In a hand-wound pickup, you get 1 machine & 1 person operating it—the operator controls the tension & varying speeds. With mass produced pickups that are manufactured in a gang assembly with multiple coils being wound at once, the quality suffers. Micro shorts in the windings develop as a result of cracking in the insulation of the wire which in turn causes a “muddy” sound in the pickup. The cracking is caused by improper tension on the coil wire; which by the way is approximately 1/2 the thickness of a hair. When hand-winding, you can vary the speed and feed which produces a scattered winding that gives each pickup it’s charm and individualism. A pre-programmed machine cannot produce this by itself.
YES ! The great thing about custom pickups, is that you can fix the things that bother you about your guitar’s original sound. I test and determine the power output of the remaining pickups and adjust the new one accordingly.
Over the years, I have found that I can adapt pickups for use in almost any steel stringed instrument. These days, there are many basses (and some guitars) that have pickups and pickup cavities that the aftermarket industry do not make pickups for. However, I can make custom bobbins to fit any cavity and also make beautiful wood covers to match your guitar or bass.
Unfortunately we only make custom pickup covers for our own MJS Pickups & very specific/special projects.
Scatter Winding is creating a cross hatching of the wire during the winding process. Proper criss-crossing of the wire will create currents which will provide overtones in order to deliver a fuller, dynamic tone.
General rule is: the more windings (of any given gauge) = the higher the resistance and warmer the tone. Higher resistance creates more millivolts which will drive your preamp effectively.
General rule is: the stronger the magnet = more high frequencies.
- Having the magnet(s) inside the coil will provide more articulation and attack
- Having the magnet on the bottom of the coil(s) with steel pole pieces will provide more mids and inductance = louder & warmer tone
This is a very common question with a very unpopular answer. The application of your guitar (i.e. Rock, Jazz, Blues, etc.) will dictate what materials & power output will be used. This would need to be discussed with the customer before the building of the pickup begins.
Inductance is measured in Henries. The amount of Inductance (H) your pickup produces will ultimately determine the tone of your pickup. Inductance takes into consideration all components of the pickup. D.C. resistance (ohms), only involves the coil wire and doesn’t tell the whole story.
Sometimes pot values are as important as the pickup choice. Lower pot values (250K) will ATTENUATE high frequencies and higher pot values (500K) will ACCENTUATE high frequencies. The wrong pot value on the right pickup can destroy the tone. Always ask the recommended pot value(s) for your application.
Magnetic field pickups only detect magnetic material (steel). The more magnetic material the pickup detects the louder the pickup will be. Pure Nickel and Bronze are not magnetic so just the string core wire will be detected and results in a quieter tone. Take this into consideration when choosing strings for your guitar.
A standard starting point is 1/8” below the string when fretted at the last fret. You can go up or down from there but make sure you do the adjustment with the strings fretted at the last fret. Higher pickups tend to give more attack and a little more volume. Lower pickups tend to warm up the tone and decrease volume slightly. If you go too low, you will encounter muddiness, but only in extremely low situations.
Again, this is a matter of personal taste. I have found that any sound that comes from an active pickup, you can also get from a passive pickup. Low impedance pickups are slightly quieter operationally but also have a generic sound from a lack of coil windings. Batteries are also a pain in the butt!
Ultimately the decision to repair your instrument is up to you. I have found that after the hundreds of repairs & restorations I have done over the past 25+ years, there is a certain pride & contentment that comes from bringing an old instrument back to life. You should be advised of the approximate value of your instrument after repairs for an educated determination if you should or should not proceed. Sentimental value usually overrides typical appraised value as this cannot be priced.
Without seeing the instrument up close it is very difficult to judge, but estimates don’t cost a nickel. I find that many customers are resigned to the fact that their guitar/bass is a lost cause, only to be pleasantly surprised that it’s not nearly as costly as they thought to repair it. It is always important to inquire before making a move to a new guitar because you never know what kind of jewel you may already have.
Some instruments are actually made better than they used to be – primarily due to R&D and new technology. These are usually the boutique guitars and not the introductory instruments. However, the pressure of mass production and lack of time to prepare and dry the woods properly make for very unstable instruments. Instruments made 25-30 years ago may not have had great electronics, but they were much more stable and make a better candidate for restoration.