Rickenbacker International Corporation - Forum

650 Pickup Suggestions
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Author:  Verne_Andru [ Sat Nov 01, 2008 3:14 am ]
Post subject:  650 Pickup Suggestions

Hello all. I did a quick search but didn't find any relevant matches, hence the new thread.

I have a 650S [03 since new]. Love it to pieces. I'm running through a class A amp and lately I've taken to "tweaking" my guitars so I can roll down the volume for clean and roll it up to add grit. I was doing mostly studio work, so it hasn't been an issue, but have been doing more gigging recently so being able to change tone on the fly has become relevant. I've done the bypass capacitor thing and had excellent results on every guitar except the mini-humbuckers on my 650. They muddy up really quickly and generally have a more muffled and honky tone than my other pickups.

So, unfortunately, I'm thinking of replacing the stock mini's with something more articulate, clearer, with less mid-range "honk" and that cleans up when rolled down.

I'd like to keep it all Ric, so I'm tossing the question out here. Any replacement pickup suggestions - Rickenbacker or otherwise - that may suit my needs?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Author:  BlueAngel [ Sat Nov 01, 2008 4:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 650 Pickup Suggestions

You could try coil-spitting the HBs - you can do this for absolutely no cost or any permanent modification to the guitar, if you can solder.

Simply undo the heatshrinking on the coil junction (black and clear wires) and connect both these to the unused terminal on the tone pot for that pickup.

Now, when the tone control is full up, you have a single coil. It doesn't sound exactly like either a Toaster or a High-Gain, but somewhere in the middle - it has about the output of the Toaster but with more of a High-Gain tone (to me). When the tone control is at about 8 (if it had numbers) you get the original full-humbucker sound, and the tone control operates normally below that.

This doesn't affect the operation of your treble-pass caps at all, either - they're on the volume controls and totally independent of the tone control. You could also possibly try changing the value of the treble-pass caps if they're not having as much effect as you expect.

Author:  Verne_Andru [ Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 650 Pickup Suggestions

That's clever - I'll give that a try. I had heard these pups were 4 conductor and now I've found where all the wires were hidden.

I may also try a split-coil on a push-pull. Anybody know what the color coding is?

I've tried all sorts of different cap values and have a combo that works the best of the lot - but still not great.

Author:  Verne_Andru [ Sat Nov 01, 2008 9:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 650 Pickup Suggestions

Well all I can say is "wow." Makes a huge difference and adds tons of flexibility to the guitar. Still muddies up, but now I can dial in some SC that cleans it up real nice. I can also dial out the horrible "honk" from the bridge pup.

It would be perfect if the 2 pups in SC would humbuck each other. I tried all sorts of combo's but couldn't get something that worked properly. Maybe another day.

Thanks again. Awesome mod.

Author:  BlueAngel [ Sat Nov 01, 2008 4:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 650 Pickup Suggestions

It would be perfect if the 2 pups in SC would humbuck each other. I tried all sorts of combo's but couldn't get something that worked properly.
This is possible, but you will need to reconfigure the wiring for one pickup in order to turn off the other coil, so the ones left on have opposite magnetic polarities.

As it is, you're turning off both 'lower' (blue-clear) coils when you ground the clear/black connection. To turn off the 'upper' (black-red) coil, you need to wire it like this:

Black to ground (with shield); red and blue together and to the tone pot; clear to switch.

This reverses the 'upper' and 'lower' coils while keeping them correctly in phase so the sound isn't changed.

Which pickup you change is probably not too important, since they are quite narrow and the difference in tone between the neck-side coil and the bridge-side coil is not going to be as great as it is on a full-size humbucker, but if you think it does matter, you can find out which coil is on currently (I can't remember!) by gently tapping the top of the pickup (set to single coil) with a screwdriver over each coil while listening through the amp. One side should be louder, which is the one that's on.

You will get slightly better hum cancellation if you use the two 'inner' coils, and a slightly greater diversity of tone if you use the 'outer' coils.

If you do want to do it with a push-pull, the coding is exactly the same, you just use the switch to ground the coil junctions instead of the pot. You can either use one switch for each pickup, or a DPDT to do both at the same time. Be aware that most push-pulls will not fit in the shallow control cavity of the 650! The one RIC sells for the 4003 bass does though.

Author:  Verne_Andru [ Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 650 Pickup Suggestions

That's perfect! Works like a charm.

FYI - I did your screwdriver test and the stock SC config [as per your first mod wiring] is for the bottom [bridge side] buckers to be active on both pups. Doing above wiring to bridge pup switches it to the upper coil so the insides humbuck, which is what I did. Do it to the neck pup for outside coils.

I'll forego the push-pulls. This is a much more elegant and flexible solution. With push-pulls you either have SC or humbucker in a binary config. With this mod I can dial in any amount of either for a whole bunch of excellent tween tones. IMO humbucking the inside coils sounds much better than the stock Ric humbucking wiring.

You saved me a ton of work and anguish for which I'm most appreciative.

Author:  BlueAngel [ Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 650 Pickup Suggestions

Glad you like it!

This is my favorite 'unknown' mod - you very rarely hear it mentioned anywhere, and I really don't know why because it's so simple, yet flexible, and so cost effective.

I can't take any credit for it, I came across it many years ago on the Peavey T-60 guitar, which dates from about the late 1970s. Perhaps it's the association with Peavey that puts people off ;-)... although I don't know if they were the first to use it either.

Thanks for mentioning which coil is on too, I'll try to remember it now!

Author:  Verne_Andru [ Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 650 Pickup Suggestions

It's like getting a whole new guitar / or falling in love all over again. I love the way the 650 plays but have becoming more and more cranky about the tone that I have not been playing it much. Since I did this mod it's been moved back to the #1 spot.

FYI - I was poking around on Seymour-Duncan's website and in their wiring diagrams section they list this wiring configuration as "spin-a-split." But I agree, it's an unknown gem that adds so much flexibility and tonal options it should be illegal. Here's SD's diagram for a 2 bucker/2 volume/2 tone guitar like the 650. Of course, the color coding isn't the same.

http://www.seymourduncan.com/support/wi ... 2v_3w_2sas

They also have wiring for a single pup configuration but don't seem to go into changing one pup so they humbuck in single-coil - which sounds fantastic on the 650.

I have also replaced the bridge volume pot with a blend and turned the neck pot into a master volume. This lets me dial in any combo of neck/bridge I like and be able to roll the volume up/down with a single pot. This configuration makes so much sense and makes the guitar so much easier to handle live, that I'm not sure why it isn't done at the factory. Trying to roll down 2 volume pots at the same time is - well - impossible in my experience.

Author:  crossbones [ Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 650 Pickup Suggestions

I know this was a pretty old thread, but I thought I would add my experience.....
I did all of the mods to the wiring of the HB pups to my 650.
Tone controls now simply split the coils, they are humbucking in "both pup mode".
All fine.
Unfortunately, the treble roll off was pretty horrible no matter what volume controls I used.
I iced the cake with a .001uf cap and a parallel 100k resistor across the wiper and hot of 500k volume pots.
Simple treble bleed.
The guitar is magical now. Especially with both pickups on.

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