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alt.guitar.rickenbacker Frequently Asked Questions
Section - 5.10 Will unwinding my vintage re-issue pickups make them sound better? What is the procedure?

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   You might like the difference it makes, but Rickenbacker put quite a bit
   of effort into into the design of these pickups.  Here's what John Hall 
   has to say about it:

      "The modern reissues measure about 11.2K with a lab grade ohmmeter.
       As I said before, you'll find genuine vintage pickups which have a 
       variety of specs . . . sometimes as high as 16K and as low as 7K ohms 
       DC resistance. The modern one is indeed a compromise between output 
       and a particular type of sound, but not any greater of a compromise 
       than many of the original, unspecified or less-than-consistent units.

       During the vintage pickup "redesign" phase, we tested close to 100 
       pickups from a variety of parameters and the current product is 
       essentially an average or composite of all these units. But beyond 
       this, we even looked through all of our old production and purchasing 
       records to make sure we are using materials of the genuine specs. 
       I can tell you that again that nothing other than #44 wire has been 
       purchased, although several different insulation materials and other 
       wire coatings have been used through the years."

       [John Hall,, 7/10/1998]

   Here is the unwinding procedure, as given by Ted Breaux:

                    Ric Pickup Unwinding Procedure

   Materials Needed:

      small soldering iron
      electrical tape
      small flat-head screwdriver
      Phillips-head scredriver
      2-hours and maybe a beer
      cigarette lighter

   1) Lay the instrument on a soft, supportive surface, and loosen strings.
      Remove small bidge cover plate so that strings can be moved to side of

   2) Using the Phillps screwdriver, remove the top pickguard section, being
      careful not to lose the small rubber grommets which are under the 

   3) Carefully unscrew the center screw on each side of the bridge pickup.
      When these become loose, carefully remove the small rubber grommets 
      under the corner pickup screws.  If one of these falls into the 
      'f'-hole, you'll be lucky to get it back.

   4) Carefully pull the pickup away from the body of the guitar.  Cupping the
      pickup firmly in your hand, unscrew the corner pickup screws while 
      holding the nuts on the bottom side.  Remove all four screws and nuts. 
      One screw holds the ground lug.  Rest the backing plate on the guitar 

   5) Using the small flat-head screwdriver, pry the pickup body from the
      toaster cover.  Carefully unwind the sticky electrical tape from the 
      pickup windings.  Stick this in a hanging  position somewhere, as you 
      will reuse it later.

   6) On the bottom of the pickup body, you will see the magnet poles and two
      terminals.  If you measure the resistance between the two terminals, the
      reading will likely be between 11.7-11.9k ohms.  You will see the fine 
      coil wire pass in a slot in the plastic bobbin near the outermost 
      terminal.  Don't worry about trying to unsolder it, just gently pull it 
      from the terminal, and it will easily pop off.

   7) Now, holding the pickup in one hand such that the face of the pickup is
      sideways, grip the little end of loose wire, and pull it away from the 

      The first few times the wire will keep snapping off due to the glue, but
      soon, you'll be pulling a long, silky stream of wire off the pickup.  
      Don't be bashful, you should be pulling off at least several windings 
      per stroke of the hand.  Make about 200-250 hand strokes, then break the

   8) Using the cigarette lighter, quickly burn the end of the wire.  You'll
      see a little piece melt off, but the new end will be free of insulation.
      Carefully pinching the tiny end to one probe of your meter (with your
      finger), touch the inside terminal on the pickup with the other probe 
      and measure the resistance.  Make a mental note of this and continue 

   9) When you reach about 7.5k, break the tiny wire such that you can
      carefully return it to its tiny channel near the edge terminal.  Place 
      the pickup upside down on a towel.  Place the tiny wire against the 
      solder bead on the terminal, and just touch the tiny wire against the 
      terminal with the soldering iron until the solder melts around the wire.
      The hot tip of the soldering iron will melt the insulation off the tiny 
      wire, so don't be too concerned about that.  Trim off any excess wire 
      to prevent a short due to a dangling end.  Measure the resistance 
      between the two terminals to verify a good connection.

  10) Carefully rewrap the factory electrical tape around the coil, and follow
      with 2-3 turns of your electrical tape to compensate for the slightly
      smaller coil size.  Verify the connection again with the meter.  Press 
      the pickup body back into the chrome top.  It should fit snugly.  
      Carefully remount the pickup to the guitar body.  Plug the guitar into 
      an amp and tap the pickup with a screwdriver to verify the connection.  
      If all is well, repeat for the remaining pickup(s).  When you go to play
      the guitar, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.  You'll notice that 
      it sounds virtually identical to the Ric guitars in the famous records 
      from the 60s.

   [Ted A. Breaux,, 7/8/1998]

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