Please note - You are building a humbucker kit, not a complete Humbucker, and this kit does not include the coil wire (it can be purchased seperately here!)
The photos are actually of completed humbuckers, and are purely representative of the Cover/Bobbin/Screw/Style combinations you are picking with the kit.
This parts kit will not be supplied assembled.
2 x Bobbin (suitable to the pole config selected)
12 x Pole pieces
Steel Yokes (as applicable)
1 x Mounting plate
1 x Bar Magnet
4 x Bobbin fixing screws
2 x Height adjustment mounting screws.
2 x Spacers (either Plastic, Maple or Magnetic depending on options)
Please note - we all parts supplied will be matched to the string spacing selected upon purchase.
Pole Spacing is one of those things that makes humbuckers look a little bit scarier then they actually are – so heres some nice, soothing words that hopefully, make a little bit of sense of the subject.
Traditionally, Pickups made in the “west” (that’d be the USA) are spaced at 49.2mm in the neck, and 52.5mm in the bridge (at least nowadays – traditionally, it was 49.2mm in both positions).
Pickups made in the Far East, are (normally) spaced at 50mm in the neck, and 52mm in the bridge. (although, some of the higher end far eastern stuff is now aping the USA, and they’re using 49.2mm and 52.5mm)
Now – heres where things get a little confusing, so bare with, and we’ll explain.
It’s actually become very common for US manufacturers to state that their pickups are 50mm and 52mm – when they aren’t (if you’ve ever tried fitting a 50mm cover to a Gibson® you’ll know it doesn’t fit) – and that’s probably why the far eastern companies are working to 50 and 52mm.
However – whilst a “true” 52mm American made humbuckers is pretty rare, for all intents and purposes, you can treat a 52.5mm humbucker as though it was a 52mm– theres about 0.5mm of play in the tolerances on the covers and bases that mean it works and as such, the parts are cross compatible. (Strangely too, whilst 52.5mm keeper bars and bobbins exist, there are no 52.5mm covers or bases being made anywhere on the planet)
Careful too though, because you can’t do the same with 49.2mm and 50mm, the difference is more than 0.5mm, so the parts aren’t cross compatible.
So, taking into account those slightly looser tolerances (and ignoring some of the more esoteric manufacturers who use their own proprietary spacings!) – there are only 3 humbucker pole spacings – 49.2mm (American Neck), 50mm (Far Eastern Neck) and 52/52.5mm (“one size fits all” Bridge!*)
*There are actually 53mm spaced humbuckers out there too – they’re pretty rare, but the covers and bases definitely exist – and they’re always using 52.5mm bobbins – the tolerance going the other way.
In short – 49.2mm and 50mm are simple – 52 vs 52.5 (vs.53) looks a lot more confusing then it actually is, they all use the same bobbins, it’s just the bases, keeper bars and covers that vary, and give them the marginally different spacings when completed.
Nickel Vs. Brass
Right - the age old debate! Brass Vs. Nickel! Time to don the Flak jacket and get this laid out as straight as possible.
Basically, (and we've been as guilty as anyone else in this) it is a commonly held belief that a brass base and/or cover on a humbucker was simply a sign of a cheap pickup - the cover especially! "its a cheap material!", "it sucks out top end!", "it colours the tone!"
And Nickel? (or German silver - bit of an archaic name, but handy for avoiding confusion with the colour of the electroplating!) - its gods gift to the audiophile right? "Its tonal pure!" "You dont lose anything!" "It doesn't change the sound!" "You get more sustain!"
And this is pretty widely accepted too - good pickups - nickel, cheap pickups - brass!
BUT - it’s not really that cut and dry believe it or not.
Everything we believe about brass, is 100% true! Let’s start off with that comforting little fact! They do suck out top end, and it is cheaper, but, that’s not nesecerilly a bad thing! Brass covers (and bases!) can be used to temper a pickup.
So, we’ve made this little graph on the spectrum analyser! 2 graphs, one ontop of the other, both showing the frequencies being produces by the same coils and magnet, on either base, with either cover (or without)
Its worth knowing the specs on the pickup itself too. Its nothing overly flash – probably something we’ve all tried over the years – its 8K, 42 AWG Plain enamel, Rough cast Alnico 2 bad magnet, in the traditional style, 6 slug poles, 6 screw, and its all in an Epiphone® Les Paul, with a 10 strings.
I’ll upload the recordings too hopefully next week, and you can hear the difference next to the graphs – but for the time being, the graph makes some interesting reading.
We can see that brass bases vs nickel actually makes very little difference on its own – theres a slight boost in the low end range, between 100 & 500 hz with brass (so a brass base isn’t actually sucking out top end, its actually boosting low end a little!) – but, atleast in this case, with a vintage spec humbuckers, there isn’t a world of difference.
UNTIL – we add a cover! Then things get interesting.
Adding in a brass cover to brass base completely hammers the signal – everything becomes compressed – with a very noticeable “suck” between the 1Khz and 20 Khz range – when its said “brass sucks out top end” – it does! Sucks out a lot of mid range too – frequency range between 1 and 5 Khz is “prime guitar”!
The effect is still happening with brass on a nickel base, but its actually a little more subtle – and its actually quite pleasant to be honest. You’re losing a lot of the 5-20khz range, but that’s not that desirable a frequency range (its that weird “driving down a gravel path” sound) – so whilst brass on brass is a bit…well… its not great, its heavily colouring the tone. Brass on nickel? Actually pretty useful if you’ve got a really nasal humbuckers that needs taming.
Nickel on Nickel, for me atleast, was my favourite – we see a slight boost in the same range that brass/brass sucked out – and in this instance, its actually very pleasing – we see less transients in the graph too – the jumps between the peaks and troughs are a little smaller, a little more gradual, and that corresponds with the tone of the thing too – it did, honestly, feel, a smoother pickup.
Nickel cover on brass base, is probably the weirdest of the bunch for me- knowing that nickel and brass bases behave the same without a cover, both have a “compressed” signal with a brass cover, and nickel on nickel results in a boost across all frequencies – defying all logic, having a nickel cover on brass? That compresses the signal again, but it’s fairly uniform – there isn’t any real loss of any specific frequency range – its just all a little bit quieter.
Coming Soon, an explanation of the differences, advantages and disadvantages of Chrome, Gold, Black, nickel, Cosmo, Raw, Relic, Aged Copper and Aged Nickel, as well as a few combinations that we think really look great.