Unwinding Pickups - **Pickup Makers Please Respond **

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Strat81, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. Strat81

    Strat81 Member

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    I have a set of Van Zant Vintage Plus pickups in my Strat. I bought them under the premise that they their resistance ran around 6.2K-6.1K, which is exactly what I wanted (1960-1962 pickup specs). After measuring them they actually ran around 6.5K-6.6K and don't sound exactly as I was hoping.

    Out of curiosity how hard is it to unwind pickups to lower there resistance and approximately how many winds makes up 0.1K of resistance? I am pretty good with soldering and whatnot and im not afraid to try and get these pickups into the spec I was hoping for.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2008
  2. Shooter Bob

    Shooter Bob Member

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    Seriously, I would simply lower the pickups a bit before I'd go through all that trouble. Pickups are wound a certain way to work with specific magnets and bobbins. If you change something you may negatively alter the balanced sound of the pickup and make it useless. You're barely talking 5% difference in DC ohms. Seriously, I would just try setting them lower in the body first.
     
  3. Strat81

    Strat81 Member

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    Ive already tried that, they just end up sounding too hollow when setting them lower. I do have a bunch of MIM strat ceramic pickups from old pickup replacement jobs that I could practice on, before attempting anything on the Van Zandts.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  4. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    Before I started tearing a pickup apart, I'd get in touch with somebody like Lindy Fralin or Jason Lollar and have them make me pickups to my precise specs.

    --chiba
     
  5. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    I think the advice above is very good advice. If you just can't live without trying you could start unwinding 50 to 100 wraps at a time, lightly sand the insulation with 600-800 sandpaper to measure that point and so on until you are where you wanna be.
    WARNING, the wire may be pulled tight in the coil or between coil and top or base plate and will break if pulled too hard, would be rewind time if that happened. If it is wax potted use a hair drier to soften the wax before unwinding. As you can see a simple dewinding could turn into a disaster in a matter of seconds. Good luck.
     
  6. bluesjunior

    bluesjunior Member

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    There was a guy made a home made jig for winding pick-ups using a battery operated power drill. He made a little jig that fitted the chuck and held the bobbins and magnets and used the rpm to calculate the turns. Check the turns count near the bottom of the page in the link below. It states 8300 for a typical 60's strat.

    http://www.kinman.com/html/toneWorkshop/glossary/technical.htm

    You could use something similar to unwind them once you find out how many turns you need to take off.
     
  7. Strat81

    Strat81 Member

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    Cool, thanks!
     
  8. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    I have a winder but I wouldn't use it for dewinding a pickup, best do it by hand, slowly.
     
  9. levelfrets

    levelfrets Member

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    First of all, I have never seen a pickup read exactly the same as the advertised DC resistance. It's common knowledge to a pickup maker that readings will vary from different batches of wire and other variances as well. They should all claim approximate readings and not make like they are going to be exact readings. After all they wind to a specific number of turns, and not to a specific DC resistance. I am sure some really small winders might take the time to get the DC resistance the same for each, but there is no way they can ever wind pickups in high demand that way. They would eventually have to settle for number of turns. The DC resistance will also vary depending on the temperature of the coil. Hot = higher DC readings and Cold = lower DC readings.
     
  10. Mike9

    Mike9 Supporting Member

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    A couple of things come to mind - just to consider. Pickups are usually wax potted so you'd be unwinding through the wax. Another thought is the friction of the unwinding process might compromise the insulation on the wire. Just thoughts - I could be wrong.
     
  11. Strat81

    Strat81 Member

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    Yeah I understand that and they actually do not advertise a specified resistance. I am going off of what others have measured in their Vintage Plus pickups. With that being said 400 + ohms of variance is pretty significant. I cannot see how you can maintain consistent tone with that much variation from one batch of pickups to another.
     
  12. levelfrets

    levelfrets Member

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    Try another meter. I usually get different readings with different meters even after they are calibrated. I still can't figure that one out.
     
  13. keith_t4e

    keith_t4e Member

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    Don't do it at all. If you ever want to sell the Van Zandts you wouldn't want to mess with them. Just find something else you like beter and put em in. It is frustrating I know. I'm going through it with two of mine right now.
     
  14. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    there is a misconception that what you ask for,you get.temperature,wire guage,magnets,coil size,shape,design all play roles.also the wire is about as thick as a human hair.buy another set.
     
  15. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    where and how are you measuring the pups

    I'm not trying to be wise but it makes a difference.

    Have you taken them out of the circuit entirely or are you measuring in series with the pot and switch from the Jack

    There is a good thread I started in the Guitar tech forum that addresses several Technques.

    That said sell the pups and get some Don Mares if he says 6.1 they will be within .2 tolerance and more likely dead on.

    from Don's Site
    Note:

    I alter all my specs slightly (0.1k to 0.2k) to adjust and compensate for winding variances and chassis, in order to reach the goal results tonally.

    http://www.buckcannon.com/
     
  16. oxydon

    oxydon Member

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    No No, please do nothing, i am sorry but this does not make any sense at all, i have been wiring pickups for myself many years now, and i did/tried a lot, i can tell you that YOU WILL NOT get the sound you are looking for that way.
    One important thing to know is that DC resistance in itself has almost nothing to do with you tone ina direct way, the DC resistance only comes to play as a damping agent (just as your tone pot), 6K OHM bein quite nothing compared with your tone pot, this means that making it 20% higher or lower, has no effect at all.
    One thing to note is that lowering the number of turns in the coil will only lower the volume of your pickup and make it harder for it to overdrive any amp, this is not the same but almost the same as lowering the height of the pickup, except that the pickup will have a slightly brighter response, because lower inductance means also a higher resonnance frequency, in the pick-ups industry language you pick-up will be slightly less "Hot" and slightly more "vintage sounding" but yet there will be no radical change in the sound and the character of the pickup in question.
    As it has been said earlier, the unwinding operation is possible but at high risk, and you may lose the value of the pickup in case you want to resell it later.
    Many more parameters have consequent influence over the tone of a pickup, the most important are the magnet material/shape, the number of turns (Doesn't mean overall resistance!) and the shape of the coil (skinnier is clearer, flatter is fatter).
    If you are not comfortable with the technical stuff, you can take my advice as is, leave this pick-up as it is (or buy it) and get yourself another that sounds closer to what you want, try it in a guitar similar to yours before you buy, you don't want another bad surprise!
     

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