Those who put a steel pickup in their guitar that is not a coodercaster

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by scr@tchy, May 9, 2016.

  1. scr@tchy

    scr@tchy Member

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    I'm feeling like I'm heading this way, seeing if anyone else did
     
  2. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Sure, why not.
    What did you have in mind?
     
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  3. paperair

    paperair Supporting Member

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    Yep. I've put one in a Tele-style build and am currently working on a Telemaster version.

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. scr@tchy

    scr@tchy Member

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    I don't know so I made this thread to get some clues. Right now my favorite pickup is a 9k jazzmaster I have in the neck of a loved tele and I'm looking for something to go in the bridge. Currently I'm enjoying a Duncan '78 in there, it's articulate and powerful but would like the attack to be more single coil.

    I'm going for big articulated strings with some mids and so far the one at the top of my list is the Duncan sm3, it's got me wondering if it's too middy from the few clips I've seen.

    But I love Cooder's bridge tone and likewise steel guitar sounds so I'm just doing math and figuring I'll have a look in that pond. I couldn't use his valco as I don't want my right hand technique to change. My hope would be that it is hum canceling what I end up with but I have been putting up with a jazzmaster...

    So far I'm thinking about the lace alumitone or something from the bill Lawrence camp as my first tryouts unless I get some fruit from this thread.
     
  5. scr@tchy

    scr@tchy Member

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    I love the tone of those valcos but can't get with the design blocking my palm mutes. A pickup that got me in this ballpark is what I like to try
     
  6. sfarnell

    sfarnell Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a thinline partscaster with a Lollar Chicago Steel at the bridge (fantastic tele bridge replacement) and I have a "Coodercaster" with a Bigsby steel guitar pickup clone at the bridge. Both have a Guyatone gold foil in them (my favorite pickup). The Bigsby is a very low output pickup and the strings need to be close to it for the pickup to shine. The Lollar is higher output and has some sizzle to it.

    [​IMG]
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  7. jerrycampbell

    jerrycampbell Member

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    Dang, I like that!
    Is that a neck-through?
     
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  8. paperair

    paperair Supporting Member

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    Thanks, it's a bolt-on neck with a raised center section on the body
     
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  9. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Ok, let me be the first to say I love all Cooder's bridge tones, I don't consider them super pickup centric so much as string gauge, tuning, fingerstyle, attitude, approach to the amp, etc.
    He just had a way of making that stuff pop.
    The p90 in the bridge of the bound neck Strat with flat wounds, for example, that was a killer sound too.

    He just has such a good touch.

    If you're into that basic vibe of the Supro string-thru PU, you'd have to consider the Lollar Chicago PU, but I'm not convinced it's a direction that would satisfy your mids requirement.
    If you're happy with the Jazzmaster PU, I collaborated with Lollar and Scott Walker on a Jazzmaster PU variation, basically a Jazzmaster with an extra long blade.

    As if you had a 6-string PU with an 8-string blade.

    It keeps the high E string proud, features the "melody string" as the old school steel guys might say, no drop-off, no weak response to bending, big smooth single coil with great midrange response.
    Probably my fave treble pickup sound, it's what I use on my fretless, but I play bottleneck on that guitar too.
    They're apparently a PITA to produce, expensive, special order, not sure how into cranking them out Jason is, but that's a possibility.

    On the flip side, if you're chasing this with any thought of "gain" you're shooting yourself in the foot without a hum canceling option.
     
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  10. sfarnell

    sfarnell Gold Supporting Member

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    Hi Steve, I think that strat now has a Bigsby pickup at the bridge. It's what gave me the idea for my "Coodercaster":

    [​IMG]
     
  11. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Yeah, the P90's long gone, hence my use of "was" and "too" in my description. Still a great sound tho!

    It appears Cooder was headed in the same general direction with the Bigsby as I was with Lollar with the 8-string blade on a wide, flat, 6-string single coil.
    That's a sound, the big blade, totally different effect than individual pole pieces, and the extra-wide thing has always been a fave of mine.
    That's the formula on my white Strat with the lipsticks: extra-wide, low output, SC, blades.
    That's what I was going for with Lollar. Those qualities.

    Anyway, that's a thing, the wide blade. OP take note. .

    On the general subject, what might not be "a thing" is the notion of "steel pickups on a guitar".
    That Bigsby, the Supro string thru, the Rickenbacher horseshoe, in 6-string form those were all regular old electric Spanish guitar pickups.
    I've never actually seen a 7 or 8 string Supro, so while that same PU did double duty on Hawaiian guitar and it's obviously a popular rock/lap pickup, it was also the stock Supro Ozark guitar PU.
    I've seen and played arch tops with horseshoes on them, and the Bigsby 8-string sized PU was the same deal on the first Bigsby guitars too, right?

    Just thinking out loud, and not pushing the point even a little as you could also claim every electric guitar is a descendant of the Ric frying pan on some level.

    Fender and Gibson both used guitar and steel pickups interchangeably, they were just 6-string pickups.
    Rearranging the components to get the magnets under the strings so you could get multiple PU's on the same guitar is one possible line you could draw between steel and guitar, 6 vs 7 or 8 strings might be another.

    The knock on "steel specificity" of the pickup for guitar application is in the combination mounting plate and bridge.
    The Supro and Ric Horseshoe both suffer performance woes with string spacing and height misalignment when repurposed for guitar.
    The geometry of string to pole piece the mounting plate/straight saddle provided to the benefit of the steel doesn't serve the guitar quits so well.

    Both of those pickups sound freakin awesome on guitar, but they're both tricky, and neither does a good job of tracking a bent string.
    The pole pieces are just too small. Another vote for the blade, maybe?

    What you don't see as retrofit are Fender Boxcars, arguably the most distinctive of the 6-string steel pickups, or the National "focused power" sidewinders, (think Freddie Roulette) again, because of the mounting and potential performance issues with alignment and compensation.
    And just generally for me, the feeling those pickups underperform when separated from their stock mounting plates.
    Not something likely to bother folks who never played them on steel, but I've been playing both Spanish and Hawaiian all my life and I've done some flipping.
    Those plates are a thing. . They help.

    Finally, *phew!* the popular Coodercaster/Supro routine, which I dearly love, is functionally, just a humbucker at the end of a Strat at the end of the day.
    You gotta keep that in mind, as I cautioned earlier, if you want to get any kind of gain happening onstage consistently. No P90's for me : (
    Pickups are fun, the weirder the better for me more often than not but you do have to match the basic function of the thing to the musical application.
    Slide guitar and steel cover a lot of sonic ground, choose wisely!
     
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  12. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    how are you guys doing the valco/supro/lollar lap steel bridge pickup dealing with the weird polarity issues when combined with a neck pickup? (since half the valco pickup is out of polarity with the other half)

    do you just never run both pickups at the same time?
     
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  13. kimock

    kimock Member

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    dunno, all mine are single pickup.
     
  14. sfarnell

    sfarnell Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks! when using a blade pickup do you even out the string height over the pickup? The string height on my strat with the faux Bigsby follows the contour of the 7.25" neck radius so that the low and high strings have a lot of definition and sizzle, the middle strings do not 'cause they are so high off of the blade. If the strings are the same height I was wondering if bending becomes a problem. I tried it a bit and my bends go under the adjacent string now. I should just leave the guitar at Bill's so that you can check it out.
     
  15. Quarter

    Quarter Member

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    Walter ... I recently did a steel with the Coodercaster combo and my customer and I decided to just wire it up with a 3 way rotary switch and see what happened. I was pleasantly surprised and here is a copy paste of her owner's description.

    "The Supro just wants to growl and the Gold Foil is crystal clear and angelic. An unexpected benefit is the combined setting of these pups that gives the best of each. Jason Lollar worked some special magic when he made these pups. Many thanks to him."

    .
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Quarter

    Quarter Member

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    Thats sounds like fun pickup.
     
  17. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Yes and no!
    The blades on my Lollar Jazzmaster PU's are flat, straight across and flush with the top of the cover, so it's not a tall blade.
    Seems nice and even in its response to me.

    But it doesn't match the radius of the bridge, that guitar has a tonepro's TOM which doesn't match the radius of the fingerboard, which would be ok because I normally flatten the bridge out a lot, but in this case it still isn't enough.

    Normally I do what Walterw and I have been referring to as "hillbilly radius", flattening the saddles into more of a plane, then raising the action on the treble side and lowering it on the bass side.
    Right?
    String plane inclined to give more clearance to the high E and B and a little bit for the low E while the radius of the fingerboard brings the middle strings closer.

    Then raise the treble side of the PU a little and duck the bass side.
    That way the pickup is more or less equidistant to the strings, nice, and the action has enough clearance for the high stings to be suitable for bending or bottleneck abuse, and the inside strings are low enough courtesy of the fingerboard radius to chord comfortably in-tune.

    The way you're doing it, following the fingerboard radius at the bridge, you're almost guaranteed to have some uneven string response to the PU. One's curved, one's flat.
    It's not necessary. Just flatten the bridge and tilt it, follow the strings with the pickup.

    I do some version of that on all my guitars with adjustable bridges, try to get the strings all in the same plane for the right hand and tilt around the radius to clear the treble strings.
     
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  18. kevin hart

    kevin hart Supporting Member

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    I set up my guitars this same way and it works like a charm.
     
  19. Herb Utsmelz

    Herb Utsmelz 'Tis what 'tis Supporting Member

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    Technically early spec Teles and basically any Gibson has a steel guitar pickup in it. The Broadcaster bridge was used from Fender lap steels and Gibson models over the years have had everything from Melody Maker pickups, P-90s, to PAFs even.
     

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