Toasters vs high gains

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Toasters vs high gains

Postby (Isaac) » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:34 pm

What are the differences, if any, between toasters and high gain pickups, assuming similar windings?

I am not a strong believer in many of the things some people believe have a big effect on the tone of an instrument, especially a solid body electric. But the electrical components definitely do. The resistance and taper of the potentiometers, the capacitance of the capacitors have pretty easily measurable effects. Pickup placement makes a definite difference. The pickups themselves have the potential to make a very big difference.

In this discussion, pickup placement is obviously not a consideration. We're talking Ric pickups on Ric basses in Ric surrounds. The differences between the pickups in question and the HB1 humbuckers are also clear. But what about the toasters vs the high gains? Besides the obvious differences in appearance, there are possible differences in the bobbin, the windings and the magnet structure. There could also be other things I haven't thought of. Most people seem to fixate on the winding resistance, probably because that's the easiest thing to measure. How it's wound makes a difference as well, presumably because of differences in inductance and capacitance. I've never had the opportunity to play a bass (or guitar, either, for that matter) with toasters, so I freely admit my ignorance. But if we had two pickups, one toaster, one high gain, both wound the same way and with the same winding resistance, what differences would still be audible? And what might cause those differences?
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Re: Toasters vs high gains

Postby (Ashgray) » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:44 pm

This is just my personal opinion but I prefer the sound of toasters over hi-gains on my basses. I find that toasters offer more subtlety and a more natural tone, whereas hi-gains, because of the extra pickup windings and greater output, lose that subtlety and tone in favour of output power. For me, more gain should be gotten from the amp, not the pickup.

The position of the pickups can affect your sound significantly, but to me, the most important aspect of the sound ou want to create is your finger technique and playing style.

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Re: Toasters vs high gains

Postby (henry5) » Wed Jun 05, 2019 4:20 pm

Ashgray wrote:This is just my personal opinion but I prefer the sound of toasters over hi-gains on my basses. I find that toasters offer more subtlety and a more natural tone, whereas hi-gains, because of the extra pickup windings and greater output, lose that subtlety and tone in favour of output power. For me, more gain should be gotten from the amp, not the pickup.

The position of the pickups can affect your sound significantly, but to me, the most important aspect of the sound ou want to create is your finger technique and playing style.

Ash


I also much prefer toasters. In fact I could never get the Ric tone I was after until I played a toaster-equipped bass, which I bought and which became my main bass. Every Ric I’ve bought since - except for a 4000 - has had a toaster. Now how much difference a toaster wound to the same output etc would make, I have no idea.

FWIW, I believe that what a bass sounds like acoustically (therefore wood, bridge etc etc) has the most impact on the tone. All the Rics I’ve had have sounded when plugged in like an amplified version of what they’ve sounded like acoustically. Yes, different pickups and electrics can change this to a degree, but IME the inherent tone is difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate. I’ve even swapped pickups and electrics and the tone definitely has not migrated, although it may be altered to a degree.
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Re: Toasters vs high gains

Postby (soundmasterg) » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:54 pm

Isaac wrote:What are the differences, if any, between toasters and high gain pickups, assuming similar windings?

I am not a strong believer in many of the things some people believe have a big effect on the tone of an instrument, especially a solid body electric. But the electrical components definitely do. The resistance and taper of the potentiometers, the capacitance of the capacitors have pretty easily measurable effects. Pickup placement makes a definite difference. The pickups themselves have the potential to make a very big difference.

In this discussion, pickup placement is obviously not a consideration. We're talking Ric pickups on Ric basses in Ric surrounds. The differences between the pickups in question and the HB1 humbuckers are also clear. But what about the toasters vs the high gains? Besides the obvious differences in appearance, there are possible differences in the bobbin, the windings and the magnet structure. There could also be other things I haven't thought of. Most people seem to fixate on the winding resistance, probably because that's the easiest thing to measure. How it's wound makes a difference as well, presumably because of differences in inductance and capacitance. I've never had the opportunity to play a bass (or guitar, either, for that matter) with toasters, so I freely admit my ignorance. But if we had two pickups, one toaster, one high gain, both wound the same way and with the same winding resistance, what differences would still be audible? And what might cause those differences?


A couple things to note about the differences between the pickups. Toasters use alnico pole piece magnets that go from the bottom of the top bobbin and extend under the pickup. Some toasters use short pole magnets that don't extend out the bottom of the pickup. These were often used int he neck position of basses. The Hi-Gains use a rubberized ceramic fitted to the bottom of the pickup with pole pieces through the bobbin. Both bobbins are the same size with the same footprint, and nowadays they are the same material and almost exactly the same bobbins. In previous years the Hi-gains had separate bobbin pieces with different pole piece sizes between eras. They have also used slightly different magnet sizes over the years. The hewer bobbins are molded and the wire when wrapped around the pickup doesn't sit as close to the pole pieces as on older Hi-Gains, so the newer pickup will be slightly less sensitive than the older ones.

The amount of wire used has changed of the years, and generally the older pickups have less wire. Since the early 1960's all pickups from Rickenbacker have used 44 gauge wire except possibly the Horseshoe pickup. I believe most of it is probably polysol wire too. Some of the 1950's toasters, especially the weaker DC resistance ones were possibly using 43 or 42 gauge wire and may have been different compositions for the insulation of the wire such as Formvar, Heavy Formvar, or Plain Enamel. My guess would be on 42 gauge Heavy Formvar for the ones that were 5k or less. Those pickups weren't really all that weak in comparison to the modern reissue offerings such as the ones they put on the 325 50's model. There were 12k toasters and the modern 7.4k toasters, and the vintage stuff after the early 60's was all over the place but probably average around 8k. The Hi-Gains started life around the same as the toasters for the amount of DC resistance, but they have varied a lot too. Many of the guitars had Hi-Gains as high as 17k and the bridge pickup was like 7k, which is backwards from what you would think they should have. The newer 4003's have Hi-Gains with upwards of 12k, which to my ears sounds a bit too dark and compressed, even despite the 1 inch neck pickup spacing from the fingerboard as opposed to the older 4001 1/2 inch spacing.

The modern toaster pickups are scatter wound, but there were periods where this wasn't the case. I don't think the Hi-Gains are scatter wound, though if they did this, it would help retain highs and make the pickup less muddy. There is also the difference between how ceramic magnets react to the string versus how alnico ones do. Alnico tends to sound more natural to many people. I like both, but for Hi-Gains on bass I prefer the 70's style weaker ones in the 1/2" spacing position. For toasters on bass I also prefer the 1/2" spacing and the 7.4k scatter wounds, or a vintage toaster. For guitar, I also like both but prefer the 7.4k scatter wound or vintage toaster for 12 strings and I like the weaker Hi-Gains for the neck position, and a slightly hotter than vintage Hi-Gain for the bridge position. Something like 8k for neck and 10k for bridge is ideal for me, but I often have to get them rewound to get that.

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Re: Toasters vs high gains

Postby (Isaac) » Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:55 pm

The high gains on my 2016 4003W are 11K. I really like the sound of it, and have had a couple of sound guys compliment it as well. I also have a 1079 Mapleglo 4001 with 7.5K high gains. There's a noticeable difference in output, but, to my ear, not a huge difference in tone. But the volume controls measured around 95K, so that could be having a significant effect. Still, it makes me wonder what a 7.5K toaster would sound like. Would I notice? Would I care? Probably impossibe to say without actually doing the experiment.

I agree with henry5 that the acoustic signature of the bass has the largest influence on what it sounds like amplified.
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Re: Toasters vs high gains

Postby (Korladis) » Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:59 pm

I prefer the toaster over the high gain in the neck position.

With two pickup basses I like the pickups to have very contrasting tones. To me, having a toaster pickup at the neck with a high gain at the bridge maximizes the contrast. The high gain is very mid-focused, and while Rickenbackers are known for being bright, it doesn't have as much sparkly top end (which is not desirable to me in the main pickup), while having a lot of 'gank.' The toaster has a much less pronounced midrange and has more high end extension, to my ears, so I think it works very well for the neck position, and its lower output suits my style of using it for my "clean" sound while its highs keep it from being muddy.
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Re: Toasters vs high gains

Postby (FretlessOnly) » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:40 am

You've asked a very specific question that I'm not sure can be answered (since a high gain and a toaster may not be wound the same way nor have the same resistance) but I'll echo the other replies and state that I prefer the clarity of the toaster in the neck position. I'm also mid-centric, but I want more mids from the bridge pickup than from the neck pickup. I have two 4001s w/ 1/2-inch spacing and a 4003 with 1-inch spacing. Two FL and one fretted (a '72); all with neck toasters. I think that the difference in the toaster might be more prominent in the 1/2-inch spacing (my 2008 4003 FL came with a high gain), but that's more like supposition on my part as I don't have a great deal of experience with swapping toasters in/out other than on the '08 4003 FL.
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Re: Toasters vs high gains

Postby (Isaac) » Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:45 pm

I made the question specific because we all know that a difference in the windings will make a difference in how the pickup sounds. I'm wondering about differences between the pickups that aren't due to winding differences. A 7.5K high gain will sound different from an 11K, I have no doubt, but what will the differences be between a 7.5K high gain and a 7.5K toaster?

While I'm at it, how do they differ in terms of noise pickup? Are toasters noisier than high gains, vice versa, or no significant difference?
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Re: Toasters vs high gains

Postby (soundmasterg) » Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:34 am

Generally speaking, in comparison to a pickup with ceramic magnets, a pickup with alnico magnets will have a smoother transition throughout the frequency range that the pickup can amplify with less frequency peaks and dips. It will also generally have smoother highs and less prominent lows when compared to a ceramic magnet pickup.

Here are some specs for you to chew on if you like:

1986 Hi Gain pickup
DCR: 7.4k
AC resistance at 1000 Hz: 9.629
Inductance at 1000 Hz: 2.528 henries
Q at 1000 Hz: 1.614
AC resistance at 120 Hz: 7.424
Inductance at 120 Hz: 2.871 henries
Q at 120 Hz: 0.298

1999 Scatterwound Toaster
DCR: 7.32k
AC resistance at 1000 Hz: 9.126
Inductance at 1000 Hz: 1.808 henries
Q at 1000 Hz: 1.261
AC resistance at 120 Hz: 7.36
Inductance at 120 Hz: 1.835 henries
Q at 120 Hz: 0.2194

Toasters and high gains of the same DC resistance are about the same as each other for noise pickup.

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Re: Toasters vs high gains

Postby (Korladis) » Sun Jun 09, 2019 1:40 am

I generally find pickups with alnico magnets to be a bit brighter than pickups with ceramic magnets.

I think this difference is then further emphasized by the fact that the modern versions of the toaster and high gain have a big difference in output.
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