Saturday, November 8, 2008

This old Ric... (Dissecting a Ric 4001 bass pickup.)

Wow, TONS of work going on in the shop this week. I sent out about 12 pickups yesterday to all points on the globe... But the one I thought you might like to see is this one, a neck pickup from a Rickenbacker 4001 bass. The guy who sent it in thought it was dead and needing a rewind but the real problem was that the ground tab had come unsoldered. This was an easy fix and we didn't have to molest the windings so a lot of originality was saved there. I like when that happens. All I did was fix the solder joint and put a new lead on the pickup.

Rickenbacker is a crazy guitar company really. Their unconventional thinking can also be credited with allowing them to invent the first electric guitar. That's right... I said it... The first electric guitar was not the Fender Tele or the Les Paul or the Bigsby... It was The 1934 Rickenbacker "Frying Pan".

The more you learn about them the more you see that they rarely fallowed convention. That's a good thing because it has led to some truly unique and innovative instruments with a sound all their own. Think about Chris Squire, Geddy Lee and Lemmy... Starting to see what I mean?

The total lack of convention can be seen in their pickup construction. The flat work is a type of phenolic boards. Interestingly this was my first choice for flat work back when I first started making pickups. The poles they use for this 1970's pickup are steel rivets. Some of the newer ones use screws.The magnet on this one is a big ceramic unit. Later they started using rubberized magnets like you stick on your refrigerator. They use 44ga wire for the winding. Once the whole thing is done they spray paint it black and slap it in a nice chrome ring and it's held in place with an aluminum bracket which should introduce a ton of eddy currents into the sound... maybe it does. Perhaps that's where that cool barking tone comes from.
Hmmmmm....... Any way.... check it out.

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