How To Make Guitar Pickups

You're looking for a new sound for your axe, and now you want to know how to make guitar pickups. Luckily for you, the technology is actually much simpler than you might imagine. Grab a few tools and follow the steps below, and you'll be making guitar pickups in no time!

What you need to make guitar pickups:

  • Paper
  • Ultra thin copper wire (42 or 43 gauge)
  • Strong magnets
  • Thin plastic that you can cut by hand
  • Soldering iron and resin
  • Super-glue
  • A drill
  • A Screwdriver
  • Six screws
  • White and black wire
  1. Make your bobbin pattern. To make guitar pickups, you first need to draw out the pattern for your bobbin on a piece of paper. The bobbin is composed of both a front and backside, and holds the coil winding in the middle like a sandwich. Make your bobbin pattern square with two equal sides. Once you have your pattern, transfer it to the thin pieces of plastic and start cutting.
  2. Drill holes for your post pieces. The next step in making guitar pickups is drilling the holes where your six post pieces will eventually go. It's ideal to have each string pass directly over a single pole piece, so taking measurements from your guitar's string spacing is a must. Once you know where to drill, simply take a routing bit and drill through both pieces of plastic. Be sure to add two extra holes off to the side on the bottom piece. These will be used to wrap the beginning and end of the copper wiring during the winding step.
  3. Screw the post pieces into the bobbin. Take the six screws and begin screwing them through both the bottom and top piece of the bobbin. These will serve as your magnetic post pieces when the pickup is all done. Be sure to leave a decent amount of space between the top and bottom of your bobbin, as you're going to be adding copper wiring and magnets to this later. Once you have your post pieces in your bobbin, you've almost fully made a guitar pickup.
  4. Add copper winding. Using a spool of 42 or 43 gauge copper wiring, begin wrapping around the bobbin. Once you've gone around it a few times, slip one end through one of the extra holes in the bottom piece to hold it in place. You can wrap the wire by hand, or use a tool like a electric drill or electric screwdriver. Try to wind the wire as even and as tight as you can-just keep in mind that if you break it you'll have to start the process all over. Keep winding until the bobbin is filled, then thread the wire through the other hole in the bottom piece to finish it off.
  5. Solder the lead wires. In order to properly make a guitar pickup, you'll have to solder lad wires to the bottom piece of the bobbin. Solder a piece of black wire to the hole where you started the beginning of your coil, and a piece of white wire to the hole where your coil ended.
  6. Attach the magnets. Here's the last step in making a guitar pickup. Take two super strong magnets and carefully attach them to the very bottom of the bobbin with super glue. Make sure the magnetic poles are facing in the same direction and are not attracted to each other. After this, you're done! You've just successfully made a guitar pickup.

After you've completed all the steps in making a guitar pickup, attach the wires to your guitar like normal and let 'er rip! Chances are your first attempt wont sound like anything marketable, but with a little experimentation you may find the sound you're looking for. Even if you don't, how many other guitarists do you know that can say they've made their own pickups? Bragging rights are always worth the trouble!

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