Copper wire size: influence in tone and output

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by maturanesa, Dec 4, 2012.


  1. maturanesa

    maturanesa

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Location:
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    What is the difference in tone and output when using thin or heavy copper wire?

    Example:

    one pup wired 10k with thin copper wire, other wired 10k with heavy copper wire,
    How much is that difference in tone and output?

    thanx
  2. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Location:
    Nashville
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    No difference.
  3. megafiddle

    megafiddle

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Look up the resistance for the two different gauges of wire and calculate the resistance
    and difference in resistance between the two wires for the short length involved.

    Then compare that to the pickup resistance, control resistance, amp input impedance, etc.
    That will give you a good idea how little effect it has. Consider that the tone control has
    to vary by thousands of ohms to have an audible effect.
  4. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2007
    Location:
    Studio City, SoCal, USA
    It seems to me that there are physical issues to consider. The coil using larger wire is going to much larger in size - this must have some effect on how the signal is picked up and propagated through the coil. I may be wrong, but this just seems logical to me - like the way that the size of the pole pieces affects the sound.
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  6. megafiddle

    megafiddle

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Might have misunderstood. Is this about connecting wires or the magnet wire
    that the pickup is wound with?

    I was referring to connecting wire.
  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    magnet wire absolutely makes a difference, like bassomatic says; 10k of a fatter wire would be a way bigger coil, both because it was physically bigger and because the fatter wire would have less resistance per foot, meaning many more turns would be needed to get to the same resistance reading.

    connecting wire makes zero difference inside a guitar, there's not enough current to be hindered by thin wire.

    22g stranded is normal because it's thin enough to fit but fat enough to work with and be durable.
  8. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Location:
    Nashville
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    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Yeah, if you're talking about winding pickups that's an entirely different level of voodoo.
  9. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Location:
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Disclosures:
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Big difference. But first you should realize that heavier gauge wire is lower in resistance. So a 10k coil wound with something like 44 gauge wire will have a lot less turns on it than one would with 40 gauge. That would make the 44 gauge wire coil thinner and brighter sounding.

    So the resistance of the pickup is not useful for gauging the tone, and is only of use when comparing two similar pickups wound with the same wire size. Then you would know that with two pickups wound with 42 gauge wire (the most common size), the one that reads higher is probably hotter, and wound sound darker.

    Pickup makers generally wind to a number of turns of wire, and not the DC resistance.

    To generalize the influence on the tone of wire sizes, thiner wire accentuates the mids. So if you wind something like a Jazz bass pickup with 8,000 turns of 42, and one with 8,000 turns of 43, the pickup wound with 43 gauge will have a lot more mids, and a "tight" tone. Conversely, if you wing 8,000 turns of 40 gauge, or heavier, it will have more highs and lows and less mids, and a rounder looser tone.

    Sometimes thinner wire has to be used to fit more turns on a standard size bobbin. So a lot of hot wound pickups also tend to get mid heavy because of this.

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