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Thread: P-90 Wind Info

  1. #1
    Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    P-90 Wind Info

    I've been working on some different winds for P-90s and wanted to get some collective input. As many of you know I am a very experienced winder with several auto-traverse machines. Not asking for any secret formulas you may have. But wanted to share some details of what I've been doing and, hopefully, get some collective wisdom from the group.

    My historical winding for P-90s has been 42 awg (PE or Poly), about 9,000 - 10,000 turns, at 60TPL machine wound, with slightly degaussed A5s. They sound good and my clients have been pleased. Lately I've come to believe they could sound even better. So I've been the mad scientist in the shop winding, taking notes, and winding some more.

    I've experimented with turn count, TPL, magnets, tension, inner core coil geometry, and coil height. I even purchased a couple hundred off-standard bobbins that are not the typical .25" coil height. Some have been winners, while most are not the way to go for Great Sound. This is essentially the same process I undertake for any new wind.

    I'd like to get your input about things you've done to the P-90 format that have yielded both good results and bad. Feel free to be as general or specific as you want.

    Thanks

    Jim

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    Are you searching for brighter or darker tone?
    The big thing I have been following is internal capacitance of pickups, higher capacitance yields darker "muddy" tones and higher capacitance comes from more perfectly laying down the wire layers. The more scatter or the looser the coil the lower the capacitance and brighter the output. As a player I can always turn up the tone knob to get darker, but there is no bright knob. Maybe that helps some.

    The other avenue, since you are testing bobbin shapes, is packaging the P90 in a standard humbucker cavity, many many players have humbuckers and miss out on the charms of a P90. Lately I have been thinking the guitar world gave up a lot of good tones in the trade-off with humbuckers.

    Recently I repaired a Magnum branded late 70s/early 80s LP guitar (store brand ghost built by Ibanez Japan, bent plywood 'carve top' with two solid wood layers behind it). It needed a fret level and complete deep setup. I had bought it some time ago and a guy recently was searching for one like it to regain his youth with his first guitar. The one I had was the deluxe version with a little different headstock logo treatment but the same color and otherwise identical to what he started on.

    It had the common P90 type of design packaged to look like covered humbuckers. After setup and pickup balancing the guitar sounded exactly like my dual P90 PRS SE guitar that I went back to back with on the same amp same settings and ... pretty amazing, really. Made me want to keep the thing.

    When I sold the guitar to the guy and told him how it was hard to part with due to the tone, we laughed about how the guitar must have sounded terrible as a kid with a kid's amp. He plugged it in back home on his grown-up amp and texted me how great the guitar sounded and played.

    So, I'd suggest trying to shoot for the humbucker package size so more folks can try out the P90-type of tones.

    .

    .

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    Last edited by jvin248; 02-05-2017 at 02:49 AM.

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    Woodgrinder/Pickupwinder copperheadroads's Avatar
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    Why stray from the .250" bobbin height ? ,that is the height you want .I get quite a few Epi Casino pickups sent to me to rewind & all the customers are looking for a Genuine p-90 tone with the stock epi .210" winding area being thinner ,it does sound a little different than the standard p-90 height .
    Historically , after the poly wire came along the winding pattern was different .

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    Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by copperheadroads View Post
    Why stray from the .250" bobbin height ? ,that is the height you want .I get quite a few Epi Casino pickups sent to me to rewind & all the customers are looking for a Genuine p-90 tone with the stock epi .210" winding area being thinner ,it does sound a little different than the standard p-90 height .
    Historically , after the poly wire came along the winding pattern was different .
    I've tried both taller and shorter bobbing heights. I like the taller bobbin more because it seems to help the clarity and string-to-string separation. Of the few Epi's I've worked on they have all been right at .25. The 50s P-90 turn count and TPL are different from the ones from the mid-sixties and I think this is what you are referring to by the poly wire winding pattern being different. I think they switched from the Geo Stevens winder to the Meteor winder when this happened. My production winder for my P-90s is a period correct Geo Stevens, but I don't have it set up for 4 winds at one time like Gibson did back in the day.

    Quote Originally Posted by jvin248 View Post
    ...The more scatter or the looser the coil the lower the capacitance and brighter the output...

    ...trying to shoot for the humbucker package size so more folks can try out the P90-type of tones.
    I've found that with a very high machine wound auto-traverse TPL count the brighter and more sterile the pickup sounds everything else being equal. For this project I am shooting for a regular P-90 sized pickup, not a P-90 in an HB size.

    The sound I am after is the classic 50s growl with more string-to-string articulation at higher volumes. I'm getting pretty close to what I want and just wanted to get others input.

    Thanks for both of your responses.

    Jim

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    Last edited by Jim Darr; 02-05-2017 at 04:52 AM.
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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Have you tried comparing different wire sizes of PE, and SP?
    Most wire was larger back in the day.
    I find larger wire size, to sound a lot different than small wire, in all pickup winds.
    I'm referring to both ohms per foot, and wire diameter size, which usually both coincide.
    T

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    Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    Have you tried comparing different wire sizes of PE, and SP?
    Most wire was larger back in the day.
    I find larger wire size, to sound a lot different than small wire, in all pickup winds.
    I'm referring to both ohms per foot, and wire diameter size, which usually both coincide.
    T
    T,

    Totally agree and yes I have and do consider this when coming up with a pickup formula. I look at wire type, bare wire OD, and insulation build thickness. I personally like the thicker total OD for my taste in sound, but that is my personal preference. I think the slightly thicker wire gives the pickup a little more presence. Thinner wire has its place too.

    As I've said before, there are a great many variables that significantly influence the final tone and wire/insulation type and OD is just one of many in my book. I like to control each variable to see how it effects the sound. If I were to assign a weight, or influence factor, I would rank wind pattern as a higher influence, but wire OD ranks very close behind.

    What variables are the most important to you?

    Thanks for your response.

    Jim

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    Keep Winding...Keep Playing!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Darr View Post
    I've been working on some different winds for P-90s and wanted to get some collective input. As many of you know I am a very experienced winder with several auto-traverse machines. Not asking for any secret formulas you may have. But wanted to share some details of what I've been doing and, hopefully, get some collective wisdom from the group.

    My historical winding for P-90s has been 42 awg (PE or Poly), about 9,000 - 10,000 turns, at 60TPL machine wound, with slightly degaussed A5s. They sound good and my clients have been pleased. Lately I've come to believe they could sound even better. So I've been the mad scientist in the shop winding, taking notes, and winding some more.

    I've experimented with turn count, TPL, magnets, tension, inner core coil geometry, and coil height. I even purchased a couple hundred off-standard bobbins that are not the typical .25" coil height. Some have been winners, while most are not the way to go for Great Sound. This is essentially the same process I undertake for any new wind.

    I'd like to get your input about things you've done to the P-90 format that have yielded both good results and bad. Feel free to be as general or specific as you want.

    Thanks

    Jim
    This post never got the love or information it deserved.

    For a lower wind P-90 there's benefit of going below 60 tpl for a more dynamic tone. And for a higher wind, to keep it from being too dark, a higher tpl. But a lot of character gets stripped using a higher tpl without being able to build in scatter. Hand winding for a higher 'output' (and lower) almost always sounds magical.

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    Last edited by jrdamien; 06-02-2019 at 07:49 PM.

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    I agree that these open ended questions often lead to the most useful info.
    I'm convinced in the end that the magnets are what separate a good pickup from a truly great one. Have you tried A4 bars?

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    I also like A4 bars. A4 doesn't charge as high as A5, has low and high coercivity (doesn't discharge as easily as other alnicos). It seems to support a transparent PU sound. Gibson used a variant of A4 through most of the 50s and early 60s.

    But, a couple of years ago I bought a number of A4 bar magnets from a well known ebay dealer. To my disappointment these magnets behaved/measured completely different from my US made (and lab verified) A4 samples. In fact they measured identical to my A5 iso samples. So beware of eastern magnets regarding material.

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    Last edited by Helmholtz; 06-06-2019 at 08:19 PM.
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  10. #10
    Woodgrinder/Pickupwinder copperheadroads's Avatar
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    I rewound the stock p-90 set that was in my 2011 les Paul . the bobbins were soft & not rigid as i thought & with no flare .

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