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Re: I tried rewinding a pickup. Yikes!!

2/17/2001 8:48 AM
John Fisher
Re: I tried rewinding a pickup. Yikes!!
43 ga. wire! Yikes! Not for those who drink coffee or for those like me who are due for a prescription change in their glasses. So did you try to rewind it with some kind of machine? or just with your bare hands?  
John Fisher
2/17/2001 11:27 AM
Steve A.

Yikes! Not for those who drink coffee or for those like me who are due for a prescription change in their glasses.  
    Funny that you should mention that... that is how I ended up with two taps on the bridge pickup. I dozed off and broke the wire which was as fine as hair. Actually I think I soldered a few of the breaks (I didn't try to insulate it because I figured that the rest of the coil was insulated).  
    Like I said, I had wrapped the 43ga wire on toilet paper rolls, which I used to wind it around the pickups. It took a couple hours a night for maybe a week to overwind these pickups, but I did get 10 years of enjoyment out of them and hope to get many more if I ever get tired of the Fralins.  
    Oh, I just put the Antiquities on the $299 MIM tele with the Hipshot B-Bender. They have a different sound from the Fralins, excellent in their own way. But only with the Fralin set does the neck pickup stand up on its own against the bridge pickup.  
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2/17/2001 7:45 PM
Jason Lollar

If your winding humbuckers you get best hum cancellation with matching turns on each coil regardless of wire gauge. Using different wire gauges on each bobbin will make each coil have a different frequency response so you will get a bit more complexity in tone.  
If you are winding stock bobbins the best you can do hand guiding wire with proper tensioning using 42 gauge is about 8K, 43 about 12K, anything higher needs to be 44.  
It can get frustrating at times even for someone who does it all day long but it does get really easy when everything goes right, thats why its best to wind at speeds of over 1,200 RPM if you have to re-do it your not loosing 12 hours of time!
2/17/2001 10:23 PM
Mark Hammer

Here's what *I* do, since apparently my exploits have provided some self-confidence for other builders.  
1) I use a hand drill, hand cranked. Nuthin special. I think I spent $5 for it new. It gets about 3.25 turns of the chuck for each turn of the handle. The nice thing about this is that you can probably turn it by hand from a few RPM to 300RPM easily, and accelerate/deccelerate at the kind of rate that won't result in a torn coil (HATE those solder joints, HATEM, HATEM, HATEM!!).  
2) I use a solid arborite-top office desk, and hot glue the handle of my drill to the right front corner of the desk, so that when I amd sitting in front of the desk, facing it, the drill handle is at my right and I am able to turn it without smashing my knuckles into the desk (said it was SOLID!).  
3) If you are winding a Fender-type coilform, you can simply pass an appropriate-sized bolt through the centre hole (between the D and G string polepieces), stick a nut on the other side to tighten it in place, and place the long end of the bolt in the chuck of the drill. Gibson HB coil bobbins are a little different. I made a little 2-to-1 bolt adaptor, so that the bobbin is held in place by bolts through the D and G pole-holes, and finally via a bolt midway between those, going into the chuck.  
4) It is important to make sure that the coilform is nicely balanced in all 3 dimensions, so that as you crank up the winding speed there is no sudden tension that might result in a tear. It is also useful to avoid any burrs anywhere that might result in the wire catching on the coil form. Once you get cranking speeds up to 100RPM or more, it is far too easy to *not* see a turn that got caught on the edge of the bobbin (where it could easily produce microphonics or tear) until 300 turns later. I'd like to think that I have gone through what I've gone through so that others will not have to experience the delights of UNwinding 500 turns to eliminate a loose turn and then winding them over again.  
5) I like to sit myself on a stool or chair that is a little on the high side so that I can look *down* at the coil when I wind it. (I'm 5'7" so you may well have an easier time looking down from your height than I do.) Once looking down at the coilform, I place the spool almost directly underneath the coilform, to minimize drag, and permit faster winding speeds. I also like to put a piece of black felt or construction paper on the floor underneath the coil, so that when I look down at it, I see it against a black background. This makes it much easier to see exactly where the wire is, once the coil is spinning and blurry. Being able to see the wire lets you confidently work the wire back and forth along the coil so that it is wound in a fairly even manner on the coilform.  
6) Once the coil is wound, I like to cover the coil with tightly wound teflon tap. This tightens the coils snugly to reduce microphonics (without having to wax pot the coil; although wax works better), and is nonadhesive, so you can easily remove it without damaging the coil. Once the teflon is in place, THEN you can layer on the adhesive over top.  
I have wound at least a dozen coils successfully using #41 wire, that have produced a quite acceptable sound. I don't find their size to be dramatically larger than #42, although obviously it WILL be larger. Still, it fits on the coilform with room to spare.  
The advantages of handcranking for me include: less set-up, easy to control #turns (just keep track and multiply by 3.25), reduced risk of tearing, evenly distributed coils. ALL of these things are obviously feasible by more mechanized means, but if you are doing a one or two off run, it works just fine.
2/18/2001 12:52 AM

I mentioned in a previous post that most of my pickup winding knowledge came from this forum, the vast majority actually came from Mark Hammer. Thanks, Mark!  
One thing I found; when placing a homade bobbin in a winder, it is helpful to place supports on the sides of the bobbin to keep it from bowing under the wire pressure. The P-90 I made bowed a little because it wasn't supported, but it didn't break:)  
Yet another thing to keep in mind; if you make your own bobbins and plan to pot the pickup in wax, you need to be careful that your adhesive will stand up under the heat. I haven't had such a disaster happen but I bet it is a mess! I used Devcon 2-ton epoxy and let it dry for a few days. When potting I held the bobbin together with six 4-40 nuts and screws. It held together just fine.  
I tried using Teflon tape on the P-90 but it still squealed too much. I potted it with beeswax; it is still microphonic but is manageable under all situations I have used it in.  
My first winding experience was adding about 100 turns of #44 on an American Standard strat bridge pickup. That gauge is nearly unmanageable! The #40 is far far easier to work with, I haven't had it break yet.
2/18/2001 6:37 AM
John Fisher

Thanks guys for supplying such valuble information. This is a big help as I am now in the proccess of making a pickup. This is a first for me and although in theory it seems like a simple thing I have found that in engineering even the most simplist of things you quickly run into drawbacks. So I'm gaining a lot of tips out of this.  
Tonight I started looking around here to see how I can make a bobbin. I was looking for some kind of plastic for the sides and I got the idea to use pieces of black plastic from an old CD case which actually looks kind of classy with it's matt black finish. I cut out the 2 top and bottom surfaces for the bobbin. I just realized by seeing the above posts that I wonder how that plastic will hold up under that hot wax treatment. They have here in Peru a special varnish for transformer windings that I am thinking about using to pot the coil with instead of wax.  
I plan to make 2 bobins and coils from scratch and then use the magnets from an old "Super Distortion" pickup that I have to make a Humbucker.  
I like the idea of the wooden core for the bobin. Tonight I tried making the core out of some thick acrylic that I have and it was almost a success untill it broke in half when I tried to drill it as I want the wall of the core to be pretty thin between the pole pieces and the coil. So now I am in the middle of making it out of wood.  
I am going to make the coils a little taller then the originals (3/8" width of coil) because of the fact I am using #41 wire and I want to insure that I get enough turns on it. I also want to creat a fairly clear bright tone with the taller coils. (I think).  
Mark, I really like the idea of the hand drill. In the past I have made simple hand cranks to wind transformers but I like the 3 to 1 ratio idea and the control of a hand drill.  
I have a lot of questions and too many for this post but, can I use normal stove bolts for the pole pieces for a humbucker?  
Thanks for listening,  
John Fisher
2/19/2001 5:27 AM
Jason Lollar

Bigsby pickups used wood cores with a thin acetate flatwork, nothing wrong with that.  
Plexiglass is awful for machining, Lexan or polycarbonate is not brittle like Plexi and cuts, drills and taps well.  
If your going to pot you only need to heat the wax to 140F any less and your bobbin will turn into a hard ball of wax when immursed. Test your plastic to see if it gets soft at 140-150F, likeley not.  
If you get the wire tension right you really dont need to pot unless you play with high gain, with HB's its usually the metal pickup cover thats creating the problem not as often the coil itself. Getting the proper tension consistantly is the trick though, if you can squeeze the coil and it collapses its under tensioned. You can also overtension.  
You could use stove bolts for poles but they will corrode quickly, different pole materials and shapes will make slight differences in tone but really any pole material that is attracted to a magnet will work.  
If I am making standard size HB's I just buy the bobbins from Allparts @ $2.00 each. Everything else I fabricate in shop, usually out of Forbon or have lazer cut for me in quantities for the more popular designs.  
There are pickups I made over 20 years ago that I glued together with super glue.
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