Monday, 8 June 2015

Pickup Winder: Strat Pickups Part 1

I finally got some time today to start wiring a set of 3 single coil pickups for my Ash Stratocaster build. The first step in getting the pickups wound is to assemble the pole pieces into the flatwork, and that's what I ended up tackling. The pickup kit that I purchased from came complete with the flatwork (with eyelets already inserted), alnico V polepieces (unmagnetised) and push back vintage wire to create all 3 pickups.

Strat pickup kit and the tools to assemble the flatwork.

The pole pieces were already bevelled on one edge, removing one step in the process (phew). The pole pieces that came with the kit were the following sizes: 3x18.7mm, 1x18.3mm, 1x17.5mm and 1x19.8mm. Referring to the pickup winding guide from Stewmac as a rough tutorial, I assigned these pole sizes to the string positions as follows:

E: 18.3, A: 18.7, D:18.7, G: 19.8, B: 17.5, E:18.7
Using my regular hammer, I bashed the non-bevelled ends of the pole pieces into the bottom flatwork, making sure that the eyelets were facing up. In preparation for lacquering the completed bobbins, I also covered the eyelets with a little painters tape. It took more effort than I was expecting to get these pole pieces seated - the holes in the flatwork are quite a deal smaller than the diameter of the pole pieces themselves, and this combined with my sausage fingers meant that it took quite a bit of effort to get them hammered in.

Pole pieces finally bashed into the bottom flatwork.
With the pole pieces now in and standing, it was time to get the top flatwork installed. To make sure that it was installed at the correct height, I created two 11.5mm high guides out of plywood to sit either side of the pole pieces.

11.5mm high guides cut from plywood and held with a rubber band.
Held in place with a rubber band, these allowed the top flatwork to be hammered home without mishap. To help me, I created a small tool from a piece of perspex whose 55mm diameter hole fit over each pole piece and allowed me to lower the flatwork around it. This was another useful hint from the stewmac winding guide, and it really saved my arse.

A piece of perspex with a 55mm hole. A genius hint from Stewmac.
Although it took a little bit of fiddling to get all the pole pieces lined up with the holes in the top flatwork (especially the lowest B string pole piece) I soon had all the pole pieces hammered through and looking great!

Pole pieces installed! This baby is almost ready for winding.
After the first bobbin was assembled, I went on to complete the remaining two. Yet again it took more time than I was expecting (most time was taken with the initial hammering pole pieces into the bottom flatwork) but finally I had all three bobbins assembled and ready for the last step in their assembly.

Three strat bobbins all assembled and ready for lacquer!
This last step is to spray the entire bobbin with lacquer to make sure there's no electrical conductivity. This was achieved using the dregs of my White Knight acrylic cans from a previous build. I used a piece of hookup wire through the screw hole to hold each pickup for spraying and later hanging to dry. The painters tape hopefully stopped any lacquer from coating the eyelets!

Bobbins sprayed with Lacquer and hanging to dry.
So there you have it! 3 assembled strat pickup bobbins ready for step 2 in the process - magnetising the poles. I need to source some rare earth magnets from Jaycar during the week so that I can get this done and be ready for winding. Exciting times!