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Making Your Own Pickups?


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Well recently I have had an interest in making my own pickups for electric guitars, mainly vintage style single coils and humbuckers. Anyway I am not sure where to start exactly. I know you need a pickup winder but I have seen around the web that people have used sewing machines for making pickups, however I do not know how reliable that is exactly in terms of making proper electronics. I have seen the price of the pickup winder on Stewmac and I darn near crapped my pants (what with it being almost 400 CAD) so is it possible to get one cheaper then that or are there any good online indepth tutorials on how to build your own winder?

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You don't need to buy a winder. You can clamp a hand-held electric drill to the table and use that for your motor. Adjust the trigger for a low speed. I made a small plate with a dowel in it and put this in the drill chuck, with the bobbin screwed onto the plate.

The important thing is to get the dimensions of the bobbin exactly right and have a cover that fits correctly.

Here's some pics of what I did (towards the bottom of the photos).


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I use a sawing machine. It works very well. The reason most people use that is because Jason Lollar started with one in his book. You can use anything that spins and have a reasonably soft start/stop.

I made it simple for my first winder. I just slapped on a round piece of MDF on the “hand wheel” or what ever it might be called. I trued it up with sand paper and use double stick tape to hold the bobbin in place. That was my first “quick and dirty” winder and it worked so fine I still use it.

The trickiest part is the counter. An industrial counter like the one I use will cost you a buck or two. For a slower speed winder (I run mine at around 1400 rpm, which might bee to high for this) you can use a reed switch or even a mechanical switch to sense the rotation. Then you take a cheepo electronic calculator and solder two wires to the “=”-sign button. Punch in 1 + 1 (or something similar, try it out before you open the calculator up) and when you spin the wheel the calculator will ad 1 for every revolution. Why do I bring this up? It’s because winding a pickup to turn count is way more accurate than winding to DC resistance. The DC resistance is listed by the manufacturers because anyone can measure it. Use the search function. I have described the physics behind the correlation between output and turn count a couple of times.

Winding pickups is as addictive as building guitars…

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