k ohms. The A2 rolls off the top end just enough. The middle position was stellar. I wish this one was mine.

 

 

The Model 68v.

The Model 68v.


The Model 68v came about after working with a player who had specific requirements for a pickup. The idea was to build a pickup that shows the true sonic qualities of a great guitar, to let the inherent tone in the wood be the real voice in the signal chain.  

These pickups were designed with the principle that you can't put back what isn't there to start with. The words "sonic content" were persistently on my mind when making this model. 

It's somewhat rare that I get asked to make a set of pickups that goes against what we've all been told about pickups over the years. When the player first made contact with me, I was excited we were on the same page when it comes to what we want from a PAF style pickup. 

Take a 1 in 100 Les Paul and let it speak. 

These pickups had a target in the 6k range. To make a pickup in the 6's there's no way to hide poor material selection or winding patterns. Every part of the build will come through. You can often make up for a guitar's shortcomings with a good set of pickups, but that's not what these were about. 

The clarity is there, the bite and snap is there. Full range on the tone knob, it's there. A great piece of wood, great pedals and a great amplifier, these pickups will let those parts of your chain really show themselves. There's nowhere to hide with this set. Every bit of your playing, and the guitar is on full display.

Over the years, what people expect from a Les Paul has drifted away from what was originally intended, this set gets back to that, what I believe they originally had in mind from the PAF humbucker.

Getting away from conventional thinking on pickup design and what we've all been sold on over the years, has lead to something that I'm quite proud of, the results speak for themselves. 

If you lack confidence in your playing or your tone, these aren't for you. If you can't find that one last part of the puzzle, here it is.

This custom set needed to be added to the model lineup. Only available as a set, as I really don't think there's anything else available I would pair with one. 

Clips.

V

I felt compelled to post this on here. I've got a thing for Flying V's..or Flying Greater Than's as we called them in high school. It's pretty crazy to think this is a design they cooked up in 1958. Friend of mine had a V2 in High school, saved his paycheques from working at the Dairy Queen. I think we were all amazed he could afford a $500 guitar, wanted one ever since.....I digress.

I got a pic sent to me a of a pretty cool V with 3 humbuckers and thought it looked good enough to post it on here. I wish it were mine, but I wish they were all mine...or something.

Not sure of the year, reasonably new production. This one is sporting a Model 79 in the bridge and a Model 1812 in the neck. I don't know what the middle pup is. All three sporting Raw Nickel covers.

3pupV



Road Trip! Halifax, East Coast Guitar Festival. April 25th and 26th.

The weekend of April 25th we'll be at the East Coat Guitar Festival, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We'll have a booth with a few guitars, an amp and some stomp boxes to demo the pickups through.. and pickups for sale. Saturday and Sunday, all day.

Free T-shirt for the first person that gets a Billy Cox autograph on an album with Noel Redding on bass.

Go to guitarfest.ca or their F-Book site for ticket info and events schedule.

 

Stamps/Vanity Shots.

I was taking a picture of a set of Humbuckers, before I shipped them and thought I would show how the boxes are made and what goes out in the mail.

Here's a set of the Mo. 1812's, with raw nickel covers that I just finished. The boxes get stamped by hand with a hefty amount of black archival ink. They don't always turn out perfect and can be a little time consuming, but I thought they looked cooler than having them silkscreened or labels put on the front. 

stamps

In case you were wondering, that ratty piece of wood is an old stool I found in my grandparent's barn, the wire spool sits on it and I hand feed it up to the winder. It doubles as a good backdrop for photos, but it's just what's under my workbench.

Clips are now live.

Clips are now live.

The clips page is now live. Started off with 3 different clips of a few different models, with more to come soon. I intended to have someone else play on the clips, but something came up, I ended up doing it my self. 

Making these things gives you some insight, I'll never say anything bad about anyone's clips ever again. As soon as the camera starts, you can't play anything. There's a difference between playing at home, in front of people...and a camera. Youtube changes the sound and adds video and audio compression, there's a quite a change from what you hear in a room, to what you hear on a monitor, to YouTube, but everyone is dealing with the same thing...it is what it is.

I edited the raw footage on my Mac, so I'm sure the transitions look a little rough and there's some weird edits, but they turned out somewhat watchable.

Maybe next time I'll hire some talent to play and edit these things.

There's a Youtube channel for these now. Link->Sanford Magnetics Youtube Channel

The clips were recorded by Ross Cole at Shattered Glass Productions here in Moncton. If you're local and were thinking of doing some recording, look him up. 

Bill of Materials. What's in a Humbucker.

If you've wondered about the parts that go into a Humbucker. Here's the parts list. 

Parts laid out before assembly. Raw Nickel cover, Nickel/Silver baseplate. 

Parts laid out before assembly. Raw Nickel cover, Nickel/Silver baseplate. 

Butyrate Bobbin. Wire is wrapped around it to create the coil. The original Gibson PAF called for 5,000 turns per coil, half of what it's predecessor the P90 called for. The original winding machines lacked an automatic stop, so the turns count could vary as the machine operator let them run over or under. 

Butyrate Bobbin. Wire is wrapped around it to create the coil. The original Gibson PAF called for 5,000 turns per coil, half of what it's predecessor the P90 called for. The original winding machines lacked an automatic stop, so the turns count could vary as the machine operator let them run over or under. 

Alnico bar magnets. These are graded by magnetic strength, A2, A3, A4 ,A5, A8 all sound different. The one pictured above is A4, a personal favourite.

Alnico bar magnets. These are graded by magnetic strength, A2, A3, A4 ,A5, A8 all sound different. The one pictured above is A4, a personal favourite.

The metal keeper supports the screw side bobbin. The 6 Screw poles pass through to the baseplate. The type of steel used affects the sound of the pickup.

The metal keeper supports the screw side bobbin. The 6 Screw poles pass through to the baseplate. The type of steel used affects the sound of the pickup.

The spacer supports the slug side bobbin. The one above is a maple spacer. Some pickups use a plastic spacer, but the original design called for maple. Maple will compress just slightly when assembling the pickup, keeping things snug, helps preventing microphonic feedback when making an unpotted pickup. 

The spacer supports the slug side bobbin. The one above is a maple spacer. Some pickups use a plastic spacer, but the original design called for maple. Maple will compress just slightly when assembling the pickup, keeping things snug, helps preventing microphonic feedback when making an unpotted pickup. 

Here's the spacer, magnet and keeper laid out on the baseplate. You can see how the pole screws pass through the keeper. The space beside the magnet on the right is for the slugs and the maple spacer supports the bobbin. Notice on the far left there is a space for the braided shield conductor.

Here's the spacer, magnet and keeper laid out on the baseplate. You can see how the pole screws pass through the keeper. The space beside the magnet on the right is for the slugs and the maple spacer supports the bobbin. Notice on the far left there is a space for the braided shield conductor.

Pole Pieces. Nickel plated steel. The carbon content of the steel affects the tone of the pickup. The screws are 5-40 Fillister head screws. The original Seth Lover design called for two slug pole bobbins, but the execs thought having an adjustable pole piece was a good marketing feature, so they went with exposed screws on one side of the pickup. 

Pole Pieces. Nickel plated steel. The carbon content of the steel affects the tone of the pickup. The screws are 5-40 Fillister head screws. The original Seth Lover design called for two slug pole bobbins, but the execs thought having an adjustable pole piece was a good marketing feature, so they went with exposed screws on one side of the pickup. 

Brass screw attach the bobbins to the baseplate from the underside of the baseplate. The screws are in the magnetic field of the pickup, so the metallurgy can affect the tone.

Brass screw attach the bobbins to the baseplate from the underside of the baseplate. The screws are in the magnetic field of the pickup, so the metallurgy can affect the tone.

For comparison, here is a regular ABS plastic bobbin on the left and a Butyrate bobbin on the right. 

For comparison, here is a regular ABS plastic bobbin on the left and a Butyrate bobbin on the right. 

Super A8 and Custom Neck build.

A8 pic

Figured I'd post a pic of a couple pickups before I shipped them out. Super A8 on a Short Leg baseplate and a Custom Wound Neck Humbucker in chrome.