1935 Rickenbacker Pickup needs repair!

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Lewguitar, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. Lewguitar

    Lewguitar Member

    Messages:
    5,688
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Location:
    Longmont, Colorado
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Here's a shot of my two lap steels.

    My problem is with the pickup in the guitar on the left - my '35. Over the last 80 years, the strings have worn away the pole pieces and worn grooves into the bobbin itself.

    The magnets are the horseshoes - the polepieces are probably just steel slugs.

    All of the strings sound real strong except for what would be a G string on a normal guitar. In open E tuning, it's a G#.

    The polepiece for the G# string is worn down almost completely. So the G# string sounds weak. And I can't raise the pickup on the treble side without what's left of the E & B polepieces hitting the strings.

    So I'm thinking of disassembling this 1935 pickup and grinding what's left of the polepieces down flush - like they are in my '38 pickup. I also have a 1938 Ricky lap steel, the guitar on the right, and the polepieces in its pickup are flat - flush with the bobbin. They were never raised in the first place I guess. It sounds great.

    Here's the pickup that needs work:

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  2. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,051
    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Location:
    Rocky Hill, CT
    Fralin's a good choice. I'd also consider Curtis Novak, who's apparently worked on quite a variety of vintage pickups.

    How can this happen in the first place? Wouldn't the string be muted by the pickup while it was grinding through the poles?
     
  3. Trebor Renkluaf

    Trebor Renkluaf I was hit by a parked car, what's your excuse? Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    10,962
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Location:
    InSaneDiego
    If you're looking for someone to do the work, Lindy Fralin or Jason Lollar both come to mind.
     
  4. Lewguitar

    Lewguitar Member

    Messages:
    5,688
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Location:
    Longmont, Colorado
    Thanks for the replies! I'm thinking of asking Lindy to take a look at it. Jason says on his website that he's no longer doing repairs.

    As for how the damage happened, it must have been played for a long time by someone who didn't think to adjust the pickup down so that the strings weren't rattling away on the polepieces.

    Doesn't seem like you could even make music with the strings buzzing against the polepieces but that's what it looks like happened.

    The guitar is otherwise in great condition.

    Thanks again!
     
  5. 84Bravo

    84Bravo Member

    Messages:
    10,483
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2006
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Call Skip Goez in St Louis 314/647-1211. He has the original polepieces for that pickup and can repair yours.
     
  6. Lewguitar

    Lewguitar Member

    Messages:
    5,688
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Location:
    Longmont, Colorado
    Thanks! I might give him a call.

    But I took my own advice and was able to improve it quite a bit. I loosened the treble strings and got them up and out of the way and then took took a small flat file that was thin enought to fit between the top surface of the bobbin and the underside of the top horseshoe magnet, and filed down what was remaining of the "E" & "B" pole pieces.

    Then, I was able to adjust the whole coil on the treble side closer to the strings and now I'm getting a fatter tone from all three strings.

    I may take it apart just to do a cleaner and more complete job in the future but it already sounds a lot better.

    I've always thought that Strat pickups with flat poles had a fatter sound than those with the same magnet and wind but with raised poles. Duncan SSL-2 vs. SSL-1 pickups for example.

    Today's experiment with the '35 Ricky sure bore that out.
     
  7. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

    Messages:
    12,762
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Location:
    St. Louis, Mo.
    Skip Goez is the best in the business.
     
  8. docfox

    docfox Member

    Messages:
    371
    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Check out Rick Aiello on the Steel Guitar Forum - he kinda specializes in building and repairing these old horseshoe pickups.
     
  9. tone4days

    tone4days Member

    Messages:
    6,234
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Location:
    central maryland
    consider the seymour duncan custom shop too
    MJ and seymour are amazing
     
  10. Lewguitar

    Lewguitar Member

    Messages:
    5,688
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Location:
    Longmont, Colorado
    How you doing buddy? Good to see you here.

    Actually, Seymour has worked on this very pickup. It was dead and Seymour was kind enough to rewind it for me but I didn't ask him to correct the polepiece issues. The shot of me holding it was taken right after I got it back from Seymour and before I installed it back into the guitar. He did a great job rewinding it but I should have thought to ask him to fix the worn polepieces too.

    In any case, I fixed them myself and played it a bunch last night - it sounds excellent! Almost identical to the one in my '38, now that I've filed down the poles in this '35 pickup to match the flat poles that appear to be stock in my '38 Ricky pickup.

    I like my old Supro a lot too, but these 30's Rickenbackers are my favorites.

    I very much appreciate the suggestions as to resources. I think I've fixed the problem though.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  11. Jiffy_Jeff

    Jiffy_Jeff Playin Tunes and Having Fun! Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,439
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Location:
    AZ
    I cant help you, but those things look very Cool! :aok
     

Share This Page