Hey folks, new to the group and to cigar box instrument making, but not to creative homemade instrument making.

I'm building my first cigar box 3 string bass (30 inch scale, most likely) using three 1/2" thick oak pieces laminated together for the neck. Based on what I've read here as long as it's at least an inch thick I should be able to get by without a truss rod.

Looking ahead to the pickup arrangement... I've considered using piezos, but I like the sound of magnetic pickups on bass. Given that it's a three string bass, though, I wonder what pickup I could use. Precision bass pickups have the two and two pole split thing and jazz bass pickups are four poles in a row (or actually, eight poles where the strings align between two poles each).

Now electric guitar pickups are six across, which makes me wonder if I could just use most any six string pickup and maybe the width of the string spacing just might match up in between sets of two poles?

Just how crucial is the pickup pole placement under each string? Has anyone grappled with this?

Dan

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Pole placement matters, but it's not really crucial that it be exact. 

I like your idea of using a 6-pole guitar pickup for a 3-string bass... You can always angle the pickup to match the string spacing!

Thanks for the feedback. I get the impression this whole hobby is a lot about experimenting with ideas. I mean it's not like you're out a boatload of cash if it sucks, right?

Easier still is to use a pickup that doesn't have pole pieces but picks up evenly along it's surface, lots of soap bar pickups are like this, as are blade style pickups, like this one.

http://www.newfrog.com/p/dual-rail-electric-guitar-neck-pickup-humb...

Ah, here's where my knowledge of the electronics is deficient. I assumed all pickups had individual poles, even if you couldn't see them.

Aren't soap bar pickups more prone to noise than humbucker? I'm under the impression bass guitars tend to use humbuckers for this reason. Is that another incorrect assumption?

I like the dual rail pickup you referenced. Know of any pointers to how it gets wired up with the 4 leads? I'd probably want a volume knob (but I don't imagine I'd add a tone knob).

You may be thinking of P90's? Bass soapbars are generally humbucking, I think, they've always been quiet enough for me.

No, a lot of pickups use just a piece of metal and a magnet, those $7 ones are the cheapest I know of, and quite hot, but you can get other sizes from places like guitarfetish.com for $30 or so.

Well you can hook the coils in parallel, but I generally just tie two of the wires together, and use them in series. I forget the color code offhand, but it comes with a sheet, and theres diagrams online. I find this site informative.

http://1728.org/indexfun.htm

hope that helps.

Excellent reference site. Thanks!

the poles are to conduct the magnetic field from the magnets inside the coil up to the strings. 

you "might" notice a difference if on string is between poles and the other is directly over a pole, but then again you might not.

you could adjust your string spacing to match the poles on the pickup, angle the pickup to match your string spacing, do both, and/or put a bit of flat iron across all the poles to even out the field.

Thanks for the info, JL. I ended up ordering one of the dual bar type humbucker pickups. 

Wow, the more I get into this project, the more it multiplies...

At this point I think I'm going to make two different bass instruments:

1) A two or three string cigar box bass using string trimmer line, and
2) An upright "stickbass" (inspired by Steve Joy's JoyStick Bass instruments) using flatwound bass guitar strings. This one will probably be stand-mounted like I've seen for Electric Upright Basses (EUBs).

So, for #1... I understand string trimmer line needs a long period of stretching out before it's stable. I'm prepared for that. What I'm wondering is... Given that string trimmer is not so easy to tie a knot into, what have others done about the tailpiece end to hold it into whatever hole it is threaded through?

Dan

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