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so where did the vintage fender pickups=formvar wire come from?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by narud, Apr 8, 2009.


  1. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    so im having Jason Lollar build me a higher output neck pickup for my slab board 62 jazz. when i told him what the purpose of the pickup would be, i got an email back with specs id need which included plain enamel wire. that kind of threw me off because all ive ever heard was pre cbs was formvar and all the "era correct" vintage replacements are formvar.

    well, being curious, i went and inspected my bass. this made me sweat, but i did it anyway. i manged to pry off the cover of the bridge pickup just enough to snap a picture and sure enough the wire is enamel.
    3424106149_3a58b384dc.

    now recently, someone here posted a picture of their pickup out of a 64 p bass and the wire was enamel as well. i did some quick searching and found a thread on another board of a guy cloning an olympic white 65 jazz. the pickups in that bass had enamel wire as well. well when did fender bass pickups use formvar wire?
     
  2. GlennW

    GlennW

    Sep 6, 2006
    I'd guess mid-'70s for bass pickups, but I have no idea.

    Fralin uses it in his bass pickups, is that where you heard it?

    Edit: I found something which says Strats used Formvar through about '64 and switched to enamel.
     
  3. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    fralins are formvar, fender's custom shop 60's are formvar, nordstrands nj4's are advertised as era correct formvar, aeros are formvar (if im remembering the set i had correctly),jimmy coppolo uses formvar wire in the pickups he winds for his basses which are supposed to be 60's correct,etc.
     
  4. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    yeah, Jason said the same thing about pre cbs strats being formvar and the teles were enamel.
     
  5. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Using formvar or even plain enamel wont change the tone much at all. Very early fender pickups used heavy formvar, and that's the reason they sound different. The insulation was thicker.

    I don't think they ever used that on the bass pickups though.
     
  6. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    well, i didnt write it out, but all those makers i mentioned are using heavy formvar. so then the same pickup they are making would sound different if they were using plain enamel right?
     
  7. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Yeah, heavy formvar would be brighter.
     
  8. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    when asking jimmy coppolo why he wasnt using enamel in his 70's style basses he said that it would be to bright with a maple board and thats why he used the same heavy formvar pickups in both his 60s and 70's style basses.
     
  9. GlennW

    GlennW

    Sep 6, 2006
    I would have guessed darker because of the coil being larger for x amount of turns.

    Another lesson, thanks.
     
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    The reason it's brighter is it's lower capacitance due to each turn being father away from the last. ;)

    The bigger coil probably smooths it out.
     
  11. GlennW

    GlennW

    Sep 6, 2006
    Thanks for explaining that.
     
  12. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz?

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Could it be because you spec'd out high output and the builder felt this type of wire would give you what you wanted?
    I'm assuming you want higher output than what could be expected from a 62'.
     
  13. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    nope, my stock bridge pickup has abnormally low out put. it ohms out at 5.7k. he's winding something that will be correct for the bridge pickup. not overwound in anyway. and as you can see by the pic i posted, the stock bridge pickup is plain enamel.
     
  14. AndyMan

    AndyMan Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 17, 2000
    Columbus, Ohio
    http://myplaceproductionsllc.com/
    Do Duncan Antiquites II jazz pups have formvar?
     
  15. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    nope, enamel
     
  16. Ron Daniels

    Ron Daniels

    Jan 26, 2015
    Making pickups and sold 1/2 dozen sets... but not yet sure if I'm going to launch a business around it.
    I know I'm a little late to the game on this thread but.... I recently re-wound my friend's '73 J bass front pick up. Twice...

    Once with poly to get it working again (coil had gone open, and since it was lacquer potted, there was no unwinding it to the break).

    Then... we found out what the bass was worth and I rewound again with the same plain enamel that it was originally built with. I know that the nominal thickness of PE and Poly should be the same, but I'd swear my coil was significantly smaller on the second attempt.

    Here's a video of the second re-wind, including playing a lick before and after the switch from poly back to enamel, played on only the front pickup (back wasn't touched).





    Enjoy and feel free to comment if you hear any difference between the two.




    Ron Daniels
     
    iiipopes likes this.
  17. iiipopes

    iiipopes

    May 4, 2009
    Wow! The poly sounded dull. The rewind sounded rich, harmonically complex, more "alive." Great job!
     
  18. brorbjoern

    brorbjoern

    Jan 4, 2012
    Leo always just used what he could get a good deal on. He was an electrical engineer, not a luthier. Pine, Ash, Alder and maple were cheap where his factory was, that's why they got used. Same goes for the wire, 1 month he'd buy formwar, the next enamel, dependent on the deal he could get. (besides the only thing isolation around the wire would do, was if one isolation was thicker than another, changing the coils shape factor).
     
    Snaxster likes this.

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