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Cooderized my Silvertone

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:33 pm
by guitarslim101
So I've been considering adding a bridge pickup to my Silvertone 1448 for a couple years now, and I was waiting for the right thing to come along. I had considered something like an old Harmony or Teisco gold foil, another lipstick pickup, or some other odd, old surface mount thing. I've been listening to a lot of Ry Cooder recently and have always liked his tone, and remembered that he had a string-thru pickup out of an old Supro lap steel installed in the bridge position of one of his Strats. So off to ebay I went.

I got lucky and found someone selling just the pickup, put in my bid and got it.

The pickup was mounted to a large, square baseplate that had a tailpiece and bridge built in, as well as a volume knob, so I had to cut that down to a more manageable size. Then I had to open it up to add a longer lead and discovered that this was a little different than all of the other string-thru Supro pickups I've seen. Typically they have two coils. One coil covers strings 1, 2, and 3, and the other covers strings 4, 5, and 6. The coils are wired like a P-Bass pickup so they cancel hum. In my pickup, each string gets its own coil and it is still wired like a big humbucker. Wish I had taken a picture of the insides, but I wanted to get it put back together before I broke anything. The magnets for these pickups sit on the left and right and act as spacers for the metal cover, which is screwed to the baseplate and completes the circuit. Playing with the orientation of the magnets yields some different sounds from the pickup, but I settled on the one with the most output. And this pickup has plenty of that. It sounds like the bastard child of a tele pickup and a P-90, with all the clarity of a single coil, but it's almost completely hum free.

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Re: Cooderized my Silvertone

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:25 pm
by diamond
Now that's sweet ~ really nice work! :)

Slide On!

Ian.

Re: Cooderized my Silvertone

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:53 pm
by Jakeblues
Sweet plan and good execution! Love to hear it.

Re: Cooderized my Silvertone

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:22 am
by Buffalo_Bill
Cool, all Made in USA too!

Re: Cooderized my Silvertone

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:40 pm
by leftyguitarman
Awesome! So then each pickup pole has a coil that is hum cancelling with the one next to it? Sounds like a Zexcoil pickup.

Re: Cooderized my Silvertone

PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:04 am
by allanlummox
Yea, that's cool.

Re: Cooderized my Silvertone

PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:47 pm
by guitarslim101
leftyguitarman wrote:Awesome! So then each pickup pole has a coil that is hum cancelling with the one next to it? Sounds like a Zexcoil pickup.


Yep, that seems to be the case. My guess is they wired the coils out of phase to each other like they did in the two coil models. Since each string has its own coil and never crosses over another one, they managed to eliminate any possible string-to-string phasing issues, which is just damn cool. Especially for a pickup this old.

I really wanted to take a better look at how everything was wired together, but they used an unbelievably fine gauge of wire in this thing and I didn't want to risk breaking it.

Also, recorded a quick little demo a few minutes ago. Just the bridge pickup through my 5E3 clone, recorded with the built in mic on my laptop, so it clips. Oh, does it ever clip. :x Gives you a decent idea of the sound, though.

http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11553721

Re: Cooderized my Silvertone

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 7:01 pm
by Lo-Fi
Very nicely done.

I own one of those 1950s Valco lap steels and those "strings through" pickups are about as in your face as it gets. A slide player's wet dream. I think it is Loller who is reproducing them as the Chicago Steel pups.