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My Pickup Winder


Pickups I currently offer

A quick photo overview on winding a pickup

Factors affecting the way a pickup sounds

Vintage Pickup specifications for Fender, Gibson, etc.

My newest winder made from a wood lathe


This page shows how I adapted a small drill press for winding pickups. This first photo shows the entire setup.

The setup consists of a winder faceplate which is made from 1/2" hardboard with a recessed carriage bolt for a shaft. A tensioner and guide assembly made from scrap corian countertop, and a small coffee can which holds the spool of wire. When making the faceplate the most important thing is that it spins true, very little wobble is acceptable as it will cause the pickup bobbin to snag the wire when winding. The coffee can must not have any rough edges along the opening which could snag and break the wire, or ruin the wires insulation.(I'm not using the can at all anymore)...Here's a closeup of the tensioner/guide assembly.

The corian was obtained from a kitchen remodeling shop for free. It's the scrap from cutting in a sink. Superglue bonds this and makes it like it's one piece. I drilled a hole in the front edge of the table for mounting the assembly by means of a machine screw and standard "T nut" in the corian (bend the prongs till they pop off, and hammer edges flat, the prongs will NOT go into the corian) The "T nuts" are held in place with 5 minute epoxy. The tensioner is made with another Machine screw and "T nut" assemby clamping down on two felt "washers". In both cases the head of the machine screw was cut off and a control knob with set screw was installed. Slightly above the shelf on which the tensioner is mounted is a small hole through the upright (hard to see) it is the "guide" function of the assembly. In use, the wire is routed between the felt washers through the guide hole and onto the bobbin. The drill's table is set for the upper limit of winding travel, and the drills depth stop is set for the lower limit. The wire IS routed in this photo, it's about the thickness of a hair! The whole guide assembly can be omitted if you wanted to guide by hand, pinching the wire between felt.

As you can see there isn't really a lot required to do wind pickups. The cost of the wire is significant as the suppliers have minimum orders, so you will end up with WAY MORE wire than needed for a few pickups. Alnico magnets are hard to come by in small quantities, bobbins are availiable from Allparts. The easiest way to get started is by rewinding cheap and dead pickups, and then buying the parts for humbuckers from Allparts(they do sell the alnico magnets for them). The hard part is knowing what the results will be. Fortunately for me, I have gotten help from some very respected pickup makers. There seems to be a certain amount of voodoo in making hand wound pickups, and there are alot of factors which play into it. To get an idea of what I've learned about these factors go here.

Here's a picture of a couple pickups I made using this winder.

For a quick photo overview on making an S-90 pickup click here