Vintage pickups,maybe I am overthinking things

Jay C

Member
Messages
173
So, as a self proclaimed vintage nut, I have been thinking about this.
How long before all those vintage tele, strat, les pauls, 175s, 335s etc
need their pickups rewound?

Is it a mistake to drop big $ on a clean axe with all original pickups
and windings only to set yourself up for a hit when one day not too far
down the road they need to be repaired?

Full disclosure, I have some super sweet all original 50s and 60s guitars (and older, like my 30's EsS 150 with the Charlie Christian pickup)that I love but have others that have needed their pickups rewound as
well as other general repairs.
For example, I have an otherwise really clean 1967 tele custom that the
neck pickup seems to be going on, big bummer and could set the price back a few pesos even if I get it fixed professionally and it sounds killer.
Even the ones that needed general work can be great guitars.

Lastly, I'm not a pro and not trying to stir a big debate, just wondering
what other vintage fans have for a take on this.

Love to hear some opinions from other folks interested in these instruments, open to other thoughts on these old guitars as well.
 

Jonny Hotnuts

Member
Messages
2,010
Its like anything on a vintage guitar.
On my EJ I do a bunch of 'Steve Morris' style volume swells.....but NEVER on my original 63 Strat! Not when a vintage pot can be 500$!

In time with play frets will have to be replaced....a switch may die.....a pup might fail.....or they might last 100 years more down the road.

If you are getting a vintage guitar, get one and enjoy it. If you are worried about pups failing get yourself an AVRI/CS and if a pup fails get another.

-if a vintage pup fails.....well....get Lollar or other to rewind it, its junk otherwise and useless. Put it back in and call it a day.

~JH
 

vortexxxx

Member
Messages
10,951
None of my vintage ones have ever failed. Usually, you need to abuse a pickup before it fails.
 

nmiller

Drowning in lap steels
Messages
7,167
None of my vintage ones have ever failed. Usually, you need to abuse a pickup before it fails.
Indeed. I've owned dozens of vintage electric instruments, and only a handful of pickups needed any kind of repair. Pots and certain kinds of switches are more fragile, but I have plenty of electrics from the '30s with their original components in working order.
 

mrfender

Member
Messages
722
I don't think it's true you have to abuse a guitar for the pickups to go. From all the knowledgable techs I've spoken to it can happen to a guitar sitting in a case.

I have 4 pre-cbs strats and it's something I worry about. A couple weeks ago the bridge pickup in my 57 Strat stopped working. I was freaking out it would need a rewind and thus devalue my all original guitar. Luckily it didn't need a rewind but I'm sure guys will chime in who have had pickups in old guitars go out of nowhere.
 

jimshine

Member
Messages
1,594
Fender pickups usually "die" for three reasons (not counting ways people break them, like pushing in pole pieces). I will list them most coomon-least.

1. A winding gets damaged somehow on the exterior of the coil. It could be the eyelet area rubbing the cavity, debris making its way in that small unprotected area by the base of the coil, or when exposed from its cover for whatever reason. This one is easy to avoid. Just don't mess with the pickups often. If you do, make sure you are careful and keep the pickup clean.

2. Lacquer potted pickups (some Fenders used them from the beginning). These are usually would with plain enamel. The lacquer sometimes becomes so brittle that when exposed to a big temperature swing, the lacquer "checks" and severs part of the coil somewhere. These ones can be intermittent for a while then just completely fail. This one can be avoided by not subjecting the guitar to temp swings. If you are handy, you can resoften the potting by dipping it in denatured alcohol. It will take years and years to get that brittle again.

3. Rust on the pole pieces inside the coil. Sometimes a pickup exposed to lots of moisture over a long period of time will develop rust on those magnets inside where you can't see it. Eventually that rust manages to take out part of the coil in contact with it. This one can be avoided by leaving pickup covers on. If you have a Tele bridge pickup, seal that little center hole up with a little wax. Just rub it in to close that hole up.
 

SPROING!

Member
Messages
8,796
The pickups failed on my brother's 73 Jazz Bass. Apparently, the coating on the winding wires on that era got brittle and cracked, causing shorts.
He replaced with new Fender Custom Shop pickups and put the old ones in the box with the original neck and pots.
Now the guitar plays like new again but he has all the original bits as well.
 

jimshine

Member
Messages
1,594
A 1973 Jazz Bass has the lacquer potting. Those typically die due to #2. I spent years repairing and rewinding mostly late 60's and 1970's Fender pickups potted that way. Quite often they can be fixed. The crack tends to happen in a spot where the lacquer is thick, like at the base of the coil. I would reactivate the lacquer and carefully unwind until I found the break.

What is interesting about those pickups is the lacquer only manages to work its way in so far to the coil. Once you get through that surface layer, the coils inside are unpotted until you get to the very center.
 

Jay C

Member
Messages
173
Interesting comments so far,
Thanks Jimshine for your explanations.
It sounds to me like guitars that see a lot of road time could be
more subject to temperature swings.

I'm with Mr Fender as far as abuse goes, my guitars are far from abused,
but of course who knows what happened or conditions they saw before
I got them.
 

SPROING!

Member
Messages
8,796
A 1973 Jazz Bass has the lacquer potting. Those typically die due to #2. I spent years repairing and rewinding mostly late 60's and 1970's Fender pickups potted that way. Quite often they can be fixed. The crack tends to happen in a spot where the lacquer is thick, like at the base of the coil. I would reactivate the lacquer and carefully unwind until I found the break.

What is interesting about those pickups is the lacquer only manages to work its way in so far to the coil. Once you get through that surface layer, the coils inside are unpotted until you get to the very center.
Based on how his failed, that's the same conclusion we reached.
He had already put on a new Warmoth neck so we decided to go ahead and hot rod that bad boy all the way with new pickups and all new electronics. What was a nearly unplayable wreck is now a monster. Totally worth the mods. It was a playèr to begin with. My brother bought it when it was less than five years old but it already looked like a war survivor. He's not babied it along the years, either.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
34,007
Now the guitar plays like new again but he has all the original bits as well.
The original bits are quite useless without rewinding, so why not rewind?
Do folks really pay big bux for non working parts?
Probably,:facepalm but it defies any logic.
 

Jonny Hotnuts

Member
Messages
2,010
As crazy as this might sound has anyone ever considered putting a small desiccant packet under their pickguitar/ control cavity? I am not talking something massive (like found in a pill bottle), just enough to keep moisture from the inside of the pots/pups.

While I have never heard of anyone doing this, it may be a way to keep vintage electronics around longer.

Any thoughts?

~JH
 






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