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Thread: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

  1. #1

    Default Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    Can you use 6 string pickups for an electric tenor? I wouldn't assume so because it wouldn't line up right? What pickups are available for electric tenor? Would lace pickups work well?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    Eastwood seem to use 6 string pickups in at least some of their tenors. Rails style pickups are also commonly used.
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    Registered User Seonachan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    They'll line up as long as the string spacing is the same. A traditional tenor spacing is about the same as a 6 string so typically it will use the middle 4 poles. Joel Eckhaus of Earnest Instruments uses 6-string pickups on his tenors, so it's not just a low-end corner-cutting solution. There are 4-pole pickups out there, from cheapo eBay imports to high-end boutique-y things, but unless the aesthetics of having a wider pickup than you need is an issue, 6-string pickups are a perfectly good fit for tenors.

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    Last edited by Seonachan; Sep-12-2019 at 8:14am.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seonachan View Post
    They'll line up as long as the string spacing is the same. A traditional tenor spacing is about the same as a 6 string so typically it will use the middle 4 poles. Joel Eckhaus of Earnest Instruments uses 6-string pickups on his tenors, so it's not just a low-end corner-cutting solution. There are 4-pole pickups out there, from cheapo eBay imports to high-end boutique-y things, but unless the aesthetics of having a wider pickup than you need is an issue, 6-string pickups are a perfectly good fit for tenors.

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    I just wrote a nice long reply but my internet zonked out so I lost it.

    In summary,

    Yes it seems 6 string pickup spacing is similar to 4 string. I did the math.

    The main issue with using a 6 string pole pickup on a tenor would be the two outside poles not lined up with any strings. These could be potentially grabbing more low frequencies from the lowest bass string and more high frequences from the higher trebly string than from the middle strings, being that their distance is closer to the outside strings. Causing an unbalanced sound.

    However this could potentially be fixed by raising and lowering certain poles on the pickup.

    I think the real answer is is getting a type of "sensor" or "rail" pickup set. Where the magnetic field produced covers an area, as opposed to how poles are setup. This would make a set of Lace pickups my best bet I believe. Thats my conclusion.

  5. #5
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    My main issue is that a 6 string pickup look terrible on a four string instrument, I have used the cheap four string pick ups from EBay and they work fine considering the price but I don’t know of any mass production four string pick ups that would suit a full electric tenor guitar?

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    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    Can bass guitar pickups work? I know nothing about pickups but was wondering.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    When I acquired this: http://www.knutsonluthiery.com/mandolins/marshall.html
    it had Alembic bass pickups Ė the E-string was non-existent.

  9. #8
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    standard bass guitar has a 44mm nut, standard tenor guitar is 32mm. So the string spacing would be all wrong.
    To be honest I know very little about guitar pickups but perhaps bass guitar pickups could be used if fitted at an angle but they are pretty big and bulky in any case.
    Like I said you can buy Chinese four string pick up with tone and volume controls for just a few £s and they do work!
    I fitted one to my old harmony...
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=67qDJ2zBMEw

  10. #9
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    Fender P bass pickups which have 2 separate pickups , have been used for electric mandolins & tenors .. with just one used.. they have 4 poles in each, Paired to be on either side of a Bass String. not perfect, but adequate.



    Bar pole pickups don't have a pole spacing issue , & If you are fitting a sound hole pickup in a flat top you can angle it .

    I did so on a 4 string solid body mandolin I ordered built.. had a Fender, Strat Format, Lace sensor for It..


    I'm using CGDA tuning on it..

    Magnetic fields are not really(laser-beam) narrow, you are living under one now.







    ...
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  11. #10
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    I think hot rail or lipstick would look the best .

  12. #11
    Tenor Guitar Greenhorn Huck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    Quote Originally Posted by fox View Post
    My main issue is that a 6 string pickup look terrible on a four string instrument, I have used the cheap four string pick ups from EBay and they work fine considering the price but I donít know of any mass production four string pick ups that would suit a full electric tenor guitar?
    I think hot rail or lipstick look the best .

    I agree with you Fox. I know the six pole doesn't affect the sound but aesthetically it doesn't work for me.

  13. #12

    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    it looks a "hot rail" pick up may not work in this particular instrument due to the size of the routed parts of the body where the pickups go. It looks like its meant to hold standard size single coils. I should also mention that on this instrument the the middle pickup in particular does not line up with the strings very well, (the strings sit outside the poles). So I dont know how well a 6 string pickup would work. Today I walked into a shop and picked up a standard single coil and measured it. It seems to be damn near the same size as whats installed now, meaning i think there are potentially more possibilities for replacement pickups here. Just maybe not pole pickups due to the fact that I would have to have the body re routed in order for the poles to line up correctly. It does look like "lipstick" type of pickups may be a similar size to standard single coils. So ill check that out as well.

  14. #13
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    Did i miss the bit when you said what your instrument was?
    You should be able to get a hot rail to fit.

  15. #14

    Default Re: Single Coil Pickups for Tenor?

    The hot rails pickups I use in electric mandolins are to the best of my knowledge single coil size. They are meant to replace Strat and Tele type single coil pickups. Have a look on evilbay many of them give you the dimensions. If nothing else you will find out if they are the same size.

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