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Pickup Pole Screw Carbon Content

bluesky636

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
402
I found this article from Throback pickups to be quite interesting and decided to investigate further.


I have a 2014 Les Paul R8 that I replaced the stock Custombuckers with Seymour Duncan Joe Bonamassa Skinnerburst pickups. The pickups were reliced and I didn't particularly care for the look so I replaced the covers with ones from Throback. I was able to polish up the pole screws, but over time they became tarnished again and looked kinda cruddy. I replaced them with pole screws of unknown carbon content from Stew Mac. I found some 1010 carbon steel at MojoTone and 1018 carbon steel from another vendor on Amazon. Unfortunately, the ones from MojoTone seem to be smaller in diameter than all the others and fit loosely, to the extent of wobbling in the pickups. I have contacted MojoTone to try and figure out what the problem is.

Anyway, today I replaced the Stew Mac pole screwa with the ones from Amazon, not expecting to hear much difference.

I was wrong.

Keep in mind all this is just my opinion based on the sound I heard between the different pole screws. All amp settings, pickup height, and pole screw stagger were the same. No measurements or other scientific tests were done. Just my ears. And they suck.

Compared to the screws from Amazon, the Stew Mac screws sounded bright and some what harsh. I am guessing they are 1022 carbon steel. The screws from Amazon sounded smoother and "rounder". Treble lacked any harshness and bass sounded tight and smooth. It will be interesting to hear what 1010 carbon steel pole pieces sound like if I can get ones that fit. It will also be interesting to see what things sound like with different screws in bass and treble positions. I'll be making adjustments and listening more over the next few days, but so far the 1018 carbon steel screws sound better to me.

If anyone else has ever tried this, I would like to hear your thoughts. This seems like an easy and inexpensive way to change the tone of a guitar to your liking.
 

renderit

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
10,016
I have noticed differences.

One of my complaints of Wizz is the pole screws fit like ass.

Had a set of original wires in silver I swapped out for gold from Gibson (for the Black Widow HS5).

Very different sound...

Took away some of the harshness on them.

Also tightened them up a lot.
 

korus

Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2003
Messages
635
It is about resonance.

harder alloy = brighter tone

4 words, 1 symbol. As simple to remember and utilize as 4 words, 2 symbols:

dark clouds, rain, umbrella

However, there are 2 points where CHANGE in hardness of alloys achieves desired resonance, which will result the desired tone of the guitar.

There are alloys in pickup. Resonance is electromagnetic.
There are alloys in metal hardware. Resonance is mechanical.

Pretty simple. Electric guitars were designed by craftsmen. No groundbreaking new technology was invented for the purpose. It only used certain alloys and achieved the resonance they evaluated as tone they want. That is why there are SEVERAL different alloys used not just one.

Want that tone? Replicate resonance. Replicate alloys that create that resonance. Without replicating alloys we might end with 50+ years of not having the original resonance = original tone replicated. Wait ... we just did.

Why? Are we all ... kindergarten children playing house?
 
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bluesky636

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
402
It is about resonance.

harder alloy = brighter tone

4 words, 1 symbol. As simple to remember and utilize as 4 words, 2 symbols:

dark clouds, rain, umbrella

However, there are 2 points where CHANGE in hardness of alloys achieves desired resonance, which will result the desired tone of the guitar.

There are alloys in pickup. Resonance is electromagnetic.
There are alloys in metal hardware. Resonance is mechanical.

Pretty simple. Electric guitars were designed by craftsmen. No groundbreaking new technology was invented for the purpose. It only used certain alloys and achieved the resonance they evaluated as tone they want. That is why there are SEVERAL different alloys used not just one.

Want that tone? Replicate resonance. Replicate alloys that create that resonance. Without replicating alloys we might end with 50+ years of not having the original resonance = original tone replicated. Wait ... we just did.

Why? Are we all ... kindergarten children playing house?
Ummm, yeah. Ok.
 

bluesky636

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
402
Do you want to hear a major difference ? Try a set of ThroBak pickups and your ears and mind will be dazzled www.throbak.com
Get a set of BareKnuckle Mules in there. They'll be similar to any throwbaks and slightly cheaper. Tim Mills is an excellent boutique builder. www.bareKnucle.com
Did either of you bother to really read my original post? It is about the impact to the sound of a set of pickups due to different pole screw alloys, NOT swapping out one set of pickups for another set.
 

Drayve85

Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2019
Messages
103
although, I have not tried swapping pole piece screws, I do believe that it could make more than a subtle difference. Now you have the gears in my brain cranking to figure out which ones I can swap out in my guitars. Thanks for that!!lol
 

bluesky636

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
402
although, I have not tried swapping pole piece screws, I do believe that it could make more than a subtle difference. Now you have the gears in my brain cranking to figure out which ones I can swap out in my guitars. Thanks for that!!lol
Sorry
 

Sol

Active member
Joined
Oct 26, 2001
Messages
636
Bluesky636,
My first thought is magnetic sensitivity. Voltage is produced when the field is disturbed by the vibrating string. The coil and magnet play their part and the slugs and pole screws do the same.

It seems reasonable that a more magnetically conductive pole piece will induce more voltage in the coil producing a stronger signal going to your amp.
This may increase treble response, it sounds reasonable to me (and your experiments seem to confirm it).
 
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Sol

Active member
Joined
Oct 26, 2001
Messages
636
I have a vague memory of reading that the slugs in PAFs are usually 1018 grade steel. I don't recall the source so have some salt handy, you may need a pinch..

So, back to your pole pieces. You didn't mention how the Seymour Duncan pole pieces compared to the others you have ?
It's an interesting project as it has implications for the "voicing" of any humbucker, as you mentioned in your opening post.
 
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bluesky636

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
402
I have a vague memory of reading that the slugs in PAFs are usually 1018 grade steel. I don't recall the source so have some salt handy, you may need a pinch..

So, back to your pole pieces. You didn't mention how the Seymour Duncan pole pieces compared to the others you have ?
It's an interesting project as it has implications for the "voicing" of any humbucker, as you mentioned in your opening post.
To be honest, I don't remember what the sonic characteristics of the SD pole screws were. The ones in there now are 1018 and they sound good.
 

Sol

Active member
Joined
Oct 26, 2001
Messages
636
Was I on the right track by stating that a more conductive pole piece will induce more voltage in the
coil ?
Ive tried not to step outside my understanding in my replies, but I know my limitations so welcome corrections.
 
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bluesky636

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
402
Was I on the right track by stating that a more conductive pole piece will induce more voltage in the
coil ?
Ive tried not to step outside my understanding in my replies, but I know my limitations so welcome corrections.
I have no idea. I'm a retired SATCOM Systems Engineer. Don't know anything about metallurgy.
 

Sol

Active member
Joined
Oct 26, 2001
Messages
636
To be honest, I don't remember what the sonic characteristics of the SD pole screws were. The ones in there now are 1018 and they sound good.
You have compared 1018 and 1022 pole pieces which is great, but as you have a rare set of Duncan Skinner Burst PAFs and your original Custombuckers to compare with the 1018 and 1022 I'm confident that folks would be really interested in your findings.
 

bluesky636

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
402
You have compared 1018 and 1022 pole pieces which is great, but as you have a rare set of Duncan Skinner Burst PAFs and your original Custombuckers to compare with the 1018 and 1022 I'm confident that folks would be really interested in your findings.
But I am not interested in making any other changes. I'm satisfied with things as they are.
 
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