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Pickup Coil Wiring


Woodenspoke
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Been a while since I posted a question. I have thinking about winding pickups as an addition to my many other guitar related projects.

I see the winder sold by Stu M and some of the hardware pricing they have. I know if you are a dealer these prices are way too high bought in quantity.

So my first question is parts related, a good supplier for wire and pickup supplies at wholesale pricing high quality(you can send me a PM if you don't want the information posted). Any other professional winding machine not home made (sorry I don't have the time)

Second and most difficult is the winding process, tight winding or scatter wound pickups. Hopefully I am using the right terms here. Sound differences and such on the two different winding approaches.

TIA for any help and or clarification on the subject.

Edited by Woodenspoke
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For pickup parts, try Steven Kerstin www.skguitars.com place an order for 300$ and you will get a decent price.

Scatter wound is when the wire cross itself often compared to when the wire is laid down nice and even, every next turn tightly packed side to side with the last one. For hand winding and a decent speed (meaning less than an hour per coil) forget everything else than scatter wind. That’s the nature of hand winding (or more correct hand guiding) pickups.

The theory is that scatter wound and tightly packed coils have completely different electrical behavior. The capacitance, inductance and amount of skin effect is supposed to be affected. I only hand wind pickups so I cannot do a 1 on 1 comparison and will not pass judgment on either method.

On a side note the much bellowed PAF pickups are not hand wound. They were machine wound on a Leesona 102 winder.

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For pickup parts, try Steven Kerstin www.skguitars.com place an order for 300$ and you will get a decent price.

Scatter wound is when the wire cross itself often compared to when the wire is laid down nice and even, every next turn tightly packed side to side with the last one. For hand winding and a decent speed (meaning less than an hour per coil) forget everything else than scatter wind. That's the nature of hand winding (or more correct hand guiding) pickups.

The theory is that scatter wound and tightly packed coils have completely different electrical behavior. The capacitance, inductance and amount of skin effect is supposed to be affected. I only hand wind pickups so I cannot do a 1 on 1 comparison and will not pass judgment on either method.

On a side note the much bellowed PAF pickups are not hand wound. They were machine wound on a Leesona 102 winder.

I assumed the word scattered meant random rather than tight. So you are saying you prefer hand wound rather than scatter wound. I am assuming most people don't have the bucks to purchase equipment to make tight coil windings anyway. Thus the reason for my question regarding comparisons. I guess if you can find a Leesona 102 winder now it would be a miracle. I do have some CNC experience and the equipment to add winding to my current system but again dont want another project.

I did not expect to start making pickups to compete with old favorites like the PAF or the newer repros. I have used some high end pickups that sounded like they belonged on a $120 guitar. I refer to my distain for the Dimarzio super humbuckers I purchased back in the early 80's. Took me awhile to realize how bad they sounded (of course my opinion).

Just looking to pump out a few nice sounding pickups without a lot of fuss or tooling up to start a major business.

Do you find the pickups you hand wind similar or is each one slightly different?

Thanks for the suplier link.

Edited by Woodenspoke
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FYI there is no www.skguitars.com link but I found him anyway.

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My fault: www.skguitar.com

And I do not really preffer scatter winding as a term. Its just that when I hand wind, the pickups are automaticly scatter wound...

And there actually was a guy in the pickup makers forun that recently found a Leesona 102 that probably was one of the three used ine Gibson's Kalamazoo factory. He got it off Ebay for 400$, shipment was over 600$. Ans it is no BS story. He renovated it and published pics.

For a cheepo way of winding pickup's you can use a powered hand drill. Look here:

http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/Electronic...ing/i-5967.html

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Interesting reading. I'm about to touch on this aspect of guitar building myself. I'll probably just start with hand/scatter wound pickups. The shop at work is being sorted out, ie. items being tossed that are outdated, not used anymore etc. I was emptying one of the scrap bins and found 1/2 spool (about 1/2 lb) of 44 ga copper wire and a 5 lb spool of 36 ga. wire. I asked "whats wrong with these?!!" The guy said some of the surface wraps were broken and its a PITA to sort them out. I only found one loose end on the 44 ga. so its ok but the 36 will need some work to strip down to ONE loose end. :D

Wire.jpg

The 44 ga. wire is still in good shape but VERY fragile. I imagine it will be a bit of a trial to use but should give me some high end results. I know the standard wire gauges used are 42 and 43 but what about the 36? Its still a relatively fine wire and I can manage plenty of turns on a single coil pickup. Does anyone see a mismatch here with standard Alnico 5's? Not enough or too much DC resistance? I know...try it and find out. :D

Edited by Southpa
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AWG44 will have a higher DC resistance per turn compared to 42 or 43. That will give a coil with the same turn count a higher resistance and subsequently an attenuated treble. There are some pickups wound with that thin wire. But if AWG43 means more breakage when winding (and take my word for it, it does) I can only imagine how easy you would have top go with AWG44. Never the less there have been pickups wound with AWG44 and some of them sound really nice. Among them are the Rickenbacker “Toaster” pickups.

Regarding the AWG36 I cannot remember any pickup being made with 36 wire. The first Rickenbacker (Rick again) horse shoe pickup were wound with AWG38. But 36 wire will be hard to fit enough of on any conventional bobbin. You can try it and possibly boost the signal somewhat with a on board preamp. Will probably give a very clear and open sound.

Are you going for a HB or SC? Because if you are doing a HB you might get a similar result with the 44 wire and ALNICO5 magnets as you would with AWG42 and a weaker ALNICO 2 magnet. The pickups I wind with A2 mags (and AWG42) are really nice with a smooth top end.

As you said, try it. The wire is free.

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I have a Golden Age overwound with broken windings. I might just split it into separate single coils, don't know yet. I also have a SD quarterpounder that isn't giving any DC resistance. I still have to find the two ends, maybe I can locate and solder them back where they belong. But otherwise, it will be peeled and rewound. I'll probably just start out by buying unresponsive pickups and rebuilding rather than making them from scratch.

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My fault: www.skguitar.com

And I do not really preffer scatter winding as a term. Its just that when I hand wind, the pickups are automaticly scatter wound...

And there actually was a guy in the pickup makers forun that recently found a Leesona 102 that probably was one of the three used ine Gibson's Kalamazoo factory. He got it off Ebay for 400$, shipment was over 600$. Ans it is no BS story. He renovated it and published pics.

For a cheepo way of winding pickup's you can use a powered hand drill. Look here:

http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/Electronic...ing/i-5967.html

I am not against buying the Schattner winder. I could also use my CNC mini mill at low speeds with a program that would move the spool up or down but it only goes in one direction (no reverse) plus I would need to add a counter and tension mechanism. Again I am not worried about finding a winding machine but finding cheap prices on the supplies I need, which will be the long term cost of the project. The machine will pay for itself over time.

I received the price list from SK but it was only marginal. Guitar parts USA has a wholesale program, some parts are already about the same costs as SK's normal discounted retail without the discount. I will have to do some comparison shopping between the two. I will eventually look in Asia for parts if this works out since that probably where all these parts are manufactured.

The link for the strat winding was nice very informative. I will look if they have any hunbucker diagrams.

Has anybody worked on odd shape windings, adding more coild towords the bottom or top? I am amazed about how little I know about the internal workings of the pick up. Thats what happens when you spend so much time worring about your woodworking skills.

Any and all info, links would be appreciated.

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Hummer info:

http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/Electronic...ing/i-5961.html

So you are aiming to go big on pickup winding? If not there is no point in hunting a 2$ discount on a HB kit while caching out 350$ on a winder…

My home built winder (#2) cost me less than 10$ and some 20 hours of building and fine tuning. Just keep your eyes open for a motor and the rest is just MDF. A easy job with your fine tuned woodworking skills :D

EDIT: Just realised that i used the counter from my old winder. A new counter would of cause boost the cost...

Edited by SwedishLuthier
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Thanks for the other HB link appreciated. Hopefully the buying winder explanation is not taken as a wise crack; or he is too good to make it himself, but was strictly a business decision. I not only have woodworking tools but metal working tools at my disposal so the reason I would not use them is this:

When you get into production saving $2 on each kit is the cost you are most interested in. The fixed cost of the winder seems small when you have to average it out over thousands of sets of pickups.

So assume if I paid more for each pickup $2 certainly seems cheaper than saving $300 on the winder but its not. It would be true if I were building 10 sets per year. But figure out the numbers if I built 1000 pickups a year (I am over estimating here but just throwing out numbers for you) I would loose $2000 dollars in profit. Thats why saving $2 is more important for me than saving $300 up front on a winder, which averaged out across 1000 pickups is only 30 cents each. I would be willing to spend even more if there was a winder which required less hands on time, but now you are talking about CNC controlled units which I assume are in the thousands. At that cost you have to sell more pickups. If I wanted to spend $2 more per pickup I would rather spend that money on a $2000 winder instead. Then you have to average out time costs between a $300 winder and a $2000 winder. It can be complicated.

I did spend $2000 to save $5 per unit on another project, I will break even at 400 units 2000/5=400. After that I am strictly saving $5 per unit in build costs. If I had not spent the $2000 up front I would be loosing $5 even after 400 units. I am also not adding in the additional time I spent doing the work myself but it is less time than winding a pickup coil.

I always appreciate the fact that most people build their own winder and save the bulk of their money to buy supplies. If I was building a few pickups for a few guitars thats the way I would go. The principals I am speaking about goes for any business, even building guitars; your tooling costs have to be averaged out over time. Plus my old standby; time is money.

Hopefully this is easier to understand than just saying the cost of the winder was less of a concern as the supply costs. Of course now there are wire suppliers I have to contact not to mention a good hot plate and double boiler to encase the coils in wax. It all adds up.

Edited by Woodenspoke
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Thanks for the other HB link appreciated. Hopefully the buying winder explanation is not taken as a wise crack; or he is too good to make it himself, but was strictly a business decision. I not only have woodworking tools but metal working tools at my disposal so the reason I would not use them is this:

When you get into production saving $2 on each kit is the cost you are most interested in. The fixed cost of the winder seems small when you have to average it out over thousands of sets of pickups.

So assume if I paid more for each pickup $2 certainly seems cheaper than saving $300 on the winder but its not.

I own one of those Schatten winders... the older one with the metal case. It's not a bad winder, but it's over priced. It's not worth $350. $200 maybe. It's a bit crudely made... I had to square up the wire guide to the "tower". The motor is a bit underpowered, and while it works fine on 42 gauge and higher, it will barely work on something like 36 AWG. I tried it. It could not wind a usable coil.

(BTW, some "Charlie Christian" pickups used 36 AWG. Les Paul Recording pickups were even heavier gauge... I think 24)

If you are looking for an out of box experience, the Schatten winder will do it. I bought it for precisely that reason... I didn't have my workshop set up at the time, and didn't have room to build my own winder, or a place to keep it.

The Schatten has been working well for me, but as I step up production on pickups, I will be outgrowing it.

My next step is to build a CNC controlled winder.

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Thanks for the heads up on the winder. I was planning on plane Jane 42awg wire wound pickups.

I can certainly modify my cnc mill to handle winding. The programing to move the bobbin up and down a fixed amount of travel would be a minor task. Creating a tension device and counter with a spindle shut off would be much harder. Of course if you have a dedicated stepper motor you can program the bobbin to stop at a certain number of motor rotations but you loose the ability to move the bobbin so you would need to make a device to move the wire instead side to side or the motor assembly with the bobbin side to side (probably easier). Again all ideas that could be implemented much later in the process.

Even if the Schatten is worth only $150 dollars I don't see any alternatives offered for sale??

I will have to look for wire spool winders and widen my search.

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VSR Drill w/ bolt on handle: $20

Wood for base: $10

Plexi for face plate: $10

Optical Switch: $3

1.5v watch battery: $2

Rheostat, electrical box, and cover: $15

Calculator (for counter): $5

mini spst switch: $3

Misc. hardware: $20

Total time invested: 5 hrs

Total $ invested: $88

...and you could probably even wind 10 guage with it if you were so inclined (not that I've verified this :D )

peace,

russ

Edited by thegarehanman
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