Anyone who knows my place knows how much I love these Aria Mosrite inspired guitars from the late sixties and early seventies. I've written about them several times before as I've owned and sold many of these over the years so I won't bore you with the history again. This one is about the pickup rewind I just did on the neck pickup as people have expressed interest in this. I will try and write more about my pickups and rewinds as I get time but for now ...
These guitars were made by the great Matsumoku factory for Aria (early ones were branded Arai) and sold in the US under the Univox label, among others. They're exactly the same guitar with a different name on the headstock although early Phase I, and these early Phase II versions are hard to find with the Univox brand.
The pickup on these Phase II's were slightly different to the earlier Phase I's in that they had screw head adjustable pole pieces. The earlier ones had slug magnet poles but essentially the pickup itself is very similar.
They are a simple single coil pickup wound on the typical (for the period) fairly flimsy thin plastic bobbin. Many Japanese manufacturers used a similar idea where a simple bobbin was used for many different "looking" pickups to give the impression of different options and models across the range but used a single, simple bobbin with a different pickup built around it, sometimes just a different cover.
The bobbin is quite thin and cheaply made and does flex without wire on it and I have seen these wound quite tight, and quite loose, I guess depending on who wound it on the day.
The construction design is similar to a P-90 with a main single bobbin with two magnets underneath on each side of the pole pieces. These however have steel brackets running up each side (kind of like a Jaguar pickup) that guide the magnetic flux up and back into the top of the pole pieces. These do give a slightly more "focused" response and is something I have toyed with in my pickups and may one day work on more?
The bottom plate is brass and the whole thing is glued together into a plastic cover which very much looks like a Mosrite pickup and surround.
I started to unwind the coil to see if I could find a break but after a few hundred winds I gave up and cut the wire off. This particular one was fairly loosely wound and I of course couldn't count the number of turns so I would rewind to size.
The original wire measured AWG #42 so I used that to rewind. These Japanese pickups can vary quite a lot depending on manufacturer and model but the majority use #42 or 43 just like most US manufacturers. With these types of bobbins being so thin I always make a timber spacer to support the bobbin from collapsing with wire tension before being inserted back into the pickup assembly.
These guitars didn't have specific bridge and neck pickups. They were all the same and they would just back the neck one off slightly to balance out the volume. The bridge pickup was still good and measured 8K so I had something to work with and I thought I'd "underwind" this one slightly to balance it out naturally.
I packed the coil to "almost" where it was before and wrapped it in tape and joined the original lead wires back onto the start and finish of the coil. These are soldered to the base plate and then a shielded lead wire is soldered to them.
I had already replaced the tuners as the originals were past salvaging but all of the original electronics worked perfectly after being cleaned out. The body and neck was cleaned and polished and everything was put back together. With the coil wound and the pickup back together I reassembled the guitar and gave it a set up.
As I've explained in many previous blogs there aren't many Mosrite copies, and I consider these Mosrite inspired, not copies, that play as well and sound as good as a good Mosrite, but some come close. There aren't any Mosrite inspired guitars that come close, but there are some that still play and sound GREAT, and have the aesthetic. These Arias are one of them. I love the necks on these and the pickups are great sounding single coils. Guyatone make an almost exact pickup and theirs sound great too.
These are thin bodies, thin necks and great to play.
This will be in the shop soon along with a Phase I once I get it sorted.