Coil with metal other than copper

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Jazz Ad, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Has anyone tried that ?
    Would there be something interesting to find in this direction ?
  2. Obviously, there's lot of factors in pickup winding, but metal choice isn't really something to sweat about.

    Copper is the big winner. When picking a type of wire, the big factor is the resistance of the wire--there's a lot of turns in a pickup, and therefore there's many many feet of wire, which must be very fine wire, because otherwise the pickup would be absolutely huge. So, since the wire is very fine, the wire must be made of a material which is highly conductive (low resistance).

    The only metal with better conductivity than copper is silver, and it's only very slightly better. But the cost of silver is pretty astronomical. (Gold isn't as good a conductor as copper, by the way.)

    Sonically, despite some people's beliefs, there's no difference between copper and silver wire in audio components....
  3. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    No reason to use something else. Any other metal would require much more wire to be used to get the same output.
  4. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    You know, that's probably what people said about alnico and ceramic until somebody tried neodymium.
  5. Rick Turner

    Rick Turner

    Jul 14, 2004
    Jazz Ad, it's not the same deal at all. And people still use Alnico because magnetic strength isn't everything in a pickup.

    Silver would have a lower DCR. Aluminum would be higher and really hard to work with. The resistance characteristics of known alloys and pure metals are very well known. Not until we get superconducting materials that work at room temperature will much change even be possible with the coil material.

    I've used multi strand copper Litz wire with very, very interesting results. It reduces the skin effect and not only extends the high frequency response, but also tightens up the low end, and unexpected result until I talked to high end cable guru George Cardas who gave me a primer on phase response and group delay. Yes, the Litz improves those factors at low frequencies.

    Then there's the cost issue of using more exotic materials, even the Litz wire (which happens to be a total pain in the ass to wind). You bassists (and guitarists) have gotten used to a very narrow cost window for pickups, especially compared to a close relative, microphones. Nobody blinks at the prices for top end Neumann, AKG, Schoeps, etc. mics that can regularly be in the low thousands and even hit $10,000.00 (look up an AKG C-24). Any of us pickup makers would be laughed out of the business if we tried to make even a $500.00 pickup; you'd want it to sound five times as good as what you're used to, and be outraged at the price, and that's not the way it works.
  6. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Thanks for your input all. :)
    I'll look for info about Litz wire.
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I hear Tara Labs is coming out with gold-wound pickups in a new line. They'll be right at $17,500.