Vintage Japanese pickup questions

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by JaminJuno, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. JaminJuno

    JaminJuno Member

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    Many years ago I was given an old Japanese Aria Diamond ES335 style guitar that a friend found under a house. It wasn't in good shape, non-original neck with unplayable action, electronics didn't work at all, etc etc. but it looked cool so it's been hanging on my wall for a decade or so. Anyway, it's got 3 cool looking pickups, kind of like P90 shaped humbuckers with one row of screw poles and one row of staple poles. I've recently started to teach myself to tinker with guitar electronics and am about to start a project using various bits I have lying around. So I was wondering if anyone could shed any light on these pickups as I have never actually heard them.

    The neck and the bridge read about 4.8k impedance which seems very low for a humbucker. The middle pickup seems to be broken as I get a very high reading that continues to rise. I popped the cover off it and it appears that there are indeed 2 coils and the wire from both coils is connected to the positive terminal. Would this mean that the coils are in parallel rather than series? Does anyone know any more about these style of pickups or if they are worth using? I am going to have to rout for them before I try them so I was hoping to find out a little more about them before I make a decision. I am putting together a Fender Bass VI inspired bass using a Teisco Mosrite short scale bass body and a mustang bridge and I thought these pickups would be period correct and look the part. Many thanks for reading and for any insights or advice!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  2. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    Pups like these?

    [​IMG]

    For lots of good info, recommend you run over to the Matsumoku website and explore all the tech data they have, including a fair amount of info about your Diamond and all its cousins.

    The shot above is from a '72 Epi EA-250, which is basically the same guitar as most Diamonds, (esp the Aria Diamond 4102T) with a few different hardware options and some cosmetics. Those Epi pups are very low-output and mellow, but with tons of body tone in 'em, and respond with terrific dynamics to the touch. One of the most responsive guitars I've ever played, actually.

    One thing to watch for on those old Matsu archtops...most of them were true-hollows, with no solid centerblock inside of them. That meant that the heel block was tiny and over time exceedingly prone to breaking completely loose from the guitar body. The surface evidence will be cracks between the neck pup and the heel of the neck, as well as separation of the binding near the heel pocket. Once that happens, it takes major surgery to clean all the old adhesive out of the heel block mating surfaces so new glue has something to hold onto. Easier to make a new...and oversized...block.

    But if yours is intact, you may find you've got quite a player. Though the necks are thin and bendy (and prone to warp), they take very kindly to a low and fast setup with light strings. (I run eights.) Takes a while to figure out how to amp these things, owing to the strange pups and the light strings, but people who mention the Gretsch-like tone are quite correct IMHO...often a tad of clean boost is all it takes to beef up that delicate little signal and make the amp sing. BTW, the low output can be terrific in a high-gain amp for ultra-dirt-soaked tones...note differentiation with quiet pups can be exceptional. Other than the fact that the body makes these things feed back like crazy...

    --Ray

    PS...If those are the same pups as above, I doubt they'll work for bass at all, string spacing being one reason, not to mention the glaring mis-count on the pole pieces...six instead of four. :eek: I would also think the internals will be badly suited to bass. Could be wrong tho...never occurred to me to try it.
     
  3. JaminJuno

    JaminJuno Member

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    Big thanks for the reply Ray. Those are the exact pickups. I've never seen them anywhere else before. I really appreciate your description of their tone, exactly what I was hoping for. Even though it pains me to do so, I am probably going to scrap the guitar they came out of (a model 6003T btw). The body has had a Coronet Ric copy neck put on at some stage which is spaced all wrong and is virtually unplayable. The trem has bits missing. It has three of these pickups and the middle one appears to be dead and I don't like my chance of finding a replacement to fill the hole. All up it needs way more work and parts than I am capable of doing/finding. Plus I've already got a early 70's Gretsch Streamliner hollowbody that is far superior to anything the Diamond is likely to ever be.

    The Fender Bass VI, if you are not familiar with it, was a 6 string short scale bass made in the 60's and early 70's. It is more like a baritone guitar except tuned down a full octave (E-E). The original ones had Strat pickups and then later Jag pickups and a Jag/JM vibrato. String spacing is very narrow and should work fine with the pickups. I am going for a very clean vintage tone with good definition, similar to a Strat or Jag. Sounds like they will definitely be worth a try.

    Fender Bass VI:

    [​IMG]

    The body I am converting. A '68 Teisco Vamper bass from what I can tell. Picked it up cheap like this as an unfinished project. Scale and neck dimensions are identical to Bass VI. Just needs new tuners, pickups, bridge and nut.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  4. Rockledge

    Rockledge Member

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    I had quite a few guitars with those style pickups back in the 60s and 70s.
    There was another pickup that came in Aria made guitars that looked like single coils and had a bit of a trapezoid shape to them.
    Those particular pickups like the ones in the picture weren't real beefy sounding, they weren't real thin but were also not big and fat sounding like typical humbucks.
    They also didn't have a lot of output or that high gain drive to them. They were tonal and were not bad sounding , they just didn't drive real well.
    I would compare them to old Gretsch pickups but with less bottom end.
    I doubt, for example, you could easily get good pinch harmonics with them.
     
  5. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    JJ, PM me if you want to get rid of that Diamond. I need another one like I need a hole in the head, but I have another entire Matsu archtop sitting on the shelf, minus...a body. :) I also have another pair of those weirdo pups laying around for spares to the Epi (my first guit), so I could send you one of them to complete your set.

    Those old Teisco's are such cool offbeat guitars aren't they? Hard to go wrong hotrodding one like that...kinda tough to make them even more strange. I love the switches on the Bass VI, just so 60's-import-looking. Cool project.

    BTW, pinch harmonics...agreed, tough to do unless you add some stout boost out front. Besides which the string spacing is so narrow it's really hard to do it cleanly. Reminds me a ton of the narrow-neck PRS's, oddly enough...same feel. Also agreed about the low end on the pups...I was playing a guy's Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gent at the same time I first owned my Epi, and that's a very apt description. Great tone altogether really, quite the sleeper these flimsy Matsumoku hollows...you gotta massage that little signal just right to let the amp know something's plugged into it. Do that, and these things are downright gorgeous. If you manage to keep them in tune... :)

    --Ray
     
  6. Drak

    Drak Supporting Member

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  7. Rockledge

    Rockledge Member

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    I had this model, mine was branded "Bruno Conquorer" , it was also known as a "Maxitone".
    Some of them were also sold as Univoxes I think.
    Mine had the mother of toilet seat plastic with matching headstock plastic.
     
  8. OlAndrew

    OlAndrew Member

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    I've got a Bruno too, mine's got two pickups and it's dark cherry fade to black on the edges, with white binding, mother -of toilet-seat headstock and stuff. I've got an arm on my vibrato, and it's actually quite a nice vibrato, you can get more of a dive than a Bigsby, and it works quite well.

    I don't play it that much, it's got a really narrow neck and I've got these large clumsy paws.

    Had to change all the wiring, the insulation on the original turned to dust and I was getting lots of intermittent shorts from shield to hot. It had had a lot of different pickups when i got it, there were lots of little holes under the old pickup mounts. I've got a pair of Tonerider Alnico IIs in there now. Sounds very nice. One of these days I'll get around to putting a pair of GFS Mean 90s in, that oughta do it.

    I've got a couple of those old Japanese trapezoid things, anyone want 'em?
     
  9. buchla300

    buchla300 Member

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    I am looking for a piar of these pickups if you are selling or know of any!
    Cheers

     

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