When guitar players hear our handwound pickups the reaction is always "surprise". Especially when we re-wind pickups that they already own. With the same parts (and no mods) we can take an old pickup, scatterwind (or handwind) it, pot it and one would have no idea that it was the same pickup....like turning a moped into a Harley.
It is not to say that the quality of parts do not matter, they do. But the fact of the matter is that we have taken cheap China made pickups and rewound them to a result worthy of motoring a Hawkins Guitar. If you have spent any time in our shop then you know that incredible sound is our business and our passion.
Other things that impact the "color" of sound in a pickup can range from the type and thickness of the coil wire, the coating on the wire, the magnet type as well as the potting compound that gets used. The coil wire tension (when winding) is also critical to the building process as too tight or too loose can affect the end result dramatically at times.
When it gets down to it it seems like everyone wants that "vintage" sound but the irony here is that the only thing that really has changed is the winding process. Once machines started winding pickups then their production went up, material cost went down, prices stayed the same and sound has suffered since. We want that vintage sound because those vintage pickups were handwound and the only way to duplicate that sound is make it the old school way. It is certainly a great way to turn that old dusty guitar into something that you will want to play every chance you get.