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Thread: Coil Tension

  1. #1
    Member KhzDonut's Avatar
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    Coil Tension

    So I got a pickup winder and attempted my first coil (7,500 turns of 44 awg, because the br00talz and also because I don't know any better)

    And it kind of ended up like this:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Loose Coil.jpg 
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ID:	40444

    Obviously I set my tensioner far too loose, but I really have no frame of reference. I was surprised by how durable the wire is, after hearing how fragile it is supposed to be. (I mean, obviously it's fragile, but I had anticipated it to just crumble in my hands)

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated, this is my first foray into building pickups.

    I've also got some 42g and 43g wire, and I think I may try a few 5,000 turn 42g coils because I don't want to go through all of my 44g before I make a decent coil.

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    Hello and congrats on your first coil! Yours looks better than my very first one, for sure. When I started monkeying around with pickups this forum didn't exist and there was very little information on pickup winding available as a whole. As a beginning winder, you are very very fortunate to have the internet and this forum as a resource for learning. Using the forums search function may help you cut down on the 'trial and error' part slightly, but don't expect any of this to come easy- things holding real value in life rarely do.

    And speaking of easy, 42 is much easier to work with for a beginner and I think you're right to try a pair of 5000 turn coils - go for it!

    A few tips:

    1. Push your tensioning contraption aside for now, get your bare fingers on the wire, and begin to develop the tactile feel and control required for hand-tensioning. As a starting point: try taping a AA battery to the end of a 12" piece of coil wire, holding the wire with your fingers and gradually increasing your finger-pressure until the wire doesn't slip. Pay attention to what the pressure you're exerting on the wire feels like. Practice this, and then apply that same touch as closely as you can on the next coil you try. And along with that...

    2. Slow your winder down. If your winder has a "sweet jesus, that's slow!" setting, use it. Concentrate on moving the wire back and forth in an even manner and hitting your desired number of turns as you do so, maintaining an even tension on the wire from start to finish. Resist the temptation to speed up until you're making nice looking coils at the slow speed consistently and have your finger tension correct for that speed. You need to develop a base-line for tension and this is, in my opinion, the smart way to do it. Once you're comfy and have a handle on things, then start ramping up the speed.

    3. Despite the loose coil you created, I'd suggest winding the other coil and completing your humbucker build. If it works at the end, consider it a success! This will not only empower you, but it will also allow you to get the hang of soldering and the assembly process. I also hope you hook it up, plug into an amp, play, and listen closely to what you hear. Take notes. Love it or hate it, it will help you develop your ear regarding coil tension, creation, and form as it applies to what you want to hear from a pickup. If it sucks, don't be discouraged - just gut it and try again. And again. And again. Hard work and perserverance DO pay off, so stick with it and you'll start getting the results you want.

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    Not quite an answer to your question, but I want to mention that both a) the choice to use 44 AWG and b) the low tension will give you lower coil capacitance, because the finer wire has less area to it, and the lower tension means there's more space between the wires overall, so all other things being equal, the pickup would sound slightly brighter, especially if you use shorter guitar cables. I think you just have to make sure to wax pot it really thoroughly to keep the looser wire from being overly microphonic.

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    A double A battery weighs an once or 28 g, that would be way too much tension for 44AWG. Max recommended tension on 42 is 22-24g and I wind all day at 7g and get nice compact coils at 1000rpm. I wouldn't go over 4-5g with 44, that's a couple of button cells maybe.

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    I just weighed a Duracell AA and an Energizer AA: 22g and 23g, respectively. David, you're right that 23g of dynamic friction at running speed would indeed be too much with 44. The little exercise I laid out is basically a measure of static friction, based off of the 42 wire he was planning on trying next - I should have been more clear about that. Thank you for pointing that out.

    With 42 SPN, which is a bit more slippery compared to 42PE, from my experience I'd guess the dynamic friction would only be at around 12-14g - possibly even a little less - well within the working range for 42.

    So Khz, when you move back to 44 ease off a smidge! And here's something you should look at: http://music-electronics-forum.com/t38624/

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    Last edited by JGravelin; 09-03-2016 at 09:13 PM. Reason: clarity

  6. #6
    Woodgrinder/Pickupwinder copperheadroads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KhzDonut View Post
    So I got a pickup winder and attempted my first coil (7,500 turns of 44 awg, because the br00talz and also because I don't know any better)

    And it kind of ended up like this:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Loose Coil.jpg 
Views:	252 
Size:	28.8 KB 
ID:	40444

    Obviously I set my tensioner far too loose, but I really have no frame of reference. I was surprised by how durable the wire is, after hearing how fragile it is supposed to be. (I mean, obviously it's fragile, but I had anticipated it to just crumble in my hands)

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated, this is my first foray into building pickups.

    I've also got some 42g and 43g wire, and I think I may try a few 5,000 turn 42g coils because I don't want to go through all of my 44g before I make a decent coil.
    Maybe too loose but the top of the bobbins limiters need to be set up better , I would wind with 42 gauge & get use to it first before trying 44 .44 gauge wire only needs about 2/3 the tension of 42 gauge , you will find if you using too much tension ,cause the dcr will be increased quite a bit from stretching the wire or you will break while winding .

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  7. #7
    Member KhzDonut's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the advice, everybody. My second attempt went much better. 6,000 turns of 43 awg.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Tighter Coil.jpg 
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ID:	40538


    And the completed pickup

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Completed Pickup.jpg 
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ID:	40539


    I haven't really had a chance to test it. Need to grab some new strings and pots. Interesting design features in the standard PAF style pickup. Can't say I'd do it the same way if I designed it from the ground up.

    Great learning experience, though. I ended up winding like 6 coils by the time I was finished with random screw ups, loose coils, accidentally breaking wire, etc...

    And I tried using finger-tension rather than the Mojotone tensioning tool, and I can see the appeal, but I can also see my fingers going numb or cramping up after the first couple of coils.

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    "Is Drop E a Tuning?"
    Sam Valentine on YouTube

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    Looking good! I remember trying to figure out tension on the first few sets and winding some real dogs. It gets better and easier once you start figuring out what's important and what's just hype

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