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Can you overwind a stock single coil pickup by hand?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Nlenhard17, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. Hi,

    I was reading about overwinding pickups to increase output, and I want to try to do this on my Rickenbacker. Is it possible to do myself? If anyone has, how?

  2. I don't think you can add windings to what's already there.
    You'd have to take off all the original windings & start over.

    better off just buying some after-market pickups

    or get some of RIC's own HB-1 pickups
    They've got noticeably more output than the single-coils:

    PICKUP ASSY HB1 650/4004 CHR

    Aqualung60 and Matthew_84 like this.
  3. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

  4. Do they have the classic Ric Squire/Geddy sound?

  5. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    This is not my wheelhouse, but I’m pretty sure KBD is correct, in that you can’t jist add more wire to an existing pu.
    As said there are plenty of after market or custom pu’s where you can get them overwound or wound to your exact specs.

    Or, if you’re actually interested in creating your own as much as the end result, I’m sure with the knowledge on this sight you can find out where to get the necessary supplies and learn the techniques so you can actually wind your own. I know there are a number of TB members who have would their own.

    Either way you go, good luck! I hope you find what you’re looking for!
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  6. Maybe not, but they do Motörhead brilliantly!
    Tony B. Filthy likes this.
  7. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    You can add windings to an existing coil. You just have to join the end of the coil to coil wire, solder and insulate the join, wound the rounds you want, solder a new end wire to the coil wire and wax pot the pickup. It’s doable but not easy. I’d wound the whole coil again.
  8. okabass


    Mar 19, 2005
    When you overwind the PU its sound changes too. More lo end, less high end. There's reason why classic bass PUs have certain number of windings: the sound of classic basses, and a great part of the sound is the PU.
    Bassbeater likes this.
  9. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    That’s an informed reply! And likely proof that it’s way more work than most would take on.
  10. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    It’s not much work IF you’re used to pickup winding but if this is your first touch with pickup wires etc there’s quite a lot of work. On top of that the possibility of having a dead pickup is big.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  11. Actually, if the pickup is not potted, and there's room left on the bobbin for more windings, it's pretty easy. Before the internet brought every aftermarket pickup in the world to your phone, overwinding was a very common mod.

    I started winding/rewinding/overwinding when I was a teenager. I re-purposed an old hand-cranked sharpening wheel by removing the stone and putting a simple flange to hold the bobbin. Double-sided tape or even blue-tack works just fine for this.

    The trick is to make sure you get the outer end of the winding wire. Carefully pull it from the solder lug (you'll probably need to put a blade under it for this), unwrap a turn or two, then twist the fine wire together with the new. Unlike regular soldering technique, the way to join them is to have a little blob of solder on the iron tip and pass this over the twisted section. After a few seconds, the insulation will burn off and the joined wire will be tinned. I'd recommend setting your iron temp by testing some wire first. Too cool and the insulation won't melt, too hot and the wire will just burn away to smoke. It is only as thick as a piece of hair!

    There's no need for any insulation. Just lay the join down and start slowly to wrap over it a few times. Then let it rip with the winding. A counter is pretty handy, but you can get away with just a multimeter for before and after resistance measurements. If you stop to test the resistance, you'll need to tin a small section of the new wire to allow the meter's probe to contact.

    Because junk pickups are dirt cheap, I would strongly recommend practising with one or two before you have at it with your ric pickup.

    The other thing I'd recommend is to measure and write down, the distance of the pickup poles from the strings before you remove the pickup in the first place. Also do some direct recordings. This way, you can reinstall the modded pickup as close as possible to its original position and directly compare the results.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
    inthevelvet and okabass like this.
  12. okabass


    Mar 19, 2005
    It takes at least several hundred turns 0.06 mm wire to make a little change. I would say 1 kΩ more and there is some noticeable difference. AWG 42 wire has ca. 5,5 Ω resistance per meter. So 1 kΩ is 182 metres, near 600 ft, and ca. 1200 turns.
  13. Thanks for all the replies!

    This sounds like a lot of work, would putting in new toaster and horshoe pickups give a squire-like tone? or should i go for the previously mentioned 4004 pickups?
  14. The great thing about the HB-1 is that they're humbuckers.
    If you want a more single-coll-like sound you could wire them in parallel.
    You could even go so far as using push/pull volume pots & then you'd be able to switch between series & parallel.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  15. Are you running Ric-o-sound and trying to use similar settings/effects as Squire did on each channel?

    That, in my opinion, will matter more to sounding like Squire than the pickups will.

    I’m not saying the pickups don’t effect the tone a lot, but if you already have a Rick and are running each channel through their own EQs and effects, you should be able to adjust the signals to sound close enough to convince most people.

    I would get the pickups KBD recommended (more so because I hate single coil hum), and just try to run the right EQ and effects to compensate.

    Oh, and use a pick.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
    Killed_by_Death likes this.

  16. ok, thank you!
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  17. farace


    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    Ric pickups are wound with even finer wire, 44 gauge.

    Funny, I usually read of people unwinding modern Ric pickups from the modern ~12k down to the vintage ~7-8k.
    okabass likes this.

  18. I was confused about if more winds made it sound vintage, is it hard to unwind?
  19. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    Easy answer- Yes.
    RW answer- You have NO IDEA what it will sound like OR if it will work once you've hand wound miles of wire. Most important, as you add winding you're losing highs at a mad rate. Why is output so important, doesn't your amp have a gain control?
    Pickup makers who have made thousands of them KNOW what it will sound like.
  20. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    You could always save yourself the hassle, and buy a new aftermarket pickup(s).
    Killed_by_Death likes this.

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