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Maxon humbucker?

Antoria with Maxon pickups

I thought it was going to be a straightforward pickup repair but is this pickup actually a Maxon humbucker?

As part of my work I repair pickups for luthiers. Most guitar repairers don’t wind pickups and even the ones that do often send me pickups to repair, it saves them a lot of time. One such repairer is Auckland’s Ramsay Phillips.

For me repairing pickups is a really interesting part of my job. I enjoy seeing how the basic concept of a magnet and a coil of wire can be made in so many different ways. Back in the 1990’s I first learned about pickups by repairing them and I don’t think that instinct ever leaves. Most of my pickup repair work is very straight forward but occasionally something interesting comes along. This is one of those.

So Ramsay sent me a bridge humbucker from this 1970’s Antoria to repair. I was expecting something like the classic Maxon U-1000 but there was a surprise.

Antoria with Maxon pickups

This is not the first Maxon Humbucker I’ve seen I’ve worked on a few old Maxon pickups in my time and they have always deserved their great reputation. So I had a good idea what to expect from this humbucker.

Maxon humbucker?
Maxon 4917

Maxon serial number dating

The number on the base plate of this pickup is a date stamp not a model number though it would be nice to have both.

So to translate the Maxon pickup dating code:

The first number is a production line code

second number is the year, so in this case 1974

third number, the month, so September

and the last 2 are the day, so the 17th

So that tells us its from Sept 17th 1974. I always wonder why manufacturers can’t just write the date plainly instead of a secret code but they all seem to do it.

Something unusual

But there’s something odd here. The pole piece screws don’t extend under the base plate. The 6 holes in the base where I expected to see the poles are blocked by something. Time to get the cover off and see what’s inside.

Maxon 4917 baseplate
Maxon 4917

What’s Inside?

This is exactly what was inside – a single coil disguised as a humbucker! So Maxon humbucker? Well, it’s a Maxon but not a humbucker.

Maxon 4917 inside
Maxon 4917

It has the typical floppy nylon bobbin I would expect to see in a Maxon but this one is sitting on top of a large ceramic magnet.

Maxon 4917 assembly inside
Maxon 4917
Maxon 4917 baseplate and magnet
Maxon 4917 magnet

My job here is to fix this pickup so I remove the bobbin and start to carefully remove the sticky old tape.

Maxon 4917 bobbin
Maxon 4917 bobbin

I remove the hookup wires and try re-soldering them to the winding wire and the pickup comes to life. It was simply a dry joint. This one is showing me 8KOhms on the meter which is in the ballpark of a PAF though it would sound nothing like one.

You can see the metal plate mounted inside the bobbin that connects the short pole screws to the magnet.

Maxon 4917 bobbin with keep bar

So, Maxon humbucker? Well, certainly Maxon but not a humbucker. Beware – not all Maxon pickups are classics.

I’ve had a look on line and can’t find a model number for this pickup. It seems the only distinguishing feature from the outside is the lack of pole screws through the base plate.

If you are interested in vintage humbucker tones check out the Mr Glyn’s ‘Integrity’ humbucker. It comes in 4 flavours or both bridge and neck.


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updated July 2023

Maxon humbucker?

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