Now I've done it, and the domino effect

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Wallaby, Oct 31, 2020.

  1. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    I am staring at my first-ever hand-wound pickup that I wound myself.

    It's a P90 from the Stewmac "Vintage" P90 kit, using 42AWG with plain enamel insulation. With my technique ( hah! ) 9000 turns on the bobbin and all assembled measures 7.19 kohm. I intend it to be a neck pickup.

    I either have to put it in an existing guitar or postpone hearing it while I build a test platform. I hadn't planned on building a partscaster, but I should have seen this moment coming.

    I'm kind of deflated-feeling, there's a bit less mystery for me about pickups now. :/
     
  2. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    I went ahead and wound up the bridge pickup too, to 10,000 turns of plain enamel 42AWG.

    Installed them both and... deep breath...

    They both work and don't sound terrible ( to me at least ) and sound good together in the middle position too! The neck pickup is audibly clearer and more "stringy", which was my goal when I jumped in without a plan, I'm pretty happy about that.

    I measured the Gibson P90s I removed - they're both around 8.1k, which is right about what my new bridge pickup measures.

    I don't have the means yet to measure capacitance or induction, but I'm learning about that and hope to soon.

    Only one thing to do now - wind up another set!
     
    pi and SRHmusic like this.
  3. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    The project last weekend was, drumroll please, another new set of P90's for my LP Special :)

    This time I changed it up by changing from plain enamel to heavy formvar wire, 42awg. I went with 8,750 turns for the neck pickup, and 9,700 for the bridge, with the hope of producing another set with similar resistance to my first set, which were 7.1/8.1.

    I kind of consider these resistances my "Goldilocks" zone, there is something I like there, each pickup sounds good alone and the middle position does too, with my amps and settings and guitars. They clean up yet retain treble when I drop the volume slightly from "10", and also firm up when I turn the tone control slightly from "10". Modern wiring. I wonder if this pattern will continue with PAF's, or with Tele single coils?

    I got really close in both cases, at 7.2 for the neck and 8.2 for the bridge. I'm using fully charged A5 magnets, and consciously light tension. I can hear the sound of my winder change with different tension; I'm just using my fingers so I feel it too. I was a little too light at first and ended up with a do-over.

    There is an audible difference with this pair too. I don't want to say they're "Strat-like", but there is something reminiscent in their sound. They sound great! My SO, Fawn, notices the change in the tone and has commented with each swap so far.

    I'm learning, each pickup gets easier to build and assemble, and I've identified another dial to turn, so to speak. It's also really, really cool to have pickup swaps so easy to do.

    [EDIT]

    It's not exactly "easy" to wind and assemble a new set of pickups. But the price point and time-and-effort point is a lot more in my reach than ordering new pickups every weekend.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2020
    wordfan and RiversQC like this.
  4. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    Last weekend I made a set of low-wind PAF-alikes - 7k neck & 7.9k bridge - for my ES-339. I used 49.2mm parts, rough-cast long A2 magnets, and 42awg plain enamel magnet wire. The slug coils on each pickup have an additional 100 winds.

    I ran into trouble with these 4 coils for some reason. I'd developed a method with the P90's I made earlier of leaving a 4-6" length of wire tucked out of the way for the start, and I repeatedly mangled it when connecting the 28ga pigtails.

    Breaking the start of the wind too close to the main coil is a disaster for me - it's wig time at that point.

    I switched to connecting the pigtail to the start before winding, taping the pigtail to the inside of the bobbin and feeding it out through the little hole in the bottom flange of the bobbin. It definitely works and is solid and secure, but the added bulk of the pigtail under the coil creates unsightly lumps and bulges. I guess that makes the coil tape the Spanx of the pickup-building world!

    Moving on.

    When I built the harness for my ES-339 in the spring I left nice, long braided-shield leads that curl up under the bridge pickup, so installing the new pups was a non-event.

    What was definitely an event was that I haven't had the guitar out of its case for about 9 months, and I FORGOT where it was in its journey. The guitar sounded and played shockingly bad - plinky, thin, spiky, awful! Where it *is* now is that it really, really needs a level and crown and the nut adjusted, but it's set up as well as I can without taking those steps.

    So the pickups are in, functioning normally, and the guitar is playing basically fine but not optimal.

    The sound? It's good but not great IMO. I wanted clearer bass with better separation and less mud, and they deliver that. I hear a lot more of the semi-hollow nature of the guitar with these, too, which was another goal.

    But they are just shy of what I'd like in the mids from both pickups, which is more growl when I pick harder. I think these are too-low-wind rather than lo-wind pickups, not exactly what I want.

    The next iteration of these pickups will have the DC resistance increase about 2k for each, to 7.2 neck & 8.1 bridge. About an additional 100-150 turns per coil should get me there. I like that I can have do-overs :)

    I'll also get lower-carbon pole screws to compare and see if I can hear a difference, and also leave off the covers to try different magnets from my collection.

    Meanwhile I'll finally, finally make the leap and level and crown the frets on that neck. I've been avoiding it since I bought it ( used ) and already have the tools, and a practice neck to start with.

    My weekend coming is looking good for getting this done.
     
    wordfan and drneilmb like this.
  5. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    75
    Posts:
    10,382
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2003
    Location:
    Free Jersey
    Welcome to the winding club, good on ya! Fearlessly dive right in and you'll learn a bunch about these passive transducers and how they'll each uniquely fit a specific application. You will eventually discover that specific bobbin footprints will have specific ranges of specific coil wire gauge turn counts that will deliver a specific set of both tone and output. Some of these ranges will be in the hundreds of turns, others will require a thousand or much more turns. It's all a learning experience and making yer own pickups - as well as doing as much work on yer instruments as possible - yields both satisfaction and self reliance. thumbsup.gif
     
    old wrench and Wallaby like this.
  6. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    Thank you for the moral support!
     
  7. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    It's been a busy few weeks.

    My poor test mule needed work I'd been avoiding -

    level, crown & polish - done.
    nut tweakage - done.
    adjust TOM saddles to 10" radius from 12" - done.
    relieve pickup routes to prevent PAF covers from rubbing - done.

    With all that done it's playing and sounding great, unpluged and amplified.

    I've cycled a couple sets of PAF-alikes through it with interesting results.

    Following up on some things I'd read about, I created a new low-wind set, with a 300 turn offset between coils for the neck position and symmetrical coils for the bridge. The offset worked and delivered clean, clear single-coil-esque sounds.

    BUT - I missed the midrange PUNCH that I like, and the low growl still wasn't what I wanted.

    So a made a second set with a much smaller offset, and also with more output, I'm enjoying those now. I also made it a point to keep the winding tight and maintain tension. My goal is to *avoid* fattening up the tone.

    Specs for their windings are -

    Neck

    5050 turns plain enamel 42awg for the slug coil, 5100 turns plain enamel 42awg for the screw coil, resulting in 7.8k DCR. It's surprisingly clean and clear at that resistance.

    Bridge

    5600 turns plain enamel 42awg for the slug coil, 5650 turns plain enamel 42awg for the screw coil, resulting in 8.8k DCR. It's hot-sounding, but does clean up when I turn the volume from 10 to 9. It has the beef :D

    I named them "Hot Seth".

    I like them right now a lot, but I'm thinking as the new-string effect wears off I'll think the neck lacks clarity.

    I think my next set will be be slightly less hot, and offset the coils in favor of the slug rather than the screw coil on each, since the slug is not adjustable. I'm aiming for @7.5k DCR on the neck, and 8.4-ish DCR on the bridge.

    I also need to, ahem, moderate my tension. All 4 bobbins had a bit of the banana about them, I think it's "bobbin flare" and comes from over-tensioning and also not leaving a slight gap on the edges during the wind.

    Onward!
     
    BB likes this.
  8. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    Hah, I was bored, have the day off work, and decided to get winding! Last night once my strings settled down I knew... "Hot Seth" was just too hot.

    I named the new version "Mid-Hot".

    They are 7.5k resistance for the neck, and 8.3k resistance for the bridge. The slug coils have a few more winds, and I kept the tension relaxed. Pole screws are down level with the bobbin tops, and are "1010" steel. They use long A2 magnets that are slightly degaussed.

    They both have sparkle and grunt, but not the hot fuzziness of the previous set. They're really lively with lots of harmonics and overtones, which I like. They're not potted and I think that's related, but there is a lot of contrary information so I'm ready to be wrong about it.

    I fingerpick, and it's dead-easy to produce harmonics with my right hand fingertips with these with normal rolls.

    I'm not sure if this is related, but this is the first set of pickups that I've liked set really far away from the strings. They are both just about decked even with the tops of the mounting rings - maybe closer by about the thickness of the bobbin top flange. I like to try this because I see it mentioned a lot but it's never satisfying. These, though, sound GOOD this way.

    They're about 1/4" away from the strings fretted at the last fret, +/- 1/32"

    I like them enough that I splurged to buy nice covers for them, I'll solder them on when they arrive. I want to experiment with steel mounting screws some time, too.
     
  9. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    Here is a "recipe" I'm trying now, for P90's.

    Neck - 9800 turns 42awg PE, A5 long magnets, scatter, CCW, NUP, 1010 pole screws - 7.92k
    Bridge - 10700 turns 42awg PE, A5 long magnets, scatter, CW, SUP, 1010 pole screws - 8.99k

    I would describe the tension of both as "tight" :)

    I am unfortunately using 50mm parts for this ( it's what I had on hand ) and boy am I irritated by having to segregate my parts into 49.2 and 50mm, and also having to doctor "uniform" covers to help them fit and be adjustable without scraping.

    Also there is the matter of the differences in the quarter-round radii of the different covers...

    Ugh.

    But they sound groovy in my LP special :D. Bright and clear-ish ( at the right height ) but also chime-y and meaty. The Volume knob is magical.

    The next versions of these will have more turns, I want to increase the growl at a lower point in the midrange, but still be able to clean up with the volume ( without sacrificing the highs ).

    Onward!
     
  10. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    I should be winding again soon, I have wire on the way.

    I plan on a set of RWRP P90's, about 8k for the neck and 9k for the bridge. Basically what I have going now in my LPS, but in 49.2mm width, *slightly* hotter.

    Also planned are another set of PAF's for a build, about 7.5k neck and 8.3k bridge. The guitar they're going in is strung up and set up with no electronics, and it vibrates from head-to-tail acoustically and feels ALIVE and it's LOUD. I have no idea if it's bright or dark, but I think it's going to have character and feel great!

    I have this basic set in a Gibson ES-339 and they're nice - bright, clear, lively and growly all at the same time. I'm guessing I can go a little hotter with the same pattern installed in a solid-body guitar.

    Some day I am going to have to come to terms with potting pickups. I haven't potted any of my pickups, and I kind of dread it. I believe it is tone-affecting ( or maybe *feel*-affecting ), and also necessary. So I'll have to hitch up my drawers and compensate.

    Just when I'm starting to figure it out :)

    Hey, it's time for a Old Fashioned!
     
    ScribbleSomething and RiversQC like this.
  11. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    I have a set of PAF-alikes code-named "mid-hot IV" that are going into a guitar I'm assembling.

    NECK - 7.66 dcr, 4900/4900 slug/screw, tight, 10% scatter, UO5, 42 PE
    BRIDGE - 8.22 dcr, 5350/5350 slug/screw, tight, 50% scatter, UO5, 42PE

    They're ready, in their baggies. I finally received the rest of the parts I need to finish the guitar. Tomorrow morning will be spent soldering, screwing, fitting, etc. but I think I'm going to have a new guitar in the afternoon.

    Rather than offset the coils I've been trying out different tensions and amounts of scatter. We'll see.

    In the works - new P90's, waiting for parts. My basic strategy is 5% underwound neck, 5% overwound bridge, tight, and the right amount of scatter. Very likely A5's, maybe A2's, it depends how they sound.

    How about SHIPPING lately, am I right?

    Peace!
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
    zippofan likes this.
  12. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    I did NOT like the last creations - PAF-alikes with unordered A5 magnets. Maybe they'll sound better in a different guitar, but I thought they were boomy, thin, shrill and brittle all at the same time. I am sure the magnets are part of it, but also a bad combination of pole screws, slugs, low TPL and poorly controlled winding tension are probably culprits too.

    The ones I wound this morning and installed are good. Maybe "right on the money", I need to live with pickups for a few days or a week to really understand them and as the new strings age and become dull. Although I knew immediately I hated the previous set, but still I tried.

    They are installed in a Les Paul, and they're the eighth pair of humbuckers I've wound and assembled.

    For posterity they are made this way -

    NECK - 9700 turns, 4850/4850 slug/screw, medium tension, no scatter, degaussed A2 rough, high turns-per-layer, 42awg PE, 7.39kohm dcr, unpotted

    BRIDGE - 11000 turns, 5500/5500 slug/screw, medium tension, no scatter, degauused A2 rough, high turns-per-layer, 42awg PE, 8.44kohm dcr, unpotted

    Both use nickel-silver long-legged frames, nickel-plated nickel-silver covers, 1018 3/4" pole screws, 1215 slugs, 1010 keeper, and are 49.2mm spacing.

    The way I degauss bar magnets is to first charge them with my neo charging contraption, a couple few times and take gauss-meter readings along each pole edge looking for inconsistencies. Freshly charged they'll read in the 1200's range on my meter.

    Then I hold them together north-to-north, then south-to-south, maybe for 15 seconds each. Take a reading, they'll have dropped to around 850ish. One more time pole-to-pole on both poles, and another reading - right around 800.

    I am sure there is a better way to do this, but it's what I have right now. Degaussing has a definite effect on the tone and feel, the pickups seem less harsh and spiky, and it seems like they have a little "bounce" if that makes sense. Maybe that's a little compression, I'm not sure.

    I've been thinking of creating different thicknesses of spacers or shims so I can degauss with Neos instead of with pairs of bar magnets. Maybe I could degauss to different levels consistently doing that.

    Concentrating on consistent tension and fairly high TPL is my goal for the next set.
     
  13. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,308
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2018
    Location:
    Here
    Well. I just found this, and it includes images and videos and audio samples -

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/notes-and-observations-on-my-pickup-winding-experiences.335846/

    The way I found it is that it turned up in searches I've been doing related to thickening and beefy-ing a bridge pickup...

    Who are these people? They are my heroes! :D

    My last set of PAF-alikes, described above, are turning out to be pretty satisfactory. Faint praise I think - but it's taken a lot of effort to get to this point.

    I'm slowly working out how much scatter I might use in the core of the wind to provide additional thickness without fizz for a bridge pickup. I am "there" with the neck pickup already.

    I've come to the conclusion that the guitar I've been testing these in is bright, and I want it just right.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.