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Thread: Firebird pup

  1. #1

    Firebird pup

    I'm looking for a non boutique proper un wax potted Gibson type firebird pup for my next project but am struggling.
    The best deal seems to be a guy in Oz who sells on ebay.
    I'm based in the UK.
    Has anyone got one in the back of a drawer I could buy?

  2. #2
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    I don't know about non-wax potted, but Artec do Firebird style mini humbuckers. The MVDA model has Alnico V magnets and comes in neck (MVDAN) and bridge (MVDAB) versions. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ARTEC-MIN...-/202850496512

    They also do a cheaper ceramic magnet version, but Alnico will be more vintage sounding.

    I don't think you'll get non-potted pickups short of boutique suppliers as so few of this type of mini-humbucker pickup are made.

    You could of course try taking a hairdryer to the pickup for a while and let the melted wax drop out. No guarantees of how 'un-potted' that would make it, but shouldn't do any damage if you only just get it hot enough to melt the wax. Don't use a hot air gun! But with a cover on, if that's loose and not stuck to the bobbin with wax, that can cause microphonics at quite low gain levels. So I'd turn the pickup upside down after heating so that any remaining wax falls between the bobbins and the cover.

  3. #3
    Thanks Simon, there is a difference between a mini humbucker and a firebird which I need to get right.
    I'm having a stab at Neil Youngs Old Black so it needs to be the right spec. If you do a bit of googling you'll see what I mean!
    So I'm not sure if the Artecs are correct.
    I to have been thinking of ways to de wax.

  4. #4
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    There is. The Gibson/Epiphone mini humbucker has one blade magnet coil, and one coil with a magnet underneath and screw pole pieces.

    The Gibson Firebird pickup has two blade magnet pole pieces under a solid (no holes in it) cover . The blade magnets give a tighter magnetic field than the bar magnet + screw pole pieces, which gives a sound that's closer to a single coil than the mini-humbucker, despite the two coils being the same distance apart in both pickup types.

    If it's this incarnation of Old Black:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Then the Alnico V Artec will be the closest you'll get at low cost.

    There isn't a whole lot of sound difference really between potted and unpotted pickups, except that unpotted pickups are prone to microphonics. Given the amount off gain and volume that Neil uses, there's a good chance that the pickup may have been potted at some point if it became microphonic. Microphonic feedback is just an uncontrollable non-musical high-pitched howl, so really not desirable at all. From demos on YouTube, I've seen, you'd need to play very cleanly to hear the slight difference in detail that an unpotted pickup will give. But Neil Young and clean?

    If you really want to get close to the exact sound, then you really do need to go down the expensive route, say a SD Antiquity II.

    And of course you'll need to get a '50s gold top and then paint it black.

  5. #5
    Ha ha yes.
    No I'm getting a lp p90 kit painting it gold then black (all good experience)
    Neil reckons his firebird is so microphonic he can hear himself shout into it.
    It's funny isn't it that most people strive for the very finest this and that for their guitars and he gets amazing sounds out of that beat up old thing. Apparently it's had no fret work.

  6. #6
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    Having had very microphonic pickups, I really can't believe they are that sensitive. They really make a guitar unplayable.

    It has had fret work (Googling it leads you into all sorts of guitar forum debates on the guitar). His guitar tech re-fretted it and Neil told him that he'd taken away his guitar. But I presume he then lowered the frets and got it back to how Neil liked it because he kept on using it.

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Barden View Post
    That's handy thanks.
    The guy in Oz called Mr Fabulous guitars I have just discovered does a replica set but they are much more than the kit!
    Early days though I'm still in the research phase.

  9. #9
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    The kit itself is often the cheapest part. Unless you keep them stock, it's very easy to spend a lot of money on them. Surprising how quickly it all adds up.

  10. #10
    It is, I have bits I bought for my last one I didn't use because I changed my mind.
    It's all part of the journey, which is fun.
    The wife said I needed to do another one but this is daunting!

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