A bit about my pick...
 
Share:
Notifications
Clear all

A bit about my pickup winding journey

12 Posts
5 Users
39 Likes
91 Views
SomethingNicer
(@somethingnicer)
Trusted Member
Hobbyist
Rep Points: 82
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 25
Topic starter  

Hey everyone, when I made my first post, I mentioned that I have been winding my pickups for awhile now, and many expressed interest in hearing about it.

 

so I’ve always been interested in demystifying things. And pickups to me were basically magic, so I wanted to learn.

 

i found a couple tutorials on how to build a winder (premade winders get pricey). It’s basically a motor with a speed controller, a counter, and a housing…. I 3D printed a housing I found on thingiverse ( I’ll post stuff in the comments).

 

I also found a guy making great tutorials. I’ve been chatting with him back and forth and he’s super cool. I also built my gauss meter from his tutorial as well. His YouTube page is @ChasesWKshop if you’re interested. 

Anyways, at the base level, a pickup isn’t complicated. A copper coil wrapped around magnets creates a wide magnetic field. This actually magnetizes the steel guitar strings and when strummed creates a disturbance in the field and then that is then converted to voltage. Easy peasy, right?

So basically (let’s talk about a single coil strat pickup for now) you take flatwork. Flatwork can be made of plastic or fiberboard. For these I use fiberboard and I’ve been actually laser cutting them. Of course you can buy flatwork premade. For a strat pickup, you then get 6 pole magnets. Place those inside the flatwork, add a couple metal eyelets to the fiberboard and now you have a bobbin.

 

i like to then dip the whole bobbin in a laquer (like for wood). This really seats the magnets….. then I tape the Bobbin to spindle of the winder. 

you take magnet wire that’s 42gauge (some use 43). That’s a bit thinner than a human hair, which is where it gets challenging. You set the stops on your winder, solder the wire to one eyelet, and you start winding. The tricky part is proper tension, making sure the stops are set just right, and the general fragility of the copper wire…

you start the winder and as it spins, you move the wire back and forth by hand (this is scatter winding. Otherwise you would need a very expensive machine). You wind it going back and forth making sure the stack of winds is as even as possible with no bulges here or there in the wire. Once I get to my desired winds (let’s say 8k), you stop the winder, cut off the wire from the spool and wrap it around the second eyelet… then solder both ends of the wire to an eyelet.you should have a lead side and a tail side.

 

take a moment now to test the resistance between both eyelets. Maybe about 6.5-8kohms (that’s an estimate). Once youve confirmed continuity,you’ll now solder a black and white wire.use black for the head and white for the tail….. solder those in the eyelet with your magnet wire.

 

once that is done you’ll magnetize your magnets… on stewmac they sell “guitar repair magnets” get 2 of those…  I use a jig made from a table vice and put a magnet on each side, and slowly pass the pickup back and forth keeping in mind which polarity you want (north up or south up). Now that  you have them nice and magnetized (a gauss meter is a bonus!), you’ll wrap the copper in either paper or cloth tape… I use paper pre wax and cloth post wax.

from now on, I check continuity and resistance at each step to make sure nothings broke, before you pot, everything’s pretty fragile…

 

now for potting.

 

i make a wax of 80% paraffin and 20% beeswax. Heat it up to 140 f or so…. I have an old homedics hand wax bath that keeps it at the perfect temp….. I wrap the cables on a dowel and dip them in the wax. I leave them submerged for 20-30 minutes or until the bubbles stop. When they’re done, pull it out, wipe off any wax, let it cool, recheck resistance, and brother you’ve got a pickup going.

 
that’s basically it! I’ve made about 25 so far and I’ve loved every minute of it.

 

PLEASE. feel free to ask questions!


   
sogoslotvvip, Russ, mario and 3 people reacted
Quote
SomethingNicer
(@somethingnicer)
Trusted Member
Hobbyist
Rep Points: 82
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 25
Topic starter  
69854166440  841D94BD 8D03 42ED 8A66 6C447F9BD498
69853952498  B5B0E2E1 4AE9 4366 97F8 68A585EDD03E
69853735533  8DC31167 F1F5 4DFA 98F1 64F11C0D6961
69853934832  3F773058 5151 4900 93C9 AFA6446C380F

   
Russ, mario, swepri and 1 people reacted
ReplyQuote
SomethingNicer
(@somethingnicer)
Trusted Member
Hobbyist
Rep Points: 82
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 25
Topic starter  
IMG 3130
IMG 3129

 Here are some pics from the process. The concept isn’t difficult. The tricky part is dealing with such small parts and such thin wire. The key for me is constantly being aware of what your hands and fingers are doing. Be mechanically aware. Hope y’all enjoy! 🙂


   
sogoslotvvip, Russ, mario and 4 people reacted
ReplyQuote
Robin
(@robin)
Illustrious Member Customer
Luthier
Rep Points: 16811
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 1067
 

@somethingnicer 

Thanks for taking the time to tell us how you go about making your own pickups, thats interesting stuff. Do you experiment with different windings to get different sounds?


   
Russ, mario and swepri reacted
ReplyQuote
SomethingNicer
(@somethingnicer)
Trusted Member
Hobbyist
Rep Points: 82
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 25
Topic starter  

@robin so wind count affects how sensitive your pickup will be, but the pattern in which it’s actually wound? Not so much… magnet type is another factor. There’s alnico 2,5,8 and ceramic, and they all have different tonal properties.

 

and for example, humbuckers use flat bar magnets the magnetic field is gonna be different for that so it will also affect tone


   
Russ, mario, Robin and 1 people reacted
ReplyQuote
mario
(@mario)
Trusted Member Customer
Adept
Rep Points: 104
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 15
 

Thank you @SomethingNicer it is interesting.

Will you post tutorial for making the winding machine?

Do you know if there is information about how to make pickups that sound like blues, jazz etc... or as guitarists like SRV etc...?

I try to understand what is the configuration of resistance and materials that have influence in sound, and make it more bluesy or more jazzy or any other style...

Thanks.

 

 

 


   
Robin and Russ reacted
ReplyQuote
Russ
 Russ
(@russ)
Illustrious Member Customer
Luthier
Rep Points: 28641
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2466
 

Thanks very much @SomethingNicer. Great information to have. I'll check out the YouTube link. You've inspired me to finally get on to trying it. Cheers

🙂🎶🎸🙏

🗝️ "Life's what you make it"🗝️


   
Robin reacted
ReplyQuote
SomethingNicer
(@somethingnicer)
Trusted Member
Hobbyist
Rep Points: 82
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 25
Topic starter  

@mario heeeey Mario. I hadn’t thought about making a tutorial, but maybe it would be helpful… in the meantime, this is chases video on it:

There are tons of information out there about tonal quality of different copper and magnets and such. It’s kind of a rabbit hole to be honest 

basically there are 3 main types of wires to use, poly, heavy formvar, and enameled. Now at the core these are all the same copper wire. What’s different is the insulator and that makes a difference, I believe.

the vintage stuff from way back was all enameled wire. You have to actually sand the coating off to solder that

next is the heavy formvar wire which is used in some vintage stuff (and is probably my favorite)

then the poly, it’s cheaper and more modern but winds really well

these all have their own tonal qualities , but here’s a secret: I’m not sure I can actually tell a difference

honestly to really tell a difference you’d have to make identical pickups minus the wire change on identical guitars with identical strings and gauges (and the truth is there’s no such thing as two identical pickups)

now I can tell you they “feel” different, but who knows…

I will say that the different thicknesses of coatings do affect how tightly the copper is wound and how many winds can go on (formvar is thicker so you’d get fewer winds on a bobbin)

honestly, for me, I just started winding pickups. The key is keep a very detailed journal. Every detail you can think of down to the guitar it goes in. After awhile I think you can see some patterns.

one pickup I can make consistently is a neck strat pickup. It’s 8500 winds of poly with alnico2 magnets…. In a neck position it’s buttery smooth and I love it for blues..

Unfortunately idk that I have the vocabulary to actually describe what i hear differently, and I suspect that may be a bit unique person to person.

 

hope this helps. I’ve been winding for about a year, but that still makes me a newbie I think.

 

-chris 


   
sogoslotvvip, Russ, Robin and 1 people reacted
ReplyQuote
SomethingNicer
(@somethingnicer)
Trusted Member
Hobbyist
Rep Points: 82
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 25
Topic starter  

@russ great! Stewmac sells lots of parts and kits, but they’re $$$$. But to start out, try them their kits are very helpful..

 

afterwards I use tone-kraft for wire and Philadelphia luthiers supply for most everything else.

 

of course there are plenty of other vendors and if you’re not in America, my list may not be useful, but you get the idea


   
Russ, Robin and mario reacted
ReplyQuote
Russ
 Russ
(@russ)
Illustrious Member Customer
Luthier
Rep Points: 28641
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2466
 

Posted by: @somethingnicer

@russ great! Stewmac sells lots of parts and kits, but they’re $$$$. But to start out, try them their kits are very helpful

Cheers @SomethingNicer. I do like the Stewmac stuff but I tend to wait for their Sales. They have everything you need there....and more😂.

🎶🎸🙂🙏

 

🗝️ "Life's what you make it"🗝️


   
Robin reacted
ReplyQuote
SomethingNicer
(@somethingnicer)
Trusted Member
Hobbyist
Rep Points: 82
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 25
Topic starter  

@russ yeah they’re great for some of their starter kits, but once you get it down, there are better options.


   
Robin and Russ reacted
ReplyQuote
sogoslotvvip
(@sogoslotvvip)
Active Member Customer
Enthusiast
Rep Points: 34
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 10
 

Posted by: @somethingnicer

-- attachment is not available --
-- attachment is not available --

 Here are some pics from the process. The concept isn’t difficult. The tricky part is dealing with such small parts and such thin wire. The key for me is constantly being aware of what your hands and fingers are doing. Be mechanically aware. Hope y’all enjoy! 🙂

nice share!  😍 that's really neat, will be following through your making process and would want to see how the final results came out.

 


   
Russ and Robin reacted
ReplyQuote
Share: