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Thread: Rickenbacker debacle

  1. #1
    Supporting Member StarryNight's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Victoria, BC Canada

    Rickenbacker debacle

    I was tasked to rewind a single coil bridge pickup on a 12 string Ricky. I was given the guitar in order to reinstall the pickup so i measured the neck and it read 10k ohms. I mic'd the wire and took out my 44 awg single build spool. It matched exactly. Upon winding the narrow bobbin I quickly realized that I'm not going to be able to lay that much wire into such a small bobbin in order to get 12 or 14k. I tried twice. The first time I completed the wind I stretched the wire too much. I know this because after filling the bobbin I only read 5k so something went wrong. My second attempt I reduced my tension and when finished gave me a reading of 8.5k which seemed reasonable for the amount I put on the bobbin (the wind was pretty loose). At this point I'm thinking of throwing in the towel on this job. I suspect the pickup probably failed in the first place because they stretched the wire to it's limit on their machine only to fail a few years later. With my home made rig I'm not getting the kind of results a commercial winder would. I could try and adjust my tension and get more wire on but I suspect I would only get maybe up to 10 or 11k. I can't seem to find the specs on this guitar so I don't know what the stock pickup read.

    I'm using some high density foam to tension the wire and the wire rides on a tension gauge so I have some control over consistency. Should I be using a different material to tension the wire? I notice if I'm winding 43 or 44 awg I have to be careful not to squeeze too tight or I end up with a defective pickup. It's not usually a problem but when needing to wind something like this I'm not able to. Any advice would be great!


  2. #2
    Senior Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
    Southeastern US
    Try using felt. The high density foam, if slightly abrasive, might be causing turn-to-turn shorting.

    Keep Winding...Keep Playing!!!


  3. #3
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    Mid-South USA
    Can you mic the bobbin and list the Bobbin core dimensions here.
    Length, width, height, & Flange.
    You should be able to get close to 10k of 44SPN on a PAF humbucker bobbin. (Full)
    Not sure what your dimensions are?
    You can calculate the estimated amount of wire, with the estimator.

    Last edited by big_teee; 11-04-2017 at 01:47 AM.
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  4. #4
    rjb is offline
    Old Timer
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    Feb 2010
    Somewhere near Bawlmer, Merlin
    Something to consider:
    Maybe your assumption that the bridge pickup "needs" to be hotter than the neck is a false one. Some manufacturers have been known to use the exact same pickup for neck and bridge positions. I've got a MIM Tele that came stock with a monstrously overwound neck humbucker and a vintage-y output bridge single coil.

    - Mr. Buttinsky
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  5. #5
    Woodgrinder/Pickupwinder copperheadroads's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    Iceburg Alley ,Newfoundland,CAN
    Did you take notice in the original turns per layer pattern .is it was layered perfectly or heavy scatter ? if you need a little more room a perfectly wound coil will be a little smaller & may give you the extra turns needed .
    "UP here in the Canada we shoot things we don't understand"

  6. #6
    Supporting Member StarryNight's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Victoria, BC Canada
    The old coil weighs 22.5g. My last attempted weighed 16.5g. dimesions of the bobbin are outside: 2.74” x .925” inside: 2.3” x .4”. Height is .19”

    I found some felt like material I’m going to try. I’ll try to get the TPL as close as I can....conclusion to follow.

  7. #7
    Supporting Member StarryNight's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Victoria, BC Canada
    third time’s the charm. Changing to felt definitely allowed me to wind at a higher tension and not compromise the coil wire. At the very end of the wind I tried to increase the tension until the wire broke (just to see what the limit was) and I could have gone even tighter without breaking, but no guarantee as to the integrity of the coating. Anyway by the time i finished that wire was rock hard as it lay in the bobbin. I managed to get 10k. And RJB is right, I did assume the bridge should be hotter but it’s not impossible to find guitars with bobbins of the same resistance. The bridge pickup is slightly wider so in theory I could have laid more wire down but as it turns out I installed the pickup back in, and with a little height adjusting was able to get a good balance between the two. These Ricky 12 string models are quirky as it is. Both pickups read south. Not to mention the Rick-o-sound input and the control layout. Horses for courses I guess. Thanks everyone for chiming in!

    Ps. I wish I could have posted the turn count but my counter is getting an overhaul. Sorry.

  8. #8
    Old Timer
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Cornelius, Oregon
    Glad you were able to get it fixed!

    That pickup is one of the newer high gain pickups with the adjustable screw poles. The high gain pickups are anywhere from 10k to 16k stock from the factory, though many of the newer ones are 10k-12k. Rickenbacker does not usually make the bridge pickup hotter than the neck, and in some cases, especially with 70's and 80's guitars, the neck pickup is hotter than the bridge. With the blend knob wired up (the 5th knob) you can blend the tones from both pickups, but it is wired into the neck pickup, so Rickenbacker often compensated by making the neck pickup hotter. According to the owner, every Rickenbacker since 1964 has used 44 gauge wire, but the earlier ones may have used something different. The 70's and early high gain pickups were wound more like 8k-9k and have a less compressed, more open sound with a little less power. IMHO the toaster pickups (alnico magnets and about 7.5k) sound better than the high gain pickups (rubberized ceramic magnet and hotter winds) on a 12 string.


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