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Thread: TPL For Beginner

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    TPL For Beginner

    I have been building guitars for a while now but finally decided to start making my own pickups. I have wound a couple of sets of strat pickups which were ok. Not great, not bad. I had a few basic questions on TPL and tension hoping to improve.

    1) So we are talking the same language, is 1 TPL considered one pass from left to right or a round trip from left to right and back to left?

    2) Reading the forum, some people say they do not measure TPL but just go by feel. For a beginner, is the best way to estimate TPL or hit a desired TPL to simply try to match or time one traverse to the counter on the winder? Is there a different or better way?

    3) Experienced people on here talk about high or low tension. Is there a way gauge? Obviously there are extremes between so tight the wire breaks and so loose you are barely holding it. Is there a way to know I am at a medium tension as a starting point? What indicators should I see or feel?

    4) What TPL is recommended for Strat, Tele neck and bridge, and PAF style humbuckers?

    I realize a lot of this is experience and there is no one right answer or people have different things that work for them. I'm willing to put in the effort to get more experience but am looking for a good starting point to jump off from to avoid wasting time and money.

    Thanks.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Hi Strat:
    Lots of info on the forum.
    Do some searches, that should help.
    T

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    Last edited by big_teee; 12-31-2018 at 08:06 PM.
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    Supporting Member mozz's Avatar
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    I just usually watch the counter. I guide with my fingers. I have some parts to make a traverse out of a old wire recorder, winter project.

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    CNC Trial by Fire kayakerca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strat62 View Post

    3) Experienced people on here talk about high or low tension. Is there a way gauge?
    This is what I use to set my tension. This does imply that you are not using your fingers to create tension during a wind, but rather some device that will allow you to retain the tension during the wind that you set with the gauge.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Arpo-0-30-G...8AAOSwRUdbp8QT

    Click image for larger version. 

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    One of the wire manufacturers provides recommended wire tension on their website.

    https://www.elektrisola.com/enamelle...a-mw1000c.html

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The electrisola tension info was where I started. I took the tension recommendations to mean "no more than" and went from there. You will want to experiment with different tension levels to see you find the sweet spot in tonal characteristics for your ear.

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    Last edited by kayakerca; 09-29-2018 at 08:59 PM.
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    Woodgrinder/Pickupwinder copperheadroads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayakerca View Post
    This is what I use to set my tension. This does imply that you are not using your fingers to create tension during a wind, but rather some device that will allow you to retain the tension during the wind that you set with the gauge.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Arpo-0-30-G...8AAOSwRUdbp8QT

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	tension.jpg 
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    One of the wire manufacturers provides recommended wire tension on their website.

    https://www.elektrisola.com/enamelle...a-mw1000c.html

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	tension2.JPG 
Views:	68 
Size:	260.5 KB 
ID:	50563

    The electrisola tension info was where I started. I took the tension recommendations to mean "no more than" and went from there. You will want to experiment with different tension levels to see you find the sweet spot in tonal characteristics for your ear.
    I own the same gauge .

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    Just took a look at the elektrisola link with winding tensions. Interesting that they recommend 34g tension for 42g wire with elongation at 24%. That would make the final wire thickness around 44.5g wire. I agree, the recommended tension must be a maximum.

    I use a similar gauge and usually set tension somewhere between 5-10g. I've been happy with the results.

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    1: TPL means one pass over the width of the bobbin, so one pass left to right.

    2: This is a good method and it will get you used to the rhythm of your winding if you do it often enough.

    3: Starting out the best way to do it is to hand guide the tension and wind as many pickups as you need to decide which tension sounds good to you.

    4: You're asking for secrets here that almost no one will answer. But again, there is no correct answer. You have to wind a lot of f-ing pickups to find what tpls sound right for whatever tone you are trying to create or recreate. For strat and tele you can try 100 tpl for the bridge and 200 or more for the neck. But try everything.

    You could hold a gun to the head of many knowledgeable people here and they'd never give up the tpl of a vintage PAF. It's just not done. But that tpl is 55.

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    Senior Member LtKojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrdamien View Post
    But that tpl is 55.
    The only '61 PAF I've dissected with the scope of rewinding a dead coil, the TPL I've personally measured was 65 TPL, wound pretty tight. Unfortunately, I didn't take a micrometer lecture of the wire or a Ohms-per-foot, so I can't even make an educated guess about the tension, although my rule-of-thumb is 25% under the factory-recommended tension.

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    Member Jim Darr's Avatar
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    P.A.F. era TPL/Winding pattern varied depending on what machine the particular bobbin was wound on. And total turns varied tremendously per bobbin.

    These factors, along with others created some very special pickups from that era, as well as some duds. It’s the study of the outstanding ones that many modern builders strive for.

    For what it is worth, the Leesona 102 (Old Style) came standard with certain TPLs furnished with the machine. Only one of the TPLs mentioned earlier in this posting string support the standard Leesona machine offering. Custom TPLs could be created by changing the “Gear Trains” (Worm Shaft & Worm Wheel) but this was a laborious task and likely once set up TPL was not changed on a particular machine. Now, since Gibson had at least two Leesonas they may have been setup with different TPLs.

    Also, the “Slug Winder” and Geo Stevens machines had unique winding patterns as well. Once you understand the nature and nuances of each machine used during this era can you only then fully appreciate all the different variables on P.A.F.s, even without considering magnet type and strength, wire, alloys, tension, off-set, etc.

    Things got much more consistent in the mid-60s with the "PAT Number" era and the Meteor machines.

    Hope this helps.

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    Last edited by Jim Darr; 10-08-2018 at 09:13 PM.
    =============================================

    Keep Winding...Keep Playing!!!

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by LtKojak View Post
    The only '61 PAF I've dissected with the scope of rewinding a dead coil, the TPL I've personally measured was 65 TPL, wound pretty tight. Unfortunately, I didn't take a micrometer lecture of the wire or a Ohms-per-foot, so I can't even make an educated guess about the tension, although my rule-of-thumb is 25% under the factory-recommended tension.
    I was completely joking about the 55. But having read it again it doesn't sound as tongue in cheek as I meant it. I should have included an emoji.

    I have a list - a small list but a list - of "PAF era" humbuckers I have repaired or otherwise had cause to take apart and unwind. The TPL's have been as low as 58 and as high as 67. But this is no doubt beating a dead horse and we now care far more about this than Gibson did when making the originals.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mozz View Post
    I just usually watch the counter. I guide with my fingers.
    This is exactly what I do too. I just fill the bobbin evenly.

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