From ipu-k–(at)– Sat Mar 11 21:20:15 CST 1995
Article: 43362 of
From: ipu-k–(at)– (Jim Radmer)
Subject: Pickups: Make them yourself at 10 $
Date: Sat, 11 Mar 1995 20:50:20 GMT
Organization: News Server at UNI-C, Danish Computing Centre for Research and Education.
Lines: 85
Distribution: world
Message-ID: <7949550202798--(at)>

The pickups were made with these data :

MAGNETS : 5 mm dia, all 20 mm length

BOBBINS : 3 mm plastic top/bottom

WIRE : 0,06 mm dia

First I mill the bobbins to accept the magnets. I mill about 2 mm down
and glue the magnets with epoxy. When the glue has dried, i wind a little
tape around the magnets to make a straight “wall” for the wire.

The wire coil is placed on a plastic rod, supported on each side. I made
up a jig for this, that allowed me to adjust the height of the coil during
the winding. I placed the coil in a big U made from wood. On the bottom of
the U i placed a piece of wood, resting on two screws. These screws can
be adjusted while the coil rotates, I think I moved the coil about each
15 minutes.

Now here’s the smart part of pickup winding. I got this idea from
Matthew Kramer ( mkrame–(at)–ensus.GOV ), who uses a record player for
winding. The good part of this i that you can decide exactly how many
turns of wire you want by counting the minutes. Let’s take an
example :

My record player does 33 and 45 RPM. I use 45 RPM. This gives me
45*60 = 2700 turns pr. hour. I gave mine 3 hours (yes!) that is 8100 turns.
The normal strat pickups have somewhere between 7600 and 8200 turns.

At first, I made the pickups with only 5400 turns. That gave me a very
bright sound with too little output. Later I took them off and gave them
one more hour, bringing a total of 8100 turns. That was a great change.
The sound got a little rounder with a lot more power. My Chandler tube
driver never sounded better than with these pickups.

Last I have to mention : Always wax the pickups ! The main reason I
had to take all three pickups off the guitar was microfonic feedback.
I couldn’t play with overdrive above room levels, the thing was out of

For waxing I use beeswax, placed in a small bowl in a bath with
hot water. I place the pickup in the hot wax and let it sip for one half
to one hour. Someone told me that it is best to leave the pickup in the
wax and let the hole thing cool off before taking it up, but I don’t
agree. It is much easier to take the pickup up when the wax is hot.
I take it up, weep it of the excess wax and place it in the refidgerator
as fast as possible. The wax dries quickly this way and the pickups
work fine now, no feedback problems.

The main reasons why I wanted to make the pickups myself was the cost of
new pickups and a growing interest in the technical stuff about what
makes the sound. I started making three single coils with the two placed
in the bridge position, wired in series as a humbucker (with a SC switch).
The total cost in one of my pickups are about 10 dollars. You have to
buy the wire coil first, though, mine cost about 60 dollars. I think I
have wire for hundreds of pickups …
A good single coil costs about 100 dollars in Denmark. so I make a SC at
1/10 of the price, excluding the time spend. Another advantage of making
them myself is that I can get the correct pole spacing. I made the whole
guitar myself and the string spacing is wider that on most commercial

The middle SC is made like the Fender Lace, with reverse polarity of
the magnets and reverse winding of the coil. This lowers the hum when
used together with one of the other SC’s. I’m not sure I totally
understand the theory about this RW/RP stuff, but it works fine as
I made it!

The next pickup, you ask ?? Well I would like to get that fat AND clear
sound like the Gibson single coil. I think this sound is made from
having a strong magnet with a wide coil. The strong magnet creates
brightness and volume and the wide coil gives a rounder sound. These
together gives that great sound.

I also thought about making one of those stacked humbuckers. I planned
making like a single coil (one set of magnets) with two coils placed
above each other, with reverse polarity. After discussing this with
others, I am now sure that this would cancel the sound of the strings.
Does anybody have info about stacked HB’s ?? I would like to know
how they are made.

— Hope someone can use this

— Jim Radmer


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