Pick Up's / new ideas, old faithfuls, reviews and discussions

I didn’t really see a thread about Pick Ups in general. If I missed it, then we can close this or add it to the other one.

I was thinking mainly for Bass pick ups, but I don’t see why we should discriminate.

What promoted this is, I have been thinking about keeping my Sterling Ray4HH for one, it is not selling, the used marked seems rather stale, unless you want to sell way below value just to make some money, or in the case the seller really doesn’t know what he has.

I ma most interested in MM or MusicMan style and drop in replacements.
But this is an open discussion of any type of pick up for any instrument, even piezo pick ups for account, Ubass, double bass and modern electric.

1 - Starting out, I have
I have an Aguilar AM-4 Alnico magnet pick up that is said to be a drop in replacement for an EBMM Stingray Classic, stating "the AM-4 has that classic Stingray sound while adding all the characteristics that Aguilar pickups are known for, excellent string-to-string balance, consistency of tone and rich harmonic content.

And I find this information to be correct, and I am very satisfied with this pick up, I didn’t even think it needed to be upgraded from the stock pick up, but it could to either give a more tru rendition (clone) of the 70’s MM 2 band pre-amp (changing out a 2 band pre-amp, that while is not a clone, it certainly is adequate IMO.

2- Also, i have been looking for 2 pick-ups on a budget. I have found a couple Chinese pickups, that fit the budget (Wilkinson) and from some Lobster Reviews are OK, not the best he has tried, but they are ok for the budget he was staying within ($500 including the bass).

3-However, I did, while still searching Reverb come across a pick that looks perfect. it is the exact price I would like it to be, considering I will be buying a set, and they are sold under the name Ken (Kent) Armstrong MM4
Not Alnico, but Ceramic, but looks like pretty good resistance (or is it output) 13k. Certainly hot enough for the bridge pick up I would thing.
Hoping these are not crap pick ups, I decided to do a little YT research and quickly fond there are some Loyalists (some in my subscribed channels) that praise his HAND WOUND, and CUSTOMS (if ordered) pick ups and many players give high praise to the man who has been building pickups for 50 years.

One of several by Johny Long and the Hobo Depot, Shada Kakka!!!1

This next one is a break from Bass.
Because of the content, I am particularly interested in what @terb has to say about these. IDK, and I hope he can shed some light if this is a good thing or bad, or neutral.

OKKK

Also on my list of pick ups to try. Yes, I have EMB and NORDSTAND and S&D and others out there, and I will state, I have not tried any of these next, I have seen them demo’s in a Ray 4 replacement parts review and battle between them, and There are good qualities about many of those, and if I wee staying on that list now, I may Choose EMG or S$D next, if I can pry myself away from Aguilar.

But, here is next up on my list. This will be more pricey for the upgrade to the Ray4HH, just cuz I have to buy a matching pair, not just two pick ups, and that may cary a surcharge as well, IDK, yet.

Herrick Pick ups. particularly this MUTANT with one row of Alnico and the other of Neodymium poles.

They have so many to chose from including one humbucker coil per string.
They have 8 way humbuckers, and with selection switches, I bet you could have some fun with some of the settings using some of these pick ups.

Not sure if I can so it, but maybe if I spoke to each builder, I would get a Mutant for the neck pick pup and a standard Mutant at the bridge.

Yes, obviously there are more questions than answers, so all input is welcome.
I do think there are some cool features on Herrick’s, but some may be overkill for what I am looking to do.

I do LOVE they way you can get the pick ups in any color you want, so like Orange Pickups, sure, DONE, and then my olive green bass has a pair of orange pick ups.
I would have way more fun with orange and black, with white and a flash of colors to really find something I liked. if it is feasible and worth it however.

Hope some others have been wanting a thread like this, otherwise, paint it communist and send me to the gulag.

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i had to buy a replacement MM humbucker for a project i’ve got going. i went with this:

seems to be well reviewed, we’ll see when i get it.

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Pickups are on my mind actually. My new bass comes with Fender CS 60s, but I marginally prefer the sound of Fender Noiseless. I’ve not even started looking at non-Fender ones yet. However, I’ve never changed pickups and don’t want to mess a new bass up. I also kind of like the idea of keeping everything original… And, each bass is different. This one is Ash and maybe the CS 60s will be better than Noiseless on it. No idea. :slight_smile:

I really wish there was a place where you could just quickly try every pickup and string combo there was. That would be epic. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Definitely on my list, but if I am going to do them on my Ray4HH, I need to replace 2 pick ups, and that will drive cost up.
I was looking for an alternative to cost / performance and these Kent Armstrong’s are looking like real winners. He himself looks like a really knowledgable pick up builder, and he makes them for enything that uses a pick up, and will custom wind anything, and after taking all that into consideration, I can get a pair of his MM4 pick ups (would contact hm to try and get a matched set, or at least one bridge and one neck pick up), but not only the fact that I can get two for the price of most other manufacturers single pick up, that is a huge plus for the projecti I have.

But then when I hear people that I have learned to trust somewhat with bass things, like Johnny Long saying how most all of his playing basses have Ken Armstrong pick ups in it, an he says "it gives is a special something more, everything any normal pick has, and a little extra flavor. Coming from Johnny long “Flavor” cold be coloration, a different voice, or just plain old extra URMPH in the pick up sound.
The first two would not necessarily I would be out looking for (unless it just happens to be something the really pleases me, and I end up pleasantly surprised) , but a little more UMPH from a pick up is just fine with me.

So, I am hoping some others here, @terb, @howard, and anyother @ like Brian or Mac, or anybody in the pick up KNOW that has experiences, good or bad with this pick up builder, or the other one I want to try, Herrick Pick us (although after shipping, and conversion, I would not be saving money, but if I take the bite, its because I am sure I will be gaining lots of performance, with may voices per pickup.

Here is a few vids of just Kent Armstrong talking about pick ups


And another well known YouTubers giving another shout out to Kent Armstrong

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I’d like to learn too, I really don’t know very much about pups beyond “I like P’s and humbuckers and MM’s, but not really J’s very much” :slight_smile:

I know the difference between ceramic and AlNiCo, and so on, but very little else.

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Did I mention anywhere that they are only $52.95 each, and hand wound by Kent Armstrong?

Hopefully this thread will continue to build and get some good insight and information flying around about pick ups and brands and builders and more technical about series and parallel, and how the heck one pick up can have 8 hubuckers, one for each string??

I am also totally enthralled with Herrick Pick ups as well, another custom, hand builder in the UK that sells, very reasonably priced pickups. I can really onlyl compare to the MM style that I have upgraded in my one Sub Ray4, But I may be upgrading in the 4HH and see if I like it any better, since I know the stock pick ups on the Ray4 and Ray4HH are complete Dog mess. and the only way to get a useable sound from one of those pick ups is to leave the pre-amp all the way flat,
Hoping if I swap the two pick ups, and wire them either paralell, or selectable series parallel (since there is a 5 point toggle in the stock pre-amp which may be adequate with good pick ups, IF it can be configured to change each pick up series ot parallel, and then just do one (center selection) of both pick ps in parallel)

I will need to actyally speak to Herrick (and I hear he ia a great guy), but talk to him and find out what I can get away with using his more standard pick ups (but the one row Alnico and one row Neodymium ) with the stock Pre-amp, and if not, what Pre-amp to get, keeping in mind, I stil want the end result to sound as close to a EBMM stingray4HH, and not just ditch that sound and go with something totally radical.

I will probably do a ray4 with a tone Capsule (Darkglass) and something like a DeLano pick up, or maybe Kent Armstrong custom or Herrick custom to come up with something that is no longer a Stingray. Plays like one, looks like one, but is a crazy metallicious sound Monster (similar to what Lobster did with his Mint-o-Ray. It was sick, all sorts of distortions and metal Dark Glass signature sounds, but coming out of a basic, $299 Sub Ray4.
I totally want to do that, but not really what Ihave in mind with my ray4HH.
I just want to get it to get great Stingray HH tones so I can fall in love with the bass as is and keep it in my collection. (if I get a chance to do that to it before it seells, but I don’t see it going anywhere, not anytime soon.

The whole hand-made thing is a bit of a weird one for me. Like when I hear about unbalanced string sets that are handmade, I’m thinking… well… yeah, because humans aren’t as accurate as machines…

Sometimes I know hand-made can be better, but if I want consistency, I tend to prefer machine made. Obviously, I mean by good machines.

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There is apparantly a trick to winding pick ups.
And it is not fully manual, they have a spin fixture that rotated around while they wind the wire, but it is something done by hand as opposed to a wire feeder to a spin fixture.
Sure those would be somewhat accurate and repeatable, but I am sure what those that have hand wound pick ups have some tops and tricks to make them better.

I go back to Fender Pick ups, and I know @terb hates tem, andmaybe because they are a mass produced pick up with terrivle ressonance and resistance and any number of technical reasons I am throwing in the air after picking it blindly from a hat.

I think a hand shaped neck, will be better than one that is routed on a CNC sanded by a human, if it is sanded by a human, and not a robot.

Its not to say that the ones off CNC machines and robot sanding is horrible, but it is not the same thing as a master builder, using templates and tools he knows very well, and trusts his feels and measurements and resend, or re-work in. a way that a simple CNC and simplistic robot sander that they would use in production would never be able to ewual, because they do not do it by feel, its by sensors and limits set by a person for when it starts and when it stops.

I would argue that this type of technology for building automobiles, airplanes, and medical, dental andmany other items that need dead nuts precision accuracy are best produced on the correct high speed milling machine and handled by robotoc arms for many applications and the end result is perfect parts over and over and over.
I work in that high tech field and am very familiar with the materials, the machenery and the robotics useed for these actions, and although the bass and guitar industry does make its fair share of money in the realm of things, it would first be overkill to put it on 2.5 million 5 axis machining centers and add a fully designed manufacturing cell to take the guitar from a siple slab on a tray wheeled into one end of the cell, and handled by a series of robotic arms that sand, wash, try, load into a mill, wait for completion, and remove it, wash it, dry it, drop it at the next station where another arm picks it up, and probes to make sure certain features were machined correctly on the first machine, and load it in machine 2, and remove it after completion, wash it, dry it, and pass it to the next station, and repeat and repeat and repeat until by the time is is finished at the 8th and final machine, the robot washes it, drys it, probes it for burs, and any holes that are missing due to broken tools, adn then does a full 100% CMM (computer measurement machine) to see if it passes within 98% accuracy, then is stocked on a tray at te other end of the cell (a caged cell that no person enters, unless there is a problem, and power is shut off, and special keps open a door and allow a technician in.

True, we benefit from this type of manufacturing for our cars, trucks, planes, etc…
That cell I just described was a cell that my company made, and dully designed and set up and run on our shop floor for a given run off to show the integrity of the system, then was bought off, packed up and shipped to its new owner, Harley Davidson, for their head covers.

And yes, this type of manufacturing is mandatory to meet needs and precisions needed to make products succesful and safe.

But, I dont’ think we look at the whole manufacturing process for Basses, and guitars and many componants like the Pick ups and think to ourselves, w need this type of automation and accuricies for our products to maintain quality and keep a reputation so we can sell to our customers.

I think the Hand made, which commands a premium price most of the time, due to the time it takes a master crafter to create such a thing of beauty that will in many cases, for manufacturers that really care about their instruments, a grade of instrument that sets itself apart from the mass produced instruments and components on the market.

Especially when I know what machines they are using to do the work, mind you, the rough work on bass bodies and knecks, and i know the cheaply rigged exuses for robotic arms they would use to do automated sanding.
And if this was the type of machinery and robots that we used to build Harley Davidson their head cover cell, we would have failed miserably.

So,I do beleive that handwound pick ups, MAY, have a better sound, if the WINDER knows what he is doing. I also agree that someof the automated pick ups are adequate, and still could be very good and superior to many if its a good brand that has automated their technique that has set them apart from the competition.

Sorry, mechanical engineer, applications engineer, machinist.

and yes, all the tuner pcs, adn bridge pcs and screws and many of the electronics, PCB, pots, etc, have alot of high speed manufacturing processes that helps to keep costs down and so the companies can buy inexpensive pot housings and screws and bridge parts and all that stuff, and without CNC machiing, those great hipShot products would not be as readily available, and would cost way Way Way more if a few guys built them by hand on a manual mill.

It could be done. I could do it with the mill and right end ills and drills. I don’t want to, HipShot has the same thing and I don’t need to spend 2 hours making it (on a manual, probably 20 min on a cnc or less) and then pay to have it polished and annodized, and all the fun work, I like to get my pachage and use it from the package.

Sorry to rnt, but I do think there is something to be said for hand wound pick ups.
Unfortunately, I don’t know much or enough about pick ups to speak to it with any. authority on the subject.

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No such thing in guitar manufacturing.

They are using all FADAL (I think still) in the mexican Fender plant.
Fadal has been out of business for 20 plus years. they are like 60’s VW Bugs. You can get parts, and you can put them back together and they will keep running, and they are extremely easy to use, but man, its a dying machine.
If not they are using OLD Hass Vf3 and Vf4 machies. Another machine that has an initial 5 year life, then its a parts hog, and they run, with minimal downtime, because they are the largest CNC machine tool builder in the world, so there are always back up parts and always service guys, so yeah, you can use them too.

Walk into Haas Factory Outlet in Oxnard CA. They will take you on a cat walk tour around the shop, so you can overlook the shop, and you will see Wall after Wall afre Wall after Wall after Makino High Feed Horizontal Machining centers on. an MMC (makino machining cell) whre a robotic vehicle delivers pallets to machines that have an open table (on the outside of the machine) where it will sit until the machine in the part is complete, then they do a 180 to put the new part in and the old part out. That old part could be done, or it cold go into a cue to go into any one of the other 3-10 machines in its cell (depending on the cell and how machines are on that cell.

I was in there training the factory employees on how to use these machines and hoe to programs so they could call parts to the machine for op 1 and send it into que for op 2 dn 3 nd 4, and then done, whatever.
That was a fun few weeks.

That is the single largest plant I have seen in the USA. I know our japanese facilities eclipses it 5-10 times, but that place is impressively huge.

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Kent Armstrong are mid-range pickups. good for the price but not the best pickups on Earth in my opinion. but still good.

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These seem to be highly appreciated, though they don’t do MM pickups. Somewhat expensive though :sweat_smile:
“Bass Pickups | Kloppmann Pickups | Shop | Kloppmann Electrics” https://www.kloppmann-electrics.com/en/shop/kloppmann-pickups/bass-pickups/

Good topic. I’m actually in the market for some pickups. I have an el cheapo special aria bass that I absolutely love but needs some work. On a recommendation, I picked up some j-bass pickups from guitar fetish, but it turns out they constantly seem to be screwing up the order, and the pickups dont fit anyway. So the current plan is to bite the bullet and drop some coin on the seymour duncan quarter pounders. Figure if the bass has to be modded a bit to get them to fit, I might as well install some decent pickups I never have to worry about again.

Thoughts on the 1/4pounders?

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I don’t have any basses that take those pick ups, but-if I did, I would probably try a set of Kent Armstrong or Herrick pick ups. a little more money-for Herrick, but not more then Seymour Duncan I don’t’ believe, plus you can get them in any color you want.

probably not the exact pick up you are looking for, but this should get you started how to contact for the best pick up for you

or

Hi @The_Baron. I recently had some 5 string Jazz 1/4 pounders fitted to a pig of a Yamaha BBN 5 bass that I used to call “The Pig”… coz it was a pig… Since the Seymours were fitted it is now “The Prince”. They were quite bit larger so had to be custom routed into the body to fit but it was very much worth it. They have transformed this bass from one that I was ready to use as fuel for a barbeque into a bass I actually enjoy playing and enjoy the sound of. I highly recommend the Seymour Duncan 1/4 pounders. (Yamaha still owes me an apology for those things they call pickups that they originally fitted to The Pig.)

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HaHaHa.

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