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The low-tech pickup winding thread

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by tklaavo, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. tklaavo

    tklaavo Tele-Holic

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    I've been envying the great guys here who build excellent pickup winders. I'm going to follow, but my Chinese counter is still on its way, and my experiment with a DC motor was a disaster, so I decided to try what I've heard many have done - the sewing machine. We have one at home, which has never been used for anything, so it's about time to see what it can do for me.

    It seems that I've succeeded in what I started this evening (now it's late at night) so I want to start a thread dedicated to low-tech pickup winding. Feel free to post your own versions, if you dare…

    What I have is a pair of lousy pickups from a Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster. Some people seem to like the guitar, I don't. The pickups are one thing, there was something wrong with the neck pu which had a DC resistance of about 15k-ohms, while the neck was around 8k. Maybe the wire in the neck pu was of low quality, because there wasn't so much more of it. Here's what I found when I took them apart:

    [​IMG]

    I managed to just lift the upper boards away and took the wires out as whole coils. I re-assembled the bobbins with magnets flush to the top and bottom surfaces to make the coil taller. I want to get rid of that Jazzmaster sound, caused by the wide, flat coil. The reason that guitar sounds bad might be the cheap woods and thick paint too. But the pickups don't help the situation.

    On my messy kitchen table I assembled this mighty winding machine:
    [​IMG]

    The clamps are useful to keep the machine on the table as it spins, and they also hold the rod with two drill depth stops I used as the wire guide.

    The wheel isn't flat, so I taped on a cap from a glass jar. Also marked the center to help positioning the bobbin (which was held on by two-sided tape):
    [​IMG]

    No way to count the turns, so I went by weight. I made a Excel spreadsheet to calculate the weight / length of wire / DC resistance / number of turns / average turn length etc.

    The spool was on the floor standing on a kitchen scale. It was easy to periodically check how much weight it had lost. The wire was unwinding nicely from the end and didn't tangle.

    [​IMG]

    You can see where I bought that wire. It's 42 AWG, 0,063mm

    After glueing the bobbins together I used electrical tape to isolate the magnets (Some might use the lacquer dip)
    [​IMG]

    Definitely the hardest part was to get the wire through the eyelets this many times:
    [​IMG]

    My super good wire tensioner: a piece of tissue (= toilet paper) folded many times. Works very well when held between fingers.
    [​IMG]

    Then I just wound them. Not much to tell about the process. I could run the machine at max speed, the pedal frees both hands - used my left hand to smoothen the vibration of the machine. Didn't break the wire, all went pretty smooth. I wound the bridge pickup a bit heavier - it has about 35 grams of wire, the neck has 29...

    The magnets are south up on one and north up on the other. Because the machine only has one direction and the underside flatwork was too rough to be taped securely, I just wound them same way but switched the leads on the other. Here they are, topsides attracted to each other:
    [​IMG]

    The ohm meter says 5.8k on the neck and 6.8k on the bridge. Not potted yet, but I might try melting some old paraffin candles one of these days!

    Then we'll hear them. Quite underwound, but I'd like them to be bright and clean. And oh, I should probably get rid of that branding on the covers:
    [​IMG]

    It was technically really much easier than I thought! But a proper winder might be just a bit easier to use. More to follow.
     
  2. jimdkc

    jimdkc Friend of Leo's

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    Low tech... but pretty effective, I'd say! Nice work!
     
  3. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Nice job, TK. S0mething was definitely amiss with that 15K, but I bet these sound great. Might not even need to pot them.
     
  4. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

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    Very nice TK!

    A little plastic polish and those covers will look anonymous and new! Please record a sound clip if you can.

    Rob
     
  5. tklaavo

    tklaavo Tele-Holic

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    Well, I used sandpaper (2000) and those covers look now anonymous but "reliced" :lol:

    Thanks for the support. Now finally some Tele content to this thread.
    The local music electronics tinkering store had, for some reason, only the lower piece of flatwork for Tele neck pickups. I got three for free. Nice, so I don't have to find the eyelets. The upper piece I shaped myself. Not totally perfect, but will be probably hidden by this leftover cover.

    [​IMG]

    That's Alnico 5 magnets and some tape.

    I wound with 43 AWG, trying to start with the "basic" type of tele neck pu. It went well, but I didn't keep enough tension so the coil started a bit too loose. There's still some loose windings on close to the flatwork. This definitely needs some potting and a protective layer:

    [​IMG]

    My weight / length / resistance ratios seem to be quite accurate. By the weight I predicted this would be little under 7 k-ohms. It reads 6.9k

    If anyone is interested, these are the numbers I used:

    42 AWG:
    27.8 grams / km
    5848 ohms / km

    43 AWG:
    22 grams / km
    6940 ohms / km

    And if you use some other units, sorry... you have to do the math yourself :cool:
     
  6. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Now this is about my speed! The device I'm planning to assemble to wind PUs for the 2013 Challenge build will be about this level of complexity. ;-)
     
  7. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup, the more of those threads I read, the more complex it sounds, and the more drawn I become to the Scatter Lee fishing reel approach. :lol:
     
  8. makepeace

    makepeace TDPRI Member

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    rad!

    do you think you could upload that spreadsheet for us humans to lazily make use of?!
     
  9. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    good job! [​IMG]

    there are MANY ways to wind wire on bobbins, from hand operated to motor driven. they all work, but a varying speeds. to make a few pickups here and there, along the lines of what you've done is the way to go. we really don't need no steenkin' counter, either. leo didn't have counters for the longest time and some of those early pups are excellent (of course, far too many of them were not!) - when in doubt, ADD MORE TURNS - overwound is always the better route to go than underwound! a better winding machine affords better *duplication*, which is what's need to go "commercial".

    the stew-mac site outlines a very good winder using a variable speed electric drill or screwgun. that's all ya need, don't make it any more complicated. :D
     
  10. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

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    That's the way I'm going!
     
  11. tklaavo

    tklaavo Tele-Holic

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    Oh yeah, just have to translate it first or you humans couldn't read it.. It's very simple indeed. Maybe later today.

    I'd love to see pics of someone using the Stewmac drill winder setup!
     
  12. LarsOS

    LarsOS Tele-Holic

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    Quick tip: If you put it on Google Drive, you can share it directly online.
     
  13. tklaavo

    tklaavo Tele-Holic

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    While learning to use the Google Drive, I uploaded my spreadsheet here:

    http://helea.pp.fi/tklaavo/pickup wire counter.xlsx

    I hope it makes sense to you. All measures are metric though.. Just edit the yellow cells and it will do the trick. License to spread and modify is granted to all.

    I potted my pickups in candlewax as promised, and put the Jazzmaster together. It works and is gooood... I actually like it now. I had already rewired the electronics, leveled the frets and replaced the nut. The customized pickups sound nice! No strat or tele-like, more body in the sound but still bright enough. The output level is about the same as my tele with not-so-hot Japanese '80s Fender pickups. Gotta play it more tomorrow with higher volume, now it's too late again.

    The tele neck pu is still in the works. The cover needs some modification to fit properly.
     
  14. telepath

    telepath Friend of Leo's

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    Cool thread and grand job ;)

    Something similar is my next project too.
    Never tried it. Two short years ago, I would never even have thought I might contemplate it.
    Feeling ready to give it a go now.
    This forum may 'only' be some place where people waffle on about Teles/Guitars, but ... OK I will just say it - it is definitely inspirational, and empowering.
    Yay!
     
  15. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

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    Hey TK,

    Cant wait to hear the Jazzmaster! Post a clip if you can. And thanks for the spreadsheet. I may incorporate a scale into my new winder!

    Rob
     
  16. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I always wondered what it took to make a Jazzmaster sound good. Now I know ;)
     
  17. nosmo

    nosmo Friend of Leo's

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    Nice job TK. I like simple and it looks like you're not having any problems at all. This might be the only thing I can add to these winder threads - I also had a hard time threading the wire through the eyelets and then this idea popped into my little pea brain
    [​IMG]

    Kind of a fuzzy picture, but it's a needle threader. Works like a charm and they're really cheap :D
     
  18. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Awesome work.

    I was going to buy a used sewing machine at the second hand store and build a winder... but after seeing this I think I could just use the wife's machine when see isn't looking. ;)
     
  19. tklaavo

    tklaavo Tele-Holic

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    Nosmo, thanks for the tip. More sewing equipment is what we need to make pickups, that's for sure!

    Today: the birth of a tele pickup from scratch, episode one.

    Don't have the flatwork, just some fiberboard and an old bottom plate. It shall be the template. A Dremel kinda tool with a small sanding drum is useful in this phase:
    [​IMG]

    Measured the holes for 54mm pole spacing.
    [​IMG]

    Used undersize drill bits first, tuned with files to get them reasonably straight before drilling to final size. Then checked fit with magnet rods:
    [​IMG]

    The eyelets. Found a bag of these from the electronics department. The dimensions aren't quite right yet..
    [​IMG]

    But with some creative installing, cutting and filing they're flush now
    [​IMG]

    Then the top piece. This stuff is a pain to cut with scissors, but I don't have any other way right now. Just cutters, files and sandpaper.
    [​IMG]

    After assembly. CA glue there to keep it together
    [​IMG]

    Put the tape around the magnets, mounted the bobbin on the machine - this time other way around, bottom out. Now it's real RW/RP! My spreadsheet told me to wind 37 grams of 42 AWG wire, so I did that:
    [​IMG]

    That's nice and tight this time. Soldered my signature blue and brown wires and took a reading:
    [​IMG]

    Damn, was trying to get past 7k… Gotta adjust the values in my Excel. Should have believed Rob - when in doubt, add more... But I have one overwound tele PU and I don't like it, this might be just the best. And it's half Alnico5, half Alnico2 (on high strings) - like the Seymour Duncan Five-Two. Just to try if it brings the magic..

    Into the magic cauldron:
    [​IMG]

    Tomorrow gotta find something to make the bottom plate out of. The template one was maybe brass, not ferromagnetic, and had a hole for a bar magnet so it won't do.

    Also, to be able make more of these, I need to make routing / drilling templates to produce the flatwork. I have some ideas about that..
     
  20. tklaavo

    tklaavo Tele-Holic

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    One more thing to share after midnight:

    [​IMG]

    That's the Tele neck pickup I made yesterday. The coil wire broke when I tried to push the cover on. No way to fix it, got to rewind. It doesn't bother me, I made it better and tighter this time.

    Here it is finished, with cover and grounding lead too.

    [​IMG]

    Signing out for the night, thanks for support everyone!
     
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