Flat Poles vs Staggered?

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Scottg32, Aug 25, 2021.

  1. Willie D

    Willie D Pentatonic Hack Silver Member

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    I can't tell you how many times I've turned on some Stevie Ray Vaughan and had to shut it off because the unbalanced tones from those staggered poles were driving me crazy. I mean, #1 had been refretted so many times the fretboard radius was 12" which is CLEARLY time to switch to flat poles.
     
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  2. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

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    Regarind the "wound G" and the high G pole piece, one thing I didn't realize until recently was, it is said that older guitar strings, from the 50's, had a higher proportion of nickel in the windings, which string makers are trying to sell nowadays as "pure nickel" strings. Nickel is ferromagnetic. They probably included some nickel to resist corrosion.

    Physically, it makes more sense to say that the wound G string needed a boost because its windings had more nickel in them and were less magnetic, rather than to say it was the fact of it being wound at all that made it require the boost. Modern wound strings have steel cores and windings, so it shouldn't matter whether the G string is wound or not, with respect to the output.
     
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  3. kurher

    kurher Strat-O-Master

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    While nickel may be "less magnetic" than steel (the windings on most modern steel strings are plated with nickel as well), it is largely the size of the core wire which makes the difference in string output.
    A wound G will have a thin core wire compared to neighboring strings in most sets and that's what's keeping it from overpowering the other strings.
    Nickel is also softer than steel and when it contacts the frets, even slightly, produces a "warmer" sound (less of the higher overtones).

    http://www.gitec-forum-eng.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/poteg-3-string-magnetics.pdf
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
  4. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

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    If the windings are steel, which is permeable, they should contribute as much as the core would, because both are steel, and the nickel is only a plating. Does it say otherwise somewhere in the PoteG link?

    According to this site https://stringjoy.com/pure-nickel-vs-nickel-wound-guitar-strings/

    Both terms are referring to the wrap wire of the wound strings in the set. In Nickel Wound / Nickel-Plated Steel strings, the wrap wire is steel, plated with nickel—typically about 8% of the finished wrap wire is nickel, and 92% is steel. In Pure Nickel guitar strings, the wrap wire is, well, pure nickel.

    So if the wraps were pure nickel, then yes, the core would do all the talking, but if the wraps are 92% steel, then they become a part of the waving magnetic field.

    Saying something sounds "warmer" is rather ambiguous in the guitar realm, physically the pure nickel wound put out a weaker sound, and maybe the weaker sound would be perceived as warmer somehow. The idea of using nickel in conjunction with a magnetic guitar pickup doesn't make a lot of sense, though. If you want a warmer sound, I advocate for use of the tone control on the guitar.

    Technically, if a string were made of pure nickel, it would still produce a little bit of output because it's conductive, and when a conductive wire waves around in a magnetic field, it will move a current, which in turn creates yet another magnetic field, and therefore a small voltage in the pickup.
     
  5. kurher

    kurher Strat-O-Master

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    Permeability is only one factor which determines the magnetic effectiveness of the winding. Winding tension is also very important (see fig. 3.2 in the document for a more thorough explanation).
    String geometry is also always important. While steel is more magnetic then nickel, the difference is not that big.
    Even "pure nickel" strings are rarely 100% pure.

    Nickel provides good corrosion resistance and a smoother contact surface. Regarding the use of the instrument's tone control, I'd suggest trying to filter out the high frequency "bite" on the attack of the NPS wound strings by using it. Even turned all the way down you can still hear its' "imprint" in the electrical sound of the string. Using a pure nickel string and/or a different core shape can change this in a way which is not possible otherwise.
     
  6. Mr_Lahey

    Mr_Lahey Strat-Talker

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    may I ask how you have your pickup height set? I have an American Special HSS (with greasebucket wiring fwiw) - I set the action and pickup height to the Fender recommendation for a 9.5” radius board, but I find the mids way too weak.

    I’m terms of humbuckers, the volume is definitely sensitive to the height of the pole pieces. I put a set of 8’s on my old Yamaha (which has a single humbucker) - G was way too loud and the B and E was quiet before adjusting the pole pieces.
     
  7. Dain Bramage

    Dain Bramage Strat-Talker

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    Lots of good points here, mostly that it really is up to your ear, perception, obsession and being really, really picky. I may make your life Hell for telling anyone this, but nearly ALL pick ups pole pieces can be adjusted. I'd recommend measuring them first, just in case, but... IT is a total pain to keep removing the pick guard and setting/re-setting, but the pole pieces are more or less "fitted" closely and held by friction and varying degrees of magnetism (not much, nearly negligible on most). By pushing or pulling, you can physically change them yourself (hint; Humbucker adjustables are much easier to hear this effect, being threaded). Although largely "much ado about" very little, if you are that obsessive (I was, so I found out the hard way), try, you must. One of the things I liked about working with Allen-head steel pole pieces (some DiMarzio) is that you can do this and hear the actual effect with a lot less trouble. When you adjust a pole piece, a couple of things to keep in mind; the further out of the coil, the brighter the pick up will sound, conversely, the deeper the pole piece the darker. Re-adjusting the overall pick up height for proper tone without oval (magnetic pull aberration) cavitation and "personality" (depending on ceramic, alnico, etc.), most pick ups "open up" their tone a bit being backed a tad further away from the string. One final note (pun, it's just there), you CAN definitely hear a subtle difference in voice with the slightest chance in pole piece height, as little as a 64th of an inch in or out of the coil. So, there is enough knowledge to get you into real trouble. But...