Zhangbucker pure hand wound pick-ups

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Reviews' started by GonzoBananas, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. GonzoBananas

    GonzoBananas Member

    Jan 11, 2019
    I've purchased two sets of pure hand wound pickups from Dave @ Zhangbucker and because he is a one man show and a hidden gem, I wanted to give him a little public acclaim as gratitude for his great customer service.

    To start, I couldn't ask for better customer service in communication and answering questions when trying to decide on pick-ups. I did my best to keep in mind he is a one man show, but he was very gracious in answering my questions promptly and succinctly.

    His prices are very reasonable for boutique, and the hidden gem here is his pure hand-wound option. All of the other manufacturers i researched use machines to spin the bobbin, and they hand guide the wire onto the bobbin. If you watch youtube videos demonstrating this you will see the speed at which the wire is being laid onto the bobbin, it ain't slow. Now i'm not saying machine wound pick-ups are crap. Lots of people like seymour duncan pick-ups as well as all the rest. However I feel like if you are going for that last 5% (maybe 10% in some cases), slowing things down and doing it all by hand adds character, and that special touch. We see this in all works in life. Cooking, cleaning, arts, and crafts. My mother is a mixed media artist (including basket weaving). If she had a machine helping her weave the basket it would not be the same.
    Now in some cases the uniformity that machines provide is actually ideal and superior in it's form. However i have come to believe based on my research that uniform, laid-tight in a row pick-up windings when utilized for musical purposes, are not-ideal. Now this is subjective, as all tonal preferences are. Some people don't want dynamics and like narrow focused sounds. Some want "ice pick" esque tones, and some want "muddy" tones. One man's ice pick is another man's chisel.
    Alright, enough theory, here is my experience.
    i started wanting humbuckers. I had an epiphone les paul with classic 57 (7.86k a2) and 57+ (8.13k a2). I like rock n roll rhythm guitar. With the way i played the neck was muddy and the bridge was sharp and unpleasant, i only liked playing in the middle position. I removed the metal covers and that helped alot in the neck but not in the bridge. I ended up getting his pagey2 neck (7.5k/a2) and a brownbucker bridge (9.2k/a2). It sounded fantastic. The neck had more treble than the classic despite being very similar in magnets and wire quantity (42g) and was much clearer. The brownbucker does have more midrange and partly due to the increase in windings but it also has the same top end as far as i could tell, just smoother. I can't actually say if the pure hand wound aspect is any better than getting his cheaper hand-guided option of the same pickups, because i havent done a side by side. However, he says it's better and i can imagine the pain in the ass it must be hand winding without machine assistance. I doubt he would do it just to get a few extra bucks per pick up when the cost of labor goes up that as well. So i like to know it's as good as it gets. However the humbuckers weren't what really inspired me to write this glowing review.
    I bought the new Fender Meteora. Because i love offset guitars and i don't like the body shape of the telecaster, appearance wise and lack of form fitting contours. I dig the guitar, but the pickups were lacking. 5900k/42g (formvar) a5 twisted tele neck, and custom 9200k/42g a5 (formvar) bridge. The bridge sounded cool, but it was all midrange, like a cocked wah sound. It wasn't very versatile. The neck was muddy, probably just from the cover, but it also was on the thin side. Paul Bunyan to the rescue. The 7500k/ (not sure on gauge) a5 (no cover) was fat and bright. It sounded fantastic. However the bridge is where it gets interesting. 9500k/ 42g (plain enamel) a5. side by side. The paul bunyan was huge physically. It required a much taller bobbin. Nearly the same amount of wire, but looking through the poorly wrapped cord on the fender pick-up i could see a very neat winding. I trust quite the opposite in this giant of a pick-up. The difference was astounding. This bridge is bright and twangy! I have to roll the tone back to 9 minimum on the guitar for my particular setups. It's got plenty of midrange, and it also has amazing bass for a bridge pickup. It's just so wide, and not too hot.
    The only downside is you might have to wait awhile for a pure hand-wound. Maybe even 6 months, but it fluctuates, so maybe less. Anyways, these are about the most expensive pick-ups you can get but just a little more or less than Lollar, or Bareknuckle. However, if you feel the pure handwound is a waste of money, order his regular winds. His overwound vintage formula's are killer. Nuff said.

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