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An Idea And A Question About Pickup Winding


foil1more
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First the question

Anybody know where I can get parts to make a P-90 and a P-94 (humbucker sized hot P-90. Used in the Epiphone Riviera.)?

And the idea

I was thinking of attaching a dimmer switch to a lathe and using it to control the speed and making a jig of some kind to safely hold the pickup.

Has anybody tried that or have any other ways to take normal shop tools and make them into pickup winders (besides using an electric drill)

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Why not use an electric drill?

I don't know where you could by P-90 parts other than perhaps the covers...of course you could try simply making your own...getting the proper poles and magnets sets could also be a problem. A 4 digit counter can also be a problem as it is very hard to take readings with a multimeter without risking breaking the wire although at least with a single coil you don't have to balance them like an HB.

One of the problems is that to set this up to create two pickups will cost more than two pickups! There are a lot of cheap asian pickups that will sound pretty good. An alternative if you insist on winding your own is to get something like this and rewinding it...probably cheaper than buying the parts even if you could find them.

Light dimmers really aren't designed to control motors like this. An electric drill...a cordless can be good, can be mounted easily and with a variable speed trigger is already built for the job. Whatever you use the thing to watch out for is the balance and mounting of the pickup...if there is any wobble it can really mess up the coil and prevent a nice neat coil with maximum winding and cause loose winds and potential for microphonics.

There is a site especially for pickup winding machines...designed2wind...with a whole bunch of unusual winders and ideas for DIY.

I would tend to stay clear of laths and especially using dimmers to control it. The pulses may well burn out the motor and the dimmer...

pete

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For P90 parts:

http://www.guitarjonesusa.com/catalog/store.php?crn=241

http://www.guitarpartsusa.com/cat--Guitar-...upplies--MAIN22

http://www.mojomusicalsupply.com/pickup-parts.asp

http://www.skguitar.com/components.htm

http://www.montreuxguitars.com/products/im...u_parts_us.html

http://www.allparts.com/store/pickup-cover...ts,category.asp

As for "P94" parts, I have only seen one place selling “Fat Cat” style covers:

http://www.axesrus.com/axepupcovs.htm

but…forget about getting them to actually SOUND like a P90. It’s all about physical size. A HB cove is vayyyy to short to be able to fit 10 000 turns of wire without using a taller, thinner bobbin, and with a tal/thin bobbin it will not sound like a P90 anymore. For the correct sound you need the correct shape of the coil and the correct magnets and correct amount of wire.

But what about that part “it is more expensive to get the parts for two P90s”?

OK the parts from one of the supplier will cost you 44$ for two pickups. Add to that 30$ for the wire from StewMac and you add up to 74$. Try to beat that price for a pair of high quality P90s. All you need is a hand held drill and this:

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Electronics,_p...65.html#details

and a simple hand held drill.

Buy cheap stuff for a cheap sound...

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Fair comment, and thanks for the links...I didn't know you could get them...

And true, the depth and magnet structure are important to the P-90 sound.

As for cost...well once you have bought a dimmer ($$) modified your lath and set up a counter ($) and the time...and then the repairs to the lath when your dimmer burns out the motor...not so sure...

Sorry if I sounded off-putting, making pickups is great, but as I said earlier a simple variable speed drill or even a hand drill is perfectly adequate as you point out...

And yes...you can hand build better pickups yourself. A novice may well make better ones than a factory wound cheapy of the same design, or fail, or equal it, or possibly something worse...

As you have pointed out before, there is something of an art to this...it's not rocket science but some experience and practice helps...as well as a little knowledge.

I also didn't know that P-90 pickup parts were so readily available these days...so great links...some of them have minimum orders of course and freight to consider...plus I didn't see p-90 specific magnets anywhere...if the idea to use a pair of HB magnets against the spacers?

...

As a bit of a side thing to this...do you have a link to some dimensions and specs to compare p-90 and other pickup sizes. Obviously you can't fit a P-90 into a HB size without deepening the coil or something of that ilk...but I had some ideas myself for some alternate designs and since p-90's have become something of a cult status and I have some LP bodies looking for pickups...I thought I might start experimenting along these lines. From a practical point of view, pickups that fit a standard sized hole does give more options to replace or build with the option of replacement.

Also...any ideas on making your own bobbins as on a P-90/94 or HB other than the strat style flatwork?

As for the artec/gfs things...I have had a few artec things and the build quality is pretty high, higher than most first time builders, often an easy way to get all the parts for rewinding as well and can sound very good. Rewinding may give you more of a scatter winding mojo, but the quality control on early attempts can fail and personally, I would resist things like a lathe.

Always one to over engineer things...I built a winder with a 4 digit tachometer and counter but spent too long on an auto transverse thing and so shelved it for a drill!

...

I still think that playing with a mains dimmer and a lathe might be going a little far...but wrong of me to be so off putting especially now that I see parts are readily available. However, as I suspect may be and often is the case, people are looking for cheap way of getting pickups and not looking for "ultimate tone" or taking up winding as an ongoing hobby, then buying a cheap set from artec is hard to beat and a safe bet for most when it comes to conventional designs and when you factor in all the time to set up and freight all the parts and stuff the costs do esculate for a single pair to comparable with a good pair of pickups IMHO

pete

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Thanks for the links.

To psw: I'm looking for the sound of the lead guitarist of "The Strokes". Nick Valensi pretty much always plays a hollow body epiphone riviera with P-94 pickups. I believe they are the size if a humbucker but they are single coil. I also think they are a little hotter than the P-90 because they are bigger.

I'm not against using a drill, I just wanted to know if there was anything else or if the lathe might work.

And, being a physics nerd, I figured out a way to measure impedance by weight like this: Use a multi-meter (or complicated equation) to figure out the impedance of a length of wire; then find the mass of that wire; zero a scale and as I wind, mass the pickup until I get to the desired mass/impedance.

With those parts not being too expensive, I might try it on my next guitar. That of course comes after the electric cello. Hmm... Maybe I should make some custom ones for that. A mini- single coil for each string would be nice for set up. Food for thought and I shall chew on it till I get more money.

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plus I didn't see p-90 specific magnets anywhere...if the idea to use a pair of HB magnets against the spacers?

P90s use the exact same magnets as standard HBs. Or actually the other way around. When Seth Lover designed the HB he used one single P90 magnet.

do you have a link to some dimensions and specs to compare p-90 and other pickup sizes. Obviously you can't fit a P-90 into a HB size without deepening the coil or something of that ilk...but I had some ideas myself for some alternate designs

Dunno about links… Jason Lollar used to have drawings available at his web page but I can’t seem to find them. I have made CAD drawing of the most common pickups with measurements from Lollars books crosschecked with real life samples. I can send them to you. PM me with your e-mail address. That goes for anyone that would like to have a set of PDFs with bobbin drawings.

Also...any ideas on making your own bobbins as on a P-90/94 or HB other than the strat style flatwork?

Strat style flatwork with a plastic spacer inside. That is how they originally were made.

That of course comes after the electric cello. Hmm...

Oh, one more with that crazy idea. Unfortunately for me it is not only an idea. When a daughter of a friend took up Cello playing at the age of 8 I promised her that I would build her an electric cello if she still played at the age of 18. She turned 15 this year. And she is still playing. ..

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Thanks...sent PM

At least with the cello you don't have to worry about fretting! My daughter plays violin but I got her a really nice electric violin and she won't play it, maybe I should take it up.

There have been some great cello designs though, Ferrington did a nice matching string quartet for instance...ferrvlth.gif

(that's the violin of course, but the same shape and features in that great ferrington book). If using magnetic pickups, 4 separate coils would probably be easier to account for the curvature...you can buy cello pickups I believe somewhere like that I think...

Sounds like a great project, I'd love to play the cello, one of my favorite sounds...and no need for a sustainer! I often go to sleep to the Back cello suites!

pete

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To find P-90 dimensions, try searching images.google.com for "P90 pickups", then just browse until you find a drawing that looks like it's got dimensions on it. I find it is better browsing the images than trying to search "normal" google. Here are some drawings i found:

http://www.axiomatic-music.co.uk/acatalog/p90_metric.jpg

They also have specs, but they cost 0.99 pounds:

http://www.axiomatic-music.co.uk/acatalog/...ifications.html

The bottom of this page has a similar pic but in imperial measurements. However I find that those drawings look slightly different at the bottom compared to how I thought real P90's look. Seems like there is more space than usual under the plastic bobbin. I thought they were meant to look more like this:

http://curtisnovak.com/pickups/p-90.shtml

Anyway, unless you're trying to replace previous pickups, you're free to design them the way you want, and I don't see the need to get everything within a fraction of a mm of what someone designed half a century ago...

I've been thinking about making some P-90's myself in the future, but I think I'll just make my own designs based on what I like, rather than copy them down to the last little detail.

Heggis

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unless you're trying to replace previous pickups, you're free to design them the way you want, and I don't see the need to get everything within a fraction of a mm of what someone designed half a century ago...

You are quite right about that. No need to slavish copy the original design. I am very found of experimenting with slight variations of old designs or combining them into something new. BUT if you want the sound of a P90 there is no way to do that and squeeze the pickup into a traditional HB cover.

The P90 gets it sound through a few, important factors:

- The shape of the coil. A short wide coil will be influenced by the flux (change in magnetic field) in a certain way. It cannot be replicated with a tall, thin coil.

- The shape and strength of the magnetic field. The field shape in a P90 is created by two opposite poles bar magnets and the longer pole screw.

- The turn count (amount of wire). You need something like the original 10 000 turns of AWG42 wire to get the correct sound.

To get a coil with 10 000 turns with opposing magnets and screw pole pieces into a HB cover means compromising the coil shape. It can still be a very good sound but it will not be a P90…

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