In developing my S Model guitar prototype, in addition to having that model be familiar yet unique, I also had a particular range of tone in mind. After quite a few pickup prototypes, I believed I've achieved what I set out to do. So much so, that instead limiting the availability to guitar purchases, I will also now be offering them separately here on my site.
Back to Basics
I certainly am not going to get into the often wildly debated specifications of the 'Holy Grail' '59 PAF pickup. I feel I have a base knowledge of pickup development process and materials used during that time. I decided to use that knowledge as my base and not improve upon (because that's too subjective), but create a different sound which I felt right for the S Model.
It was for this reason that I chose to name my new pickups Vintage Inspired and use primarily vintage components, un-potted, for my new pickup line.
I'm hoping to not simplify things too much here, but a pickup can somewhat be thought of as a microphone for your guitar (and yes, for the techies, you don't want a pickup that's micro-phonic... just trying to talk at a high level)... So, if you're thinking that these, or any pickup for that matter can improve an otherwise not great sounding guitar, these won't help you.
But, in a guitar that has been well built it will give you quite a nice range of tones.
The pickup set is made up of a neck and bridge pickup which each have their unique recipe. The neck pickup is designed to give sweet warm tones with rich harmonics, while the bridge pickup provides more brightness and slight punch. They both can drive a tube amp with a really nice breakup. Spec wise, they are slightly hotter than the '59s, but not by much.
- Vintage Frames
- Maple spacers
- 10 Hole Spacers
- 49.2 mm spacing
- Long magnets
- Cream Butyrate Bobbins
- Plain Enamel Wire
- 22/4 Twisted Shielded Whip (non-vintage)
When my teacher/mentor/friend retired, I purchased his Koweco winding machine. This specific machine he'd had set up to wind his proprietary bobbins. As I did not want to completely remove the machines ability to wind those bobbins, I made some modifications to be able to not only continue to wind those bobbins (in case he had asked me to spin some of those for him) and humbucker bobbins as well.
This machine is not equipped with any auto traversing or auto tension so it is required to do that by hand. A tight, evenly spaced winding will favor clear and bright tones, while introducing some unevenness will favor warm and harmonics that are full.
When I wind the Vintage Inspired pickups, I use both even spacing and scatter wiring strategically throughout the each bobbin. I also modify the tension between my fingers feeding the machine.
And, as with any hand wound pickups, repeat-ability becomes a difficult task. There WILL be variability between each pickup set (no way around that), but what I can tell you is that I measure each pickup for DC Resistance, Inductance, and quite a few other factors. At the time of this writing I'm maintaining the following variance; 0.0032 kOhm for DCR and 0.0003 H for Inductance which I believe are very reasonable for repeat-ability of hand wound pickups.
One of the areas that I felt a need to differ from the vintage approach was the whip cable. Traditionally, PAFs were a two conductor cable with metal braided jacket. I certainly wanted to provide good shielding, but at the same time give you the wiring options that modern players expect. So not only are in/out of phase, coil cut, series/parallel possible, the pickups were designed to handle these alternative wiring just as well as traditional humbucking (give those screw bobbins a try on their own, they don't disappoint!).
Wiring Harness Consideration
The pickups sound best and are designed to work with high quality audio potentiometers (500k Ohm) and capacitors (0.022 mf oil in paper). I should have some wiring harnesses available soon, but don't sell yourself short here.
And if you need something sooner, please contact me.