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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my main player has these vintage pickups I love. Ovular stacked humbucker epoxied into a plastic cover with 3 tabs with brass bushings for mounts. At least 1 tab on each pup (top or bottom; middle seems fine on both) has cracked off. Tried gluing them back but that didn't last. Currently mounted with whatever screws still hold and clear tape. Tired of living like a refugee.

So I kicked me own arse and decided to fix them properly (I have a set of spares, but these are functionally fine.... and they're a weirdo design with 8 wires each so I don't wanna business with that, and besides it's a shame to waste a rare set of functional vintage pickups).

Originally thought I could put a baseplate on the bottom to reinforce the whole thing, but the epoxied coils stick down at least an 1/8" below the cover so that won't work. Sat on it for a while and decided the only thing to do was make a partial bracket vs a full base plate. Wanted to avoid cutting a complex shape but no way around it.

Mocked up a bracket out of paper the other week using one of my spares as a model (another procrastination aid: wasn't able to find them for a month):




And then today, I used that template to fabricate 2 brackets out of aluminium sheet. This is the first one which is much rougher than the second:






The instrument is at the studio and I have jam on Monday, so I won't be trying to fit them until after that. Thinking I'll use gorilla glue, as it is what I have and it will hold on all of those materials. In 2 minds about the way it expands on cure, so any suggestions on other adhesives (to reattach the tabs as well as attach the reinforcement bracket) would be appreciated.
 

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I don't have any suggestions for better adhesives, but I commend you for keeping those old pups you love going. Being as they aren't currently an industry darling, are there many of those available on the used market? If I were you, I'd be stocking up. You may be at the leading edge of one of the next things and beat the rush. I've never been able to try them myself (assuming they are lowZ out of something like an LP Recording).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
They've been gaining respect slowly over the last decade. Which is good; sharp upticks screw over players. I do have a complete spare set so I'm OK. I once found one at the old Capsule location that I stole from them for $100 because they had no idea what it was or what to do with the 8 wires coming out of it. That one went to an internet bud in The Netherlands (it was before I owned an instrument that used them myself).

They do come up occasionally (the original prototype was on ebay the other year after Les Paul's death and that auction they had for his old gear; which consisted largely of instruments with these very pickups in them). Prices vary considerably from ridiculous asks to stupid good deals because everyone who knows what they are is on vacation or something. Nowhere near the demand or notoriety of vintage FBird/TBird pups; that shizzle is insane.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
So now that the brackets are done I gotta install them - jam was to be last night, but got moved to Thursday so under the gun a bit (though I guess I could use another bass [twitch] NO EXCUSES!). Anywho, here's my beloved (originally White, if you believe that - a rare finish on these) 1975 Gibson Les Paul Triumph Bass in it's the current sorry state of affairs (notice the tape - I have to smooth down the tape on the neck pup a couple times per jam to keep it from muting the G string; a pathetic way to live). Note: the trapeze and metal control plate are not original - plate came to me with a crack at the jack and I find the trapeze helps with the short scale and 3 point bridges (mounted using only the strap pin screw so no extra holes).






Also under the shop lights I realised how much I had let Paula go; just filthy. Anyway, moving on to show the root problem :




Close up of Neck (bottom tab cracked off):



... and Bridge (both top and bottom tabs cracked off):



So it looks like I inheritted it (partially) this way - looks like there`s a lot of material missing from the top tab area of the bridge pup and the bottom tab on the neck pup has a previous fix along the edge of the bushing. I dunno what glue the former owner used but it was stronger than my shitty gorilla glue attempts (scraping that shit off with a razor blade was a pain, but necessary).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I grabbed some JD Weld (Quickweld, because a. dries clear, b. claimed it sets in 5 minutes, though more like 10 and c. only one that explicitly said it was good with plastics and metal on the package). The stuff smells like ass. Never used it before so figured I'd try fixing the neck pup first, but mixed too much so did the one side of the bridge pup as well (what a pain - due to the missing material I kept having to adjust and was worried it'd set up when not in position - eventually I taped it in place and hoped the tape wouldn`t stick - it didn`t).



You may have also noticed that I cleaned her up a bit while I was at it (had to clean the pups to prep for glue anyway) ... cleaned and conditioned the fretboard too - been a while and the studio is a bit dry (except when we had that flood last Jan); Paula deserves better, I've been neglectful (I just realised the other week that since my beer gut has grown, my belt buckle has really done a number of her back side; shame on me).

Next comes test fitting the brackets (I may have to shave a bit more off the curved edge as each pup is a bit different), then glue on the 3rd cracked tab and I think I will fill that gap between cover's inside edge and coil with epoxy so as to increase the surface area of the broken tabs that is contacting the main unit. I tried to do that a bit on the neck pup there, but I didn't mix up enough and it kept flowing away down the pup, so figured I could do that in a second layer - any opinions if that's a good/bad idea? I just never wanna have to worry about this again.

Anyway, after setting up it already feels damn strong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Epoxied on the 2nd tab on the bridge pup and filled in the gap (as mentioned above) on both pups. I would have glued on the braces while I was at it, but I think I should sand off some squeezeout / clean the things up generally first (need to let the epoxy fully cure before that - says full cure in an hour but it still feels soft so giving it the overnight). In any case I had to do some fitting for the bridge pup brace because, as I expected, the coil on that one is much closer to the edge of the cover than on the spare that I used as a model (hardly any gap to fill ); had to file back that curved edge considerably.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sanding off the squeezeout and other messy epoxy drips was easier than I thought. Used a razor blade as well as a mini sanding drum on a Dremel with flex extension.

I had fit the brackets to specific pups last time so it was just a matter of epoxying those into place (had to clamp to keep them from moving around) and then filling the gaps with a second layer once that cured.



I found that after installing the brackets it was a very tight fit into the pup routes in the bass. I had anticipated this - test fit them dry, and it seemed like it just might be OK, but the epoxy adds just that extra mm of thickness that makes it not quite work, so after all the epoxying was done and cured, I had to break out the Dremel again to take the edges off the bits of the brackets around the tabs; smooth and round things over so they wouldn’t catch on the route walls and chip paint off. This was just enough and they fit in there nicely now.



So my baby’s back, and ears are gonna be in trouble (hey la, hey la, my baby’s back). …. especially after I finish off the tall style dual use 4x12 project later this weekend (so stoked for that). It really is amazing how much difference this made. Not only does she look better, but she feels better and, somewhat counter-intuitively, sounds better - the top strings are no longer disproportionately louder due to the pickup being closer to them than the bottom strings…. never mind the G string being partially muted half the time before. Don’t be a dink like me and put shit like this off.





Fin.
 
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