Lap-steel Humbucker placement

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Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby cheyenne » Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:16 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Dec-16-05 AT 11:23 AM (EST)]Hello all, a pertinent (to me!) question here for anyone that might know.

I'm making a lap steel and some instructions i'm going to loosely follow say that when finding where to put the pickup, you should set up the strings to tension and then find some of the harmonic nodal points down near the bridge.
Once you've found a nice 'hotspot' with strong harmonics, then you mark that with pencil as the exact centreline to which the pole-pieces of the singe-coil p'up will be aligned once installed.

My question is, as I'm going to be using a humbucker almost certainly, where I should place it?

Option 1: Following that advice should I align the exact centre between the two coils with that harmonic sweet spot?

Opetion 2: Or should I instead align the pole-pieces of one of the coils (the near-bridge side) to that hotspot instead?

Option 3: Failing that, should I actually just place it approximately the same distance from the bridge as on any humbucker-equipped electric guitar and it really doesn't matter a whole lot?

(Also is this harmonic-alignment advice for singe-coil actually even a good idea? If you place the pickup under the spot where there's a higher order harmonic couldn't all your notes sound a little chimey or thin/'odd'?)
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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby ricochet » Sat Dec 17, 2005 2:26 am

Cheyenne, I think I'm going to take Option #3 myself, although it might be best to multiply the bridge to pickup distance of your favorite guitar by the ratio of the scale lengths if you really want it to pick up the same harmonics. Most lap steels are a bit shorter than Spanish guitars.

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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby cheyenne » Sat Dec 17, 2005 2:30 am

Thanks for reply Rico, you may be right.
The scale will be 22.5" so yeah, a bit shorter so the ratio idea might be the way to go here.
I've just sourced a Schaller tune-o-matic 1-piece bridge at my local music store (which is a perfect bridge for this barring a custom-fabricated block of brass) and I found a second hand DiMarzio "Superdistortion" pickup somewhere else too.
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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby ricochet » Sat Dec 17, 2005 2:33 am

I've got a DiMarzio Soapbar P-90 for mine, and I've had it just about a year. I need to go on and round up the rest of the hardware and get to work on it.

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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby trguitar » Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:26 am

I like the ratio idea because it makes sence. SCIENCE! I would think the big companies researched this and their placement should be optimum. You could get a pic of a manufactured lap steel and measure the ratio for placement also. Scale is scale.
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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby cheyenne » Sat Dec 17, 2005 1:45 pm

>I've got a DiMarzio Soapbar P-90 for mine, and I've had it
>just about a year. I need to go on and round up the rest of
>the hardware and get to work on it.
>
>"A cheerful heart is good medicine."

Well get your whip out and round 'em all up boy!!
Lap steel waits for no man... and it'd be a shame to miss out on all the fun.
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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby cheyenne » Sat Dec 17, 2005 1:49 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Dec-17-05 AT 08:51 AM (EST)]TR I agree on both counts.
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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby ricochet » Sat Dec 17, 2005 8:23 pm

Well, I'm not missing out on all the fun. I got a $60 Artisan from MusiciansFriend a while back, and it plays quite nicely.

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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby guitarslim101 » Sat Dec 17, 2005 9:08 pm

I'd agree with TR on this, as well.

Hey Ric, is this lap steel you're talking about the one that you're making from the avacado wood?
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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby ricochet » Sat Dec 17, 2005 9:10 pm

That's the one.

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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby cheyenne » Sun Dec 18, 2005 5:54 am

Oh I forgot about those Artisans..
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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby ricochet » Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:11 pm

Man, what a bargain! Pretty nice guitar.

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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby cheyenne » Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:56 pm

I'd have bought one if I had a credit card, but luckily I hate the things.
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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby fsgmusic » Sun Dec 18, 2005 6:39 pm

I have a Gretsch Electromatic lap steel that came with the stock single coil routed in to the body, but I cannot stand single coil hum. It came with a non-compensated piece of metal for a saddle string-through ferrules. The nut was another piece of metal screwed onto the body. The scale is appprox. 21 3/4". I replaced the saddle with an LP Jr. compensated bridge saddle combo. I set the placement of the bridge at 21 3/4" from the nut to the high D string (I generally tune it to open D) and adjusted the bridge by ear and tuner. The low D will end up at a greater scale length. There was approx. 1 1/4" (possibly 1/32" either way) to the center of the single coil pickup. I installed an SM 3-B, "Seymourized" mini-humbucker bridge pup that I got from Musician's Friend. Since it is smaller in size than the original Gretsch single coil I fashioned a piece of pickguard material to fill in the route and cut it out to the shape of the SM 3-B. I also replaced the nut with a Graph Tech stock slotted nut that I purchased from Stewart Macdonald (http://www.stewmac.com where I also got the bridge). I put 3 legs on mine that I bought from Steel Guitar Nashville (http://www.steelguitar.net). The lap steel sounds fantastic, no more tinny sound, no hum.. all good as they say. My last mod will be to replace the tuners with Sperzels. If it is 20 1/2" from nut to middle of pup on a 21 3/4", I agree that the 22 1/2" scale pup placement should be proportionally the same. One other thing I've learned is that 500k pots work best with humbuckers. Don't know why, not an engineer but go with advice from Stewart Macdonald. I installed a Tom Anderson neck pup on an electric resonator guitar, switched out the 250k pots for new 500k, put a .01 capacitor as a treble bleed on the volume pot and used a .05 for the tone pot. I get nice overdrive crunch and a good amount of midrange tones for electric slide. I use a Soldano Astroverb 16 that I ordered modified with 6V6 power tubes instead of EL-84s to get that vintage Fender sound and have more power. Most importantly the amp is purple!!! I'm new to the forum but certainly feel I came to the right place.
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RE: Lap-steel Humbucker placement

Postby ricochet » Sun Dec 18, 2005 6:58 pm

You sure did, fsg. Welcome!

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