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Thread: How much money do I need to invest?

  1. #1
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    How much money do I need to invest?

    I want to start making my own Pups for my 8 les pauls. I know that the guitar and pickups should nick together to produce the sound that I want for each guitar, How ever this process is so costly in the long run If I were to buy from boutique winders. My question is how much money will I invest for decent equipment such as pickup winders and some other stuffs to start winding my own pups.

    _ Nostalgia_

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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nostalgia View Post
    how much money will I invest for decent equipment such as pickup winders and some other stuffs to start winding my own pups.
    A lot more than buying eight sets of boutique p'ups, that's for sure.

    And this without any guarantee of you'll be able to nail the tones you're after. EVER.

    If you're looking to save money, you've chosen the wrong path, mate.

    HTH,
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    Senior Member Jim Shine's Avatar
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    Kojak is right. There is a learning curve and it is not predictable how fast you will grasp the techniques. The cheaper the winding setup means more of the characteristics of the pickup depends on you and your technique. You can spend thousands and buy a automated winder (and still not know the best sounding formula). Or a hundred and use a drill, but burn through unknown amounts of wire and time getting a technique down that creates a pleasing sounding pickup. You may never really get it..some people just don't.

    There is a lot more to a pickup than sum of their parts. The windings are applied deliberately and have a real affect on the tone of the pickup. When you are buying any pickup, boutique or mass production, you are paying them to use their expertise in acquiring the sound you want. The boutique guys do this by listening to what you are seeking, and making a pickup just for you. They have to charge more than a pickup wound to a generic spec on multi bobbin machines.
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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Ditto +1 Here.
    You can wind on a budget, if you control the urge to buy all the fancy stuff that is used here.
    It is Like Reloading Ammunition.
    I've alway been a Hunter, & Shooter, and reload my own ammo.(I live Rural)
    You can make some superior Ammo, and superior Pickups IMO, but saving money is not the reason to do it.
    I probably have $1K in magnet wire sitting around, not to mention the magnets, bobbins, base plates, etc.
    So Good Luck in whatever you decide.
    I'm retired and work cheap, drop me a PM if I can help!
    T
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    Supporting Member SonnyW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nostalgia View Post
    I want to start making my own Pups for my 8 les pauls. I know that the guitar and pickups should nick together to produce the sound that I want for each guitar, How ever this process is so costly in the long run If I were to buy from boutique winders. My question is how much money will I invest for decent equipment such as pickup winders and some other stuffs to start winding my own pups.

    _ Nostalgia_
    It isn't about money. I thought that too at first, like I could save some money on pickups by winding them myself. Well I did do just that the first couple of them, but it was beginners luck. I started as a collector and restoring old guitars.

    Here's a rough number kind of answer to your original question.

    Meters: You will need a good LCR meter and the Extech is the best by far. You will also need a decent multimeter Lets say you can get these for a total of $300 if you shop around including shipping.

    Charging: You will at least need a couple of decent sized neos for charging. Call that $40. If you want to put them in a vise, (recommended) add $20+ If you want a commercial charger expect to pay $650 and up.

    Winder: Most make their own. The minimum commercial winder would be the Schatten, which is around $350. If you modify a sewing machine or make soemthing like that you might be able to get a winder under $100. If you want a CNC winder expect to pay upwards of $2000 for anything decent. You might be lucky and find some old mechanical winders around but they are both scarce and expensive. Call this section $350.

    Gauss meter. Not totally essential, but I wouldn't do without mine. Cost ranges from about $75 to over $300..

    Parts: depending on what you want to build, the parts will be a startup expense. To make humbuckers, you are going to need baseplates, wire, screws, slugs, bobbins, covers, lead wire, etc. I will let you do the work on this but I would expect a minimum starting investment of $500 for enough parts to experiment. You will waste some wire and buy some parts that you will end up not needing. Everyone does. This is also assuming you already have a soldering station and basics like that.

    Now we are looking at a minimum investment of $1190 not including your time. I would say my initial investment was closer to $2000, and now I have over $10,000 invested at least, if not much more. It would take too much time to research it and count it all up.

    Would I do it all again? Yes without a doubt. Do I have pickups I like? Unquestionably. Is it cost effective? Not in the least.
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  6. #6
    Supporting Member SonnyW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    Ditto +1 Here.
    You can wind on a budget, if you control the urge to buy all the fancy stuff that is used here.
    It is Like Reloading Ammunition.
    I've alway been a Hunter, & Shooter, and reload my own ammo.(I live Rural)
    You can make some superior Ammo, and superior Pickups IMO, but saving money is not the reason to do it.
    I probably have $1K in magnet wire sitting around, not to mention the magnets, bobbins, base plates, etc.
    So Good Luck in whatever you decide.
    I'm retired and work cheap, drop me a PM if I can help!
    T
    Some of the reloading and gunsmith stuff has a double use for pickup making and guitar stuff. Like the tumblers for magnets. Or the bluing solutions for blades. Or the gunstock finishing solutions as used on fretboards. I have found an unusual amount of similarities here. I do both things as well. And you never know what time will bring. Nothing like being prepared though these days.
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    Listen,
    I think we can all say to a person that we thought our first pickup sounded great. I'd just buy a stack of Allparts, Stewmac or Mojotone HB kits and wind with an electric drill and a simple mechanical counter. You'll get a great deal of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. If you get hooked then you can start down the long path of tooling up but if you just want to wind up the required 32 coils and move on to the next project an electric drill is more than adequate. Half pound spools of PE will probably cover 4 sets of pickups if you are careful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David King View Post
    Listen,
    I think we can all say to a person that we thought our first pickup sounded great. I'd just buy a stack of Allparts, Stewmac or Mojotone HB kits and wind with an electric drill and a simple mechanical counter. You'll get a great deal of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. If you get hooked then you can start down the long path of tooling up but if you just want to wind up the required 32 coils and move on to the next project an electric drill is more than adequate. Half pound spools of PE will probably cover 4 sets of pickups if you are careful.
    Very encouraging I like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SonnyW View Post

    Gauss meter. Not totally essential, but I wouldn't do without mine. Cost ranges from about $75 to over $300..
    I think my Gauusmeter ran me about $1300.
    FW Bell #5180

  10. #10
    Supporting Member SonnyW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WolfeMacleod View Post
    I think my Gauusmeter ran me about $1300.
    FW Bell #5180
    That FW Bell brand is the very best I know of, those were the first ones I looked at. I decided I couldn't afford it and picked the Alpha Labs Model 1. I would have liked the datalogging. Mine has not as many features, but pretty accurate 1%. For an extra charge you can get it traceable. Mine is not made anymore but the replacement model they have is this one. $315
    DC Gaussmeter Model GM1-ST

    If you look at the video they have on their site, it shows the older model that I have in the video.

    Also to David King and Jonson - not trying to be discouaging at all - sorry if it sounded like that, just trying to lay out the range of answers to the OP which was asking about the cost of a "decent equipment" setup
    Last edited by SonnyW; 08-28-2012 at 03:44 AM.
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  11. #11
    Old Timer Possum's Avatar
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    I agree, winding pickups yourself to save money is something you'll end up regretting if that's your only motive. My motive in the beginning on day one was to do it as a business, because I bought boutique pickups and hated what I got. The factory pickups in guitars were worse. If you spend a bunch of money on parts and wire and sit down to wind, the first thing you're going to discover is that you're going to ruin alot of coils before you ever get one that winds right and doesn't break from beginning to end, and you may invent some new cuss words along the way. So your little two pound spool of wire will get used up fast, and the money you'll spend just trying to get started will pile up fast, I mean go down the drain fast ;-) I built my first gaussmeter, the Radio Shack super cheapo, but bit the bullet for about $450 for the AlphaLab DC gaussmeter which I've used ever since, and really the best bang for the buck with customer support.

    There are newbie winders on Ebay who sell hand wound bucker sets for real cheap if you want to save money, but honestly hand winding buckers might give you a good sounding bridge pickup but hand winding isn't good for neck pickups. Hand winding is great for giving smooth resonant peaks, a great thing for Fender single coils, but a drawback for humbuckers.
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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    We have not heard back from the O P.
    Apparently he's not too interested in Winding?
    But, then again he may be working?
    T
    Last edited by big_teee; 08-28-2012 at 06:04 AM.
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    Old Timer Possum's Avatar
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    Well, the reality check may have scared him off. When I started I vividly remember about 7 months of pure hell trying to learn the basics, plus I was making all my own parts Lollar's method. Not for the faint of heart and it helps to have a lot of woodworking power tools at hand which I had to buy too....
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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    What's this Crap that you can't wind a decent neck Pickup By Hand?
    That is Bunk.
    There is lots of us that do it Daily!
    T
    ** Here we go Again!
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    Old Timer Possum's Avatar
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    I think the OP may have wanted to start an argument, LOL ;-) I didn't say "decent." Get a machine winder, build your own, you will be astounded at the increase in clarity machine winding buckers will give you, you have my personal guarantee on that ;-)
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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    I think the OP may have wanted to start an argument, LOL ;-) I didn't say "decent." Get a machine winder, build your own, you will be astounded at the increase in clarity machine winding buckers will give you, you have my personal guarantee on that ;-)
    More of that Smoke and Mirrors BS.
    I'm sure machine winding is great, but Hand Winds, can be great tool
    I have noticed, that if we don't do things l like you, it is wrong!
    It can be fun however you do it.
    T
    Last edited by big_teee; 08-28-2012 at 06:09 AM.
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    Supporting Member SonnyW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    What's this Crap that you can't wind a decent neck Pickup By Hand?
    That is Bunk.
    There is lots of us that do it Daily!
    T
    ** Here we go Again!
    Well I do know that even with humbuckers it is totally possible to wind a good sounding set by hand. I have a set of Fralins P.A.F.s I compare to that are great. He does it all the time. So it can definitely be done. And for single coils it is vintage accurate to hand wind and a lot depends on the skill of the winder. Machine winding is just more vintage correct for some types like P.A.F's, and 60's strats. I wouldn't want to hand wind my '65 strats or P.A.F's and I wouldn't want to machine wind my '59's. If I was good enough I might be able to hand wind a P.A.F. but I've already got a machine and that's how they were done.
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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SonnyW View Post
    Well I do know that even with humbuckers it is totally possible to wind a good sounding set by hand. I have a set of Fralins P.A.F.s I compare to that are great. He does it all the time. So it can definitely be done. And for single coils it is vintage accurate to hand wind and a lot depends on the skill of the winder. Machine winding is just more vintage correct for some types like P.A.F's, and 60's strats. I wouldn't want to hand wind my '65 strats or P.A.F's and I wouldn't want to machine wind my '59's. If I was good enough I might be able to hand wind a P.A.F. but I've already got a machine and that's how they were done.
    I agree!
    We use what we have.
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  19. #19
    Old Timer Possum's Avatar
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    Even with a machine winder, the skill of the operator is the key. Hand winding is great for single coils, but I could never nail the bucker tones I wanted nor P90 tones I wanted until I built my machine winder, it opened up a whole other world of clarity hand winding couldn't nail no matter what I tried. Its interesting, last year I bought up parts over a couple years of Adams Maxwell winders until I could build one exclusively devoted to hand winding. Finally got one built and wound a Tele bridge totally by hand guided winding and compared it to my machine wound version. The machine one completely smoked the hand wound one! I was shocked ;-) I am so used to using a machine to do my hand scatters now its probably just because I am so used to doing it that way. I learned a long time ago to program hand wind patterns that work on my auto machine and my machine is super dumb low tech on purpose so that helps too. Its good to learn both but you really should get really good at hand winding before you use a machine winder. A machine winder doesn't really make your life any easier, you can't just turn it on and walk away expecting it to spit pickups back at you, you have to be there for every turn of the coil and baby it every second. Its another skill level and I'm glad I started with hand winding, but wouldn't go back since it works for me so well. I posted in other threads how to learn to build a CNC winder anyone can figure it out and its cheap to do. If you ever built the Lollar winder its a good start since that was an auto-winder.
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  20. #20
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Even with a machine winder, the skill of the operator is the key. Hand winding is great for single coils, but I could never nail the bucker tones I wanted nor P90 tones I wanted until I built my machine winder, it opened up a whole other world of clarity hand winding couldn't nail no matter what I tried. Its interesting, last year I bought up parts over a couple years of Adams Maxwell winders until I could build one exclusively devoted to hand winding. Finally got one built and wound a Tele bridge totally by hand guided winding and compared it to my machine wound version. The machine one completely smoked the hand wound one! I was shocked ;-) I am so used to using a machine to do my hand scatters now its probably just because I am so used to doing it that way. I learned a long time ago to program hand wind patterns that work on my auto machine and my machine is super dumb low tech on purpose so that helps too. Its good to learn both but you really should get really good at hand winding before you use a machine winder. A machine winder doesn't really make your life any easier, you can't just turn it on and walk away expecting it to spit pickups back at you, you have to be there for every turn of the coil and baby it every second. Its another skill level and I'm glad I started with hand winding, but wouldn't go back since it works for me so well. I posted in other threads how to learn to build a CNC winder anyone can figure it out and its cheap to do. If you ever built the Lollar winder its a good start since that was an auto-winder.
    If that is what you needed, and what you could operate, great!
    That doesn't mean others can't control the hand winder to a better level of expertise.
    You need to give others the benefit of the doubt, and not everything is always an absolute, just because you think so.
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    Last edited by big_teee; 08-28-2012 at 07:27 AM.
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    Old Timer Possum's Avatar
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    Unfortunately you can't do a precision pass on each layer with the exact same number of turns with hand winding. This isn't a judgement, its just a fact. I hand wound for about 5 years and never could achieve the level of clarity that an automated traverse can do. Pickups that I love, PAF's. P13's, P90's, TTops, mini-humbuckers, CBS era Fender pickups, were all wound on automated traverses, mechanical or otherwise. When I built my automated winder, the first pickup I wound was a P90 neck pickup because I could never get them to match a vintage machine wound P90's clarity, and immediately with that first machine wind it was THERE. Neither method is "superior," but machine winding offers something hand scatter can't. Its a tool, and I like tools that expand what I can do.
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    Old Timer RedHouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Unfortunately you can't do a precision pass on each layer with the exact same number of turns with hand winding. This isn't a judgement, its just a fact. I hand wound for about 5 years and never could achieve the level of clarity that an automated traverse can do. Pickups that I love, PAF's. P13's, P90's, TTops, mini-humbuckers, CBS era Fender pickups, were all wound on automated traverses, mechanical or otherwise. When I built my automated winder, the first pickup I wound was a P90 neck pickup because I could never get them to match a vintage machine wound P90's clarity, and immediately with that first machine wind it was THERE. Neither method is "superior," but machine winding offers something hand scatter can't. Its a tool, and I like tools that expand what I can do.
    Oh yeah, and that's why all those GFS (and other) Chy-neez pickups sound soooo good right?, being all machine wound and that. LOL

    Possum you just continue to crack people up for years now the same ol saga... "yadda yadda, I tried it, couldn't do it, so it can't be done, BUT ITS A FACT , blah, blah, phhttt!" ...priceless!.
    Last edited by RedHouse; 08-29-2012 at 01:42 PM. Reason: buggery typo's
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    Old Timer Possum's Avatar
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    LOL ;-) Yeah all those vintage machine wound PAF's just sound terrible don't they, pretty funny....
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    Old Timer RedHouse's Avatar
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    Yeah, not to mention all Abigale's hand wounds (and Seymour's, Larry's, Lindy's etc, ...ad nausium, ad infinitum) just sound so terrible too, now that's funny! LOL!.

    Better not tell them "This isn't a judgement, its just a fact" they might wanna set you straight.

    {Edit} ... I believe it's a matter of concentration, some people can, many can't. For instance I have a friend with ADD and he can't, he starts (daydreaming?) after about the first 2 minutes. I imagine pot-smokers might have the same issue when they space-out.
    Last edited by RedHouse; 08-29-2012 at 01:46 PM.
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    Supporting Member Bill M's Avatar
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    I haven't been around much lately but its nice to see some things haven't changed. The OP, I agree with Dave King to start out simple with some stew mac kits and a make shift winder at least untill you gain some skill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    LOL ;-) Yeah all those vintage machine wound PAF's just sound terrible don't they, pretty funny....
    No your right Poss they don't all sound terrible. But some do. Have a dozen Pafs in front of you and they all sound different and change from guitar to guitar so just picking one and copying it as a Paf is not what it's about. Both machine winding and hand winding produces good pickups but the one joy of hand winding is that without having to change all the layering and tension all the time you are producing pickups that no matter how careful you are they will always have their own individuality so don't knock it. Both ways of winding have their good and bad points but stop having a pop at people that don't do it your way.
    Last edited by jonson; 08-29-2012 at 08:59 PM. Reason: Still can't spell!!!

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    Old Timer RedHouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonson View Post
    ... just picking one and copying it as a Paf is not what it's about...
    That's gonna hurt, it's the basis of his whole product line.
    (or so he has said ump-teen times)

    {Edit} sorry if this post sounds "bad".
    Last edited by RedHouse; 08-30-2012 at 02:10 AM.

  28. #28
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonson View Post
    Both machine winding and hand winding produces good pickups but the one joy of hand winding is that without having to change all the layering and tension all the time you are producing pickups that no matter how careful you are they will always have their own individuality so don't knock it.
    You know, I always read this, and it makes sense, but it's not my experience at all. All my pickups of a certain model come out sounding the same. It might be that I hand wind very neatly, going for more of a machine wound pattern. I don't scatter.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    You know, I always read this, and it makes sense, but it's not my experience at all. All my pickups of a certain model come out sounding the same. It might be that I hand wind very neatly, going for more of a machine wound pattern. I don't scatter.
    I think that after hand winding for so long one would have to intentionally change their pattern and tension to hear any real difference.

    I get pretty much the same sound out of any specific build and the DCR and inductance read very close as well. I always wind on the slow side.

    Second nature perhaps.

  30. #30
    Supporting Member SonnyW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    You know, I always read this, and it makes sense, but it's not my experience at all. All my pickups of a certain model come out sounding the same. It might be that I hand wind very neatly, going for more of a machine wound pattern. I don't scatter.
    I can hear some difference from the amount of handwinding scatter, but it is usually very slight. IMO one quite famous hand winder doesn't scatter much either. Abigail Ybarra. I have watched the You tube videos of her winding many times and unwound one of her pickups. It is quite regular. She does do a little funny quick motion on the right hand side of the pickup sometimes, I think that is mostly to keep the fill level though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SonnyW View Post
    one quite famous hand winder doesn't scatter much either.
    Damn, for a minute there I thought you were talking about me
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    Perhaps I've just worn my right hand out doing other things plus I do tend to flicker at both left and right sides to do just that, keep the fill level. I do hear differences it's there for me.

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    Heavy Duty Winder

    In 2011 I was given a very old and dusty sewing machine by a good friend who knew I wanted to build a pickup winder. After building a box-like enclosure to house the bearings I'd purchased from an online dealer I secured them in place by allen screws and a machinist friend turned a shaft to close tolerance to slide into place. He also milled two aluminum pickup holders that I use small bolts and screws to secure the bobbins in place and he had the shaft stops for the .500" shaft. I built a "T" bracket to hold the motor that can be easily removed and re-installed for reverse rotation of the shaft to allow for reverse winding of the bobbins.
    After all these pieces were assembled I felt I needed two saucer shaped pieces to secure to both side of the bobbins to prevent the wire from falling off the side so made them from a hardwood I had.
    All said, I had a total of $200 invested and I've re-wound many Fender and Gibson pickups that had "open-coils". This winder is very heavy-duty, the motor is powerful. I secured the winder's framework to a 3X2 ft. rectangle of 3/4" plywood that is clamped to a wooden desk when in use. I had previously owned a commercial built winder (Sidewinder Brand) that was under-powered and the counter broke in a week. That's why I built my own and would do it again.
    The magnet wire, magnets and forbon are an expense that probably had my initial investment in the $400 range for the parts. So total for the machine and parts was around $600. I've never regretted building the winder and beginning the journey of knowledge for wire, insulation, magnets, tension, width of bobbins, length of bobbins and on-and-on that's the defining factors for the tone.

  34. #34
    Supporting Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
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    Oklahoma
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    I agree to the above post about inconsistent pickups by hand-winding? Really? I feel I match the winding from pickup-to-pickup. I use a bright light to shine upon the magnet wire so I can see the glint off the wire as it's layed-down. And I have to say the pickups all sound consistently the same. I don't scatter wind as it never was consistent in tone from pick to pickup.

  35. #35
    Supporting Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    UK
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    2,640
    Just noticed you're replying to a 5 year old thread - maybe better to start a new one.

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