Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oldies but Groovies

Multivox Premier (???) single coils from the 33 week (mid-August) of 1953 according to the 6 digit code on the Clarostat volume and tone pots. Same summer that Elvis went to Memphis Recording Service to record "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin." "Rocket 88" was two years old when these came into being and in two years Little Richard would begin recording his great records for Specialty. The Les Paul guitar was one year old.

Similar to the leaky vital organs of my old Ford pick-up truck, these pickups seem to be holding together by sheer will but function fine. A guitar is in the works for these so I am hoping they will hold together a short while longer. Took them apart a bit, but not too much, as I fear they're going to turn to dust like the frescoes in Fellini's "Roma" found via the subway tunnel construction which vanish when exposed to the outside air.

Each pickup has two magnets. The first has a coil wrapped around it and is covered in the type of Johnson and Johnson tape that you would wrap a sprained ankle with. This magnet is not attached (by tape or mechanically) to the coil. The second magnet (like the first, it is just sandwiched in there) has height adjustable screws built in and forms a sort of "T" shape with the other magnet. The whole works sits in a galvanized steel "cup" that was formed out of sheet-stock. Fairly crude so am wondering if it is original or not. Both pickups weigh in just under 6K ohms. If they can handle a bit more jostling I will be very excited to hear how they sound.

Guitar pickups are of the most simple, mysterious, and interesting devices that I know of. Perhaps coming in a close second after a radio receiving a broadcast or electricity passing through wires powering my Cuisinart. Copper wire is wrapped around a magnet and is placed in close proximity to a vibrating string at tension. Literally millions of electric guitar sounds/tones exist and are all delivered by variations of this simple device. Oramus!

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