Tym WRT90 pickup

After my last post about making pickups as a sideline to rewinding a few old ones here's an idea that jumped into my head after spending WAY too much time thinking about Wide Range Humbuckers. 

I've been rewinding a '78 Maxon WRHB with a few different wire gauges to see how close I can get to a "real" one. I have a '77 Greco Thinline that has the Pat Pend Maxons which were the first to make the oversize humbucker, although with a more standard humbucker set up. These are different to real vintage Fender ones and later Fujigen made versions (with the Fender stamp on the cover) and different again from Mexican reissues. As I've said before, to my ears, the early Fujigen made WRHB is "almost" there and definitely the closest reissue I've tried. But that's another blog completely (which is coming) and like all of this, is completely subjective.

Anyway, back to these prototypes. 

I LOVE P-90's. For me, they're the best commonly available pickup ever made. I'd take a Mosrite (there were lots of these too) first, but P-90's have everything I want and/or need in a pickup. Mini humbuckers are close behind and I also love lots of the great Japanese pickups from the sixties and seventies (some made by Maxon) but .... P-90's.

 

So since I was working on this Maxon WRHB I got to thinking, what if I made a P-90, or in this case my T90 with Alnico slugs, and another set of slugs approximately the same distance apart as a WRHB. Now, I'm not trying to replicate a WRHB here, this is just how my brain works, so.

 

I started gluing P90 covers together (something I learnt from my early Wosrite days) and looking at coils. I tried three different size covers just so I could see what difference it made. The idea was the internals would be "almost" the same but I wanted to see what that string spread actually did.

I'm a very tactile, visual person so I can read for days and days about how things work (or are supposed to work) and still not be convinced until I do it. This is why over the last 25 years I have made, or attempted to make most things involved with a guitar/amp/pedal/etc and how it effects the overall. I started this journey not believing just because something is done that way, that's the way it should be done, and it still serves me well today.

I used "off the shelf" bobbins for this one as I was winding a few different coils for testing and didn't want to spend a day (I didn't have) just making the flatwork for something that may, or may not, work.

 

I wound a strong P90 bobbin with 9700 turns and drilled it for slugs as I knew I wanted a P90 first and foremost.

I then wound three mini humbucker coils and two humbucker coils with either #42 or #44 guage wire. The humbucker bobbins were drilled for slugs. 

Because the T90 in the bridge position was my first priority that was fitted with 18mm A5 slugs and fitted into the widest cover. I then tried a humbucker bobbin with A5 and/or A2 slugs (12/15/18mm) in the position beside this. In the wide cover it was good but very BIG and switching in the second coil was too big a jump. I tried sinking the slugs but because it was all one cover it was difficult to get them down far enough. I probably could have wound another coil slightly colder but ... I was anxious to move on.

After playing around for a while I decided the middle size cover worked best with a mini humbucker coil vertically beside a simple acrylic bobbin to hold the slugs. The mini HB bobbin is only 3.5K (ish) and I ended up wiring it in series HB, although it's technically not a humbucker as the coils don't match (not even close) but to my ear it sounded nicer with RWRP with 15mm A5 slugs. It's a subtle difference but it takes the sharp, clear P90 and just adds a little ... warmth to it when you engage the second coil. I tried the slugs flat with the cover and sticking up like the T90 coil and preferred them raised slightly. 

 

I had used the double vertical mini HB idea on a previous T90 and really liked the way it sounded so I wound two slightly hotter bobbins at around 4K and made another one for the neck position. This gave me an 8K in the neck and a 9K, or 12.5K with second coil engaged with mini toggle, in the bridge. Now remember, DC resistance isn't an indicator of a pickups performance, it's just the easiest, cheapest way of explaining it to people, but this gives you an idea of what's going on here.

So, after a lot of messing around I settled on these two designs and cut an new scratchplate for my "tester Strat/Jazzmaster" to take into the shop for people to try. This bridge pickup is not a humbucker you can coil tap (there's plenty of those around) but a P-90 (or T-90 here) you can add "a smaller coil" to to fill out the tone and add more mids and bottom end (warmth if you like) while keeping the single coil sound as the main coil is still way more powerful (and therefor has more effect on the tone) and the smaller/weaker coil just adds to it.

I'm going to keep working on the idea, just because, well, that's what I do but I'll have these in the shop for a few weeks, like the last T90s while I work on other ideas.

Of course these don't fit in any regular pickup cavity or surround, but then, neither does a WRHB (except guitars made for them) but that doesn't really bother me as it's more to expand my understanding and stop my brain wondering "what would happen if I..... " Of course, it's still gonna do that, but at least now I know what would happen if I make a WRT90.

 

Sep 27 2018 Written By: Tim Brennan