Pickups known to be wound with 43ga wire?

Rob DiStefano

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Since it's the top of the coil that is the receiving antenna for *anything* (re: Bill Lawrence) - the string excursions (vibrations) as well as any floating RF (electronic devices, lights, etc) - a narrow coil will be more focused on the true signal and less on the humbuzz. This is why big, wide, short single coils (P90, Jazzmaster, etc) always seem to be excessively noisy and tall, thin coils (Strat, Tele, etc) seem to be less noise prone.

The character (tone, output) of a pickup is based on more than a few factors. For the most part, Fender pickups dictate the footprint that is standardized and can't be changed or the resulting pickup most likely won't fit well in a guitar body rout or pickguard or bobbin covers. Next would be the bobbin itself and doing it Leo's way of a vulcanized fiberboard build held together by rod magnets will not be the same as a plastic bobbin with rod magnets stuck into the plastic, where the difference is how close the coil wire will be to those rod magnets and what will be the resulting shape of the coil wire. While the footprint of the bobbin won't change, it's height can be, and the results could be a taller, thinner coil of wire that's less prone to the humbuzz. Magnets in passive pickups have only one job - magnetize the strings. There's a sonic reason why Leo went with the weaker AlNiCx family of magnets and not ceramics. Not all coil wire is the same in that although the AWG wire spex require that the copper is to a specific diameter standard, the insulation surrounding that wire can vary greatly in thickness, and this coating difference might make a difference in the pickup's overall "character", perhaps when combined with other factors.

Besides all of the aforementioned, the main regulator of tone and output is the choice of coil wire gauge and insulation, the amount of coil wire around the bobbin, and the coil wire winding tension.
 

gmm52

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Do you have any opinion on how tension affects a given pickup's sonic characteristics? It seems to me that tension in unpotted pickups could be critical, but my intuition is, if the pickup is heavily potted, tension may be moot. Does this thought have merit?
 

Rob DiStefano

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Do you have any opinion on how tension affects a given pickup's sonic characteristics? It seems to me that tension in unpotted pickups could be critical, but my intuition is, if the pickup is heavily potted, tension may be moot. Does this thought have merit?
I assume you mean coil wire tension. With regards to potting a coil, IME I haven't realized much difference with regards to the amount of microphonics for an unpotted coil wound with reasonable tension. I've not done any testing with "puffy" very loose coils because I just don't wind them - those kind of coils are almost always beginner's mistakes and part of the coil winding learning curve.

To pot or not to pot? If so, how much? There are reasons for all of this, just depends on the need and use - subjectivity abounds, there is no right or wrong.

When coil winding, there needs to be enuf wire tension to allow the wire to lay flat and not produce a "puffy" coil of loose wire. Too much tension will cause unwanted wire stretch which can easily thin the wire and increase its resistance (DCR) value and that may have an effect on both tone and output. This can also be true if the amount of tension is varied throughout the winding process of one coil. Some minor stretching will almost always occur in order to lay the wire flat, and IMO and IME that will have no perceived effect on tone or output. With controlled very heavy tension, the thicker 42AWG coil wire can almost become the thinner 43AWG coil wire, and that can absolutely have an affect on tone.
 

Antigua Tele

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The more narrow a coil and its pole pieces are, the more harmonics it will pick up in proportion to fundamental, which comes across as a brighter more trebly sound. That being said I'm not sure that the difference between 42 and 43 AWG results in a thickness difference that would audibly increase harmonics, because the harmonics that would be affected are so narrow that they might be above the operational range of a guitar speaker, and they only last for a brief instant around the transient. Therefore the difference might be heard more in the pick attack than the overall tone.
 

Antigua Tele

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Since it's the top of the coil that is the receiving antenna for *anything* (re: Bill Lawrence) - the string excursions (vibrations) as well as any floating RF (electronic devices, lights, etc) - a narrow coil will be more focused on the true signal and less on the humbuzz. This is why big, wide, short single coils (P90, Jazzmaster, etc) always seem to be excessively noisy and tall, thin coils (Strat, Tele, etc) seem to be less noise prone.

Tall thin coils are noise prone, too. The most idea coil is like a Bill Lawrence MicroCoil, or a Lace Sensor coil, because they concentrate the coil where the change of flux is greatest as the guitar string moves. The magnetism from the string is very localized, but noise is effectively uniform across the coil, so it's a ratio of signal to noise, and signal is close to where the string is magnetized, and noise is everywhere else. Setting the pickup closer to the strings has the same effect of increasing the signal to noise ratio.

The problem with a P-90 or a Jazzmaster pickup is that if the coils is much wider than the pole piece, it will end up receiving both the north and south fluxes of the magnetized guitar string, causing some ratio of self-cancelation to happen in the wider turns of wire. Ideally the coil and magnet would be the same space, because that's where the flux is most concentrated, and when a pickup has a steel pole piece, the higher permeability of the steel permits that to be the case somewhat, and so steel poled pickups have a higher output, all other things being equal.
 

Humbuckers

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It seems like one could resolve this question of wire gauge’s impact on tone pretty definitely for under $100. Just order two pickups with identical specs from Bootstrap that differ only in wire gauge and compare.

Anyone want to sponsor me to conduct this experiment? I’ll even give the sponsor one of the pickups as a gesture of appreciation! 😉
 

Antigua Tele

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It seems like one could resolve this question of wire gauge’s impact on tone pretty definitely for under $100. Just order two pickups with identical specs from Bootstrap that differ only in wire gauge and compare.

Anyone want to sponsor me to conduct this experiment? I’ll even give the sponsor one of the pickups as a gesture of appreciation! 😉

That's how you know they will sound the same, because it's so easy to test. Lots of pickup makers have probably tried it, and if there was a difference worth speaking of they would sell two of the same pickup, but one 42 AWG and the other 43 AWG, to exploit the differences. They do this with magnets though. Some Seymour Duncan models are literally the same pickup with a different magnet. So it can be inferred that magnets matter but wire gauge, not enough, anyway.
 

Humbuckers

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That's how you know they will sound the same, because it's so easy to test. Lots of pickup makers have probably tried it, and if there was a difference worth speaking of they would sell two of the same pickup, but one 42 AWG and the other 43 AWG, to exploit the differences. They do this with magnets though. Some Seymour Duncan models are literally the same pickup with a different magnet. So it can be inferred that magnets matter but wire gauge, not enough, anyway.
Perhaps, but at least with the magnet thing there’s a fair amount of recordings on Youtube where one could get a sense with their own ears how much or little different magnets affect tone, whereas we’re not to that point with wire gauge variation yet.

Resources like Youtube and your pickup data, Antigua, have been a huge game changer as far as taking the mystique out of pickup variables and putting things out there in hard metrics and actual audio.

Ideally, someone with a lot of time and money would be able to record sound clips and take inductance and resonant peak readings for most every pickup out there; that would probably make selecting and comparing pickups much less of a fumbling trial and error process.
 

hopdybob

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@gmm52
in your quest to understand, why not read some info from Bill Lawrence?
bl_95.jpg

bl1_95.jpg
 

gmm52

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Thank you for providing that information. I'm sure there's merit to some of his observations, but I'd have to respectfully disagree with Lawrence on a few points.

It's unlikely that the loss of magnetism and shorts are the only mechanisms for changes to a given pickup's sonic characteristics over time. It seems plausible that over decades, such thin wire could lose some tension due to stretching and/or settling of the individual strands of each turn, particularly in scatterwound pickups. It also seems plausible that material deformation (shrinkage) of bobbins and flatwork over time (especially since bobbins and flatwork are under constant tension, for decades) could also contribute to a change of tension in the coils. The length of each strand (in a half turn) is so short that a shrinkage of even a few thousandth's of an inch could change the tension. How much of a factor changes in tension over time plays in a given pickup's sonics is debatable, but my guess is it is a factor, and one that is non-negligible, particularly in un-potted pickups.

On the matter of Del Gesu, he's incorrect. Late period Del Gesu's, even with their much more crude execution, have often commanded the same or more money at auction than earlier models, and the most important Del Gesu ever made is indisputably the il Cannone, which belonged to Nicolo Paganini, and it was made the year before Giuseppe Guarneri's passing. If it went to auction today, it would likely fetch a record amount, somewhere north of 20 million dollars. I once had an opportunity to examine a golden period Strad and a late period Del Gesu.
 
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