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Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by TenaciousP, Jul 9, 2016.
LOL! Tell me about it. There's no telling how many times my boss has caught me looking at this site on my phone at work.
Cool. I really didn't take good pics of this build. The ones I did take we're really only intended for my own reference. And on a lot of them I used a cell phone that had a scratched up lens because I was too lazy to get a real camera out.
Just wait till we get to the pickup winding.....
Somehow I managed to miss the entire first page of this thread! I see the finished guitar now - it looks fantastic. Very authentic to the original, just how I like my Snakeheads. I must have a go at building one myself one of these days.
So for this build, I really wanted to try my hand at winding my own pickup. I had wound some poor performing pickups for a couple of cigar box guitars that I built years ago, but this time I was ready to make something respectable. So while working on the body and neck I had also been designing and building my own pickup winder. Several months of designing and redesigning and hunting for parts resulted in this beast!
I took design features from some vintage professional coil winding machines I had seen online and built my contraption from inexpensive components found on various websites. The heart of the machine is a vintage preset/auto shut off mechanical counter I picked up relatively cheap on eBay. It has a gear driven auto traverse mechanism on the back and a smooth rod with traverse limit collars on the front for hand winding. I don't have a tensioning mechanism built yet so I haven't actually tested the auto traverse to see if it will wind a decent coil or not. I plan to iron all that out when it comes time to wind pickups for LP build. For the snakehead pickup, I guided and tensioned the wire by hand like fender used to do back in the old days. The back view shows the traverse mech. The hand winding guide was not installed yet when this pic was taken.
For this pickup, I bought a pre assembled bobbin and zinc plated base plate from mojotone. It is a flat pole style with Alnico 3 magnets. I lacquered the bobbin and let dry over night before winding. I used 43 awg plain enamel wire and wound to a little over 9600 turns.
Ends of coil tied through eyelets and notches filed in to bottom flatwork.
Keep watching, there's more on the pickup to come soon.
Also if anyone wants to see more detailed info and pics of the winder, I may do a separate thread on it sometime. From my searching, there's not too much out there about DIY auto traverse winders so y'all might find it interesting.
Thanks for posting the plating process. Didn't know this was something that was possible to do at home. Will have to try it.
Glad you liked it. It's pretty simple. I just did a bit of reading and watched a few youtube videos. Some people will plate with copper first and probably polish that before plating with nickel. I think it gives a smoother, more mirror like finish. But mild steel like what a tele bridge is made of can be plated with nickel directly. That is what I did in this case.
After completing the wind, I soldered on my lead wires through the eyelets leaving the neutral conductor extra long to solder to the base plate. I tested the DC resistance after soldering the leads and it read a little over 10k.
Next I wrapped the coil with cotton butchers twine.
I don't have any pics of the pole pieces being charged but I think I did it around this point. I used a set of (1" diameter?) neodymium magnets from Home Depot to charge the pole pieces. I stacked up 3 magnets on each side of my vice. I checked the polarity and oriented the charging magnets using a cheap compass. Before installing the base plate, I covered the bottom end of the magnets with some clear tape. I don't know what exactly that does, but I've seen others doing it and it can't be seen anyway. I held the base plate in place with temporary 6/32 screws and soldered the neutral/grounding wire to the base plate. Don't laugh too hard at my soldering to the base plate. It's ugly but it works. I always have problems getting large parts to heat up well.
With the base plate held in place with the screws, I potted the pickup in wax. I don't remember exactly the mixture. I think it was a fairly standard 80/20 parafin/bee wax mix. To get the black string on the pickup, I colored the potting wax with lampblack pigment that I got from an art supply place.
I suspended the pickup from a wooden stick until I saw no more bubbles coming out of it. I think it took about 20 minutes. I don't remember exactly. Here it is shortly after removing from the wax. Screws were removed. The wax holds the base plate on.
I eventually cleaned up the wax residue on the top of the bobbin and from the bottom of the base plate. It looks pretty nasty much like the pickup in my 53 champion lap steel.
After letting the pickup cool for a day, I checked the DCR again. I was pleased to see I hadn't broken the coil with all the handling. It read about 9.9k after cooling. Just about what I had expected.
With all the components completed, it was time for final assembly. The first thing I did was install the string ferrules. This was a bit of a challenge. It seems there was more lacquer build up in the holes than I had expected. The ferrules wouldn't come close to going in. I used a Phillips head screw driver inserted it into the ferrule and heated the screwdriver with a soldering iron. I have seen others using this technique and I does soften the lacquer nicely allowing the ferrule to be pushed in with the screw driver. However, in my case the lacquer was a bit thick and it formed a raised ring around the ferrule. I was rather disappointed with that. After seeing how the first one went in, I sort of reamed out the other holes a little with a hot drill bit. It still wasn't perfect but it helped some.
next I started assembling the controls. Pots mounted to control plate and heavy knurled dome knobs installed. You can also see the pickup specs written on the base plate.
250K CTS pots and 0.047 Russian PIO cap all wired up.
I debated for a while whether or not to use a vintage correct press in machined jack cup. If this were a regular configuration Tele, I might have done it since the jack hole goes straight into the control cavity. That would possibly allow you to replace the jack thought the control cavity if you needed to in the future. but, with the snake head jack hole being a blind hole, there would be not way to replace the jack without pulling out the pressed in cup. I just couldn't do it. I had to chose function over form on this aspect of the build. So I went for a not so vintage correct yet still vintagey looking option which was the RuttersCup. Basically a not so modern looking Electrosocket type cup.
Here are a few close ups of the hardware assembled. The saddles are from Mark Rutters. They are the compensated steel Broadcaster set. I of course removed the springs from the intonation screws for vintage correctness. I also used slotted oval head screws for attaching all hardware.
The neck, pickguard and Kluson 3 on a plate tuners installed.
Yes, that is the game "Operation" in this pic.
For the nut, I cut it from a piece of cow bone I picked up in the pet section of Tractor Supply Company. This was the first time I had ever used bone for a nut. I usually use the free Corian samples from Home Depot. Bone was an interesting material to work with. The smell of cutting and sanding it sorta reminded me of the smell of drywall. Must be the calcium.
Nut installed, slots filed and strung up. After a bit of tweaking the intonation and saddle height, it was up and playing.
I really think it looks pretty good with the Imitation tweed Thermometer case from Rondo. I wouldn't mind having one of the G&G tweed thermometer cases but I just can't justify the cost.
That pretty much brings us to where we started off last weekend with the finished guitar. I hope everyone enjoyed. Now, I guess it's back to the LP build for me. If anyone has any guestions or comments on the snakehead, feel free to post them. I always enjoy talking about it. Until then, Tenacious P signing off.
Great looking guitar. I can't believe how much Fender charges for them. All the more reason to build one yourself.
Wow, that a beauty!
It certainly has a few minor flaws, but in the end I think it came out quite nice. I really enjoyed the build. It was a great project to get myself back into building after a two and a half year dry spell.
Thanks for all the extra work it takes to do a build thread. I'm sure that on top of building a guitar it's a pain to have to take and post photos.
Going to the lengths that you have gone, like winding you own pick up, cutting your own bone nut, was very interesting and entertaining.