Building Pickups that Work Well Together

Pickups, wiring schemes, switch techniques and onboard active electronics for guitars

Building Pickups that Work Well Together

Postby Rane » 18 Apr 2016, 03:20

I've been getting into winding my own pickups. I was wondering if anyone has some general rules of thumb for designing neck/bridge pickups that work well together? Is it a good idea to have more turns in the bridge, or is it enough to just change magnets?

I realize it's kind of a subjective question, but wondering if anyone has some general findings that might be helpful.

Thanks!
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Re: Building Pickups that Work Well Together

Postby karul » 18 Apr 2016, 09:49

String amplitudes at the bridge position are much smaller than those at the neck, so if you have identical PU's it will result with weaker output signal at the bridge. That's one of the reasons why bridge PU's are slightly hotter.
But you can make them anyway you like.

Smaller amplitudes at the bridge position have influence on the harmonics content also. Harmonics are much less pronounced, so at the bridge we have thinner, cleaner or drier signal. Harmonics are much more pronounced at the neck position, and they are much more present.

If bridge PU's is too week, you'll with have problem with the huge difference in volume when you switch between neck and bridge. So you have to find some balance. Or not. Depends on what you're aiming at.
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Re: Building Pickups that Work Well Together

Postby Rane » 19 Apr 2016, 07:42

Thanks for the reply! It's amazing how hard it is to find info on pickups and their winding specs. So far I've found mostly vintage stuff, which isn't too helpful 'cause they usually just wound the same number of turns for neck and bridge.
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Re: Building Pickups that Work Well Together

Postby karul » 19 Apr 2016, 11:04

You can find a lot of info on this "Pickup Makers" forum:

http://music-electronics-forum.com/f11/

This forum is strictly dedicated to pickups, but you can find a lot good information on some other guitar oriented forums.
Use google or whatever search engine you prefer. Improve your searching skills too.
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Re: Building Pickups that Work Well Together

Postby phatt » 20 Apr 2016, 11:20

Woah,, No simple answer.
The early days few would have thought to make compensation for PU position as that was done via the height adjustment screws. Today PU's tend to be over wound and of higher output so any imbalance is likely more pronounced. Don't fall into the trap of thinking different is better, in the end it may turn out to be just plain old different. :hmmm:

In this crazy world of teck we tend to fooled into thinking the higher the teck the better it must be and often it's not as with almost every technology as you improve one part it causes new problems to arise that were not present before.
(Ya often solve one problem only to find you just found a whole pile of new ones :slap: )
There is a big resonant hump in magnetic PU's and as you keep overwinding them the inbuilt gain goes up but it also increases that resonant hump. That hump is also effected by the impedance of the circuit it's plugged into. The higher that impedance the more accentuated the hump becomes. Great if that is the sound you want but a royal PITA if you try to get rid of it with circuitry tricks. :blackeye
Some info here might help to understand the detail; http://ozvalveamps.org/pickups.htm

So if you have a big fat PU and a 2 meg volume pot on the guitar then into a 1 or 2 meg Z preamp that hump can be quite pronounced.
In that case you may find yourself going in circles trying to get a balance between the guitars PU's positions and the equipment it's all plugged into.

Also it may help you if you consider that guitar technology has changed a lot since the old days of semi acoustic instruments with a low output pickup and a small cathode biased 12 watt amp with very limited range and limited volume before distortion.
Ok we have come a long way but my advice is don't loose sight of the real goal.
It's really about Balance. If you want to use really hot PU's back off the input Z on the preamps used and for really full bore metal distortion you need to have a good understanding of the bandwidth and tone game otherwise it just becomes a mind numbing noise. [smilie=a_makeitstop.gif]

Off course if you have tin ears this will be all meaningless babble from an old fool and the wisdom of the youth will win and demand MORE of everything. :mrgreen:
I'll stick with Balance. :thumbsup

If you really want to start messing with PU's start by routing a guitar body so that you can quick mount and slide pickups into all possible positions.
You will find that even a 5mm change of position can make a difference to Tone/Balance. Especially the BRIDGE PU! Check the harmonic chart on Roly's page where he notes; "This is a very simplified view of a much more complicated reality, but it should give you an idea of why a pickup may sound quite different in a position that is only slightly different."
Above all have fun, Phil.
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