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View Full Version : Does RWRP middle pickup make a difference in tone on a Strat?


blackba
08-10-2010, 10:30 AM
Looking at changing out my middle pickup (Suhr FL standard) for a RWRP, was going to go for the suhr backplate, but that is too much at this point. Just wondering if I am giving up anything other than hum, going to RWRP middle.

I read a bunch of threads and opinions seem to vary alot, so I figured a poll might help.

VaughnC
08-10-2010, 06:57 PM
To my ears, the reverse magnetic field of a RWRP middle Strat pickup adversely affects the tone of all positions even if the pickup isn't switched on (you can't turn off the magnetic field)...but "better" or "worse" tone would be very subjective. Another thing I've noticed is that, with a RWRP middle, there's more of a tone shift when going between 1, 3, or 5 to/from 2 or 4....that I don't hear as much with a non-RWRP middle. Also, 2 & 4 tend to sound thinner and quackier to me with a middle RWRP pickup....which could be a good or bad thing depending on the ears of the behearer.

Tone is subjective though...imagine that ;).

LReese
08-10-2010, 07:41 PM
I dont go as far as VaughanC, but I agree on the 2&4 positions.

FWIW, the 2 and 4 positions on a standard non-rwrp Strat don't have enough treble, even when the tone is moved to the bridge pickup. I like using a 4 pole switch with standard polarity and disabling the tone in the 2 and 4 positions. Sits between the RWRP and non-RWRP middle to my ears and balances better with the 1,3 & 5 positions.

fusionbear
08-10-2010, 07:44 PM
Small difference. I'm happy either way, but love the silence with my BPSSC loaded Suhr Classic.

Jaan
08-10-2010, 07:44 PM
I don't care for RWRP; way better the standard way.

blackba
08-11-2010, 11:36 AM
Thanks for the responses. Its interesting to see the poll, I expected a clear winner, not really seeing that. If a RWRP pickup adds treble in 2 and 4, not really sure I want that....

buddastrat
08-11-2010, 12:32 PM
What Vaughan says. My exact experience.

But it's funny because Lindy Fralin tells me there is no difference. Some makers claim there is more midrange across ALL the positions. I haven't tried every set in the world. I'd like to find a good set with a RWRP mid.

Mike9
08-11-2010, 12:38 PM
I prefer a straight set when I order them.

FYI - RWRP is a rather recent thing and you can thank Seymour for that - it didn't come from Fender.

Jackie Treehorn
08-11-2010, 01:04 PM
Well, I voted small difference, but I'm on the fence. I've done it both ways with same model pickups in different guitars and switching a rwrp for a different model straight wind in the same guitar. I'll put it this way, I don't think there's a big advantage to not using RWRP, but having the humbucking sounds can be useful if you use a lot of gain or play find yourself in a noisy environment. Here's my caveat, though. In position 2 and 4 with the pickups in parallel, they load each other down which is what leads to uneven volume, loss of sustain, perhaps even a part of the quack, etc. You can get a much stronger, sustain-ier, sound which balances better with the other positions if you add some resistance between the pickups. I use a 10k resistor in series with the middle pickup, but only on positions 2 & 4. With a 4 pole switch, it's fairly easy to do. The tonal difference between the rwrp and non rwrp pretty much shrinks away. I also find the 2 and 4's to be much more usable this way. So, I would say the best route is RWRP with the resistor.;)

I don't think the magnetic fields have any effect. They all pull the strings, they only repel the opposing portion of the adjacent pickup, which I can't see having much impact on the string's vibration.

cherrick
08-11-2010, 01:09 PM
Nothing beats a blender pot/wiring schematic combined with a RWRP in the middle pickup slot.

Blue4Now
08-11-2010, 01:36 PM
I voted small difference becuase I definately hear a difference in 2 & 4 but not in 1,3,5 the small dif. is the price i am willing to pay for the silence if i need it,

blackba
09-25-2010, 06:20 PM
Finally got to see for myself. Just replace my the standard wound Suhr FL middle pickup with the a Suhr FL RWRP middle. I do notice a difference. Positions 2 and 4 now seem to have less quack and are thicker. I don't really notice a difference in positions 1, 3, and 5.

I am kind of mixed so far on the change. I do miss the quack I was getting in positions 2 and 4, but I also like the added thickness.

Replacing just the middle pickup was cheaper than going with the suhr backplate and I still can go back to the standard wound middle pickup if needed. I was in a really noisey environment with just my strat recently and the guitar was almost unusable, I had to stand in a certain position to keep the noise down. They since fixed the wiring problem, but I would rather not run into that again.

LReese
09-25-2010, 07:08 PM
My experience is that the combo positions gets slightly brighter relative to the single pickup positions. Enough so that it annoys me. YMMV

It sounds like to me that you want to play with your pickup heights a little - You should be getting plenty of quack. Start at 1/8" on the neck PU on both sides, maybe 9/64's on the middle and a little closer on the bridge PU.

sabby
09-25-2010, 07:31 PM
I hear a small difference, but only in the 2 and 4 positions. I compensate with a no-load pot that seems to restore any lost liveliness with a RWRP middle. (I tend to like the tone pot around 7 in positions 1, 3, and 5.) There may be a bit of EQ shift, but for me it's not too big a deal.

marsos52
09-25-2010, 08:42 PM
i notice a difference on 2 and 4 positions..i like the middle pup to be non rwrp..
also 60 cycle hum seems less obvious..probably its not..i hate going from hum cancelling to the 60 cycle hum..rather just have the hum thru all positions

but with non-rwrp 2-4 postitions seems stronger and closer balanced with 1,3,5

blackba
09-26-2010, 09:29 AM
My experience is that the combo positions gets slightly brighter relative to the single pickup positions. Enough so that it annoys me. YMMV

It sounds like to me that you want to play with your pickup heights a little - You should be getting plenty of quack. Start at 1/8" on the neck PU on both sides, maybe 9/64's on the middle and a little closer on the bridge PU.

I put the RWRP middle at the same height as the old one (well as close as I could with calipers). The new RWRP middle was not as hot as the old one, so I adjusted it up just a bit. I am around teh 1/8" height on the middle and neck (I last night in mm, so I had to convert).

Its interesting that most people fine the RWRP middle makes positions 2 and 4 thinner and brighter, yet I am finding it makes it thicker and provides more mids. hmmm......

sabby
09-27-2010, 07:12 AM
Its interesting that most people fine the RWRP middle makes positions 2 and 4 thinner and brighter, yet I am finding it makes it thicker and provides more mids. hmmm......
I agree. A RWRP middle pup makes things a tad less lively: a touch less top end and a tad less bottom end, or a smidgen more mids and a hint of volume loss. I think that some express this as thinning, though, as you suggest, that term seems to imply the opposite. It's just like "quack." If you concentrate on the mid content of positions 2 and 4, a RWRP middle gives you more. If you concentrate on the brilliance of 2 and 4, a RWRP middle gives you less.


Like I said above, a no load pot seems to restore things, more or less.

Average Joe
09-27-2010, 07:33 AM
I hear a small difference, but the difference is small enough that I don't care either way. My AMS strat quack just fine with a RWRP set in it

buddastrat
09-27-2010, 07:50 AM
I agree. A RWRP middle pup makes things a tad less lively: a touch less top end and a tad less bottom end, or a smidgen more mids and a hint of volume loss. I think that some express this as thinning, though, as you suggest, that term seems to imply the opposite. It's just like "quack." If you concentrate on the mid content of positions 2 and 4, a RWRP middle gives you more. If you concentrate on the brilliance of 2 and 4, a RWRP middle gives you less.


Like I said above, a no load pot seems to restore things, more or less.

I think you have that backwards. You get more mids or thicker sound, without the RWRP. It's more even/full as you switch through all the positions without it. With a RWRP, the mids gets sucked out more and it always reminds me of the typical 80's strat tone when everyone was recording direct to board. It has that real thin, sharpness. It's the way it's turned out for me everytime I've compared. Plus RWRP can take away some volume from the neck/bridge pickups. You need to compare a same set and get a middle in both RWRP and non RWRP, wound as close as possible. I did this with some Fender 69 pickups. I never like the sound of RWRP. But this is with vintage output type. Maybe some kind of hotter singles will give different results. BTW, here's what Bareknuckle pickups says from their site. "A stock middle coil will have more mid range on the in between positions of the 5 way selector and not be hum canceling.You'll also notice marginally more volume across the whole set of 3 coils."

Boris Bubbanov
09-27-2010, 08:07 AM
What the RWRP middle pickup does (same thing on a 2 pup Tele with a RWRP neck pickup) is, it gets guys switching to the noise canceling positions more often (to escape the noise if just between solos) and THIS changes their style of play a lot more than this other hocus pocus. Maybe this tone thing exists, maybe it doesn't but it is buried under an avalanche of other consequences that make counting the angels irrelevant and of little interest to me. Given the GIANT impact noise canceling opportunities on a single coil guitar present. I mean, give me a roll cage, helmet, nomex and a lot of other safety features and it may spoil some of the "fun" but I promise you I can lay those laps down faster and with less soiling of pants. Same thing with guitars. Turn it up, beat on it, play it like you mean it and if the 60 cycle noise is too prevalent, "hit the paracute" and escape and go right on playing.

buddastrat
09-27-2010, 08:51 AM
Or ....don't listen (or watch) what other guys are doing. Get a set with both RWRP and non, and use your own ears to see if you can hear a difference. I did and got a 2nd set of ears and he did too.

Robert1950
09-27-2010, 09:01 AM
I've only owned RWRP pickups. But I did replace them with,... (orchestra plays sound of dread),... Fender Hot Noiseless pickups. I did notice that there is not as much quack in neck/middle position and only a very slight change in bridge/middle position. But that really doesn't matter to me. I an NOT a purist for strat sounds. I like the way the current pups sound. I have a very low tolerance for 60 cycle hum.

blackba
09-27-2010, 11:35 AM
Or ....don't listen (or watch) what other guys are doing. Get a set with both RWRP and non, and use your own ears to see if you can hear a difference. I did and got a 2nd set of ears and he did too.

I did try it myself (not sure if you saw my other posts in the thread). I am hearing different things than Barenuckle and most others are saying. With the RWRP I am hearing positions 2 and 4 as thicker and having most mids and less quack. The volume between all 3 positions with the RWRP mid seems to be more balanced than when I had a standard would middle. With a standard wound middle positions 2 and 4 were thinner, had the quack, and quieter.

For those that have recommended a no-load pot, I am not too familar with them. If I wanted to try that, would I replace both tone pots with no-load 250kohm pots?

buddastrat
09-27-2010, 01:25 PM
Maybe different types of magnets, winds and all that change things up to react different.

I tried with Fender 54's and 69's, and a real set of late '65 pickups. All low output. In all cases, a separate 69 RWRP middle I bought, stunk them up.

blackba
09-27-2010, 01:38 PM
Maybe different types of magnets, winds and all that change things up to react different.

I tried with Fender 54's and 69's, and a real set of late '65 pickups. All low output. In all cases, a separate 69 RWRP middle I bought, stunk them up.

Can you elaborate on 'stunk them up'?

buddastrat
09-27-2010, 01:50 PM
Well what I already posted. Thins out the notches and gives it that sterile quack kind of tone, instead of the sweeter notch of a non RWRP. the changes were more drastic on the five way switch. I like it more even sounding with stock vintage pickups. It did exactly how Bareknuckle describes, I was amazed to read what they said, because that was exactly what I had been hearing.

johnh
09-28-2010, 06:46 AM
I believe that there is a difference, because people whose ears I trust tell me there is. But I can't hear it. I own a strat with Kinmans, one with a RWRP middle pickup, and two with no RWRP and the two hum cancelling combinations actually have most quack.

Boris Bubbanov
09-28-2010, 07:11 AM
Maybe different types of magnets, winds and all that change things up to react different.

I tried with Fender 54's and 69's, and a real set of late '65 pickups. All low output. In all cases, a separate 69 RWRP middle I bought, stunk them up.


I sure can see where mismatching pickups could stink it up.

But I respect where ya'll are coming from. It does seem like the manufacturers have gone out of their way to make it hard to compare these things. One idea would be an AB using the AV 57/62 sets since that RWRP middle is fairly easy to order and it might match better.

Boris Bubbanov
09-28-2010, 07:16 AM
I've only owned RWRP pickups. But I did replace them with,... (orchestra plays sound of dread),... Fender Hot Noiseless pickups. I did notice that there is not as much quack in neck/middle position and only a very slight change in bridge/middle position. But that really doesn't matter to me. I an NOT a purist for strat sounds. I like the way the current pups sound. I have a very low tolerance for 60 cycle hum.

We could do a poll on these noiseless.

I bet 95% of the guys would admit that a noiseless pickup is a totally different sort of animal. I can well see what is lost. I have certain sets I like but I will readily admit, when you kill the 60 cycle demon completely, there's a great deal of magic that is lost and it takes a good player to make it back some way. Same thing with solid state amps. There are players so talented or accomplished, they can start "in the hole" and still beat you.

crosse79
09-28-2010, 07:31 AM
I do have a Rocketfire RWRP pickup on top of my current Rocketfire 60s set. Was wondering if I should make the change. I think my current position 2 & 4 is a little to dark sounding. What do you guys think?

buddastrat
09-28-2010, 08:08 AM
I sure can see where mismatching pickups could stink it up.

But I respect where ya'll are coming from. It does seem like the manufacturers have gone out of their way to make it hard to compare these things. One idea would be an AB using the AV 57/62 sets since that RWRP middle is fairly easy to order and it might match better.


Fender makes the 69's with RWRP for certain models for the past several years from MIM to CS, a lot come with that now. The original set of 69's did not have RWRP, they are all wound to approx. 5.8K ohms too. So I figured that was an excellent comparison. Folks sell those 69 RWRP on ebay all the time.

blackba
09-28-2010, 01:25 PM
I do have a Rocketfire RWRP pickup on top of my current Rocketfire 60s set. Was wondering if I should make the change. I think my current position 2 & 4 is a little to dark sounding. What do you guys think?

Go for it. Very curious to see what you find, since my findings seem to be counter to the norm. For me the RWRP so far makes the guitar a little more modern and versatile, but sacrifices some quack. I am going to leave it in for now and do some more testing.

pressure
09-28-2010, 02:13 PM
The Eric Johnson Strat has RWRP middle pickup and most people think that guitar sounds great everywhere.

LReese
09-28-2010, 06:59 PM
My EJ Sig's middle PU has been swapped out for a Duncan APS-1 (like wind/Polarity). I'm not most people, but it sounds better with the Duncan, IMO. ;-)

In actuality, I'm striving in between the box stock like pole/wind sound and RWRP. Some Strats (the EJ mentioned above) is fine with the standard wiring and a like wind/polarity PU. Some Strats lose too much brightness. RWRP always the other extreme in my experience.

My latest wiring experiment is:
Like poles/winding
Kinman style treble bypass
Full shielding
300K volume pot
4 pole superswitch
Tone on all 3 pickups (in the single PU positions) with 250K pot .05uf Cap
combo positions 250K pot + 82K resistor +.05 Cap (effectively a 330K pot with tone on 10)

I like the effect of the tone pot loading on all 3 pickups, but is a little too much load for the combo positions. Likewise I think disabling the tone controls is too extreme in the other direction, so trying to split the difference.

Boris Bubbanov
09-29-2010, 06:52 AM
Fender makes the 69's with RWRP for certain models for the past several years from MIM to CS, a lot come with that now. The original set of 69's did not have RWRP, they are all wound to approx. 5.8K ohms too. So I figured that was an excellent comparison. Folks sell those 69 RWRP on ebay all the time.

I'm not sure about the provenance on those. We can be pretty sure all the AV 57/62s are wound by the same people. We still do not have a definitive answer from FMIC as to where the pups on the MIM CP Baja come from although it is probably Mexico. :huh

buddastrat
09-29-2010, 08:06 AM
Custom Shop does RWRP 69 middles too. All were cloth wired and measured approx. the same.

buddastrat
09-29-2010, 08:10 AM
The Eric Johnson Strat has RWRP middle pickup and most people think that guitar sounds great everywhere.


That's not the topic here, whether a guitar can sound good with a RWRP. It's about if there's a difference in sound between the middles.

Besides, to my ears, the EJ's have a thinner, hi-fi, sounding guitar. From my mad scientist experiments, a lot of that is that big, quartersawn neck, shallow headstock etc.. adds up to a tight, snappy, polite sounding guitar. That sound followed the necks everytime I swapped.

Bazaboy33
09-29-2010, 08:55 AM
I would say that there is a big difference in positions 2 & 4. I switched to a non-RWRP middle and moved the tone pot from the middle to the bridge. I also notice that flipping through the positions on the 5-way seems to afford less dramatic/more subtle changes in tone than with a RWRP middle pickup. A friend of mine played my guitar and remarked upon that very thing...less of an ooh-wah-ooh-wah-ooh and more of an ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh thing going on...

buddastrat
09-29-2010, 09:01 AM
less of an ooh-wah-ooh-wah-ooh and more of an ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh thing going on...


Yes that's what I was saying, more even sounding. but I dig your description.

Dickie Fredericks
09-29-2010, 09:10 AM
Ive done it both ways and I prefer a RWRP in the middle. Oh well, to each his own.

Nick Sorenson
10-01-2010, 02:33 PM
I used to think there wasn't a difference. From an electromagnetic standpoint only the difference should NOT be present. It goes like this:

-Coil Reverse-Phase is flipped relative to the other
-Magnetic Polarity Reversed-Phase is flipped again.

So 180 plus 180 = 360 or back where we started again.


BUT............. that's overlooking one important detail. These pickups are not just an electromagnetic device. They are also a Microphonic device. In other words, they pickup the actual SOUND of the guitar, not just the metal strings rattling past the magnets. This Microphonic portion of the audio is still canceled by the reversed coils (the magnets don't have anything to do with this part of the pickup's audio generation). So............ the cancelling microphonic portion means that the sound will be different.

Now what that means... it's not right or wrong and I've done it both ways over the years and still do. If you ask me, I definitely have a preference (ask me if you care what I think lately;)). But... that doesn't mean it's right. Recently I had a room of guitar players and non players (friends, helpers, family, etc) and we could tell with several guitars of the same specs and pickups, the only major difference being some non RWRP (straight) and some RWRP.

It's interesting the difference between the two.

And this is coming from a guy who will still (and probably always) argue that the brand and type of cap that adjusts the tone cut in a guitar makes very little difference (flame away:D).

Back to electrical engineering, the tone cut cap in a guitar circuit ONLY dumps highs (low pass filter). The signal doesn't pass through this cap as it would in a tube amp's plate cap (in which a single cap makes a big difference by the way). In a guitar a VERY slight amount of high freqs get dumped to ground with the tone on 10. Note I used the word 'dumped'. To me this is like spending an absorbent amount on a trash can when you could have the same purpose served with a standard trash can for $10. You can throw money at trashing something in style if you want but it's still serving the same function. And in a guitar's case, the cap is there to dump highs as you roll the tone back. It's not making much of a difference on 10. If you don't believe me, run two wires outside the guitar's control cavity and disconnect one end of the cap's connection while playing. You'll hear very little difference even with the cap out of circuit (assuming the tone is on 10) even less if you use a 0.047 or 0.022. The vintage value of 0.1uF has the greatest amount of high cut.

Anyways, back on topic. But those two things (RWRP and caps) are discussed almost daily by guitar players.

blackba
10-02-2010, 12:32 PM
^ So what difference are you hearing with a RWRP compared to a non-RWRP middle? Is there one you prefer tone wise?

ScottB
10-02-2010, 01:27 PM
Yes.

There is a slight, but measurable difference between RWRP and non RWRP.

Here's how I determined it.

I mounted a set of pickups in a pickguard, the middle pickup being RWRP. To convert the middle pickup to non RWRP, I removed it from the pickguard and flipped it over, effectively flipping both the polarity and winding direction relative to the other two pickups with everything else held exactly constant. I did not hard mount the middle pickup so I could flip it quickly, but took care to ensure that it was at the right height relative to the other two (although slight differences in height don't affect the measurement anyway). I also maintained the integrity of the pole piece location (i.e. the low E magnet stayed in the low E slot).

I measured the inductance of the bridge/middle pair wired in parallel at 1 kHz with a Extech model 380193 LCR meter. I took ten measurements in a row at each orientation in the space of about 5 minutes, changing the RWRP orientation between each measurement. With each measurement, I toggled the measurement frequency between 120 Hz and 1 kHz to reset the meter.

The RWRP inductance is 1591.97 +/- 0.62 mH
The non RWRP inductance is 1579.13 +/- 0.60 mH

This is only a difference of about 0.8% but it is statistically significant (by a pretty wide margin).

ScottB
10-02-2010, 02:11 PM
I did a control experiment.

I measured the middle pickup alone in the assembly with the two other pickups installed.

RWRP 2711.4 +/- 0.52 mH
non RWRP 2721.3 +/- 0.48 mH

This is only about a 0.4% difference, but again statistically significant by a wide margin.

I then removed the other two pickups and measured the middle pickup in place:

RWRP orientation 2176 +/- ~0.5 mH*
non RWRP orientation 2176.7 +/- 0.48 mH

*all ten measurments on the RWRP were 2176 - 0.5 appears to be the measurement error in this inductance range using my test protocol. Also note that the meter return 4 significant digits above 2 H and 5 significant digits below 2 H

Note that when the other two pickups are not installed the difference between the measurements is very slight and likely attributable to the meter, and that the average of the RWRP and non RWRP measurements is the same as the measurement when the other two pickups are absent. Also note that when measuring both pickups together, the magnitude of the affect is doubled, since the two pickups are interacting with each other and you're measuring changes to both pickups.

Nick Sorenson
10-02-2010, 09:00 PM
Yes.

There is a slight, but measurable difference between RWRP and non RWRP.

Here's how I determined it.

I mounted a set of pickups in a pickguard, the middle pickup being RWRP. To convert the middle pickup to non RWRP, I removed it from the pickguard and flipped it over, effectively flipping both the polarity and winding direction relative to the other two pickups with everything else held exactly constant. I did not hard mount the middle pickup so I could flip it quickly, but took care to ensure that it was at the right height relative to the other two (although slight differences in height don't affect the measurement anyway). I also maintained the integrity of the pole piece location (i.e. the low E magnet stayed in the low E slot).

I measured the inductance of the bridge/middle pair wired in parallel at 1 kHz with a Extech model 380193 LCR meter. I took ten measurements in a row at each orientation in the space of about 5 minutes, changing the RWRP orientation between each measurement. With each measurement, I toggled the measurement frequency between 120 Hz and 1 kHz to reset the meter.

The RWRP inductance is 1591.97 +/- 0.62 mH
The non RWRP inductance is 1579.13 +/- 0.60 mH

This is only a difference of about 0.8% but it is statistically significant (by a pretty wide margin).

That's interesting and something I wouldn't have thought... but I think even more interesting as far as quantifying things goes, would be a spectrum analyzer's results. The tricky part would be generating a uniform frequency response and amplitude through the pickups. I'm not sure how that would work since we'd have to capture the strings of a guitar vibrating equally and all things held constant in measurements in both cases.... maybe an EBow?

But regardless of testing, I'm sure I hear a very noticeable high cut with the RWRP setup in the 2 and 4 position. I don't need a spectrum analyzer, my ears hear it right away.

ScottB
10-02-2010, 09:32 PM
That's interesting and something I wouldn't have thought... but I think even more interesting as far as quantifying things goes, would be a spectrum analyzer's results. The tricky part would be generating a uniform frequency response and amplitude through the pickups. I'm not sure how that would work since we'd have to capture the strings of a guitar vibrating equally and all things held constant in measurements in both cases.... maybe an EBow?

But regardless of testing, I'm sure I hear a very noticeable high cut with the RWRP setup in the 2 and 4 position. I don't need a spectrum analyzer, my ears hear it right away.

I have the frequency and phase angle plots from both cases and they pretty much overlay. The resonant frequency is different by only 0.04% (3 Hz difference at a frequency of 7060 Hz), which is well within the variability of the measurement.

I'm sure there are people who can hear a 0.8% inductance difference, but to me the more significant effect would have to be the absence of noise, which is something on the order of a 10 dB difference.

Nick Sorenson
10-03-2010, 06:32 AM
I have the frequency and phase angle plots from both cases and they pretty much overlay. The resonant frequency is different by only 0.04% (3 Hz difference at a frequency of 7060 Hz), which is well within the variability of the measurement.

I'm sure there are people who can hear a 0.8% inductance difference, but to me the more significant effect would have to be the absence of noise, which is something on the order of a 10 dB difference.

Curious if you could explain your test a bit more? What was generating the frequency response through the pickups?

VaughnC
10-03-2010, 09:11 AM
I agree...without the strings generating the signal, the rest is meaningless. My ears also tell me that the reverse magnetic field of a RWRP middle pickup affects the frequency response of every position. However, whether this is good or bad thing would depend on the beholders ears. A great sounding guitar is a great sounding guitar no matter what the configuration. Personally, I tend to prefer the overall tone of a Strat with a non-RWRP middle...but I don't play in the high gain arena in which the lower noise of RWRP in 2 & 4 might take preference over tone.

ScottB
10-03-2010, 09:11 AM
Curious if you could explain your test a bit more? What was generating the frequency response through the pickups?

Nick,

I'm using a Syscomp digital oscilliscope.

It has a network analyzer mode, where it automatically sweeps a sine wave through a range of frequencies and generates gain and phase angle data as a function of frequency.

Very nice for testing pickups.

ScottB
10-03-2010, 09:13 AM
I agree...without the strings generating the signal, the rest is meaningless. My ears also tell me that the reverse magnetic field of a RWRP middle pickup affects the frequency response of every position. However, whether this is good or bad thing would depend on the beholders ears. A great sounding guitar is a great sounding guitar no matter what the configuration. Personally, I tend to prefer non-RWRP middle...but I don't play in the high gain arena in which the lower noise of RWRP in 2 & 4 might take preference over tone.

Incomplete? Yes.

Meaningless? Absolutely not.

Nick Sorenson
10-03-2010, 03:08 PM
Nick,

I'm using a Syscomp digital oscilliscope.

It has a network analyzer mode, where it automatically sweeps a sine wave through a range of frequencies and generates gain and phase angle data as a function of frequency.

Very nice for testing pickups.

Incomplete? Yes.

Meaningless? Absolutely not.

Sounds like very nice equipment and that you've done your homework. However this is overlooking something that I'm sure we hear and that is the microphonic aspect of the set of pickups. It's not as prominent as the electromagnetic portion of the output but it's definitely there and I think it's most noticed in the highs. If there were some easy way to quantify this and with an actual strum on an actual guitar... again it'd be somewhat of a difficult test to setup mechanically, but I would be willing to guess that it'd be a pretty apparent measurable difference.

The tricky thing is that there are a LOT of small factors that play a big role in the overall tone. I can name a list and I'm sure there are things I'm missing:
1. String distance to magnets
2. Magnetic pull on the strings (RWRP vs non as VaughnC mentioned)
3. Inductance of the coils and as ScottB noticed the inductance changes depending on the coil's relation to one another and their distance is apart as well.
4. Microphonic output of the coil itself.

Those are just the few things I can spit out with a few minutes of thought. I'm sure it gets much more detailed than this. The other things that could affect things would be related to the guitar itself, string life between test a and test b, etc.

I think the easy way is to listen to the difference. And bring in a few extra sets of ears.

When it comes down to it though, both sound good. It's just interesting that there's a difference. And I guess how much, which way (good or bad), and why the difference is what we're debating. Every bit and piece of our tone adds up. Understanding it and not going about it blindly is pretty important I think.

ScottB
10-03-2010, 07:08 PM
Sounds like very nice equipment and that you've done your homework. However this is overlooking something that I'm sure we hear and that is the microphonic aspect of the set of pickups. It's not as prominent as the electromagnetic portion of the output but it's definitely there and I think it's most noticed in the highs. If there were some easy way to quantify this and with an actual strum on an actual guitar... again it'd be somewhat of a difficult test to setup mechanically, but I would be willing to guess that it'd be a pretty apparent measurable difference.

The tricky thing is that there are a LOT of small factors that play a big role in the overall tone. I can name a list and I'm sure there are things I'm missing:
1. String distance to magnets
2. Magnetic pull on the strings (RWRP vs non as VaughnC mentioned)
3. Inductance of the coils and as ScottB noticed the inductance changes depending on the coil's relation to one another and their distance is apart as well.
4. Microphonic output of the coil itself.

Those are just the few things I can spit out with a few minutes of thought. I'm sure it gets much more detailed than this. The other things that could affect things would be related to the guitar itself, string life between test a and test b, etc.

I think the easy way is to listen to the difference. And bring in a few extra sets of ears.

When it comes down to it though, both sound good. It's just interesting that there's a difference. And I guess how much, which way (good or bad), and why the difference is what we're debating. Every bit and piece of our tone adds up. Understanding it and not going about it blindly is pretty important I think.

I kind of feel like Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws-

Quint: That's some nice fancy equipment you've got there Mr. Hooper. I don't know what the shark's gonna do with it...might eat it, I suppose.

(substitute "guitar" for "shark")

But, yes, certainly listening is critical.

I think measurements are critical as well, at least the way I approach it, but there have probably been more people than not that have made great sounding pickups with very little measurements other than a DC resistance here and there.

I use the measurements to provide the basis for fundamental understanding and then to use that understanding as a guide for my initial targeting. Then I use my ears to dial it in from there.

I've been working on some unique designs with some unique limitations, which has forced me to look outside of the conventional box in order to overcome those limitations. Going through that process, I have come up with a method of testing and some models for interpreting the results that allow me to predict what a pickup will sound like before I ever build one. For instance I will be coming out with a line of pickups that can be made to sound virtually identical to traditional single coils, but use very different materials and are a totally different design. They are also quiet, by the way.

Anyway, yes, I've been doing a ton of homework, literally. This has been my second job for quite a while now. I've gone down some dead ends, spent a lot of money and time on stuff that wasn't quite good enough, but I've come to a pretty good place with a lot of design flexibility and I'm gearing up to start putting it out there.

Don't worry though, I doubt the guys that like the vintage sounding boutique stuff will be beating down my door. Maybe, because I really think I'm nailing the tone, but you know how it goes.

Anyway, I intend to try and contribute to the general knowledge base whenever possible, and I'm sure I'll be crossing paths with you in the (hopefully) near future.


Please excuse the momentary thread hijack, I've been keeping this cat in a bag for a couple of years now and I've been dying to let it out....back to your previously scheduled program.