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The beauty and intrigue of Hofner pickups is that they are like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes you pull the cover off only to find a single coil, and sometimes you’ll find a humbucker. Sometimes both leads will come out the same end of the coil, and sometimes there will be a lead on either end. Keeping track of these details, along with some exceptional Google skills, will allow you to decipher exactly which model of pickup you have.
This particular pickup came out of an early 60’s solid body Hofner, and came to me with an open coil. When we turn the pickup over, it is quickly evident that someone has already been poking around inside, judging by the excess solder that is holding the cover on. Opening the cover reveals two coils. Given the age of the guitar, and the two coils under the cover, we have deduced that this pickup is a Hofner type 511, non-diamond top pickup.
With the cover removed, we find more evidence of an intruder under the cover. The original paper tape that was used to adhere the coils together is all ripped up, and we find a piece of masking tape that looks like it was put in place to hold things together just enough to put the cover back on. Further inspection reveals a gob of masking tape used to insulate the lead connections.
It was inevitable that removing the masking tape would peel off some remnants of the paper tape. A word of warning… disturbing the paper tape in these pickups may reveal an odor reminiscent of fermented baby puke. It’s not overpowering, but it’s there, so beware. After removing a coil, it is quickly determined what the problem is. A piece of the protective tape around the coil is missing, and the coil was disturbed. The coil is pretty full, and it looks like the coil rubbed on its neighbor while the previous intruder attempted to put it back in place. A quick check with the digital multi-meter on the neighboring slug coil confirms that it is intact, and the culprit is the damaged coil.
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Carefully, we strip down the bobbin of the problem coil, being careful not to damage the flange. Any nicks or burrs on the flange will snag the wire during the winding process, causing wire breakage or a sloppy coil. Once the bobbin is clean and clear, we solder the new lead to the coil start, and feed it through the bobbin.
Using the reading from the functioning coil, we can calculate the turn count. We made up a quick jig using a humbucker bobbin, mounted it to the winder, and we’re ready to go.
After soldering on the new lead, we re-install the coil. A quick check with the DMM confirms that the pickup has continuity, and that the coils are fairly close in DCR. We now re-install the cover and pole pieces and package it up for return shipping to the customer.
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