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#1
Why do they wind (or claim) to wind pickups by hand?

Why wouldn't they have a machine do it always?
I believe that A machine is more precision than the human hand.


Also if a pickup was wound by hand, wouldn't each pickup be different?
For example, the consistency of a SD 59 would not be accurate if wound by hand?


-Thanks for the help in advance.
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Last edited by ILoveGuitar07 at Feb 15, 2009,
#2
if they're good at it, they can produce the sound that you want
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#4
Quote by Dark Aegis
More attention would be paid to each individual pick up meaning higher quality


that is a good point but..

I think
people get lazy.


machines don't.
You don't have to pay a machine $10 an hour either.
machines are so advanced and accurate that the hand can never be as precise.


So why hand wind a pickup?
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#5
Quote by ILoveGuitar07
that is a good point but..

I think
people get lazy.


machines don't.
You don't have to pay a machine $10 an hour either.
machines are so advanced and accurate that the hand can never be as precise.


So why hand wind a pickup?


I've asked my drummer the same thing about cymbals. I mean, couldn't you get a master cymbal maker to make one, then scan it to get it in the computer absolutely perfect, then get the machine to build em exactly like it, for less money, and no possibility of the worker messing up?
#6
It has to do with how the winds overlap on each other creating different inducances between the windings. Essentially a pickup that has all the windings parallel in perfect order will sound one that is done by hand where nothing is perfect.
#7
Quote by PainIsPower
It has to do with how the winds overlap on each other creating different inducances between the windings. Essentially a pickup that has all the windings parallel in perfect order will sound one that is done by hand where nothing is perfect.


Exactly!.. I believe a machine can do that better.

anyone agree, disagree?
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#8
Quote by ILoveGuitar07
Exactly!.. I believe a machine can do that better.

anyone agree, disagree?


The original pickups where hand wound. And if machines do it better, then every one would be using machines. You aren't onto anything new here.
#9
Quote by PainIsPower
The original pickups where hand wound. And if machines do it better, then every one would be using machines. You aren't onto anything new here.


they are using machines, and hand winding.

its nothing new.

I just want to know why hand wind?

Machines to expensive?
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#10
IMHO hand wound pickups sound better.
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#11
why handwind? for the same reason you'd build a guitar by hand instead of using a machine. Anything done by hand is inherently more natural. A natural pickup will age with the guitar and get a vintage vibe the longer it's played. Hand wound gives a pickup personality and character. A machine-wound pickup does not sound the same as a hand-wound pickup, simple as that.
R.I.P. Les Paul, 1915-2009

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#12
Some of it's legit, some of it is hoodoo. It does give each pickup a unique sound, which is a good thing, and you can get things done to custom specs too. Check out Swineshead pickups for an example of some stuff you'll never see Duncan offer.

Personally, I like actives. If I ever cough up the money for handwound pickups, they'll be Alembics
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#13
Quote by PainIsPower
The original pickups where hand wound. And if machines do it better, then every one would be using machines. You aren't onto anything new here.

lol no they weren't.
#14
Quote by bv310
why handwind? for the same reason you'd build a guitar by hand instead of using a machine. Anything done by hand is inherently more natural. A natural pickup will age with the guitar and get a vintage vibe the longer it's played. Hand wound gives a pickup personality and character. A machine-wound pickup does not sound the same as a hand-wound pickup, simple as that.


a guitar built by hand is not consistent.
each guitar is actually more different than if done by a machine.
--I'm not saying that that makes it better or worse.

----Peavey revolutionized the whole industry by using machines with the T-60.
Made a quality guitar for wayyy less of a price.

---Now everyone is doing that...epi, prs, everyone.
they have to to compete pricewise.


----I see no evidence of "why" handwound is better.
I'm sorry, but what you said makes no sense to me.

-------How does the age of the handwound pickup give it a "vintage vibe" the longer it's played??
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Last edited by ILoveGuitar07 at Feb 16, 2009,
#15
EDIT: to the guy two up

yes they were, I doubt you'd find a pickup winding machine in 1950-something when electric guitars first got built


Now to the TS, if you're happy playing on machine pickups, then keep playing with machine pickups. I highly doubt that you will find many people on this forum who will disagree that machine pickups are better on your wallet. But craftsmanship and experience are things a machine can never have. I believe that nothing can compare to a well-built handwound pickup, and will stick to that belief until someone proves otherwise.
R.I.P. Les Paul, 1915-2009

A man chooses, a slave obeys.
Last edited by bv310 at Feb 16, 2009,
#16
Quote by al112987
lol no they weren't.


Ok, they were done on manually oporated winding machines. Close enough, which accounts for variation in tone of original PAFs
#17
Quote by PainIsPower
Ok, they were done on manually oporated winding machines. Close enough, which accounts for variation in tone of original PAFs

Actually, the entire reason in the variation in tone of the original PAFs is because they were put on automated winders without counters, and people set them and left them for certain amounts of time, not for a certain number of winds.

Handwinding is a much more meticulous process and is used to recreate certain pickups. But the originals were not handwound. At least not anymore handwound than your typical Seymour Duncan.
Last edited by al112987 at Feb 16, 2009,
#18
I couldn't tell you why handwound is better... honestly, it makes sense with pickups to use machines over hand winding for consistancy. But I can also think of situations where handwinding is better:
if you want a more, "airy" sounding pickup, hand winding is how you achieve that. If you want a pickup wound to specific specs, hand winding will get you that....
that's about it.
Fact: Bears eat beats. Bears beats Battlestar Galactica.
#19
Exactly Thomme. a handwound gives you the most control over your tone.


@al112987, handwinding is most often done to achieve a pickup that is different from an established brand, not the other way around.

EDIT: wait, do you guys think that handwound means the guy actually wraps all ten thousand and some loops by himself?
R.I.P. Les Paul, 1915-2009

A man chooses, a slave obeys.
Last edited by bv310 at Feb 16, 2009,
#20
why cant the windings be messy? you know, wind in an x pattern and change it up. It would be the same similar sound but each with its own unique characteristic
#21
Quote by Thomme
I couldn't tell you why handwound is better... honestly, it makes sense with pickups to use machines over hand winding for consistancy. But I can also think of situations where handwinding is better:
if you want a more, "airy" sounding pickup, hand winding is how you achieve that. If you want a pickup wound to specific specs, hand winding will get you that....
that's about it.


this makes sense to me.

I think they've just got people to believe that their is this magic hand that winds the pickups so good.......like harry potter or something.

honestly...I don't know.

I proly doesn't make much of a difference anyways....

still interesting non the less.
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#22
Quote by bv310
Exactly Thomme. a handwound gives you the most control over your tone.


@al112987, handwinding is most often done to achieve a pickup that is different from an established brand, not the other way around.

EDIT: wait, do you guys think that handwound means the guy actually wraps all ten thousand and some loops by himself?

Yes. I realize this. What I'm saying is that the original PAFs were not handwound. They were put on automated winders for some amount of time. Again, not anymore handwound than your typical Seymour Duncan. The point is that the original PAF winding style was inconsistent, and resulted in a huge tonal range of PAFs, some of which sounded great, some which sounded like ass, some of which were overwound, some of which were underwound, the reason people handwind PAF copies now are to recreate certain PAFs. It's not like theres any big secret. They take a PAF apart, study its winding patterns and recreate it. But they all sounded different. It's the reason why every handwound PAF, whether its a Seymour Duncan antiquity, Lollar Imperial, Bareknuckle Mule, etc. etc. etc. all claim to be perfect recreations of PAFs, but all sound different from each other.

Just because they're handwound now doesn't mean the originals were handwound.

And yes, I know that handwinding is not some guy sitting there wrapping wire around a bobbin by himself. And I'm not saying there is anything wrong with handwound pickups or that I think it's a bunch of snake oil and voodoo, I have a set of pickups that Jim Wagner handwound for me in my les paul right now, they sound killer.
#23
The reason hand wound pickups sound different is down to the capacitance of the coils inside the pickup. When coils of wire inside a pickup lay side by side it creates a little capacitor and boost a certain frequency. The more wires that lay directly side by side the greater the boost will be. Machine winding pickups lay the wire down neatly which means you get certain frequencies that or boosted which can result in very audible spikes in tone. These spikes can make a pickup sound weak, thin, or unbalanced. By scattering the wire onto the coil it changes the capacitance inside the pickup so you get a much more even tonal response without the big spikes. A more even, also referred to as "flat", tonal response means your pickup sounds fuller, and more balanced which, to the human ear, will also sound louder.

Wire insulation is another thing to keep in mind. Insulation thickness varies from one roll of wire to the next and this changes the capacitance. So if you use a CNC machine and neatly lay the wire down it means the tonal spikes caused by capacitance can still very greatly both in pitch and volume from one pickup to the next simply because of the inconsistency of the wire used. If you hand wind pickups then the tonal spikes are significantly reduced anyway so inconsistencies in the wire will have a less dramatic effect on tone. This means that if the person winding the pickups is good at what they do then they can produce pickups that have a more consistent tone than machine wound pickups.

There are limits to how random the inside of a pickup can be before you start to get negative side effects but the closer you sit to that limit the more consistent the tone of your pickups will be.
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Last edited by CorduroyEW at Feb 16, 2009,
#24
Quote by glenlyerkey
why cant the windings be messy? you know, wind in an x pattern and change it up. It would be the same similar sound but each with its own unique characteristic


one that would weaken the pickup, a lot, the way pickups are wound keeps them in focus and minimizes the space it takes up. that and a person can take the time to slowly wind it and make sure it doesn't fu** up. a machine would just keep going and not even realize it. but basically if you wanna use machine wound you're welcome to, but most of us will stick to hand wound.
#25
I don't know, nor care, which of my pickups are hand wound and which ones are machine wound. Personally, to me, the biggest thing is sound. I love the Duncan SH-1's sound and the sound of their P-bass pickups. I don't care if their hand wound or not. I like how they sound.

It was stated earlier that "some people think there's magic in hand wound pickups," and I don't think that handwound is automatically better, but you have more of a chance getting a dud pickup from a machine wound, as hand made means that a person oversaw the entire process, rather than trusting a machine. But, I think I'll have to go with hand wound for my squier tele, I want a specific pickup type in my guitar that I can't find and I might have to find someone to custom wind it for me.
Fact: Bears eat beats. Bears beats Battlestar Galactica.
#26
First off hand winders don't get $10/hr. I bought a hand wound pickup from Seymour Duncan and it was wound by the custom shop manager so no way thats a $10/hr job. Like stated before though, if you're looking for a specific tone hand winding it is.
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#27
To add to the post above me, handwinding is not just something anyone just does randomly. The entire point is to get a certain sound, and to do that with a pickup takes a certain amount of skill, and there is a specific way to wind and get things right. Not just any average Joe wind a good pickup. Jason Lollar winds his own pickups, Jim Wagner, Tim Mills, CorduroyEW as well, along with all the Seymour Duncan custom shop pickups are wound by either Seymour Duncan or Maricella Juarez. It's not some trivial task that someone is paid cheap labor to do.
#28
they are wound differently, scatter wound, looser wound, tighter wound..

Machine wound pickups are perfect everything

Hand wound pickups sound more unique and to most peoples ears sound better
#29
Let us not forget the importance of materials too. Did you know that if you install adjustable poles in your pickups that have a metric thread they will sound different than if you use an imperial thread? Did you know that 1010 steel from the USA sounds different than 1010 from china? Did you know that 1010 sounds different than EN2B? Did you know that EN2B can sound exactly the same as 1018 and 1022 but you will never find 1018 that sounds exactly like 1022? Did you know that milled parts will sound different than parts that were laser cut and laser cut parts will sound different than parts that were punched?

Most boutique winders simply order kits online and then assemble the pickups and have little, if any, knowledge about what those parts are made of. On the other hand, major manufacturers tend to not care enough to actually get picky about it which means they don't realy know what's going into their products either. Luckily there are a handful of pickup makers, both boutique and name brand, that do know this stuff and do care. These are the makers that seem to have the "magic" ability to make pickups sound extraordinary. All the real secrets are in the parts not the production. Sure handwound means something, but it's not the be all and end all. Any fool can wrap wire around a bobbin. It takes a lot more knowledge and skill to be able to look which chemical composition of metal sounds best for clapton tone and which is better suited for Peter Green tone.

In other words it's all important.
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#30
All I'm gonna say (because I know little to nothing about the physical properties of specific metals used in pickups) is that CorduroyEW makes hand wound pickups that are unlike anything that I've ever heard. I've heard tons of strat pickups, and he claims that his pickups that he made me sound like vintage pickups. He lied...they sound better...like what vintage pickups should sound like
#31
Everyone hush and listen to CorduroyEW, he knows what's up!

There are scientific reasons that hand wound pickups are truly better than machine wound pickups, it's not some voodoo magic that sorta "happens".

The correct term for the field sharing/disturbing properties of flat parallel wires is "mutual inductance" which is proportional to the induced electric field in one conductor by the other (as opposed to self-inductance, proportional to the electric field in a conductor induced by itself), and is typically reduced in more complex geometries. You can do all kinds of calculus to prove that mutual inductance is highest between two completely parallel wires, but for now, just realize that is the case.

Machine wound pickups have windings laying completely and perfectly flat, right next to each other, and they start doing the mutual inductance thing like it's their job. Hence all the hubbub about "scatter wound" or "hand wound" pickups, which is basically just more random than a machine. The varying geometry of hand windings, the difference in positional criss-crossing, the differing tensions of each and every wind, and even the over all mass distribution adds to the randomization and therefore the decreased shared inductance. People sometimes interchange "scatter wound" with "hand wound", because winding by hand in random fashion ( random = scattered ) produces the "scatter wound" effect, where wires criss-cross and overlap at different positions and tensions, giving less regular opportunity for shared inductance.


Some of the most sought after pickups were hand wound by old ladies in Leo Fender's original pickup making set up. He preferred the sound of hand wound pickups, and he said that the older women had a touch for winding them that could not be duplicated. He tried different ages and men as well, and settled on old women for producing the best pickups. When you take apart one of those vintage singles, you will see that the windings are so truly random that some parts of the coil will actually be bulbous, having more density of winding at certain points, while other parts will not.

The randomization of pickup windings by a human could never by exactly emulated by a machine. Factors like the person's mood, the thickness of their finger calluses, the oil content of their skin, the attention or lack thereof with which they wind the pickups, whether or not they have a bad marital relationship ( ok maybe that last one is a little out there ), all these things weigh in when winding a pickup, and although some companies attempt to imitate this effect by randomization programs in their winding machines, it's just not the same.


These reasons are why "consistency" and "mechanical reliability" are literally a BAD thing when it comes to winding pickups. These reasons are not based on preference, they are not based on opinion; they are scientific facts. The field disturbance cause by shared inductance is obviously a bad thing if you want an even frequency response from your pickup and a consistent performance. Hand wound pickups nearly eliminate this problem, and machine wound pickups simply encourage it.


THAT'S why!
#32
Quote by blandguitar
one that would weaken the pickup, a lot, the way pickups are wound keeps them in focus and minimizes the space it takes up. that and a person can take the time to slowly wind it and make sure it doesn't fu** up. a machine would just keep going and not even realize it. but basically if you wanna use machine wound you're welcome to, but most of us will stick to hand wound.

i find it amusing that you are pretty much saying the exact opposite of what is true.

other than that, i just would like to say that Cord is spot on, and i learn something new almost everytime i read something he posts about pickups.
#33
Quote by lumberjack
Everyone hush and listen to CorduroyEW, he knows what's up!

There are scientific reasons that hand wound pickups are truly better than machine wound pickups, it's not some voodoo magic that sorta "happens".

The correct term for the field sharing/disturbing properties of flat parallel wires is "mutual inductance" which is proportional to the induced electric field in one conductor by the other (as opposed to self-inductance, proportional to the electric field in a conductor induced by itself), and is typically reduced in more complex geometries. You can do all kinds of calculus to prove that mutual inductance is highest between two completely parallel wires, but for now, just realize that is the case.

Machine wound pickups have windings laying completely and perfectly flat, right next to each other, and they start doing the mutual inductance thing like it's their job. Hence all the hubbub about "scatter wound" or "hand wound" pickups, which is basically just more random than a machine. The varying geometry of hand windings, the difference in positional criss-crossing, the differing tensions of each and every wind, and even the over all mass distribution adds to the randomization and therefore the decreased shared inductance. People sometimes interchange "scatter wound" with "hand wound", because winding by hand in random fashion ( random = scattered ) produces the "scatter wound" effect, where wires criss-cross and overlap at different positions and tensions, giving less regular opportunity for shared inductance.


Some of the most sought after pickups were hand wound by old ladies in Leo Fender's original pickup making set up. He preferred the sound of hand wound pickups, and he said that the older women had a touch for winding them that could not be duplicated. He tried different ages and men as well, and settled on old women for producing the best pickups. When you take apart one of those vintage singles, you will see that the windings are so truly random that some parts of the coil will actually be bulbous, having more density of winding at certain points, while other parts will not.

The randomization of pickup windings by a human could never by exactly emulated by a machine. Factors like the person's mood, the thickness of their finger calluses, the oil content of their skin, the attention or lack thereof with which they wind the pickups, whether or not they have a bad marital relationship ( ok maybe that last one is a little out there ), all these things weigh in when winding a pickup, and although some companies attempt to imitate this effect by randomization programs in their winding machines, it's just not the same.


These reasons are why "consistency" and "mechanical reliability" are literally a BAD thing when it comes to winding pickups. These reasons are not based on preference, they are not based on opinion; they are scientific facts. The field disturbance cause by shared inductance is obviously a bad thing if you want an even frequency response from your pickup and a consistent performance. Hand wound pickups nearly eliminate this problem, and machine wound pickups simply encourage it.


THAT'S why!


this is a big help

thank you very much guys!
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#34
Quote by CorduroyEW
Let us not forget the importance of materials too. Did you know that if you install adjustable poles in your pickups that have a metric thread they will sound different than if you use an imperial thread? Did you know that 1010 steel from the USA sounds different than 1010 from china? Did you know that 1010 sounds different than EN2B? Did you know that EN2B can sound exactly the same as 1018 and 1022 but you will never find 1018 that sounds exactly like 1022? Did you know that milled parts will sound different than parts that were laser cut and laser cut parts will sound different than parts that were punched?

Most boutique winders simply order kits online and then assemble the pickups and have little, if any, knowledge about what those parts are made of. On the other hand, major manufacturers tend to not care enough to actually get picky about it which means they don't realy know what's going into their products either. Luckily there are a handful of pickup makers, both boutique and name brand, that do know this stuff and do care. These are the makers that seem to have the "magic" ability to make pickups sound extraordinary. All the real secrets are in the parts not the production. Sure handwound means something, but it's not the be all and end all. Any fool can wrap wire around a bobbin. It takes a lot more knowledge and skill to be able to look which chemical composition of metal sounds best for clapton tone and which is better suited for Peter Green tone.

In other words it's all important.



that is it. A handwound made of bad materials will be crap compared to a machine wound with good materials.
Fact: Bears eat beats. Bears beats Battlestar Galactica.
#35
"Handwound" is a marketing technique I assume.

Sure, you've got control over your tone when handwinding. But if you are buying a pickup that so-and-so played with, a machine generated pickup will be more accurate than a hand-wound pickup. Unless the artist modified his in some way necessitating the need for a personal touch.

Is it as cool? Nah, but it's accurate and cheaper.
#36
Quote by CorduroyEW
The reason hand wound pickups sound different is down to the capacitance of the coils inside the pickup. When coils of wire inside a pickup lay side by side it creates a little capacitor and boost a certain frequency. The more wires that lay directly side by side the greater the boost will be. Machine winding pickups lay the wire down neatly which means you get certain frequencies that or boosted which can result in very audible spikes in tone. These spikes can make a pickup sound weak, thin, or unbalanced. By scattering the wire onto the coil it changes the capacitance inside the pickup so you get a much more even tonal response without the big spikes. A more even, also referred to as "flat", tonal response means your pickup sounds fuller, and more balanced which, to the human ear, will also sound louder.

Wire insulation is another thing to keep in mind. Insulation thickness varies from one roll of wire to the next and this changes the capacitance. So if you use a CNC machine and neatly lay the wire down it means the tonal spikes caused by capacitance can still very greatly both in pitch and volume from one pickup to the next simply because of the inconsistency of the wire used. If you hand wind pickups then the tonal spikes are significantly reduced anyway so inconsistencies in the wire will have a less dramatic effect on tone. This means that if the person winding the pickups is good at what they do then they can produce pickups that have a more consistent tone than machine wound pickups.

There are limits to how random the inside of a pickup can be before you start to get negative side effects but the closer you sit to that limit the more consistent the tone of your pickups will be.


I'm not sure if it is capacitance - I thought it had something to do with the shape of the magnetic feild, or the inductance, or something... But it is to do with the random element in the windings. There is some "scientific" basis for it; although I doubt if i could tell the difference between a handwound and a normal pickup.
#37
Quote by jimRH7
I'm not sure if it is capacitance - I thought it had something to do with the shape of the magnetic feild, or the inductance, or something... But it is to do with the random element in the windings. There is some "scientific" basis for it; although I doubt if i could tell the difference between a handwound and a normal pickup.



Read my post
#38
Quote by lumberjack
Read my post


...but it's so long.... 'sigh'.


*[reads post]*

yes, I agree with lumber jack.
#39
Quote by jimRH7
I'm not sure if it is capacitance - I thought it had something to do with the shape of the magnetic feild, or the inductance, or something... But it is to do with the random element in the windings. There is some "scientific" basis for it; although I doubt if i could tell the difference between a handwound and a normal pickup.



There are actually several things going on inside the pickup and I tried to simplify things. What I was talking about is something called distributed capacitance which is lowered from scatter winding. Inductance, shared inductance, Q (those tone spikes I was talking about), and resonate frequency are also effected so yeah... There are several things going on. I just mentioned the ones that are easiest to explain.
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#40
Quote by lumberjack


The correct term for the field sharing/disturbing properties of flat parallel wires is "mutual inductance" which is proportional to the induced electric field in one conductor by the other (as opposed to self-inductance, proportional to the electric field in a conductor induced by itself), and is typically reduced in more complex geometries. You can do all kinds of calculus to prove that mutual inductance is highest between two completely parallel wires, but for now, just realize that is the case.


Dude, i remember writing (much of) that paragraph in your thread however long ago it was a month? Glad to see you putting it to good use tho. Otherwise i very good post.

Quote by CorduroyEW
There are actually several things going on inside the pickup and I tried to simplify things. What I was talking about is something called distributed capacitance which is lowered from scatter winding. Inductance, shared inductance, Q (those tone spikes I was talking about), and resonate frequency are also effected so yeah... There are several things going on. I just mentioned the ones that are easiest to explain.


Coming from a purely theoretical point, (I've never done any pickup building, only have my physics degree to go on) I would have thought that inductance (and as a result resonance effects) would have the biggest influence over pickup sound when it comes to changes in wiring. Then again, i've never heard of 'distributed capacitance' and am finding it hard to find any references to it except by name via quick searches. I assume the distributed capacitance and the inductance combine to make the coil oscillate/resonate? How do you determine Cd, and what does it actually (physically) correspond to?
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