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Thread: Differences in sound of the same pickup wound to the same DCR with different wire AWG

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    Question Differences in sound of the same pickup wound to the same DCR with different wire AWG

    Hi,

    Maybe this question is a bit silly for some and I couldn't manage to find the exact answer searching in the forum.

    So, what's the difference in sound and output of a pickup (let's say a strat single coil) wound to match for example 6K DC Resistance with different wire gauges (an example with AWG 42 and AWG 43 is enough)

    Thanks in advance!

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    It's early in the morning, winders are catching a nap so I'll pitch in what I hope is a good answer. Thinner wire = higher ohms per foot. So your 43 ga coil will have fewer turns than 42 ga to reach the same resistance. All other things being equal, fewer turns means a lower output. I'm sure one of our math oriented winders can give you a formula, later after we've all had a coffee or two.

    One thing that bugs me a bit about some guitarists who "know a little something" is how they insist that they will only be pleased with pickups that have a particular resistance, disregarding everything else like wire gauge, number of turns, magnet type & strength & overall build style. "Only 7K pickups for me!". Well, whatever floats their boat...

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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    Let's start from the beginning: you don't use DC readings as a reliable measure for anything.

    In vintage Strat p'ups, you need about 7,000 turns of #42 to get about 5,3K, which gives an arguably low output. To get the same readings with #43 wire, only 5,300 are needed so the p'up will have almost no output, plus the tone will be thin and screechy, probably make your teeth hurt.

    HTH,

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    I'm asking this also because I would like to wind a "bit hotter" strat singlecoil for the bridge position, so I was thinking in reaching around 7.5K-8K DC Resistance which I think it is kind of the limit where the pickup bobbin can fit AWG 42 wire, so maybe that's a risk and then is better to use AWG 43 instead, but I don't know exactly if that wire gauge change will affect the final sound too much or not.

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    I'm asking this also because I would like to wind a "bit hotter" strat singlecoil for the bridge position, so I was thinking in reaching around 7.5K-8K DC Resistance which I think it is kind of the limit where the pickup bobbin can fit AWG 42 wire, so maybe that's a risk and then is better to use AWG 43 instead, but I don't know exactly if that wire gauge change will affect the final sound too much or not.
    More turns will fatten the sound, and with skinnier wire you can wrap more turns per layer, and more layers overall. Give it a go, count your turns 'cos that's what counts. The resistance will turn out to be what it will be - as Pepe/LtKojak says, don't so much worry about it.

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    I myself don't like hotter bridge strat pickups (I'm talking in the 7k range . the mids are increased along with the treble so you end up with a very bright nasally pickup .

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    I'm trying to get a not very icy picky sound, do you recommend something like 6.7K, A2? I have available AWG 42 (Poly and Formvar) and AWG 43 Poly

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    I've tried A3 with 9000-10.000 turns of 43awg wire for the bridge pickup and it works great, at least for my taste.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    I'm trying to get a not very icy picky sound, do you recommend something like 6.7K, A2? I have available AWG 42 (Poly and Formvar) and AWG 43 Poly
    I have a Strat bridge I wind with ~ 10,000 of 42 with A5's (runs @ 7.6kΩ). I've never had any complaints about them being ice picky.

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    Last edited by kayakerca; 01-26-2016 at 08:50 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    So, what's the difference in sound and output of a pickup (let's say a strat single coil) wound to match for example 6K DC Resistance with different wire gauges (an example with AWG 42 and AWG 43 is enough)
    Since the #43 wire has 23% more resistance than #42,
    the coil will have ~23% fewer windings, about 2000 fewer in this case.
    The sound would have a lot of treble.

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    The more correct comparison would be to wind the different gauges to the same number of turns. Especially if you're looking for the more nuanced differences due to wire gauge.

    As above if you're winding to DCR then the finer gauge wire will have fewer turns, and significantly lower inductance, output and higher resonant frequency.

    Those factors will drive the tonal response much more than the wire gauge.

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    Will a pickup have the same inductance with the same number of turns of different wire gauge?

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    Will a pickup have the same inductance with the same number of turns of different wire gauge?
    Approximately.

    Larger wire (lower gauge) will give you more area per turn on the same bobbin, so all else equal a larger wire can give you a up to few percent more inductance than a smaller wire for the same number of turns.

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    It has been said here before that the smaller gauge wire will have a smaller turns area and more turns are closer to the magnets which some say will yield a brighter sounding pickup for the same number of turns. It gets tricky because as you move the resonant frequency around you may bump up against the nonlinearity of human hearing and find that a pickup with a higher resonant frequency can actually sound darker.

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    If you end up with a higher impedance, as a result of using thinner 43 AWG in place of 42 AWG for the same number of turns, won't this also lower the Q factor of the pickup?

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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kolbeck View Post
    If you end up with a higher impedance, as a result of using thinner 43 AWG in place of 42 AWG for the same number of turns, won't this also lower the Q factor of the pickup?
    These are some notes I've made along the years:

    The key factor in pickups winding is always Inductance - DC Resistance and stray ( or parasitic ) Capacitance are inevitable "side effects" caused by the wire's Resistivity not being zero.

    The basic equations are F0 ( resonant peak ) = 1/(2pi*(Sqrroot(L/C)))

    ( where F0 is the resonant Frequency in Hertz, L is the pickup's Inductance in Henries and C is the pickup's stray Capacitance in Farads ).

    As you can see, DC Resistance does not appear in the above equation ( =it does not affect the resonant peak ).

    DC resistance has some relation with the Q factor instead ( or Quality factor )

    Q=(1/R)*(Sqrroot(L/C))

    The bigger the Q factor, the narrower the pickup's bandwidth ( more "focused" around Fo ).

    This comes from this ( approximated ) equation:

    BW=F0/Q

    Where F0 and Q have the same meaning as before and BW is the bandwidth in Hertz.

    An increased DCR makes the divider ( 1/R ) bigger in the Q equation, resulting in a lower Q, this, together with the higher Inductance ( which grows with the number of turns SQUARED ), will most likely result in a hot pickup, at the cost of a very low resonant Frequency and a large bandwidth, so ( all other factors being equal ) it will probably sound loud, but bassy and muddy ( low definition ) with a reduced "attack".

    Hope this will clarify things for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LtKojak View Post
    The basic equations are F0 ( resonant peak ) = 1/(2pi*(Sqrroot(L/C)))

    ( where F0 is the resonant Frequency in Hertz, L is the pickup's Inductance in Henries and C is the pickup's stray Capacitance in Farads ).
    Oops, typing error. I think you meant:
    F0 ( resonant peak ) = 1/(2pi*(Sqrroot(L*C)))


    I grabbed this from some random site, just because it's a little easier to read (for me, anyway):


    Edit: It might be worth mentioning (for the billionth time) that when wired in a guitar, the cable capacitance (and tone cap, if turned down) will be much greater than the pickup's stray capacitance- so will determine the "in situ" resonant frequency. Then again, that might confuse the issue.

    Whatever,
    -rb

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    Last edited by rjb; 02-06-2016 at 06:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LtKojak View Post

    Q=(1/R)*(Sqrroot(L/C))

    The bigger the Q factor, the narrower the pickup's bandwidth ( more "focused" around Fo ).
    Since R, resistance, is a determining factor for the value of Q, where the higher the resistance, the lower the Q, is it fair to say that for a given pickup, wound to say, 7000 turns, that the pickup with 43 AWG and the higher resistance will sound "less focused" than one wound with 42 AWG, on account of the increased resistance?

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    Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    I agree with the answers to this thread's original question. Alone, DC resistance is totally meaningless. In fact, I don't like to use DC resistance as a measure of anything concerning the sound of the pickup. It can be very misleading as to the final sonic pallet.

    To me, wire gauge and turn count are first for a particular style of pickup (P-90, HB, Strat, etc). Then magnet type, mass, and strength. Then TPL and layering pattern. Then insulation type and thickness. Then alloys. Oh, don't forget potting, tension, slightly changing coil geometry, flux field patterns, etc, etc.

    All of the technical measurements like Q Factor, Resonant Peak, Inductance, Band Width, Capacitance, and so on, are really the result of the pickup design and the things I just mentioned above.

    Asking for a certain DC Resistance in order to get a specific sound, by itself, is a fool's game. I really wish guitarists would get hip to this. But, as long as manufactures tout DC resistance and articles are written about why a certain DC resistance gives a certain sound, we must be prepared to educate in a kind and non-disparaging manner.

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    =============================================

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Darr View Post
    Alone, DC resistance is totally meaningless.
    I see people say this a lot on various forums, and I think Bill Lawrence said this, but there are a couple caveats. One is that this never a lone fact, we always have an awareness that pickups tend to be wound with 42 or 43 AWG, and while it can be wound with thinner or thicker wire, also taking into consideration the described tonal profile of a pickup, being either "hot" or "vintage", so it's possible to infer from the target tone which wire gauge was used to achieve a given resistance, and then further estimation can be made from there.

    The second point is that at resonance, the impedance is at it's minimum, and the wire resistance is all that stands in the way, which is why the Q would be higher for a lower resistance, all other things being equal. It can be hard to describe the sound of a higher versus lower Q though, since they way you would characterize the sound would differ depending on the resonant frequency. If the resonant frequency is in the mid range, a high Q might manifest as a honking or nasal sound, while if the resonant frequency is higher, it could make for a piercing, shrill sound. It ends up being a balancing act of not too much, not too little. You can roughly model the effect of a higher or lower Q by emphasizing a particular frequency, above all others , with a multi-band EQ.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kolbeck View Post
    we always have an awareness that pickups tend to be wound with 42 or 43 AWG, and while it can be wound with thinner or thicker wire, also taking into consideration the described tonal profile of a pickup, being either "hot" or "vintage", so it's possible to infer from the target tone which wire gauge was used to achieve a given resistance, and then further estimation can be made from there.
    This is simply not true... for the record, have you actually made any pickups, John?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kolbeck View Post
    The second point is that at resonance, the impedance and the resistance are equal, which is why the Q would be higher for a lower resistance, all other things being equal. It can be hard to describe the sound of a higher versus lower Q though, since they way you would characterize the sound would differ depending on the resonant frequency. If the resonant frequency is in the mid range, a high Q might manifest as a honking or nasal sound, while if the resonant frequency is higher, it could make for a piercing, shrill sound. You can roughly model the effect of a higher or lower Q by emphasizing a particular frequency, above all others , with a multi-band EQ.
    John, I think you should re-read this very thread. You seem to have missed several very important bits of relevant info in posts #3, #10, #11, #13 and #14.

    Plus, not everything the great late Bill Laurence published should be taken as God's own words, channeled through him.

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    Last edited by LtKojak; 02-07-2016 at 09:25 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kolbeck View Post

    The second point is that at resonance, the impedance is at it's minimum, and the wire resistance is all that stands in the way, which is why the Q would be higher for a lower resistance, all other things being equal.
    At resonance, the impedance is at its maximum. Look at the measurement of the impedance of any pickup, for example:SHn59.pdf

    This measurement is made by measuring the voltage across and current through the pickup and taking the ratio. Thus it is the impedance of the two terminal device without the influence of external capacitance. The simple description of the pickup is a parallel resonant circuit with the coil inductance and capacitance. Thus impedance must be maximum at resonance.

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    A possible answer to the OP?
    Wind two bobbins with different size wire and try them.
    Or better yet wind 4 bobbins, two with different wire gauge wire with same DCR.
    Two with different wire gauge same amount of turns, with different DCR.
    Make up your own mind what they sound like!
    Everything else IMO, is just a big debate!
    I think you will find the extra leg work to be worth the effort!
    T

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    Last edited by big_teee; 02-08-2016 at 05:10 AM.


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    I was wondering another stuff regarding pickup output and number of turns:

    Will 2 pickups have approximately the same output if they are winded with the same number of turns with different wire gauge? Let's assume that the 2 pickups are exactly the same in all aspects except wire gauge (one 42 and the other 43)

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    I was wondering another stuff regarding pickup output and number of turns:

    Will 2 pickups have approximately the same output if they are winded with the same number of turns with different wire gauge? Let's assume that the 2 pickups are exactly the same in all aspects except wire gauge (one 42 and the other 43)
    From Mike Sulzer's #22 above: The simple description of the pickup is a parallel resonant circuit with the coil inductance and capacitance.

    They'll be close, but not identical. # turns will be the major determinant in inductance. Since you can wind more turns per layer with thinner wire, the capacitance is bound to be different in the 2 coils, probably less in the thinner wire coil; that will drive the resonance peak to a higher frequency. Also thinner wire will have a higher resistance but I expect that would be a small factor sonically. Wind away, I'll bet you can hear a difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    Will 2 pickups have approximately the same output if they are winded with the same number of turns with different wire gauge?
    In a nutshell, no.

    HTH,

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    Ok, then how you would approximate the output of the second pickup with respect to the first one in terms of number of turns?

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    Ok, then how you would approximate the output of the second pickup with respect to the first one in terms of number of turns?
    It looks like it is time for you to bend some wire.
    Are you a real pickup winder, or just going through exercises in futility?
    T

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    Ok, then how you would approximate the output of the second pickup with respect to the first one in terms of number of turns?
    In overall volume, all else being the same (magnets, distance from strings, etc.) they should be equivalent. # of turns being the main item. Some difference in high frequency response would be expected, with the resonance difference.

    Wondering, didn't you post on here over the last year or so with an avatar, you (?) with a blue guitar? I could have you confused with another similar MEF poster.

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    Well I'm just asking all this questions to have more theoretical knowledge from "The Experts". I've winded just one pickup so far, but I wouldn't like to throw away some wire just experimenting if some people already knows what could happen if X Y Z thing is done in the P Q R way. Sharing experiences/discuss stuff is the main point of the forum, isn't it?.

    Also any information registered here will be helpful in the future for other people that wants to know more about this wire gauge subject.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    Well I'm just asking all this questions to have more theoretical knowledge from "The Experts". I've winded just one pickup so far, but I wouldn't like to throw away some wire just experimenting if some people already knows what could happen if X Y Z thing is done in the P Q R way. Sharing experiences/discuss stuff is the main point of the forum, isn't it?.

    Also any information registered here will be helpful in the future for other people that wants to know more about this wire gauge subject.
    To a point.
    There is no substitute for acquiring experience, by bending, and winding wire.
    A lot of these questions are subjective.
    You pretty much asked the same thing, several times, different ways about 42 vs 43.
    That same question is getting a little tiring!
    Custom winding is by in large something you have to learn as you go.
    Jump in and wind some. As far as the money required for winding, you have to pay to play!
    This thread is kind of reminding me of some that wound up in the Septic Tank.
    Who knows, this one may wind up in there too!
    T

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    Last edited by big_teee; 02-10-2016 at 05:02 AM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    Well I'm just asking all this questions to have more theoretical knowledge from "The Experts". I've winded just one pickup so far, but I wouldn't like to throw away some wire just experimenting if some people already knows what could happen if X Y Z thing is done in the P Q R way. Sharing experiences/discuss stuff is the main point of the forum, isn't it?.

    Also any information registered here will be helpful in the future for other people that wants to know more about this wire gauge subject.
    If you search through past threads about technical matters on this forum, you'll see that there are two divided camps, one group that thinks of pickups are electrical components, and another group that sees them principally as works of art, and for whatever reason, the group that sees them as art seem to insist, very strongly, that attempts to understand pickups in electrical terms be foregone in favor of experimentation, as in, try it out, then report on how you feel your pickup experiment subjectively effects the tone.

    A better forum for technical understanding might be Physics Forum's Electrical Engineering sub-forum https://www.physicsforums.com/forums...gineering.102/ Even though many of the participants aren't familiar with guitar pickups specifically, some of them should be familiar with transducers in general, and guitar pickups relate close enough to inductors that many of them should be able to answer questions about the consequences of using varying wire gauges.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    Well I'm just asking all this questions to have more theoretical knowledge from "The Experts". I've winded just one pickup so far, but I wouldn't like to throw away some wire just experimenting if some people already knows what could happen if X Y Z thing is done in the P Q R way. Sharing experiences/discuss stuff is the main point of the forum, isn't it?.

    Also any information registered here will be helpful in the future for other people that wants to know more about this wire gauge subject.
    This kind of questions belong to the Beginner/Hobbyist section.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kolbeck View Post
    If you search through past threads about technical matters on this forum, you'll see that there are two divided camps, one group that thinks of pickups are electrical components, and another group that sees them principally as works of art, and for whatever reason, the group that sees them as art seem to insist, very strongly, that attempts to understand pickups in electrical terms be foregone in favor of experimentation, as in, try it out, then report on how you feel your pickup experiment subjectively effects the tone.
    John, with all due respect, you simply don't know what you're talking about.

    So please, refrain to emit judgement on things and/or persons you obviously don't understand.

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    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
    Milano, Italy

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    Quote Originally Posted by LtKojak View Post
    John, with all due respect, you simply don't know what you're talking about.

    So please, refrain to emit judgement on things and/or persons you obviously don't understand.
    Yet you answer this way:

    Quote Originally Posted by LtKojak View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by alexirae View Post
    Will 2 pickups have approximately the same output if they are winded with the same number of turns with different wire gauge? Let's assume that the 2 pickups are exactly the same in all aspects except wire gauge (one 42 and the other 43)
    In a nutshell, no.

    HTH,
    Obviously, pickups wound with the same number of turns of #42 or #43 will have approximately the same output.

    If you think it is your job to tell people how wrong they are, why not at least get some of the basics right yourself?

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