The toaster covers probably wont change the tone much at all.
When you use solderable wire, you really have to heat up the wire. I start out with a lead wire about 2 inches long with about 1/4" stripped and tinned, and then I wrap the magnet wire around the tinned end a bunch of times, and then solder that joint with my iron set at 700°. I heat the wire just until the insulation is starting to deform. Then I fold a small piece of paper tape over the connection. If I'm winding on a plastic bobbin, I tape that end to the inside of the bobbin, so the tape covers the connection.
If you can't get a good connection that way, try sanding or using a butane lighter. Just pass the flame from the lighter quickly past the magnet wire a few times. You should see a small puff of smoke as the insulation burns off. Hole the flame under it too long and the magnet wire will melt.
You should wrap some tape over your magnets or you might get a short. The tape wont alter the tone. At the very least put some tape on the end two magnets.
What's wrong with the Ric pickups?