May 26, 2016

Squier Stratocaster Pickups Dissection

This episode is for science!  What exactly does go into those dime-a-dozen Squier Bullet Strat pickups?  Let's find out!

Disclaimer - this mod made me reminisce a little about high school biology class, the way I cut everything open and it made a mess, hope that doesn't put you off the whole article :P

Started by disassembling everything, easy-peasy.  One ply pickguard, cheap mini pots, okay selector switch, lifeless pickups.  Bagged up all the decent parts just in case I come across a basket case to fix up someday.

Since I'm looking into winding my own pickups, this was the bulk of it here: what makes these cheap things tick, and how can I improve on the design?

They are wax potted at least and wrapped in some annoying tapes, but I wasn't attempting to save the wire anyway so it wasn't a big deal.  Cheap ceramic magnets or whatever on the bottom of the metal poles, and a lot of wire wrappings.

After reading quite a few articles about boutique pickups using "scatter winding" (uneven, scattered wire wraps) for better tone, harmonics, and "life", it was pretty obvious how evenly machine wrapped these pickups are.  Exactly how big a difference this makes, I don't know, but hopefully I'll find out!

Taking a knife to rip out chunks of the wire to see just how thick it is.

Finally removed all the wire and crap.  Stock mid pickup on the left, stripped bridge pickup on the right, along with the handful of wire torn off it.

While I do now have an empty and relatively clean bobbin with magnets, I doubt I'll use it for anything because a boutique winding with the crap ceramic magnets seems pretty self-defeating.

Weight of the wound stock pickup - around 2.5 ounces.

Weight of the stripped pickup - closer to 1.8 ounces.  So now you know, expect somewhere around 0.7 ounces of wire per bobbin - thus at around $20 for a half pound of wire, it averages to about two bucks in wire per pickup!  Not half as bad as the upfront $20 cost looks, but then again, you have to wire quite a few pickups for that to work out.

Hope this little science trip was at least a bit educational!

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