Catswhisker pickups
HAND MADE IN ENGLAND Email : allan@catswhiskerpickups.co.uk Mail: allan@catswhiskerpickups.co.uk

 Model

Bridge

Neck

Magnet(s)

Classic 2/3/4/5

8.8k

8.4k

Choice

72 Classic

13.2k

12.5k

Alnico 5

S-Bucker

10.9k/7k

10.2k/6.6k

Alnico 5

Ranger DLX

8.6k

8.2k

Hybrid

T-Bucker

23.6k

Alnico 5

HB-T

23.6k

22.5K

Alnico 5

PG Humbucker set

7.8k

7.2k

Alnico 2

Minihumbucker / F

6.9k

6.5k

Alnico 5

Lil’ Lion humbucker

11.5k

10.7k

Alnico 5

WRHB / Conversion

        11.1k

        10.4k

     FeCrCo

J Master WRHB

            11.5k

        10.4k

        FeCrCo

P90

7.4k

7.4k

Alnico 5

P90 Tapped

7.8k/10.5k

7.4k/10.2k

Alnico 5

Fat Moggy

7.5k

7.2k

Alnico 5

J-Master P90

7.8k

7.4k

Alnico 5

BP90

7.8k

7.4k

Alnico 5

TP90

7.8k

-

Ceramic 8

Model T

7.6k

-

Alnico 5

Model T/Neck

-

7.2k

Alnico 5

Open Tele Neck

-

6.5k

Alnico 5

Model S

Choice of windings

Alnico 5

Stelley

8k

-

Alnico 5

Jazz Bass

7.8k

7.4k

Alnico 5

Jazz bass humbucker

10.1k

9.6k

Alnico 5

Precision Bass

11.7k

-

Alnico 5

HOME

Some insight into Magnetic Pickups


The DC resistance of a pickup is related to the amount and thickness of the wire used. The most common gauge of wire is 42AWG, a gauge that was used for the majority of the early/mid era single coil and humbucking pickups  To a lesser extent, thinner gauges of wire - 43WAWG and 44AWG (thinner still) were and are also used to good effect.

The effect upon the actual output level (loudness) of a pickup relative to the wire gauge used is minimal, the audible effect is more discernable tonally but even so often subtle. The measurable effect of wire gauge is the DC resistance of the pickup; for the same number of turns of wire it increases as the wire becomes thinner. So comparing pickups only by their DC resistance can be misleading.

The output of a pickup increases with the number of turns of wire and increasing strength of magnetic field, the higher the flux density, the denser the lines of force and increasing the number of windings increases the interaction. More interaction = more voltage, but other factors that affect the tone of a pickup lurk in the background.

The capacitance of a coil is a key factor in the quality of sound produced; the higher the capacitance, the greater the tendency for high frequencies to be lost making the pickup sound lifeless and in extremes muddy.

Capacitance is created between the individual strands of wire in the coil, the smaller the gaps between the strands, the tighter the strands are compacted, the greater the number of strands then the greater the capacitance. So increasing the space between the strands or reducing the number of strands increases the brightness of a pickup as does increasing the thickness of the wire as there are less strands on the bobbin to interact with each other.

Ok, so putting less wire onto a pickup makes it brighter, but output drops. Increasing the thickness of the insulation on the wire increases the space between the strands of wire as does “scatter” winding. Scatter winding reduces capacitance as the individual winds are not as closely packed as they are with a machine wound pickup where the layers are very orderly in comparison. Thicker insulation is used to good effect in many pickups but it does have limitations in that it reduces the number of windings that can be accommodated on the bobbin so scatter or hand winding is a far more flexible alternative as the compaction of the coil can be varied at will.

But what about the bottom end? Adding iron into the construction of the pickup tames the higher frequencies to produce a balanced tone; iron in the form of pole screws, spacer bars, base plates and the ferrous constituents of the magnets employed.

Pickups with ceramic magnets had a poor reputation years ago not because there is anything wrong with ceramic magnets as such but simply because the overall concepts of the pickups in which they were used were incorrect, skinny coils and not enough iron to compensate for the relatively high magnetic strength of ceramics.

Apologies to any budding Einsteins out there for this simplified explanation but it’s just an effort to try and explain the basic balancing factors to consider when designing a pickup.