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Single string pickups

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by synesthesia, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. synesthesia


    Mar 14, 2011
    I have been thinking about these for a while and started lookin into them some more. The idea has been brought up on here a few times but the question I have was never addressed that I saw. Here is an example for anyone who doesnt know what I am talking about:
    I saw that a company called synco makes them. A place called wind world makes what they call magnetic spot pickups.
    Its done with a lot of electric violins, double basses etc. I have wound pickups before and I am thinking about winding some of these to play with for a standard electric but I was wondering about the target value I should wind to. Some of the sites I saw had them wired in series but I wouldnt want to do that. I would want to isolate each coil. But that makes me wonder what ohm value I should be hitting. I dont know a lot about pickup winding theory. Say I usually wind my pickups to 10k ohms. Should each individual coil be wound to 10k ohms? Or should they be a sixth of that value even though it wont be wired in series? I didnt know if the value would change if its only responding to one strings movements.
  2. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    A couple of points/questions for you:

    1. What do you mean by coils isolated from each other? unless you're sending each coil to a separate amplifier or buffer preamp, they've got to be combined somehow, either in series or in parallel.
    2. If you combine them in parallel, the impedances reduce (instead of adding when in series), but they still interact hugely
    3. Why do you want the coils to be mutually isolated - what is the goal?
    4. After specifying the end goals of the design, you could figure what the required capacitance, inductance, and resistance would be, and from there move to wire gauges and turns - these things also interacting with the choices of parallel, serial, or serial/parallel
  3. EricssonB


    Apr 5, 2011
    CoSpgs, CO.
  4. synesthesia


    Mar 14, 2011
    Well I will first say that I have just begun working with pickup winding so there is a lot that I do not know. My goal is essentially to isolate the strings themselves so that I can layer my sounds. For instance, I would have a standard magnetic pickup but I would also have individual string pickups that would each act as a single pickup that I can activate and control separately. So I can essentially designate string sections to have a different tone. For a standard guitar, I could set E and A for a rhythm/bassline to be chunkier while the treble side can remain clean. I feel like I would also be able to layer my sounds by using one pickup to effect the entire range and individuals that only effect certain strings.
    So in that, I would treat each coil as a separate pickup with its own controls. I would be ok with having a separate output jack for them too if that were necessary. Again, please excuse my ignorance on the subject.
  5. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    That sounds like a routing nightmare with cables.
  6. synesthesia


    Mar 14, 2011
    I dont think it would be too bad. If I were to use a pickguard it would be easy and if I didnt (which i wouldnt because I usually dislike the look of pickguards) it would just take a little prep work before the cap glue up
  7. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    I believe you want a similar number of turns, not a similar resistance.
    That assumes that the magnets are the same.

    A good starting point might be to wind it so the total winding is the
    same thickness as in a standard pickup.

    The various guidelines would still apply, less turns would be lower
    output and brighter, etc.
  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Sounds interesting. Seems like if you want to have two dedicated outputs for this "pickup," and you want to be able to flexibly assign each string to one or the other output, and if you want to have the tone of the strings be unaffected by how many neighbors it was sharing the output with -- then you'd need six buffer amps, followed by six toggle switches, and then two six-input summing amps, and out to the two jacks.
  9. synesthesia


    Mar 14, 2011
    Lol I think this is quickly outrunning my knowledge on the topic. Could I use the same output for all the pickups then? For instance, say I had a standard bridge pickup, and in the neck position I had 6 individual string pickups. Each of the six were ran to their own controls as well as to a killswitch. All of those leads would then join and would share a blend pot with the bridge pickup. Would this sort of a configuration work? Would there be too much cross talk?
  10. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    Wal pickups have similar coils. They have 10000 turns of 42AWG wire. I make my individual coil pickups with 8500 turns of 42AWG. Wals have adjustable steel pole pieces, I use AlnicoV rods. I've made both style pickups and they both work just fine.
  11. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    On second thought, the summing amps may make the six buffer amps unnecessary.
  12. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Again, you've got to define your goals. Here you're saying you no longer want separate outputs. In order to simplify. But what do you mean by each string to its own controls - six volumes and six tone knobs?
  13. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    This is a really interesting idea. You could even push the math to determine the exact spot each pu should be for each string.

    There are a bunch of electrical engineers that hang out in the PickUp/Electronic Sub Forum. I would repost there or ask a mod to move this thread.

    You are definitely on to something.
  14. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2012
    Didn't SDG try something along the same lines with his Wal inspired pickup design? Maybe you could try asking him for some input?

    Oh, and I'll be following this thread. It looks very interesting. :)
  15. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Maybe you could group the strings for simpler controls?

    E+A, D+G, B+E? You might be able to get away with 3 stacked V+T mini pots. If you made them RWRP you could essentially have the benefit of three super quiet humbuckers this way. Like adding a third split coil P segment.

    If not, you will end up with 6 stacks or 6 vol and 6 tone, in addition to whatever you have for the bridge.

    I think i would skip the whole 'Master Blend' concept. Since you already have fine control over all 7 pickups, I think blend is superfluous. What you may consider is a master volume for this group of 6. This way you can set up the 'mix' of your 6 pickups with the individual pots, and use the Master to add or subtract that whole 'mix' as needed.

    A three-way switch for neck/neck+bridge/bridge may also be handy.

    I'm up in the air about whether a second output jack is required. It would be nice to have different effects on the two styles of pickups. Just convinced myself. Add the second jack.

    In order to do this right, that bridge pu is going to have to be a tappable humbucker. Your guitar is going to look like the Space Shuttle cockpit, but it will be so tweakable.

    These are just my thoughts, and i have no idea how to accomplish any of it...but i cant wait to see what you come up with!
  16. Triad

    Triad Commercial User

    Jul 4, 2006
    Luthier - Prometeus Guitars
    I've made a normal-looking humbucker once, it contained 8 coils (for a 4 strings) wired in series. They sound different from a standard hb made with 2 coils. The wire can embrace the magnets differently, more wire close to the magnets gives a better/brighter sound. Of course this solution takes 4 times the work needed for 2 coils.
  17. miiitch


    Nov 27, 2011
    one step further:

    make these pickups movable along a rail!
    i would definitely get these (as long as they aren´t ridiculously expensive).
  18. synesthesia


    Mar 14, 2011
    Well I never meant to say that I wanted two outputs. I was just ok with using two if that were necessary. I wasnt sure it would function right with one.
    And yeah, I was either thinking a tone for each along with a mini toggle killswitch or a push/pull for volume and tone and a mini toggle.
  19. synesthesia


    Mar 14, 2011
    That would be great if it got some more interest and input

    I have actually thought about that and am still considering doing 3 groupings just for simplicity's sake. I guess Ill have to see what I want to do once I begin making some of my mini coils. And thats a good point on the blend pot. Perhaps I will just resort to a master volume for the whole set of individuals. I like that better.
    The second output was never really part of it in the beginning but I do really like the idea of having it totally separate so that I can have it go through different effects. And lol It might look ridiculous with all the pots and switches but I figure once I get something that works I can then go about combining switches and the like to simplify my setup. Hopefully without losing tweakability
  20. synesthesia


    Mar 14, 2011
    I have actually wanted to do this ever since I saw things like this:
    There is another I remember seing where the pickup looked like it was a windshield wiper and could wipe side to side to adjust the position. But I cant find what that was anymore. I never really tried anything because Ive never seen one that had that capability that didnt look ridiculous. I have thought about mounting a pickup subsurface on rails so you wouldnt be able to see it like a pagelli bass but never tried it. Maybe if I get some coils I like Ill try and find a way to give them lateral adjustment. It would really just depend on whether I thought I could get them to move enough to render a significant tonal variation