Choosing the Right Pickup There are three basic types of magnetic mandolin pickups available; single coil, humbucker, and stacked humbucker. All pickups are available with either 4 or 5 poles which are solid Alnico V slugs. The output is balanced for each string and eliminates the need for adjustable pole pieces. There is no 'weak E string' like the stock pickups found on many electric mandolins. Due to their higher permeability, nickel plated steel strings are best suited for magnetic pickups than bronze, phosphor bronze or stainless steel strings.
The Humbucking Effect Pole orientation combined with winding rotation will produce a humbucking effect when opposite conditions are used in two separate coils. Thus, if one pickup (or coil) is 'north on top' with clockwise winding rotation and the other is 'south on top' with counterclockwise rotation, ( also referred to as RWRP), the two used together will be humbucking, cancelling the hum caused by extraneous EMR (electromagnetic radiation) given off by amplifiers, fluorescent lights, etc. This is the basic principle behind the humbucking pickup invented by Seth Lover in 1956 while working for Gibson Guitars.
Humbucker Tonally humbuckers are less clear and bright as compared to single coils due to the magnetic aperture sensing a longer portion of the string. Humbuckers can be electrically split by shorting out one coil to ground making it essentially a single coil. The downside of this is it decreases output and bass end, and negates it's hum-cancelling ability. 4 conductor wiring allows for series/parallel, phase reverse, or split coil options. Can be mounted on a pickguard or black rectangular ring (available separately). Pole spacing is .425" (10.8mm) center to center. Four pole humbucker $152US Five pole humbucker $168US Mounting ring $43US
Single coil Due to the narrow sensing aperture or 'window', single coil pickups produce a clear tone with a strong middle/low end and ringing trebles. Single coils however have the disadvantage of also picking up and amplifying ambient EMR from lights, amps, etc. This 60 Hz hum can be annoying in some situations, especially at loud volumes. Shielding does help but will not eliminate it entirely. Two single coils can also be used in a RWRP combination to emulate a humbucker. Pole spacing is .425" (10.8mm) center to center.
Four pole single coil $89US Five pole single coil $94US Mounting ring $37US
Because of it's narrow aperture this is a good compromise between the humbucker's hum-cancelling ability and the clarity of a single coil. The output is much the same as a single coil. Pole spacing is .425" (10.8mm) center to center. Four pole stacked humbucker $120US Five pole stacked humbucker $125US Mounting ring $37US
Replacement Magnetic Mandolin Pickups Are you wondering why the E string sounds weak compared to the others? Is the overall volume level low and the pickup sounds noisy when you turn up the volume on your amp? One reason may be that the pickup in your mandolin is a poorly constructed economy grade pickup. Another reason is that many manufacturers and builders use guitar pickups which are simply not designed for mandolins. Get a boost in output, tone and enjoyment with Ryder custom replacement pickups. Available as a humbucker, single coil and stacked humbucker.
Four and Five Pole Stacked Mini Humbucker Replacement Pickup The same stacked humbucker as above but housed in a fully enclosed metal mini humbucker cover and frame. A drop-in replacement pickup for JL Smith, Airline Mandola, Rono (Ron Oates), Harmony Batwing, Dillion, and Parsons emandos.
Four and Five Pole Stratocaster Style Replacement Pickup Several electric mandolin models such as the Kentucky KM-300E and KM-400E use Stratocaster style guitar pickups. Other models that use this type are the Fender FM-52E, Samick SM20E, Gold Tone GME-4, Ibanez M510E, Stagg M50AE, Rogue RM110E, Savannah SA-115E, and custom emandos made by small shop builders. The pickup cover measures approximately 11/16 wide by 2 and 3/4 inches long with a 3 inch screw spacing. Pole spacing is 1 and 1/4 inches from G to E strings. Available as a single coil or stacked humbucker. The single coil is internally shielded to reduce noise. Single coil $99US Stacked humbucker $130US
Kentucky KM-400E Stacked Humbucker Replacement Pickup An alternate model pickup used prior to the Stratocaster single coil. Cover is not included.
"Just had practice and the pickup sounds GREAT! Real balanced and real crunchy when the distortion comes in super huge, thanks man!!!
In response to several inquiries, an upgrade is now available for the economy pickup used in the Epiphone Mandobird. A neodymium bar magnet replaces the ceramic one for a warmer tone and the stacked coils help eliminate the noise produced by ambient EMR. Also included is a ground wire and copper tape to help shield the wires in the channel under the pickguard.
Mandobird Stacked Humbucker $144US
Fender Mandocaster (MandoStrat)
Single coil $89US Stacked humbucker $120US Humbucker inquire If you're not happy with the single coil sound of your MandoStrat or vintage Mandocaster a humbucker could be just what you need! This pickup has plenty of bottom end along with the mids and trebles of the standard single coil and noise cancelling ability. A four conductor cable provides switching options such as series/parallel, phase reverse and coil tapping.
Eastwood Mandocaster Replacement Pickups
The replacements are two high output balanced single coil magnetic pickups arranged in RWRP (reverse wound, reverse polarity). Both pickups together are humbucking in parallel. Replacing one of the pots with a 250K pot/DPDT switch will also connect the pickups in series for a boost in output.
Set of two single coil RWRP pickups $185US Set of two stacked humbucker pickups $237US