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Why Copper Wire?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by 6-3-2, Jul 21, 2004.

  1. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    I know most pickups if not all use copper wire to wrap around the magnets. That does make sense copper is a good conductor, probably would create a good current. There's metals though that are far better conductors, plenty of audio cables have gold wires, why not pickups? Do those metals not sound as good, or is it just too expensive? Has anyone even experimented with the idea?
    Is it just overkill? I've read about pickups having too strong of a magnetic pull on strings and messing up the feel of the strings.. I would think maybe a better conductor might magnify that.
  2. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    The wire has nothing to do with the magnetic pull on the strings. The pull on the strings is due to the fact that every pickup is made from permanent magnets. Get those magnets too close to the strings and yes, they will pull on the strings.

    Copper is used because overall it has the best combination of desireable qualities including a balance of cost, durability, and conductance. It is also easy to work with because it bends easily without breaking and solders easily.

    I don't know for a fact, but I'd be willing to bet that there is nothing significant that can be gained by moving to a gold alloy.
  3. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    Interesting, yeah that's what I thought, it's just the most reasonable metal overall.
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Gold is not a better conductor than copper, silver is though.
    Gold can't oxidize, that's the only advantage, but it doesn't matter on a plug, for example, because you scrape it clean every time you plug it in.
  5. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    Really? I thought gold was the best conductor behind platinum. I remember hearing back in the day the US goverment collected and melted tons of gold coins in order to make wires for nuclear development because it provided the most power, they did do that with silver too, maybe my order is mixed up.
  6. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Silver is the best conducting metal. It is about 8% better than copper but many times its price, so most wires for carrying signal are made of copper.
  7. The other nice thing about silver is that its oxide is conductive…

    - Wil
  8. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    Copper is used because it is the best. It's cheap, easy to work with, has good conductivity. Silver has even better conductivity, but it is much more expensive (you knew that) and not as easy to work with - or so I am told. I've read of audiophiles who use silver in the transformers in tube amps; for example the Audio Note Ongaku amp. But those are horribly expensive. Improvement is marginal. Stick to copper.
  9. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    Expensive yeah, but it does seem cool. Man that must be a lot of silver for $50,000 though.
  10. Tim__x


    Aug 13, 2002
    Alberta, Canada
    Or just a very large profit.
  11. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    Haha, yeah maybe, like Gibsons.
  12. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    A lower resistance wire wouldn't necessarily sound better, just different. In fact, what about aluminum? Higher resistance than copper. The sound qualities of a pickup depend on (among other things) the inductance (# of turns) and resistance of the wire. With aluminum wire, you'd get higher resistance for the same inductance.
  13. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    Lace made a guitar pickup called the Alumi-tone, i don't really know what makes it special but there sure is aluminum somewhere in there.
  14. not to be dumb or air headed but are you sure silver is the best. i took electricity in school this year and of course that was one of the requirement to learn but that was almost a year ago. im pretty sure gold is the best followed by silver followed by alluminum i think....dont know. just thought id add somthin so i can get chewed out again like i do everytime i post.

  15. Yes!


    - Wil
  16. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    Ha i knew it, i thought that seemed weird.
  17. Because the use of carrot wire was banned when magnetic pickups were first being made, causing instantaneous implosions of the cranium as the first note was sounded....

    In short...It'd make you sound so good, your head would splatter like a frog with an M80 in its mouth...

    In Shorter...I'm an idiot :bag: