RW/RP for Dummies....

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by richey88, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. richey88

    richey88 Member

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    The Dummy being me. What's the deal with this? Benefits? Can I do it myself? Should I? Better quack on the 2 and 4 position?

    I have a MIJ Strat with a strat-sized HB in the bridge. Hope I'm not :horse but I hear Frusciante does it and we're learning some Peppers and I wanna be authentic, NTM I love to tinker.....thanks!!
     
  2. Glowing Tubes

    Glowing Tubes Gold Supporting Member

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    60z hum is why among other things
     
  3. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    The benefit of an RW/RP middle pickup is hum canceling in positions 2 & 4 of a Strat. However, many feel that because its magnetic polarity is opposite of the bridge & neck pickups, that the tone of every position is affected. "Better" is VERY subjective...if a guitar sounds good, I wouldn't care how the pickups are wound. However, given a choice, to my ears, a Strat with a non-RWRP middle pickup generally sounds better to me all the way around so I'd opt to sacrifice hum canceling in positions 2 & 4 for better tone in all positions...but YMMV.

    And, no, you can't change a pickups polarity yourself (unless you unwind it, flip the poles, and rewind it)...it's much easier to just purchase a pickup that's already RW/RP if you decide to go that route.
     
  4. beej

    beej Supporting Member

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    RWRP = reverse wound, reverse polarity.

    Basically, RWRP pickups use a magnet with the polarity reversed. The windings around the coil are also reversed. These two opposites (both magnetic field and winding) lead to a current that's in-phase with the other pickups. However- stray noise that's picked up by the coil (the windings act like antennae, picking up stray electrical noise) is out of phase (b/c the windings are backward).

    So when you combine the RWRP pickup with a regular pickup (neck or bridge in this case), the guitar signal is in phase but the noise is out of phase. The noise is thus canceled out, which is what you hear in positions 2/4 of your single coil equipped guitar.

    Same principle with a humbucking pickup: the second coil is RWRP with respect to the first coil. When you combine them the signal from the strings is summed from each coil, but the noise is out of phase and is subtracted out.

    Hope that helps.

    BTW, on the "non RWRP sounds better" issue- I've never heard a difference between a RWRP and a non RWRP pickup. The signal you hear has the identical phase in both cases. It's just that in the RWRP case the induced hum has the opposite phase. For anyone that says there's a difference, I'd love to hear a good explanation of why you think so.
     
  5. Aardvark

    Aardvark Silver Supporting Member

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    I have to admit I've never done a side-by-side comparison to assess tone (not noise) with RWRP vs. standard. I did once discuss this with Lindy Fralin, though, and he said there was no rational explanation why there would be a tonal difference.
     
  6. Supasso

    Supasso Member

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    Strings vibrate under the influence of the magmatic field from the pickups, and reversing polarity of the middle pickup affects that.
     
  7. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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  8. richey88

    richey88 Member

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    Excellent!! I appreciate all the input. Walter, thanks for the link!
     
  9. beej

    beej Supporting Member

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    True, the magnetic field of the pickups affects the vibration of the strings. But if there was a significant effect from the magnet, it would affect the string everywhere. You would also be able to hear the effect from any of the pickups, not just 2,3 & 4 where the middle p'up was in the circuit.

    I dunno, I'm pretty skeptical that there's an audible difference.
     
  10. Aardvark

    Aardvark Silver Supporting Member

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    Wouldn't a south or north polarity magnet have equal pull on a string, which is a neutral ferrous material, not a magnet itself?
     
  11. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Every good set of single coils I hear, always has all three pickups the same. RWRP seems to brighten or thin the tone on them, especially in 2 and 4.

    Bare Knuckle pickups FAQ says that a non RWRP in their set will increase a bit of mids in ALL positions. Since they've go the means, they've probably experimented with exact winds and compared RWRP and non RWRP.
     
  12. Telecaster62

    Telecaster62 Member

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    You can indeed change the polarity of a single coil pickup without any rewiring at all. A high gauss magnet will do it. Polarity has absolutely no effect on string vibration and therefore absolutely no effect on tone. RWRP affecting any aspect of tone is an old guitar urban legend.
     
  13. Telecaster62

    Telecaster62 Member

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    I forgot to add that if using a RWRP pickup causes your 2 and 4 positions to sound thin or weak then you have a pickup in the chain (usually middle) which is actually out of phase. That is a different problem entirely. RWRP cancels 60hz hum (or 50hz depending on where you are in the world) period. Humbuckers do this and are not out of phase they are just RWRP. If you wire a humbucker out of phase you get a hollow weak tone which is the famous Greenie tone. Single coils will do this as well although it's not the same because the actual spacing distance of the two pickups is different and results in a different effect with much greater cancellation. The simple answer is if you want a Strat with the humbucking effect in positions 2 and 4 you should get a set of pickups with RWRP middle pickup.
     
  14. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Funny, I've never heard of it before. I just used my ears and compared pickups on my strats. Never seem to like the ones with RWRP as much.
     
  15. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    Both Curtis Novak and Lindy Fralin say RWRP have no effect on tone and I'll take thier word on that...I can't hear a difference myself but I don't have Eric Johnson ears so I'm not gonna leave the remote possibility out that someone can.
     
  16. Supasso

    Supasso Member

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    It's not just the attraction. The RP magnets can change the shape of the entire magmatic field surround the strings.
     
  17. beej

    beej Supporting Member

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    The magnetic field is symmetrical, so I don't see how changing the orientation of the magnet would make a difference.
     
  18. Telecaster62

    Telecaster62 Member

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    There is no tonal effect. It's true. The only tonal effect would be when the magnet and wiring are out of phase to each other and that's not what a RWRP pickup is. If you are hearing a difference it is because it is a different pickup and not because of it's polarity. Any two pickups can sound somewhat different even when they are the exact same brand and model. This topic proves that guitar players are generally not scientists.
     
  19. beej

    beej Supporting Member

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    I am interestested in why people think there's a difference since this topic frequently reoccurs. The science says there's no difference, but I am always open to a good discussion in case there's something I don't see (er, hear).

    The "sounds different" argument comes up a lot when people talk about noise reduction techniques (RWRP pickups, dummy coils, suhr backplate, etc.)

    My instict is that it's a physcoacoustic problem- many people interpret the signal differently in the absence of noise. The conclusion tends to be that there's something "missing", when in fact what they're missing is hum - the basic signal is identical.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2008
  20. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Well what about when you're playing clean and there is no apparent noise from the pickups? The non RWRP still has sounded better to me. Been through Duncans, Fenders and Fralins.

    All I was saying is every set of pickups or strat that has sounded good to me, never had a RWRP middle. I came to the conclusion years after trying lots of strats and pickups. So it's not like I had that in mind. I'm not a purist in that I have to have a non RWRP. I wanted at least some degree of noise cancellation.

    I'd still love to find a good set with a RWRP middle. It's just that I sort've gave up. I like the way the 2 and 4 positions sweeten up when there's no RWRP. On some sets, it actually darkens like the tone controls were turned down a bit.

    Everytime I try those positions on a RWRP middle set, it gets thin and bright in those positions. Why is that? Even when there's no noise noticeable with any pickups.
     

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