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you ever unwind your own pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by jim primate, Aug 25, 2007.


  1. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

    i heard something along the lines that the more winds of wire on a pickup the more output/midrange it has and that increase has a tendency to cut treble and bass.

    i'm not sure how right i am on any of those, but if that's the setup would removing a couple turns of copper wire maybe decrease my midrange and give me a boost in bass and treble? even though it lessen my output would i gain any clarity through increased treble?

    can anyone shed some light here and tell me if this works? and if it does is it applicable to any kind of pickup or just single coils or just humbuckers or what?

    let me know if pickups are too delicate a balance to go mucking about with in such a fashion.

    thanks.
     
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Yeah, I saw that Duncan ad in Bass Player, too. I don't know if I'd go messing with a good pickup, but I might find a cheapo and try it out.
     
  3. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

    chalk it up to coincidence. i have no idea what you're talking about.
     
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Oh really? OK, well Duncan has an ad in BP that says basically the same thing.
     
  5. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

    neat. does it offer any insight into the matter?

    i'm reading some other odds and ends. i suppose it would be as simple as pulling off some wire, breaking it off after every couple hundred turns until you get a reading on an ohmeter you like.

    then just reattaching all that you undid to remove the wire.

    i guess it's mainly just the difficulty of breaking into the heavily potted rio grande pitbulls and scrounging up an ohmeter.
     
  6. Phil Mailloux

    Phil Mailloux

    Mar 25, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Builder: Mailloux Basses

    Yes it would work but you need to unwind more than a couple of turns if you want a good difference in sound. A typical jazz bass pickup has along the lines of 10,000 turns on it and an output around 9 to 9.5 kOhm. Pickup makers design different sorts of pups by mostly playing with the amount of winds, bobbin size and wire (and it's pretty much only 42awg and 43awg, the latter is for overwound pickups as more wire fit around the bobbin and thus cause an increase in output).

    Back in the old days, Fender didn't use any set number of turns for their pickups as they do now. That's the reason so many old instruments sound different from each other. I've heard of 60's Jazzes with output around 4 to 5 kOhm. That is SERIOUSLY underwound :p A normal underwound pickup would have about 8 - 8.5 kOhm.

    So the whole point of this is that you can pretty much play with the amount of turns on your coil until you turn blue in the face. That's what every builder has done to create new pickups with different sounds. By playing with the coil thickness, length and width you end up having totally different souding pickups.

    The same applies to humbuckers, they're basically two single coils connected together in a certain configuration.

    Just don't experiment on a pickup you like, these things are delicate and the wire is very thin and easy to break. You'll also need minimal soldering skills. Make sure you don't break or desolder the start wire of the coil, just the end one. ;)

    In the spirit of the TB "if there's no pic, it don't exist" rule, here's half a humbucker I built for a 9 string bass. :D

    28-08-07011.
     
  7. I was wondering when and where I was going to see a photo of that monster (and you only show half :( )...oh well...

    hmmm...I don't see my Yamaha pickup in the background...lol...;)

    BTW...nice job with the flatwork...1/2 kilo of copper, 250g of potting wax and there you have it...you're everyday, run-of-the-mill, 9-string-bass pickup...:D
     
  8. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

    mental typo: i meant unwind a couple hundred turns of wire.

    for a humbucker based on what i've read i have to treat it as two seperate single coils and then add the outputs of what i have together for the total output.

    i'm thinking if taking the humbuckers from about 14kOhms to about 9kOhms. so i'd have to unwind each half of the humbuckers to about 4.5kOhms.

    speaking of all of this anyone know where i can get a steel or iron plate to put beneath a pickup to increase the magnetic field?
     
  9. 7k down to 4.5k for each half, means that you'll have to unwind 2.5k of windings...that's a LOT more than a few hundred turns....

    here's an easier, more practical solution...wire your 14k humbucker in parallel instead of series...
     
  10. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

    how do i do that?

    also, please note: i have 2 humbuckers in this bass.
     
  11. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

    it's been awhile since i looked but i'm pretty sure it is a four lead pickup.

    it's a rio grande pitbull, fyi.
     
  12. One issue not being addressed here is that most pickups have been potted. That is they have been dipped in hot wax to both protect the coils and to reduce noise. Trying to unwind a pickup is likely to interfere with the potting and could cause additional problems.

    I would also check with a local luthier. From all the discussions I have had, it is my impression that overwinding tend to increase bass response and output. I believe that unwinding would actually increase upper mids and treble. If this is the case, unwinding the coils would probably have the exact opposite effect than what you are looking for.
     
  13. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

    i think you've misunderstood my issue. the output is too loud and lends itself to muddiness. so, more treble and upper mids would be what i'm after. i'm not too worried about the decreased bass response.

    no matter though, as these pickups are pretty much sealed shut. i've dealt with potted pickups and potted my own to deal with a jazz bass pickup that had gone microphonic.
     

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