Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Pickup physics, anybody?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Suburban, May 13, 2005.


  1. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Does anybody know how to design a pickup?

    I.e. how to decide magnet (in Tesla), how to determine magnetic influence of a coil in respect of winds and other parameters? How to determine resistance and inductance of a coil? How tonal qualities and output level are effected? Etc.
    In theory, before maikng, in order to know what one is doing...

    I'm considering giving it a try, but I like to know what I'm doing... :eek:
     
  2. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    what you're basically talking about is a book on how to wind pickups and I doubt there's any like you're implying. Guitar electronics for musicians has some good info on pickups. Enough to give a rudimentary understanding. Jason Lollar wrote a small book on winding pups that is currently out of print and I've got a partial copy that a fellow TB'r was kind enough to email and I can ship that to you when I'm free to to tie up the computer. I haven't even read it yet myself. Lollar is possibly going to do an updated version.

    There's a fair amount of stuff scattered about on the net by doing a google search so that would be a good start cause you're not going to get all the answers you're looking for in one place, and probably not at all but you'll know more than you do now.
     
  3. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    My suggestion is to not only start looking on the Net for info, but also to begin experimenting (i.e., build your own pups and see what happens).

    Good luck - you'll probably learn a lot.
     
  4. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    luknfur: I'd like that parcel very much! Whenever you find a possibility...

    CJK84: My intention was, and has always been, to learn first and do after. Simply because my time is my shortest asset! And I'm not a rich man, at all...

    So, if anybody has anything to add to this, please do!

    Any electrics student, for example? I remember doing a lot of these calculations in university, but at that time, lelctrics were out of my sphere of interest, so I threw away the books...NEVER throw away books!!!
     
  5. Fred Hammon

    Fred Hammon Dark Star pickups

    May 13, 2005
    Jason Lollar wrote a very good book on winding your own pickups as well as how to build a winder using easily obtained materials such as sewing machine motors with foot control etc. It's the best book ....I was going to say available but unfortunately it's out of print. It does show up on Ebay occasionally. I recommend you get it if you're serious. It answers most, if not all of the questions you might have to get you started.

    Just do an Ebay search for "Jason Lollar every few days. It will come up sooner or later.
     
  6. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

  7. Fred Hammon

    Fred Hammon Dark Star pickups

    May 13, 2005
    We/they can be pretty brutal to newbies who don't do their homework before hand.....Ask informed questions only! Might be a good idea to wear a helmet...and maybe a cup before entering the Pickup Makers Forum. ;)
     
  8. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Aww, I've hung out with Dr. Strangelove, he's actually a sweetheart. :cool:

    That's good advice when you're going to any technical forum though, in my experience.
     
  9. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    You get the PM I sent?
     
  10. ArtisFallen

    ArtisFallen

    Jul 21, 2004
    I was all set up to start experiment with winding my own pickups. had all the parts and most of the tools, i just couldn't find 42 awg wire at a good price...

    any pointers?
     
  11. Fred Hammon

    Fred Hammon Dark Star pickups

    May 13, 2005
  12. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Returned! I've been away for a while, to explain the delay.

    A question from the uninformed: how much theory is in Lollar's book? I get the impression that he explains how to do a traditional pup, but not 'why' it's designed that way - right?
     
  13. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    I don't know, I still haven't read it. I just looked it over well enough to make sure it all down loaded when I got it. I was in no pressing need for the info, simply took advantage of the opportunity to get it when the opportunity presented itself.
     
  14. Audere

    Audere Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 7, 2005
    South Beach, OR
    Owner: Audere Audio
    This is correct - very little theory in the book
     
  15. Fred Hammon

    Fred Hammon Dark Star pickups

    May 13, 2005
    I want you guys to repeat after me.

    "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing"

    Not that theory is a bad thing but you can get bogged down into it so much you won't be able to produce anything worthwhile. Learn the basics first. Copy the "masters" etc. Learn what has been working for the last 50 years and why nobody's been able to do much to improve it. Most of the theory that's being discussed is trying to figure out why pickups sound the way they do....(nobody really knows for sure. Strange things happen when you wind wire around a magnet) meanwhile people like myself and Lollar, T.V Jones, Fralin, Rick Turner etc. are actually producing something that people are using.

    Here's the link (again I think) to the Pickup Maker's Forum where you can discuss and digest all the theory you care to handle. There really are some brilliant ( and not so swift) people posting there that are happy to explore theory with you. Remember much of anything you might ask has been discussed to death so reading past threads might be a good place to start before asking questions.

    The best way to learn is to just DO IT! Get Jason's book if you can find it. It's the fastest way to get started out on the right path. Find out why a tiny difference in wire gauge can make a big difference in tone. It's in there. Different magnet types, bobbin designs etc. it's all there. He also tells you where some good sources for materials are. Damn good book.

    Before it went out of print any newbies posting at the PMF with basic questions were just told to "get the book" first.

    http://www.firebottle.com/ampage

    One more thought. You might want to familiarize yourself with certain basic term like Capacitance, Distributed Capacitance, Resistance, Impedance, Inductance, Eddy Currents, Skin Effect, Gauss, Alnico (II,IV,V) vs Ceramic magnets. Do Google searches on these terms alone and in combination with each other, always including the word "coil". There's a wealth of info out there.
     
  16. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    Yep, from my experience with onboard electronics, I'd concur with Fred. I've never attempted and really have no desire to wire my own pups but from what I know about it, you just need the basics to point you in a direction and to be able to have some understanding of what it takes to get a desired response - and what it takes to move you in the direction you want to go from what you've got. I'm guessing Jason weighted his book in accord with what he felt was important.

    Seems to me, the critical aspect of winding a pup is the capacity to duplicate one once you've made one that's worthy, and I'm guessing that's no Little Feat (great band, couldn't resist).
     
  17. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Been to the ampage, following your link earlier. Scrolled and read for hours. Lots and heaps of threads, but very little about the "why" - the physics.

    Ah! So there are some "whys" answered by Jason Lollar!?! Good to hear, thanks a bunch! :hyper:
    Well, Fred...I am sorry that I have failed to communicate that this thread intended to find som help on re-8/b]familiarizing myself with these terms, and the parameters of each. Since I did Google, and got entirely lost in the "wealth" :eek: :bawl:

    Well, I guess I have to get some Lollar pages (luk... ;) )
     
  18. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    There you go bud. That was a good 30 minutes in transit. I just hope it was the lollar info and not the Naked New Years Bash.
     
  19. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Oh, that explains the strange pictures...
    Seriously: I've done a quick browsing, and see that he does take a very practical approach to pickups, which is what I expected. Being a start, even a good start, that is not what I wanted!
    I still want to know the physics of pickups!! Which is remarkably hard to find! :( :help:
     
  20. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    It may just be the nature of the beast. As far as I know, we still really don't even know what electricity is - but we know how to harness it, store it, and use it - and that's pretty much the way pup winding seems to be.

    Research on pickups is not likely something to show up in a theoritical context like a thesis or dissertation at a university because, at best, most the technically educated guys in music are engineers in which the BS (undergraduate) is considered a terminal degree - and rarely is a serious research paper required for a BS.

    Hadn't thought about it before but look into magnetic field theory if you want theory. Thats what's at the core of a pickup (no pun intended). Google search time (foxfire if you have access):

    http://stuffo.howstuffworks.com/electric-guitar.htm

    Here's you're ticket bud. Track down this prof at the University of Illinoise, he'll probably know most of the other research that's been done and other folks in the know to contact. Tell him Dr. Dimento sent ya :- )

    http://online.physics.uiuc.edu/courses/phys498pom/Lab_Handouts/P498POM_Experiment_Setups.pdf

    http://online.physics.uiuc.edu/cour...douts/Electric_Guitar_Pickup_Measurements.pdf

    Here's another one - and I'm not even luknfur this stuff, I'm luknfur sumpthin else:

    http://online.physics.uiuc.edu/cour...g_Brown/Douglas_Brown_P199POM_Final_Paper.pdf

    http://www.muc.de/~hm/music/pickups.html