Ohm Reading and Tone Perceptibility

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by StubbyJ, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. StubbyJ

    StubbyJ Senior Member

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    I think we all agree that pickup ohm readings (windings) results in different tones, or should I say the weak to hot spectrum. As such, I see people stating a preference in wind/ohm reading and place pup orders accordingly.

    I'm wondering at what point you all can hear a difference between windings provided all other variables "congruent;" say between units of the same manufacturer? Or should I ask, at what place value does an audible difference become detectible? Anyone here geek out and perform an applicable test or order pups with minimal ohm difference producing evident tonal separation? When you like a pickup but want it a tad hotter, how much of an ohm increase do you ask for?

    For example:
    7.30 and 7.39
    7.20 and 7.30
    7.50 and 8.00
    7.00 and 8.00
     
  2. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    No. No, we definitely do not agree to that. You're misinformed. It's a common piece of misinformation, however, and you're not alone.

    I suggest you, and anyone else who agrees with the above, read this thread to understand why DCR can be not only meaningless, regarding the sound of a pickup, but even misleading, especially when the beliefs of the OP are applied to it: http://www.mylespaul.com/threads/th...-resistance-in-regard-to-pickup-coils.369099/

    Let me know if you have any questions about it and I'll do my best to help clarify.
     
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  3. StubbyJ

    StubbyJ Senior Member

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    Ok, I guess I am wrong; I can most certainly live with this. My question stands albeit a bit of a tweak. Provided, two pickups from the same winder with all variables being the same aside from windings, at what point does an audible difference appear as related to an increase/decrease in windings? Maybe another way of putting it is, why is it some winders offer the "same" pickup with a different number windings?
     
  4. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    You're still looking at it from far to limited of a viewpoint, assuming windings or turn counts substitute for DCR, which isn't really the case, though a step in the right direction.

    You need to take into consideration other factors like magnet types and charge levels, steel alloys and shapes, coil patterns, coil tensions, coil shapes, copper core thickness of coil wire (within the tolerance of a given gauge, even if the gauge is the same as another being compared to) and insulation thickness of coil wire (within the tolerance of a given gauge, even if the gauge is the same as another being compared to).

    Just because a pickup has more turns of copper, doesn't necessarily make it hotter/warmer/darker sounding than one with less turns.

    Independently of that, yet a similar situation, just because a pickup has a higher DCR doesn't necessarily make it hotter/warmer/darker sounding than one with lower DCR.

    In a real world example, it's absolutely possible to have a pickup with 12,000 turns of copper that reads something like 10k Ohms that sounds brighter with more treble than a pickup with 9,000 turns of copper which reads say about 7k Ohms because of many other factors involved in the voice of a pickup besides just those two specs.

    This is scratching the surface of why there is no standard measurement for pickups that indicates a given sound.
     
  5. Jazzfinger

    Jazzfinger Member

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    I wasted a lot of money telling winders the Ohm reading I wanted of buying pickups based on what I though specs meant. I finally gave up trying to control what I don't understand.

    Now I just get my pickups from really outstanding winders like Ron Ellis and Virgil Arlo.
     
  6. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    This data plots of the Seymour Duncan Jazz and Tonerider AC4 might offer some insights:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I made these bode plots myself, and I used the same input inducer voltage for both the neck the bridge pickups. If you look at the tops, it says "1dB/div", which means each vertical line is 1dB separation. Looking at the two plots, there is almost exactly 1dB seperation between the bridge and neck outputs. 1dB also happens to be the smallest SPL that a human being can hear, so it would be fair to say that these bridge pickups are hotter than the neck by only the barest minimum. The DC resistance between the Jazz is 700 ohms, and the difference for the AC4 is 800 ohms. The inductance difference is 0.7H and 0.9H respectively.

    So it seems to me that you end up with a rather significant difference in terms of DC resistance if you're trying to get the two pickups to be even 1 decibel apart, around 0.75k ohms of difference, at least for P.A.F. clones in this overall range of DC resistance.

    As far as the DC resistance value you would end up when you had shifted the resonant frequency enough to tell a distinct difference, that's a moving target, because if you have a stronger resonant Q factor (no pickup cover, Fender single coils) promoting the treble harmonics, then your ears would be able to pick out the change in frequency more easily, where has if you have a soft roll off (covered pickups), that shift will be a more subtle and harder to discern. So whether or not the pickups are covered, or the quality of the cover if they do have them, would play a part in determining what specific DC resistance coincided with your being able to tell them apart.

    I was doing some math trying to figure out about how much the DC resistance would shift before you could hear a change in the treble response, and it got too convoluted and guessy, because you have to consider those different attenuation slopes, and how large the frequency steps are for each 1dB increment, but the impression I was left with after all of that is that the DC resistance difference needed to move the resonant peak enough to where you could hear the difference would be a smaller difference, around 0.3k to 0.4k ohms for a pickup with no resonance, and some amount less for ones with resonance.

    So I'd say 0.75k for a noticeble difference in volume, and a 0.3k to 0.4k for a difference in treble response. You can guess as to how closely that matches with your IRL experience.

    Another conclusion that can be drawn from the plots is that over-winding bridge pickups has much less to do with volume matching, and more to do with reducing the treble so that it doesn't sound overly bright relative to the neck pickup.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
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  7. CheopisIV

    CheopisIV Copper Slinger MLP Vendor

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    Those charts are fun to look at and try to turn into discernible information..I made a whole bunch of those myself years ago when I was trying to figure out pickup internals... but they're useless for the most part when comparing different products or trying to compare graph to sound. Tonerider VS Duncan is apples and seamonkeys (not oranges...that would be too close).

    There are far too many potential differences in coil structure to compare one winder to another, and in a lot of cases between one winder's own products. My own pickups have very different coil structures from one to the next even though the majority use plain enamel wire from one vendor and all my metals, bobbins, etc are the same. Adding or removing wire from one coil to the next will change how it sounds for sure, but not in any kind of explainable fashion when compared to seamonkeys.

    Lets use my Chicago set for an example compared to itself. I wind the slug and screw coils to different TPL, turn count and tension in a consistent fashion on a mechanical traverse so reasonably consistent from one to the next. If I add or remove ~100 turns of wire to one coil, the sound changes and the DC increases slightly. If I add ~100 turns of wire to the other coil, the sound changes in a different way and the DC comes out pretty much the same. The relationship between the two coils is the biggest factor in tone change and DC becomes unreliable without knowing how the wire was applied.

    My Chicago (Bloomfield) and London (Clapton) sets are very close in DC but very different in coil construction and tonal shape. I gave up the charting and graphing years ago when I found it too inconclusive but I'd bet that scoping these two sets would show similar curves although the sound is not the same.

    DC in a humbucker tells you how much wire the coils have on them, but that's about it.
     
  8. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    It's just as much apples and oranges to compare subject and objective methods. Even if the objective methods never tell 100% of what you want to know, the objective information is and always will be fundamentally different than subjective judgments about sound.
     
  9. CheopisIV

    CheopisIV Copper Slinger MLP Vendor

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    That's kinda my point. No matter the numbers we throw at these things, what we all hear is going to be different. That's why I quit the numbers game and focused on the perceptions game.
     
  10. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    Agreed. Coil offset is a great point that I didn't mention, as it can get deep, but you summed it up well. ...and you're only scratching the surface of the variables outside of DCR (as you know). Tension, different wire spools, different steel alloys, different pole piece shapes, different magnet types/sizes/shapes/charges, and so much more all result in different sounds.

    This is the only part I kinda disagree on. If you check the thread I linked about "The Misleading Nature of DCR Regarding Guitar Pickups" there's some examples that show, even within the NEMA specs of AWG 42, there is enough tolerance to allow a coil with less turns to have a higher DCR than a coil with more turns, even when using the same bobbin, coil pattern, start lead hookup method, etc. The "higher DCR = higher turn count" ONLY works when you're talking about the same spool of wire, which must also be consistent along its length in core and insulation thickness, and the same coil pattern, size, shape, tension, start lead hookup method, temperature, etc.

    Antigua has no experience with machine winding, different coil patterns, controllable tension, wire core/insulation variation, pole piece shaping, non-standard magnet charging, or coil offset, and certainly a slew of other variables, as far as I know. This is one reason his viewpoints are always limited on these topics, as the armchair internet warrior always is. ...but he thinks one has only to have seen a tree to have experienced the forrest, so will never admit to that. Truthfully, experiments on a handful of hand wound Strat-style pickups on a Stew Mac winder, or meter readings from Epiphone humbuckers, will be a very dim light to shine on such a broad subject.
     
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  11. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    ... as far as you know, and you don't.
     
  12. CheopisIV

    CheopisIV Copper Slinger MLP Vendor

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    True, I've simplified my response and all of us who have put wire to bobbin have seen it and been frustrated when things change. It's a lot to explain to those who don't want to see it or classify these variables as VooDoo or sales propaganda.
     
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  13. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Member

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    However you want to look at it, the variables you speak of a proprietary to you. For example, if a customer tells you they want their pickup to sound like "x y z", the way you solve that problem is probably different than how another winder with their own understanding sets out to solve the same problem. Therefore your information can't be exchanged and is of little use to others, as information. You might as well practice actual voodoo, for all the difference it makes.
     
  14. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    If you take it only on its own.....maybe. But if you look at it from a comparative point of view then you can look at these things with perspective.
     
  15. CheopisIV

    CheopisIV Copper Slinger MLP Vendor

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    You continually try to minimize and generalize things that can't be generalized. Why is that? I suspect as much as the rest on here suspect...you don't know enough about the process and haven't done any actual building but I'd like to encourage you to take that step if you really want to figure it out. Every single pickup winder from the hobby guys who spin a handful of pickups to the mass market guys have proprietary techniques that you will never know. So how is it you try to justify your information as correct, accurate and informative when it's nothing more than your own opinion and conjecture on a very limited cross sampling? To be frank, your techniques for graphing, measuring, whatever are proprietary to you as well so may as well be Voodoo which you claim to be physics and mathematics. No problem there but it's only one aspect of a very dynamic construction.

    In all honesty I was in the same mindset as you when I first wanted to figure pickups out and my initial approach was similar; I wanted to analyse everything and break the numbers into meaningful information to explain the hype and marketing out of the equation. What I found was disappointing and only partially useful because it quickly became obvious there's more to pickups than wire on a form. I stepped into winding pickups to see if it made more sense actually building them and controlling the variables I couldn't discern from those measurements alone.

    There's no magic or Voodoo, but there are a lot more variables than you take into account in any posts I've seen you make. When you get into messing around with those variables it'll really open your eyes to the complexities inside a 'simple' pickup. It's actually pretty ridiculous to get a proper hold on all of it and I'm still learning as I go. I know enough to be dangerous and dial in sounds I want to hear but I don't always get things right on the first go and am not going to make claims to know it all.

    If I ever get out of the business, I'll put my workbook out there for people to look through so my 'proprietary' info isn't hidden or lost. I've taken extensive notes on everything I've ever done, every pickup I've ever wound including the pure math listed and I've included a lot of highly opinionated perceptions and opinions on the whys and hows. It might all be gibberish to most people but it might be entertaining or mildly informative to those with interest in the field.

    The best way to gather info though is to lay down some wire in a bunch of different controlled configurations so you can write it down and come up with some valid conclusions. Mess with your magnets and step through different Gauss readings in increments of 100 and see how it interacts with your controlled coils. Change the TPL only; change the tension only; change the lead dress and mess with 4 conductor VS vintage style wire. Tape and/or wax the coils. Try different grades of steel. Split coils, change offsets by 0%, 5%, 10%, 15%, etc and see how that changes things. Just get in and do some work!
     
  16. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    Which is exactly why I said that.

    So, since you put it that way, please simply tell us about your experience with machine winding, varied coil patterns, differences in core and insulation thickness, pole piece shape and such that I mentioned. All the work you've shown here has neglected all that and so much more.
     
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  17. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    Man, I think we all were. You almost have to be just to sit down and have somewhere to start. You and some others long-time members here will know that I used to publish ALL the specs on my website except DCR: Turn counts, wire information, inductance, steel alloys, exact offset, magnet charge, etc. I've even published the TPL of some of my own designs and at least one example of the almighty PAF. You know why I don't publish any of that anymore, but I do publish rough DCR, now? It's because that is what the musicians wanted. After taking the same phone call and replying to the same email over and over and over for a few months, I reluctantly took down the information that was causing more confusion than help among musicians and posted the rough DCR figures, which was basically demanded of me. Many years and thousands of customers later, I'm confident I made the right decision. I have nearly zero returns or exchanges and very very few mods/tweaks. If someone wants a little more information than what's posted, it opens the door for a great conversation that is far more valuable than any of that stuff for the client, as well as myself. That conversation can be everything.


    Antigua comes to the table thinking he has some unique and previously unattempted approach of "all the facts and none of the hype" or something but this only shows just how early on in his fumblings with pickup work he truly is. His destination of fully-disclosed simplicity is basically everyone's starting line in this industry. The beautiful simplicity is that there is very little hype among most of the genuinely established (of course there are the exceptions like those two guys that everyone knows) and it's not needed because the facts, methods, and variables are broad and plentiful, which allow so much room for real creativity and sonic shaping of pickup voicings. A great place to start in learning that is in vintage repairs, as the early designers/manufacturers covered such a great deal of that ground, simply by accident or happy coincidence.

    You take a more encouraging and helpful approach to Antigua than I do. That's commendable, both in your attempt and your patience. ;) I try to do that with everyone, at least initially, but there are a few who's attitudes and approaches give me no reason to desire to help. In short, it's the constant posting of theories as fact, the "false expertise" he presents, and the stubborn unwillingness to accept being wrong ever about anything. Not to mention the "all pickup winders are snake oil salesmen" comments, which I like to think the upstanding among us disprove through our actions, constantly.


    Me too, brother. I will always be learning. ...and with a specialty like vintage Gibson, the surprises and unexpected are always being delivered. We are beginners only once but, hopefully, students for life. I must say, I never would have thought of these simple-on-the-surface transducers as being such a complex and broad field to work in when I was just building studio gear and doing mostly engineering work. I never would have thought that one passive component could
    occupy an entire occupation. My, how my views on that have changed. I like to do lots of different work, but I could work strictly in pickups only for the rest of my days and never get board or run out of designs to play around with.

    :cheers:
     
  18. DavidRamey

    DavidRamey Senior Member

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    Cooljuk is one of the best pickup winders in the world. I have two sets of his pickups. One set in a Les Paul and another set in my ES335. His PAFs are phenomenal.
     
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  19. copperheadroad

    copperheadroad Senior Member

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    DC resistance (DCR) tells you as much about a pickup's tone and output as the shoe size tells you about a person's intelligence! -"Bill Lawrence"
     
  20. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    ^ This almost needs to be put as a banner over this section of the forum.
     

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