Tym pickups, kind of ...

Because my brain never stops and have lots of silly ideas and ... anyway, I've been holding off mentioning this for a while but, here goes.

A few months ago I got my pickup winder going again to repair a HEAP of vintage Japanese pickups I've got here at the workshop that I've amassed over the last 25 or so years. There's goodies from Maxon, Guyatone, Teisco, Fujigen, Hoshino, Kawai, Shinko, Tokai .... oh the list goes on, as does the boxes of dead pickups.

Anyway, I quickly found my old pickup winder, which I made with adapters for my small metal lathe, was ..... uncomfortable for, lets say, an older gent. I had inherited a transformer winder a few years ago and because I don't throw anything out (hence boxes of dead pickups) I dug it out and went about making a new, smaller, more comfortable winder. One where I can rest my cup of tea.

I started separating and evaluating the boxes of dead pickups and my brain started doing it's thing it does when it's left to it's own devices. Which is never good.

I used to make Mosrite pickups and rewind the odd pickup for repairs before a friend of mine in Sydney took on doing this for me as I had less and less time. This is back when I was mainly building guitars but also doing repairs to keep things going. Anyway, my winder slowly got pushed to the back and buried under all the stuff that's burying stuff in my workshop.

While Mosrite pickups are my favourite, P-90's are a close second, and third, and probably forth favourite and while I have rewound them, I'd never made any from scratch back in the day. I had always wanted to try the slug magnet P-90 as I like the Jazzmaster pickup as well and this seemed like a good compromise? 

Now, I'm not going to get into the anatomy of a pickup and what makes them sound like they do. Plenty of people much more talented than me have done that, but I do understand "most" of the variables involved after messing around with them for so many years. So I sat down and worked out what I was trying to get and ended up with this. There's still more experimenting to do (there ALWAYS is) but after a couple of prototypes, which I've taken into the shop on Sundays for people to try out and give me feedback, I've (mostly) settled on these. 

 

The bobbins are hand made by me and use a variety of materials and sizes. There's still some more to try but these are pretty close to what I want. The bridge pickup is acrylic and plastic with 9000 turns of plain enamel #42 wire and 18mm A5 slugs. The neck is plastic and aluminium with a slightly narrower bobbin running closer to the strings with 8400 turns and plain enamel #42 wire with 12mm A5 slugs. I'm a fan of keeping the coil away from the strings in some applications so I'd like to find even longer slugs (and round off the tops a little) at some stage and try them. I messed around with Alnicos, wire and bobbin shape/size/material while keeping in mind these MUST fit in a P-90 cover and rout. 

 

These have a clarity and output that I really like and are different enough to not be a P-90. I have little interest in making P-90's, or Strat or Tele or Humbuckers etc and never really did. There is a HUGE array of great people making truly great versions of all these pickups already, including my personal favourite Mick Brierley right here in Australia, so, what could I possibly add?

I'd like to experiment with a Jazzmaster and probably Mosrite version of this pickup and I have some other ideas that I'll mess around with when I get time including a non humbucking double coil that may or may not work? I'm also a fan of ferrite/ceramic pickups in some applications so we'll see where that goes.

 

At this stage I don't think these will be "commercially" available (who knows?) as I have no intention in being a pickup winder, not that there's anything wrong with that, I just don't have time with everything else going on here and like I said, there's PLENTY of great ones out there. I do however have some "orders" for these for friends with different ideas so it should be fun making custom stuff, and keep playing around with all the variables that go into pickup making to see where it goes when I get time. Who knows, maybe I'll have time to make some for people? Like building pedals, it's quite therapeutic winding pickups, if you don't have to do it for a living. 

I should probably mention this guitar in closing? I needed something consistent to test all the pickups in and I had this old Strat body lying around the workshop that had already been routed for humbuckers in the bridge and neck position. I bought it as a double HB Strat years ago and subsequently sold off all/most of the parts from it. It's a nice fairly light, resonant body and since it had been routed, it volunteered. The neck is an old Jazzmaster neck I had been saving for a project and even though it has some wear, feels great and is dead straight. I'm not sure what I didn't put this on one of my parts Jazzmasters (one has a Tele Dlx neck) over the years but, there it was. The rest of the hardware is old Fender. The scratchplate was a blank plate that had hotrail in the bridge and one volume pot so I just modded it for P-90's and two volumes, tone and a three way toggle.

Anyway, back to running this place while I try and make some pedals and fix guitars and put out records and do instores and fix boxes of dead pickups and have a life and ....... Damn you brain.

Aug 15 2018 Written By: Tim Brennan