Author Topic: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound  (Read 526 times)

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Offline BluesJam

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Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« on: May 12, 2019, 05:02:42 pm »
I know that many manufacturers use machines to wind pickups to specific specs for consistent quality and reproduction of a particular pickup design.  Iím confident that DiMarzioís modern day manufacturing process is consistent from pickups if the same model.  I was wondering if DiMarzio scatter wounds pickups by machine and if they mimic hand wound pickups.  Today, people are hung up on hand wound pickups, but Iím sure that each pickup is not an exact match within the same model, regardless if the winds are exact.  I assume that the tension, wire placement on the coil and scatter differences will impact a pickups sound.  Although there are many choices, itís hard to figure out what winding methods are superior to one another.  For example, is a Duncan MJ SSL 5 better than a stock SSL 5?  Is it worth the extra $100 per pickup? 

Offline RavenMoon

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Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2019, 05:34:02 pm »
DiMarzio machine winds all their pickups. They can alter the winding pattern. Iíve been in their winding department.

Hereís the thing about scatter winding. It produces a slightly longer path for the wire, so itís laying a little more wire on the coil. It also has each wrap farther away from the previous wrap. Some say this reduces the capacitance of the coil.

As someone whoís hand wound pickups for over ten years, Iíll add this; hand winding produces an entirely random winding pattern. If the winding pattern affected the tone, then one would expect every pickup you hand wind to sound different, right? But they donít, as long as you wind the same number of turns.

So that shows that itís not that important as people think. In the end, you design your pickups to sound the way you want on the winding equipment you use.

The rest is voodoo marketing. (i.e., a ďfamousĒ winder doesnít make better sounding pickups, assuming itís the same equipment and specs).


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Offline DarthPhineas

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2019, 12:42:10 pm »
I know that many manufacturers use machines to wind pickups to specific specs for consistent quality and reproduction of a particular pickup design.  Iím confident that DiMarzioís modern day manufacturing process is consistent from pickups if the same model.

consistency can be a benefit.  it can also be more cost-effective.


I was wondering if DiMarzio scatter wounds pickups by machine and if they mimic hand wound pickups.

that'd be a question for DiMarzio.  of course, don't expect a confirmation, if they answer that sort of question at all.  companies can be finicky about sharing info that might contribute to giving away the secret sauce. 



Today, people are hung up on hand wound pickups, but Iím sure that each pickup is not an exact match within the same model, regardless if the winds are exact.  I assume that the tension, wire placement on the coil and scatter differences will impact a pickups sound.  Although there are many choices, itís hard to figure out what winding methods are superior to one another.
 

"hand wound" can be deceiving.  there is "hand wound" where the coil is turned by hand, rather than by a machine.  and there is "hand guided" (for lack of a better term) which is where someone literally guides the wire by hand.  this can be as easily confused as "coil tap" vs "coil split" and how people think DCR = output.

I think that "hand guided" is what most people are shooting for.  I'm not sure if/when DiMarzio put CNC winders in to place.  Duncan did sometime in the 90s, when they bought some CNC machines off Jackson.  while the CNC can be more consistent, it can also lose some of the "character" of the hand of a person guiding it.  things from how the tension and the traverse can contribute to the coil geometry is what has a lot of people chasing down the older pre-CNC pickups.


the scatterwind "thing" started several years back.    the very nature of "scatter winding" can hit upon some of the issues you mention.  mainly... how do you get the same coil every time when you're laying down the wire in a scattered pattern?  well, in some instances, companies can program a scatter wind into a CNC.  the most "known" company that scatter winds is BKP and I do not know if they are CNC or if they are by hand. 

I commissioned Mojotone to make me an A4 hot-vintage humbucker a few years back and they totally programmed a scatterwind into a CNC for that project and I'll be darned if it's not one a really fun pickup for several genres.  they went with 42 plain enamel and loaded the pup up to 10k, which meant some VERY full bobbins... so they were also able to program a tension that also helped get all that wire on there.


however, the benefit that people seem to hear from a scatter wind is the "transparency" or "clarity".  by NOT laying down the wire side-by-side across each layer, the distributed capacitance is reduced by reducing the amount of contact a section of the wire has with any other section of wire (as a crude explanation).  less capacitance can equate to what people consider transparent and clear.  another way to approximate putting more "space" or "air" between the wire is a thicker insulation on the wire, such as a "heavy build"

so, in theory, imagine a stock Tone Zone (as a random selection).  now imagine a TZ that is scatterwound and one that has a thicker build of insulation on the wire.  also in theory, both of those should sound a little more "open" than the stock version.  but... the coil geometry has been changed to some extent and it won't really be a TZ any more.  maybe 90% or maybe even 99%, but not the same.  however, you might like how it sounds better than the stock.  same might go for Larry or Steve winding you a TZ that the "hand guide" rather than one off the production floor from a CNC (for example).




For example, is a Duncan MJ SSL 5 better than a stock SSL 5?  Is it worth the extra $100 per pickup?

that's another can of worms.  "better" and "worth" are a determination that the individual makes. 

and once again, it will be the difference between a "hand guided" and CNC... although I do not know if the SSL-5 is off a CNC or not.

but as to MJ, someone can pay more for a new one from the custom shop or they can pay more by tracking one down online.  I've found many older Duncan online for much less than I'd pay if I were to get it through the custom shop.  and let's say you ask her to wind you a brand new one from the custom shop.... it will still sound different than one from the 80s, if only by the measure of any inconsistencies from the suppliers the company uses for the raw materials.
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Offline RayBarbeeMusic

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2019, 02:13:23 pm »
"however, the benefit that people seem to hear from a scatter wind is the "transparency" or "clarity".  by NOT laying down the wire side-by-side across each layer, the distributed capacitance is reduced by reducing the amount of contact a section of the wire has with any other section of wire (as a crude explanation). "

Capacitance happens between any two conductors.  Scatterwound = more wire length/wire = more capacitance. 

The whole scatterwound thing has more to do with eddy currents, but still, meh.  Not convinced, and not able to be replicated consistently unless its a programmed pattern on a machine.

As for "hand wound"......that's mostly a misnomer.  Hand guided is what people really mean.  Original PAFs and Fender pickups were hand guided on a pickup winder and incredibly inconsistent. 

Offline RavenMoon

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2019, 02:21:35 pm »
[I know that many manufacturers use machines to wind pickups to specific specs for consistent quality and reproduction of a particular pickup design.  Iím confident that DiMarzioís modern day manufacturing process is consistent from pickups if the same model.

Yeah, I answered that. I used to work there.



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Offline RavenMoon

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2019, 02:27:13 pm »

Capacitance happens between any two conductors.  Scatterwound = more wire length/wire = more capacitance. 

The whole scatterwound thing has more to do with eddy currents

No. Scatter winding places more distance between conductors. That reduces capacitance.

Eddy currents are formed on conductive surface in the vicinity of a magnetic field. They produce their own magnetic field that opposes the permanent magnetís field. This causes high frequency loss.

The magnet wire has too small a surface area to form eddy currents, plus itís producing its own current.

You can hear the effects of eddy currents when you put a metal cover on a pickup. It flattens and lowers the resonant peak.


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Offline BluesJam

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2019, 06:56:03 pm »
Raven, since you worked with DiMarzio, how good is their QC?  To they check pickups for shorts, eddy currents, or any other manufacturing defects?  How would you rate a massed production pickup vs a small pickup company or a custom shop pickup?  Is there much difference in QC and performance?

Offline DarthPhineas

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Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2019, 02:46:50 am »
Quote

Scatterwound = more wire length/wire = more capacitance. 


More wire = more resistance.

As stated, the ďspaceĒ or ďairĒ between the wire affects resistance.



Quote

No. Scatter winding places more distance between conductors. That reduces capacitance.



^^^ this ^^^
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 02:49:14 am by DarthPhineas »
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Offline BluesJam

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2019, 07:24:04 am »
If scattering creates a coil with less capacitance, then why are larger companies making uniform machine wound coils, instead of machine scattered wound coils?  Why would a pickup manufacturer not program and provide consumers with superior products?  The winding process can be computer automated.  Even PRS uses uniform wound coils.  There is a 2012 video on line.

Offline RayBarbeeMusic

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2019, 08:39:23 am »
"No. Scatter winding places more distance between conductors. That reduces capacitance. "

How is that xactly?  You aren't creating space; the coils run across each other scatter wound or not there is a large mass of wire there right next to a bunch of other wire....  Unless you're trying to wind the coil loosely to leave space between windings, in which case the pickup will squeal like a stuck pig as those loose windings start to vibrate. 

Offline DarthPhineas

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2019, 09:19:54 am »
If scattering creates a coil with less capacitance, then why are larger companies making uniform machine wound coils, instead of machine scattered wound coils?  Why would a pickup manufacturer not program and provide consumers with superior products?  The winding process can be computer automated.  Even PRS uses uniform wound coils.  There is a 2012 video on line.

Scatterwinding is more of a ďthingĒ because of marketing. It plays to the never ending path of tone-chasing.

Also, ďsuperiorĒ is a relative concept.

And like I said, if itís about the transparency or the clarity, there are other way to achieve it, such as a thicker build of insulation, which can increase the ďspaceĒ between the wire.








"No. Scatter winding places more distance between conductors. That reduces capacitance. "

How is that xactly?  You aren't creating space; the coils run across each other scatter wound or not there is a large mass of wire there right next to a bunch of other wire....  Unless you're trying to wind the coil loosely to leave space between windings, in which case the pickup will squeal like a stuck pig as those loose windings start to vibrate.


I already addressed that, but....

imagine laying down the wire side by side across each layer. That is prone to the maximum contact along the entire length of the wind, with the least amount of space (if any).

A ďscatterĒ does not lay side by side across each layer in the same manner. So there is not as much contact across each layer across the entire coil.

As an example, consider a brand new spool of twine or thread. How the thread is laid out next to each other on each layer across the entire spool. Now imagine rolling that thread back on the spool in a random patterns.  I have a spool of twine out in my shed thatís a perfect example of that. LOL!  There is simply not the same amount of contact.

There is really no argument to be had here. Even winders that do not scatter acknowledge the lower distributed capacitance in a scatter wind or winding with materials that increase the space between the wire.
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Offline BluesJam

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2019, 04:14:40 pm »
It is arguable that a length a insulated wire whether next to each other or scattered along adjacent winds is till touching multiple windings.  Electrical current is going to pass regardless if on a neat coil or a scattered coil.  It is plausible that a neat coil will fit more wire on the coil rather than a randomized overlapping scattered coil.  Iím not sure if 8000 winds by either by hand or machine will have a dramatic difference in tonal quality of the pickup.  Perhaps itís just marketing mojo to replicate past manufacturing processes without automated systems.

Offline RavenMoon

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2019, 05:38:03 pm »
It is arguable that a length a insulated wire whether next to each other or scattered along adjacent winds is till touching multiple windings.  Electrical current is going to pass regardless if on a neat coil or a scattered coil.  It is plausible that a neat coil will fit more wire on the coil rather than a randomized overlapping scattered coil.  Iím not sure if 8000 winds by either by hand or machine will have a dramatic difference in tonal quality of the pickup.  Perhaps itís just marketing mojo to replicate past manufacturing processes without automated systems.

Yes, neat coils are more compact.

Donít forget that the wire isnít just passing current; the pickup is generating current. Current flowing through a wire produces a magnetic field around it. That field can induce current in neighboring turns. This is called mutual inductance. 

Also larger coils make the outer turns farther from the poles. This is one reason a Jazzmaster pickup sounds different from a Strat (wide/shallow vs. narrow/tall).

Pickups are complex devices when it comes to trying to model all the parameters. Sometimes claims are made as to why you get a certain tone. These claims are often scientifically wrong, but we can take from this that the reasons why stated might not be correct, but the change of tone is real.

Same with guitar markers talking about coupling vibrations between parts. Thatís not a real thing that you get any benefits from.

I find that neatly wound coils have a tighter low and and a crisper top end than very scattered coils. Similar effects are heard with thinner gauge wire, like 43 or 44 AWG.

Another example of placing turns farther apart is magnet wire with heavy build insulation, like heavy formvar. It has a ďrounderĒ tone than single build. Heavier magnet wire, like 41 AWG has a similar tone.




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Offline buddroyce

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2019, 11:45:39 am »
This has probably been the most interesting thread I've read in a while.

@RavenMoon Thanks for sharing your insights man! I really appreciate it!
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Offline BluesJam

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Re: Machine vs Scattered wound vs Hand Wound
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2019, 05:19:12 pm »
Raven, I agree that coil designs do effect the tonality of the coil.  I know my FS1ís coils are  deeper in height and wound with 43 wire (14k),  which is probably similar in tone with a 9k 42 standard sided overwound coil.  What impresses me about the FS1ís that I have is the relative quietness/minimal 60 cycle hum.  I barely hear the hum.

I understand marketing and pickups, but there is only finite ways to modify a pickup with wire.  Certainly, the magnet gauss probably is as vital as the coil design and wire type.  The Duncan Zephyr are wound with silver wire, which supposed to be a superior conductor over copper, but at those prices, itís not a viable replacement solution for the common folk.  Iím not sure if the hype is worth the rewards or if scatter winding principles would also apply to silver wire.  Check out this link. https://youtu.be/n0l0DZYmaK8

Jason Lollar has stated in the past that he prefers pickup mounting springs over compression tubing because the springs add a microphonic tonality to the pickup.  I guess that argument would also negate hard mounting the pickups to the guitar body.  In addition, Iím not sure if foam and wood affect the efficiency of the pickup coil if it impedes the neutrons and electrons in the magnetic field within the guitar cavity.  When linking multiple paper clips together, it makes it easier to visually see the magnetic qualities of the pickup in relationship to the strings.   With the FS1, the magnetic charge is quite strong, and typically I set the pickups 4mm away from the bottom of the string, so not to impede the string natural oscillating in its elliptical pattern.  Obviously, pickup setup, string gauges and material types are also important in the sound of the coil and the electrical field of the coil.  There is not a lot on the web about string material types in relation to pickup coil designs.  Iím also surprised why DiMarzio does not use insulated cable on the single coils.  I understand the concepts of twisted pairs, but it just makes more sense to improve the pickup hookup wire. 

I am also not sure if scattered windings effect/alter the magnetic field of the pickups either by eddy currents or capacitance.  If so, is this difference marginal at best over traditional non scattered coils.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 06:00:28 pm by BluesJam »