Like many, Shane's post/challenge put my creative side into overdrive.  I had made some attempts at a thinner pickup but really didn't like the way my experiments turned out.  A lot of time and learning has passed since these early experiments.  What I have learned in the last couple of years has to do with why some parts of pickup design just doesn't directly translate when you make them smaller.  There are a bunch of reasons that a 3 pole single coil pickup wound with the same number of turns, same magnet and wire just doesn't sound quite like its larger 6 string version.


So I rolled up my sleeves and went back to do some research into the style of pickup that Shane outlined in his video.  After that, a bit of searching for materials and then some calculating.  What I decided was to go with C5 ceramic magnets and 42 gauge heavy build wire.

Here is the quick drawing I put together that includes the bobbin and nickel silver cover template.

As to the bobbin material I used .020 vulcanized fiberboard I purchased from McMaster Carr.  This made the pickup .010 thicker but the .015 material I tried just wasn't stiff enough.  I cut the material and trimmed and sanded the edges so the wire would be less prone to getting caught.  I also used a wet stone to grind the sharp corners off of the magnet.

A quick little bit of super glue and the whole assembly goes together really quick.

One benefit of using this thin forbon type of material is that the bobbin will just be held in place by the magnet to the steel platten on my winder.  No double sided tape needed.  I just used some blue painters tape to hold the starting part of wire in place and I was ready to wind.

Here is the wire I used.  I got this spool as surplus.  I use it in place of some of my more expensive wire when in the prototype stage.  Not that it is much different than what I normally use, I just don't feel as bad when I have to trash some of the early work because the wire was cheap.

The second coil is done.  The first one was done with a bobbin that was cut slightly oversize so I could confirm max number of turns first.  This second bobbin was 1"x2" and was wound to just over 4600 turns and has a DC resistance of 2.7k.  Just to put the size into perspective here it is place on a standard business card.

I used a couple of small squares of copper tape to solder the wire to a wire lead and tested.  Then soldered the lead to a 1/4 jack and went about seeing what it sounds like.  This is all pre potting at this point but overall, the pickup has a decent sense of balance with bass and top end. 

I taped it to a folded index card and slid it under the strings of my favorite 4 string.  Overall I like the tone.  I'll need to wax pot it and then find a better way to install it into something before I attempt any loud volume or distortion.  That said, I am pleased with this early build.  Keep in mind, I find it harder to get good clean tones I like than overdriven and this one has a nice clean sound.

Here is the list of materials.

.020 vulcanized fiber board    McMaster Carr

.375x.250x1.5" C5 grade magnet   All Magnetics

42 gauge heavy build wire   Surplus Sales of Nebraska


I've ordered nickel silver to make covers.  I'll post picture once it comes in and I get one done.

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Comment by Mad Paddler on March 18, 2011 at 10:20am
That is very cool.  Can you detail, for a noob like me, how to do the windings and some details of  the solder connections?  Not sure how you are attaching the pick up to do the windings in your photo.  I made my piezo pick up, and want to add your thin pick up to my project.  Thanks for the great tips!

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