Curious about silver/gold wire in rewinding pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by mcdeath, Aug 10, 2003.

  1. Before I go start doing any research I figure I'd come here and ask this question.

    Is there any point to using a premium metal wire in rewinding pickups?

    I know that most pickups are wound with copper wire. But I was wondering if there was any practical reason why a pickup should be wound with silver, gold or platnium wire. Doesn't gold have a higher conductivity than copper? Wouldn't that have an effect on tone and response?

    Just curious.

  2. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    My guess is, if you use gold wire in your pickups, you'd need to use gold wire for everything else as well (amp circuitry, cables, pickup wiring, speaker cables, etc.), if you wanted to see/hear any benefits.

    I was once told by a car audio guy that people that use gold plugs on copper wires (to run from their car amps to their speakers) are just wasting their money. In order to benefit from the gold connections, they'd also need to use gold wiring. I'm assuming the same thing applies to your question, but I'm sure a more knowledgeable TBer will be along shortly to either back me up or shoot me down...

    Blatta, blatta, blatta, blatta, kaboom!

  3. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    The main reason I've usually heard for using gold in connectors is not because it's more conductive than copper, but because it's very conductive and doesn't oxidize when exposed to the air, which is a factor much more relevent to connectors than wiring.

    As for using gold wiring for pickup winding, I'm sure somebody's tried it, but I don't know that I've ever heard any reports about the results. It could get very expensive, though, when you consider how much wire is involved...

  4. Plus you can get high quality silver wire from companies such as McMaster-Carr. On the plus side there are companies that provide silver wire cables. There are also a number of amp builders in my area that do custom work so a silver amp isn't compeletely out of the realm of possibilities either.

    Still kinda curious.

    I'm also kinda curious about a pickup wired as a superconductor. Though not curious enough to go build one. :)

  5. DW


    Jun 22, 2000
    Copper has much higher electrical conductivity than gold, about 40% higher. Silver is slightly more conductive than copper, about 8% higher. If there were any noticeable tonal advantage to using silver over copper, and there's no evidence to support that, it would be outweighed by the huge cost difference.
  6. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Have you actually talked to any pickup manufacturers? Do any of them work with anything except for copper wire? I'd be surprised if they did because I can see no real advantage to it.
  7. If gold offers a higher resistance than copper (taking the inverse of DW's post) wouldn't that mean that if you use the same thickness of wire and number of winds, you'll have a greater output from the gold pup? 40% is a pretty big difference, 8% isn't though.

    Theres bound to be tonal differences, its physics, if there is tonal difference in using different thicknesses of wire, or changing the number of winds, then there will be difference in changing the wire used to wind the pickups. Its physics: resistance, induced current, that sorta thing.

    Gold is used for connections because it is a very stable element and as a result doesn't oxidise easily. Therefore, they are less inclined to deteriorate over time.

    Josh D
  8. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    The number of winds determines the output. People go by the DC resistance for "hotness" sometimes because it's a rough indication of the # of winds. So, you would merely have a higher resistance w/ same turns and gauge. That would change the resonant frequency of it, making it lower.

    Meanwhile, you could never wind gold wires as thin as the copper ones in pickups. They'd just pull apart.
  9. bollefen


    Mar 13, 2003
    i think yo will find a really hard time finding either in a suitable gauge that has been insulated. aside from the obvious cost differential in material, the handling of preciious metals increases their costs and to get it insulated ... i'm thinking COPPER! ;)

    and it is used on connectors to minimize problems associated with oxidation.

    some threads mention bad inputs where the true problem could be caused by oxidation on either the jack or the cable.


  10. I stand corrected. I checked out my year 12 physics textbook, F=BIL, (F: force, B: magnetic flux, I: current, L: length of wire) is the equation for inducing current.

    In that case, for pickup wire, you want it to have as little resistance as possible still?

    Josh D
  11. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Actually, F= BIL is the equation for the force created on a conductor in a magnetic field.

    The equation for induction is different, though similar. Can't remember it off the top of my head - but the current induced is indeed proportional to the number of turns.
  12. I was thinking it through and it didn't make a lot of sense, the current decreasing with more winds rather than increasing.

    EMF = BLv. Is this the one? This time: more winds = bigger L = more EMF. Yes, this one is much nicer.

    Josh D
  13. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Close. That's the one that says what voltage is induced in a conductor that's moving through a magnetic field. ;)

    That equation applies to the strings, actually. They have an alternating current induced in them as they wiggle through the pickup's static magnetic field. This in turn alters the field a little bit. As the field going through the coil changes, it induces an alternating current (uh, voltage? hmm I should know that) in the coil.

    So the equation you're looking for describes a voltage(current?) being proportional to a change in magnetic flux. This is Faraday's Law. Something like

    V = N * (change in flux) / (change in time)

    N = number of turns

    Ah, it's a voltage: