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Thread: 1st Pickup Build - Handwound Humbucker

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    1st Pickup Build - Handwound Humbucker

    Hey there,

    After doing an exhausting amount of research on the art of pickup building/winding the past few months, I finally got a MojoTone winder and started to wind my own pickups.

    The first thing I wanted to do was build a T-Top style humbucker (at least, I matched the magnet, wire guage, and coil resistance to a set of vintage T-Tops in my LP Custom) - Now, I know being my first go at pickup winding, I should probably start with something that wasn't machine-wound, but I really loved the sound of those T-Tops!

    Well, needless to say, they aren't identical. BUT I was surprised at how decent they sounded. I really have no idea how much tension I'm putting (or am supposed to be putting) on the wire as I'm doing this, or how often I should be moving my hand back amd forth (I started at about 45 turns per layer on the neck coils, then moved to around 60 for the bridge coils).

    They definitely have kind of a PAF sound to them, character wise. It seems to be maybe a bit weaker than my T-Tops, and... yea, they're terribly microphonic

    I'm probably going to pot these at some point (another dive away from the original T-Top specs), then just keep em in my Epi SG and remember 'the day I made my first P'UP'.

    Anyone have some advice on my future T-Top endeavors?

    Thanks!
    - Zach
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  2. #2
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    According to what I've read, T-tops were wound with 42 SPN wire.
    Around 5000 turns per coil. Around 7500-7800 ohms DCR.
    Your TPL sounds low, others can tell you for sure.
    What DCR did you wind up on each pickup?
    If you have the covers on, that may be the source of your microphonics.
    Until you get them perfected, try them uncovered.
    T

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    “When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.” WILL ROGERS

    Keep Rockin! B_T
    Terry

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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    What DCR did you wind up on each pickup?
    Hey T, thanks for the reply

    I used the 42 AWG Poly wire from Remington for these.
    When measured from the end of the P'Up wire at 74° F, they read

    Neck: 7.76 kOhms
    Bridge: 7.95 kOhms

    They are a slight bit hotter than my LP Pickups, which (when measured with a patch cable plugged into the end of my guitar, @ the same Temp.) read at:

    Neck: 7.86
    Bridge: 7.56

    I'll try taking the cover off for now, thanks for the tip!

    - Zach

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    Last edited by Boss; 08-06-2018 at 11:30 PM.

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    Some more pictures of the build:

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    Tried these with the covers off- they sound better, though they do still have quite a bit of microphonics there.
    My guess is that I must've wound these a little too loose? I'm gonna try another set with a higher TPL as soon as I get some more bobbins in.

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    Well, whatever I did with that first set, must've been right. I've been selling that model (with the slightly hotter specs) to Gibson-lovers, and they seem to be very happy so far.

    Re-named it from the T-Top, to Z-Top (not very original name, I know). It seems that they definitely sound better without the wax-potting, so I've been trying to wind them as tight as humanly possible, without getting excessive breaks in my wire. That takes some of the character away, so it's a bit of a double-edged sword.

    I've since been able to match, and even one-up the pickups that came in my old Gibson Les Paul, using this formula for a humbucker. Good on that.

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    Senior Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    As a general rule of thumb, most hand guided pickups will tend to be micophonic and will need potting.

    T-Tops, AND real Gibson PAFs were all machine wound, albeit to vastly different TPLs depending on what machine they were wound on. Because they were machine wound they had less turn-to-turn scatter resulting in a tighter coil and thus not factory potted.

    Hand guided, even with high tension, will still have scatter that results higher microphonic probability. Yes, potting does tend to dull a pickup a little, but is needed at certain times to stop microphonic squeal.

    Also, generally speaking, many players in a high volume situation will even prefer machine wound pickups to be potted.

    Congrats on a successful first wind!!!

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    Last edited by Jim Darr; 08-26-2018 at 07:58 PM.
    =============================================

    Keep Winding...Keep Playing!!!

    Jim

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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZRGuitarPickups View Post
    Anyone have some advice on my future T-Top endeavors?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4SEOpVOPlM

    This video tells an actual "secret" about T-Top coil's winding.

    Get yourself a CNC winder.

    http://www.ukcnc.net/index.php/produ...i-coil-winder/

    This one is relatively affordable and pretty good to make low-volume production.

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    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
    Milano, Italy

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    Good for You. Way to go.
    Anyone have some advice on my future T-Top endeavors?
    I use a bench mounted tensioner when I hand wind. I get better consistency, and it allows me to concentrate on laying the wire evenly. You can use a spring scale to measure the tension. Keep track of this along with RPM data. These are things that you can control when it comes to consistency, and experimentation. Are you building any other types of pickups?
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    Senior Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_H View Post
    I use a bench mounted tensioner when I hand wind. I get better consistency, and it allows me to concentrate on laying the wire evenly. You can use a spring scale to measure the tension. Keep track of this along with RPM data. These are things that you can control when it comes to consistency, and experimentation. Are you building any other types of pickups?
    John,

    Agree with RPM control.

    How do you use the spring tensioner you pictured???

    Jim

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

    Keep Winding...Keep Playing!!!

    Jim

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Darr View Post
    ...How do you use the spring tensioner you pictured???
    Jim, that's not a tensioner. It's a 100 gram spring scale similar to the one that I use to measure tension. I measure the point at which the wire breaks loose from the felt pads on the tensioner. This is the little tensioner that I mount to the bench for hand winding.
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    Senior Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_H View Post
    Jim, that's not a tensioner. It's a 100 gram spring scale similar to the one that I use to measure tension. I measure the point at which the wire breaks loose from the felt pads on the tensioner. This is the little tensioner that I mount to the bench for hand winding.
    John,

    Got it. Makes sense now.

    Was trying to figure out how you tensioned with what was pictured. One of my old COWECO machines actually used a spring tensioner that pulled on a brake to control tension. And I know some other tension mechanisms used a spring as well.

    I have come to mostly use felt clip(s) strategically placed to get the tension I want...works well.

    Thanks for the clarification.

    Jim

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

    Keep Winding...Keep Playing!!!

    Jim

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    These are all great tips, thanks so much!

    Quote Originally Posted by John_H View Post
    This is the little tensioner that I mount to the bench for hand winding.
    Say... is that the same felt my drummer uses to keep tension on the cymbals??

    I really like the idea of using the spring scale to measure tension, I've seen the tensioners from Azonic and elsewhere, but I wouldn't have thought of that. I'll have to order one of those asap. And that CNC winder is pretty awesome, and I was surprised at the price, not too shabby compared to some other production winders around. Thanks for that recomendation!

    Thanks again for all these tips, I've got some more things to apply to my craft, always appreciated!

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    Quote Originally Posted by John_H View Post
    Are you building any other types of pickups?
    Yes! I've been making some Blues pickups (Reverse-Polarity, 'Peter Green' Style), as well as some vintage-style Strat, Tele and Lap Steel pickups - I'm working on getting some more designs that target a bit broader audience than the normal PAF crowd.

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