Pickup manufacturers - Tell us everything!

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by variantboy, Apr 7, 2020.

  1. variantboy

    variantboy Tele-Meister

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    You know how expert offerings abound across message boards and youtube videos and pickup manufacturers' marketing copy, telling us how little DC resistance tells us?

    You know how anyone who's sought to learn how to produce (or reproduce) a tone that they desire, has learned that the following elements (including but not limited to) are important to know when purchasing a pickup?? :

    (in no order of importance..)
    Bobbin Height
    Wire gauge
    Magnet Composition (Alnico II, III, IV, V, etc)
    Magnet strength (Gauss reading)
    DC Resistance (yes, it does matter, when knowing the other factors)
    Cover Material (Nickel, Brass, etc)
    Winding Information (scattered, not scattered, machine and/or hand wound, etc)
    Wire material (Formvar, Poly, Plain Enamel, etc)
    Inductance measurement

    So - i'm wondering - if we need to know all of these things to determine whether or not we're going to get what we desire, why don't more pickup manufacturers provide this information as standard practice? Are they just protecting their own trade secrets? Is it assumed that most people aren't interested in understanding how these bits affect overall tone? Do players simply want to hear someone say "it's bright" or "it's dark" or "it's high output" or it's "low output". Historically those adjectives don't cut it for giving me enough information to go on before dropping the money on a set of pickups. Anyone else feel the same?

    Some provide some of these details.. some provide all of it.. some provide little or none of it. The one that entertains me the most is - "this is a pickup made to sound like the teles from the 60s.. but we don't tell you d.c. resistance, because that really doesn't tell you anything".

    Why do we keep buying things when we really don't have enough information to know whether it's what we want or not?

    Use your ears you say? After how many purchases and how many dollars spent?

    If you're like me and wish manufacturers - big names and small boutiques alike - would provide this information, what should (and could, realistically) be the standard set of specs we'd all want to know? Do you hate that idea? love it?

    Thoughts and discussions welcome.
     
  2. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    I suspect much of what you want to know is proprietary. I only buy from Bootstrap Pickups.....Ryan will tell me everything I need to know, either on the phone or by e-mail.
     
  3. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Some of it might be trade secrets. Most of the time, the only people who really even understand that stuff are other winders...or those interested in it.

    Plus, I think a lot of people just want to relate a pickup to a particular sound or vibe. Which is why you get, say, the Cavalier Bakersfield or the O.C. Duff Buckaroo or the Fralin Blues Specials (or Fender Texas Specials). Or, even more reductively, companies like Tone Specific keep it super general. They have a Jazz set, a Twang set, a Punchy set and a Blues set.

    I suspect most people buy pickups because they hear them in a friend's guitar or hear them in a YouTube demo...not because of all the guitar geek data points we all obsess over here...because we're weird and obsessive and spend way too much time on it here...myself included...even without the virus keeping us home all day.
     
  4. Switchy

    Switchy Tele-Holic

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    Knowing all these things means nothing.
    In terms of pizza, I buy pizza all the time. 3 ingredients, dough, sauce, cheese.
    Same amount of everything, same size, same style crust, and toppings.
    And yet, they're all different.
     
  5. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Afflicted

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    The relevance gets diluted because its all very Gestalt to begin with. The sum of the parts is nothing compared to the whole. So, while Bootstrap, Cavalier, Vineham, Buddha, Rose, etc could tell you obscure minute details,(and will upon request) the individual values and materials (basically all the quantitative stuff) depend on one another.

    The actual wind is important, and they'll use thinner wire to achieve more winds, and often describe it. Materials are important, and they'll describe it.

    Most other factors; each winder has a specific idea of what is quality work they're proud of, and they typically stick with what they've determined works best for a given application through trial and error.

    I do wish pickup manufacturers were more findable with specs though. Having said that, Buddha and Bootstrap are great, and will promptly communicate whatever it you want to know.
     
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  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Consistent measurements with tolerance specs will define the products across vendors.

    7kohm +/-5% at 70degF Resistance
    2.75 H +/-10% Inductance
    0.05uF +/-5% Capacitance
    100 +/-3% miliGause magnetic strength at the surface of the pole pieces
    Frequency Spectrum plot


    Then not only can you tell who is machine winding (capacitance is twice of hand wound) but who has control of their process as one builder might need 10% and another needs 50% tolerance range so you really need to 'run the racks' on that factory to make sure to get a good one (defined by the player since they may prefer one end or the other of the spec).

    Then the winder doesn't need to tell you how every fifteen seconds of the wind he puts a twist in the wire to cut the capacitance or whatever tricks might be done that they deem is a trade secret. The buyer can treat it as a black box knowing they are getting the output they desire or not.

    Right now there are vendors like Seymour Duncan who only put up a bar chart without any numbers on it. There must be so much variation that they shy away from publishing anything useful.

    .
     
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  7. 63 vibroverb

    63 vibroverb Tele-Holic

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    The way pickups interact with a guitar, strings, amp, player, etc. happens in an organic way that can’t always be predicted with specs.
     
  8. Mincer

    Mincer Tele-Holic

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    I would think putting up actual graphs with numbers would cause more confusion. I'd settle for 5-bar graphs, rather than 3 though!
     
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  9. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    There’s nothing organic about pickups, it’s wire, magnets, and how you arrange them. The only organic element is the guy playing the guitar, and the people listening. Specs mean things, and I’m all for manufacturers being forthcoming. I can read these specs to give me a clue of the sound. However this is also an industry in for profit, and there are some buyers who do believe in things like ‘mojo’ or ‘vibe’. Hell I do too, but I’ll be honest, it’s about the way things look, not some magic winding fingers or secret alchemy. If it looks dumb, I’m not buying it. But if it looks cool and sounds twangy and bright, I’m in. This is not hard to do, it’s already known what works.

    I don’t put crappy Gibson PAFs in anything, but I’ll squeeze a Dynasonic/DeArmond in a Tele.

    7F09CFF0-99BC-43C5-9583-A0AA7A6D1B24.jpeg
     
  10. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Afflicted

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    This is all nonsense. Everybody KNOWS that the only thing that matters is the quality of the tonewood of your guitar! :eek: :D :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  11. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

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    "Are they just protecting their own trade secrets?"

    No, their silence on the matter is a reflection of the reality of something they cannot actually deliver.

    The reason was mentioned above: the tone of a pickup in their lab will differ from the tone when it's installed in your guitar, and the ingredients of the 'recipe' are not definitive tone-producing components.

    The tension of the wire during the winding process has as much an effect on tone as the gauge and the number of turns. While electromagnetics is an exact science, associating electromagnetics with tone is not...despite what most makers would have you believe.
     
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  12. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Maybe you just don't know the question...?



    Really, there's no secret to this. Enough people have pulled enough old ones apart. You can buy cast alnico slugs, forbon, Formvar. Even the rigs like they used to wind them. We got the rough winding specs.

    Wind a couple dozen pups and you're bound to fluke one like Abigail Ybarra. Because there's some proportion of pickups between 1-100% that are truly magic. No-one really knows how many - possibly all but not likely.
     
  13. televillian

    televillian Tele-Afflicted

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    if you pay $300 for a set of pickups they will sound better than the $40 set they`re replacing. it`s like magic
     
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  14. stratoman1

    stratoman1 Friend of Leo's

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    I make it easy on myself. I either like them or I don't. You're also dealing with different pots, caps, wiring schemes, etc. So while knowing all the little stuff helps to some degree it still boils down to how it all functions as a whole. And while some stuff works on paper it doesn't always work in real life
     
  15. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

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    You'll never quite know the tone until you install the pickup in a guitar.

    BUT, once you have some familiarity with different pickups, and you know roughly what the specs are for the pickups you already have heard, you certainly can get a rough idea if you know the specs listed by jvin, above.

    If all the pickup makers listed those elements, even without knowing the wind tension or degree of scatter, with some experience, you can get an approximate idea of what to expect.

    I've done what I could to quantify some of the aspects (magnet type, wire gauge, number of turns, and DCR) of the pickups I've bought, with help from Cavalier and from Bootstrap. And to a great degree, have been able to hear how pickups with similar specs sound quite similar to the ear. So, I have no doubt that if we were provided with additional details, like inductance, capacitance, and magnetic strength - we could easily get a rough idea of what to expect from pickups before buying them.

    Manufacturers usually don't want to go along with this, though, as with a lack of technical specifics... the magic of the unknown sprinkling of fairy dust can play with consumers minds! Some of the esoteric, qualitative descriptions offered by companies like Fender are hysterical. There is a whole lotta hype going on there. Having the quantitative details, along with a general description, is a good start.

    Ultimately, pickups, especially Tele pickups, are incredibly simple devices and no magic is required to make them sound awesome.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  16. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    My only question - is it gonna work in a Red guitar?

    My hero played a Red guitar.

    srsly

    Peace - Deeve
     
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  17. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Afflicted

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    No .... no ... wait, let me think ... no. :) Winding tension primarily impacts capacitance, but total capacitance is dominated by cables in almost all cases. Inductance (which goes roughly as the square of number of turns) has much, much more impact on frequency response and character of the pickup than winding tension.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  18. stefanhotrod

    stefanhotrod Tele-Holic

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    Ask Ron Ellis.
     
  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    This is similar to the current internet trend to set up guitars by numbers.
    And to buy large numbers of expensive "luthiers tools" that only do one thing and reduce the hand skills required, replacing skills with jigs.
    Not that jigs are bad, and for production jigs are essential.
    But IMO hobbyists are better served by developing their senses, rather than copy and pasting numbers for guitar setup. Use simple basic tools and make some mistakes, get a feel for the geometry.

    Figure it out!
    Knowing all those numbers on that list still doesn't tell you what sound you will hear with the pickups in your guitar.

    If you don't like your pickups, adjust them, and if you still don't like them you know how they sound and can look up discussions about what similar pickups sound more in the direction you want to go.
    Applying numbers to sounds still leaves you researching.
    There is no Robben Ford sound numbers, no SRV sound numbers.
    You can certainly buy SRV style pickups but that won't make you sound like a famous player whose pickups had a set of numbers applied by a tech with test equipment.

    In the end we spend too much time already on gear being the magic source of our sound.
    The wrong pickups for you are wrong but you can find brighter or darker within the type without asking the industry to provide a long list of numbers with every pickup.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  20. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    And if said information was put out in this BIG SPEC sheet, (that 8 out of 10 people would either not understand anyway or give a jack about) would everyone truly believe, that what is published, is truth.

    [​IMG]
     
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