5 String Bass Update – Hand-wound pickups

Hand-wound custom pickups for the 5-string bass

As I begin the final step of this bass, I need to wind the two magnetic pickups that will be positioned in the body. The third pickup, a piezo (microphonic) pickup is integrated into each saddle of the bridge.

Custom-wound pickup construction

Setting the magnets into the custom pickup flatwork. I think the quote says it all!

The process of making the pickups involves assembling all the components, winding the pickup, soldering the leads, then potting it.  The first step, preparation of the flatwork, requires the removal of any rough burrs that could catch the wire when winding and the application of grommets on the bottom flatwork to solder the leads later.

Assembly of the pickup bobbins

Next, the magnets are pressed into the bottom flatwork, flush with the bottom, and the top flatwork is pressed onto the magnets, maintaining proper spacing between the flatwork.  In the picture on the left you can see the finished assembly on the left, now referred to as a bobbin, and the raw parts on the right.

Since this is a 5-string bass, 5 pairs of magnets are used so each string passes between a pair of magnets when vibrating.  The bridge pickup is wider than the neck pickup to account for the narrowing of the strings as they pass from the bridge to the nut.  The magnets are not yet magnetized to assist with assembly and will be magnetized as the final operation prior to installation.

I’m looking forward to hearing this bass in action.  Since I began building it, I’ve listened a lot more for the bass line in songs as I drive to work.  Lately, The Who has been playing in my jeep and I’m trying to listen for the nuances of Entwistle’s fretless bass.

What’s your favorite bass-line?  Also, did you see Paul McCartney playing with the former members of Nirvana on the 12/12/12 charity concert last night?  He was sporting a cigar-box guitar that sounded great!  I may have something to add to my build-list…

Stay tuned as I continue to publish the progress on this bass.  It should be done within the next week or two and give someone a great Christmas!