Author Topic: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project  (Read 498 times)

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Offline cags12

Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« on: June 24, 2017, 03:32:42 PM »
I have been working on a custom GK-3 pickup housing that attaches directly on a pickup ring allowing easy height adjustment, zero modification to the guitar, custom radius and minimal foot print. I have come to work on this due spacing issues I have with my PRS custom 24 Floyd and also due how maniac I am with the aesthetics of the guitar.

See the picture is a 3D prototype of my design that eventually will come to live via a 3D printer.

Although I am doing this to solve my specific needs with my guitar, I have created the 3D design in such way it can easily be changed (parametric) to accommodate different radius, height and spacing for other guitar configurations. That being said, I would consider making it available on a Shapeways-like service if its get enough traction. Custom String spacing I would consider later.

I'd like to seek advice from the community on some design decisions and/or challenges I am facing.

The main issue I have is how to attach the GK-3 pickup to the new housing. Since these will be plastic pieces, I cannot bend them like in the original cover that comes with the GK. I thought about using watch screws (as seen on the image) however, I would consider any suggestion. What about Epoxy (permanent) or any other way?. Bear in mind space is very limited caused by the default GK pickup dimensions.

Second issue is the height adjustment mechanism. It is obvious I am using the same principle of any guitar pickup. The problem I have is how to add a threaded nut (is that the correct name? like the ones in active pickups?) to the tabs of the base. I do not even know where to find them. Please help

Just so you know, this is my first attempt to manufacturing anything at all. Reason why I seek some advice.

Note. I am aware of the few adapters available on Ebay, no need to mention them. I will go ahead with this project regardless.






Internal coils are for reference only

Dissected view

 

Offline Mrchevy

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Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2017, 08:46:15 AM »
   Ironically, I had the same issue except my PRS is a 2017 SE version. It appears spacing is the same though. I have a pickup bezel ( Aluminum) that I made for a different guitar so I used that which gave me the space I needed between the pickup and bridge. That was not really the problem though. The problem was the height. I could not mount the bezel over the existing pickup bezel because to get the string clearance you need, the string height from the fret board would have to be insanely high and totally unplayable. The string height over the body and pickups on a PRS is closer to that of a strat, than say a les paul. You almost have to mount it directly to the body of the guitar to get it under the strings and be able to maintain a good action height.
 
  The 6 GK3 pickups are spaced nearly perfect under the strings ( they line up nearly centered on all 6 strings) for the Floyd Rose and the radius is close enough. These pictures show how I did mine. Since the bezel had to go flat to the body, I had to put the GK3 mount screws in from the bottom side of the bezel and secure it with nuts on the top side. The mounting screw heads are micro recessed on the bottom side of the bezel so as to not touch the surface of the guitar and I put a very thin layer of tape on the bottom side to protect the finish of the guitar in case I want to put it back to original. The thin layer of tape also held the mounting screw heads just enough to to allow turning the nuts down snug to hold the pickup on.

  Unfortunately, this guitar is not ideal for fitting a GK3 pickup on but it is possible. I really love the action on this guitar but I am accustom to the Les Paul type bridge and volume knob locations and find the volume knob location on the PRS to close to the bridge pickup. I'm not really a tremolo user so the fact that the tremolo arm is also kind of in the way for where I like to rest my right hand is not really an issue for me as I have it removed and the tremolo blocked. I can still install it and do dives though because its only blocked on the front side. This also makes it easy to change strings as it is not full floating. I didn't actually buy the guitar for the FR bridge but it just played so nice I had to have it. Hopefully this info and pictures may give you some ideas for your solution.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 08:50:25 AM by Mrchevy »
Les Paul Custom
SG 50's prototype
Squire classic vibe 60's
Gibson WRC w/GK3
Vantage VE 565
Schecter Hellraiser & C1 classic
PRS SE FR Custom 24
Martin acoustic

Tubemeister18 w/Egnater 112cab
Princeton chorus 210
Yamaha THR10C

GT100
GR-55
Mustang Floor
Boomerang III

A lot of stuff I DON'T need

Offline cags12

Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2017, 01:29:18 PM »
   Ironically, I had the same issue except my PRS is a 2017 SE version. It appears spacing is the same though. I have a pickup bezel ( Aluminum) that I made for a different guitar so I used that which gave me the space I needed between the pickup and bridge. That was not really the problem though. The problem was the height. I could not mount the bezel over the existing pickup bezel because to get the string clearance you need, the string height from the fret board would have to be insanely high and totally unplayable. The string height over the body and pickups on a PRS is closer to that of a strat, than say a les paul. You almost have to mount it directly to the body of the guitar to get it under the strings and be able to maintain a good action height.
 
  The 6 GK3 pickups are spaced nearly perfect under the strings ( they line up nearly centered on all 6 strings) for the Floyd Rose and the radius is close enough. These pictures show how I did mine. Since the bezel had to go flat to the body, I had to put the GK3 mount screws in from the bottom side of the bezel and secure it with nuts on the top side. The mounting screw heads are micro recessed on the bottom side of the bezel so as to not touch the surface of the guitar and I put a very thin layer of tape on the bottom side to protect the finish of the guitar in case I want to put it back to original. The thin layer of tape also held the mounting screw heads just enough to to allow turning the nuts down snug to hold the pickup on.

  Unfortunately, this guitar is not ideal for fitting a GK3 pickup on but it is possible. I really love the action on this guitar but I am accustom to the Les Paul type bridge and volume knob locations and find the volume knob location on the PRS to close to the bridge pickup. I'm not really a tremolo user so the fact that the tremolo arm is also kind of in the way for where I like to rest my right hand is not really an issue for me as I have it removed and the tremolo blocked. I can still install it and do dives though because its only blocked on the front side. This also makes it easy to change strings as it is not full floating. I didn't actually buy the guitar for the FR bridge but it just played so nice I had to have it. Hopefully this info and pictures may give you some ideas for your solution.

Thank you mrchevy - Yes, spacing is the same and that was my initial motivation for the project. In fact, I am looking to install a Autotune for guitar system. However, since the pickup of that system is a a little more thicker, I have decided to use the pickup of the GK-3 kit instead which I know other people (including you) have managed to do so.

Just so you know, I have not received my PRS yet, she is in the USA and I am in Europe waiting to collect it. One of the issues I have is that I do not know exactly how much space I have to play with between the bridge pickup cavity and the Floyd cavity without disturbing its operation. I will not know until I get the guitar to me. Perhaps you could help me telling me such distance and also the average height of the strings at that position in respect to the body of the guitar. I'd appreciate that info so I can modify my design accordingly.

Coming back to this project. What I am looking to make is something that not only me would get benefited. I can easily change the height to minimum ~5-6mm depending on the radius of the target guitar. Also, it can be modified to a specific flatter radius that what it is possible with the standard GK.

The more specific advice I am looking for is on ways to attach the pickup to the new housing other than screws. Since space is very limited, I may not be able to use screws at all. question is, what else can I use?


Offline Elantric

Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2017, 01:49:06 PM »
Quote
The more specific advice I am looking for is on ways to attach the pickup to the new housing other than screws. Since space is very limited, I may not be able to use screws at all. question is, what else can I use?

Measure twice and use double sided carpet tape between the side of the GK -3 PU cover and the side PRS  PU Cover

Of course this precludes the ability to alter the height that's why it takes a lot of measuring

 Also you may consider  using the same 4 mounting screw hole locations into the existing mounting screw holes on the PRS guitar , but moving the location of the PRS pick up slightly (2mm) towards the neck


on most guitars the pick up body route is a bit larger than the pick up and will allow you to relocate the center of the pick up a little closer to the neck a little bit more ,  to provide  A bit more room for the GK-3

what I see with your current design is that The area under the GK 3 Hex pick body route Will be  very close to the edge of the mounting ring.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 02:12:51 PM by Elantric »

Offline Mrchevy

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Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2017, 07:07:55 PM »
After looking closely at your design, I don't see how this can work and here is why. Just thoughts and observations.....

 1. Your design assumes that both ends of the pickup are the same distance from each end of the end pickups. This is not so in either the internal or external kits because at one end of the underlying circuit board it is extended for the wire connections to the pickup, making it longer than the bezel itself. It would not actually fit inside the bezel lengthwise unless you design the bezel longer on one end, or longer on both ends to make it visually equal but then it would look odd I think. The pickup itself would require extensive modification to the circuit board to work with your design. You yourself may have the desire and ability to make those modifications, but most would not.

 2. On the our PRS models, the GK3 pickup should really be literally sitting on the body to be able to get the 1mm string space from the pickup. On my guitar, I barely get the 1mm spacing and thats not while fretted at the 12th fret. My action height is very acceptable and playable but wouldn't mind a touch lower.

In your case, you could mount the pickup directly to the body with double sided sticky tape and design the bezel to cover it but you still have to contend with the extended part on one end and relocate and drill the holes for the bezel on the bridge side. That would be acceptable because the new holes would still be covered by the original bezel if you decide to go back stock. If you look closely at my pictures you will also see that the bezel screw holes are partially covered. those are the stock locations from the original bezel. If the PRS had just 1 or 2mm more bridge to pickup clearance AND more importantly, just a touch more back pitch where the neck is attached to the body, it would be a whole new ball game as you could raise the bridge to get clearance to work with and maintain a decent string height action. This height issue is common on some Strats but unlike the PRS, the Strat has a bolt on neck and a thin wedge shim can be installed to give the neck a back pitch and allowing the bridge to be raised for proper clearance.

I could give you some measurements but we are literally talking hairs for clearances and would not likely help you in the design. We're talking micro surgery here with this guitar. Keep in mind though that my opinions and thoughts are based on non permanent mods to the guitar and what I did is totally reversible without damage to the guitar or original parts. Take my previous sentence out of the equation and it's game on.
Les Paul Custom
SG 50's prototype
Squire classic vibe 60's
Gibson WRC w/GK3
Vantage VE 565
Schecter Hellraiser & C1 classic
PRS SE FR Custom 24
Martin acoustic

Tubemeister18 w/Egnater 112cab
Princeton chorus 210
Yamaha THR10C

GT100
GR-55
Mustang Floor
Boomerang III

A lot of stuff I DON'T need

Offline cags12

Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2017, 04:48:15 AM »
Also you may consider  using the same 4 mounting screw hole locations into the existing mounting screw holes on the PRS guitar , but moving the location of the PRS pick up slightly (2mm) towards the neck


on most guitars the pick up body route is a bit larger than the pick up and will allow you to relocate the center of the pick up a little closer to the neck a little bit more ,  to provide  A bit more room for the GK-3

Yes, this is something I was planning but I will only know when I get the guitar so I can measure and double measure.

In either case, attaching the pickup (GK circuit board and coils) to the new housing/cover (not the ring) will be challenging. Hopefully a pair watch screw would be rigid enough or alternatively epoxy which would also work for potting if I want to go that far.

I will post results when I am finished. Thanks

Offline cags12

Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2017, 05:11:22 AM »
After looking closely at your design, I don't see how this can work and here is why. Just thoughts and observations.....

 1. Your design assumes that both ends of the pickup are the same distance from each end of the end pickups. This is not so in either the internal or external kits because at one end of the underlying circuit board it is extended for the wire connections to the pickup, making it longer than the bezel itself. It would not actually fit inside the bezel lengthwise unless you design the bezel longer on one end, or longer on both ends to make it visually equal but then it would look odd I think. The pickup itself would require extensive modification to the circuit board to work with your design. You yourself may have the desire and ability to make those modifications, but most would not.


This is true, my current design would require cutting the longer end of the circuit board and re-solder the leads directly underneath the coils. I am willing to do this myself but yes, I am aware not everyone would like to follow that approach.

I have another sketched design whereby no modification to the GK circuit board would be required. However, the issue with this design is that it directly conflicts with the feature of adjusting the height of the pickups as desired with the screws on the pickup ring (for other guitars, not PRS). A solution in this design for adjusting the height would be as simply as adding shims below the pickup (the same as to how Roland advises) with the difference that everything would be hidden under the pickup ring.
I will progress further this design and share to you guys.





 2. On the our PRS models, the GK3 pickup should really be literally sitting on the body to be able to get the 1mm string space from the pickup. On my guitar, I barely get the 1mm spacing and thats not while fretted at the 12th fret. My action height is very acceptable and playable but wouldn't mind a touch lower.

In your case, you could mount the pickup directly to the body with double sided sticky tape and design the bezel to cover it but you still have to contend with the extended part on one end and relocate and drill the holes for the bezel on the bridge side. That would be acceptable because the new holes would still be covered by the original bezel if you decide to go back stock. If you look closely at my pictures you will also see that the bezel screw holes are partially covered. those are the stock locations from the original bezel. If the PRS had just 1 or 2mm more bridge to pickup clearance AND more importantly, just a touch more back pitch where the neck is attached to the body, it would be a whole new ball game as you could raise the bridge to get clearance to work with and maintain a decent string height action. This height issue is common on some Strats but unlike the PRS, the Strat has a bolt on neck and a thin wedge shim can be installed to give the neck a back pitch and allowing the bridge to be raised for proper clearance.

I could give you some measurements but we are literally talking hairs for clearances and would not likely help you in the design. We're talking micro surgery here with this guitar. Keep in mind though that my opinions and thoughts are based on non permanent mods to the guitar and what I did is totally reversible without damage to the guitar or original parts. Take my previous sentence out of the equation and it's game on.

My main goal, as it was yours, is to zero modify the target guitar. No new holes or screws on the top of it. That is the whole reason why I am also including a custom ring that would adjust to the needs without relocating any screw. Added to this, I hate the fact the stock GK pickup is not symmetric and/or stealthy at all.

With that in mind, and thanks to your insights on the PRS specific action. The option I mentioned before (the second sketched design), which would work well with your suggestion of the double sided tape, might be my only solution for my specific PRS guitar as I would not really need adjustments of the height after it is installed.

The good thing about me designing and creating all the covers and parts, is that I can save some mm's that are lost in the stock GK PU cover for allowing Radius adjustments. Instead I can compensate for the very limited action on PRS guitars.

Just to reiterate. I am designing my personal solution to my PRS guitar as well as a for all solution for whoever wants access to my design. The output of this could easily be two different solutions to accommodate different people.

Thank you.
I will report results when done.

Offline sec6

Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2017, 08:58:11 AM »
Cags12,

This might be a good way to go.  You could 3d print a new humbucker cover like these rare shadow hex pickups:
http://www.vguitarforums.com/smf/index.php?topic=20882.msg150326#msg150326

Then buy a new pickup from antares which use similar pickup design and put it in the new 3d printed housing.

This would also require a mini humbucker to put beside the antares hex pickup. 

 
« Last Edit: June 26, 2017, 09:12:04 AM by sec6 »
Les Paul DC Standard (GK Kit), Ibanez RG420GK, Boss GP-10, Ableton 9 Intro, Omnisphere 2, Arturia Synclavier, Arturia VDM

Offline cags12

Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2017, 09:33:08 AM »
Cags12,

This might be a good way to go.  You could 3d print a new humbucker cover like these rare shadow hex pickups:
http://www.vguitarforums.com/smf/index.php?topic=20882.msg150326#msg150326

Then buy a new pickup from antares which use similar pickup design and put it in the new 3d printed housing.

This would also require a mini humbucker to put beside the antares hex pickup.

Hey sec6 - yeah, that is an alternative idea. For the moment I'd like to stick with the stock PRS pickups and look. Thanks for the suggestion though :)

Offline Mrchevy

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Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2017, 10:25:54 AM »
Cags12, I was following up on this thread and had a thought pertaining to a specific solution with the PRS. see rendition of your original drawing. If you are making the gk3 pickup base with a 3d printer, perhaps changing the end tabs configuration of the base as shown, would allow mounting the pickup flat to the prs body, and still use the original humbucker bezel holes, the yellow represents shims if a slight height adjustment is needed.
Les Paul Custom
SG 50's prototype
Squire classic vibe 60's
Gibson WRC w/GK3
Vantage VE 565
Schecter Hellraiser & C1 classic
PRS SE FR Custom 24
Martin acoustic

Tubemeister18 w/Egnater 112cab
Princeton chorus 210
Yamaha THR10C

GT100
GR-55
Mustang Floor
Boomerang III

A lot of stuff I DON'T need

Offline cags12

Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2017, 10:36:19 AM »
Cags12, I was following up on this thread and had a thought pertaining to a specific solution with the PRS. see rendition of your original drawing. If you are making the gk3 pickup base with a 3d printer, perhaps changing the end tabs configuration of the base as shown, would allow mounting the pickup flat to the prs body, and still use the original humbucker bezel holes, the yellow represents shims if a slight height adjustment is needed.

Hey Mrchevy, thanks for following. That is a good idea indeed, it even occurred to me (for supporting non PRS guitars) to extend the tabs to the screw that adjust the regular pickup height and perhaps design something clever for adjusting the height, in the end I thought is too much over-complication.

For the moment I have the project paused until I get the PRS guitar on my hands, then I will measure everything precisely and go ahead with the 3D printing. I will be updating this thread eventually to show progress.

Offline Mrchevy

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Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2017, 10:37:29 AM »
Just a bump to see how things are going.
Les Paul Custom
SG 50's prototype
Squire classic vibe 60's
Gibson WRC w/GK3
Vantage VE 565
Schecter Hellraiser & C1 classic
PRS SE FR Custom 24
Martin acoustic

Tubemeister18 w/Egnater 112cab
Princeton chorus 210
Yamaha THR10C

GT100
GR-55
Mustang Floor
Boomerang III

A lot of stuff I DON'T need

Offline cags12

Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2017, 11:14:25 AM »
Just a bump to see how things are going.
Hey Mrchevy - Well, no progress whatsoever for the moment. You will not believe I still do not have the PRS on my hands, it is sitting on a wardrobe at my sisters house in the USA. I do not know how I have been able to stand like this for so long. Unfortunately, I do not have the chance to go collect it for the moment and shipping is not an option as custom would rip me off. I live in Ireland.

Are you interested on this project for use in your own guitar? We could collaborate and I will send you the file so you can 3D print and test while I am unable to do so.

Offline Mrchevy

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Re: Custom GK Hex Pickup housing/ring project
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2017, 04:06:05 PM »
I don't have a 3d printer, and I'm not likely to get into moding my pickup. However, I'd be glad to take care of your guitar if your sister gets tired of it laying around ;). I was just curious if you had made any progress with the project as it does interest me as a possible future project. I'd be glad to assist with developing it anyway I can but my PRS is an SE version so I'm not sure if the dimensions are the exact same as a real custom 24.
Les Paul Custom
SG 50's prototype
Squire classic vibe 60's
Gibson WRC w/GK3
Vantage VE 565
Schecter Hellraiser & C1 classic
PRS SE FR Custom 24
Martin acoustic

Tubemeister18 w/Egnater 112cab
Princeton chorus 210
Yamaha THR10C

GT100
GR-55
Mustang Floor
Boomerang III

A lot of stuff I DON'T need