Handwound Guitar Pickups vs. Factory Wound Guitar Pickups

  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.

 

Choosing Guitar Picks

 For many guitar players a guitar pick is not really given the consideration it should, especially when it comes to how they affect sound. To prove this to yourself  go find 10 different picks made from different materials and compare them on the same guitar. For the discrete player a guitar pick is as important as any other part of the guitar's sound puzzle. The variety of tones that can be obtained, just by changing picks, is surprising once a little attention is given to it.

 Plastic Picks 

Depending upon how thick and what material is used, plastic (or plasticized) type of picks can give a tonal range from "thin"  to a thicker more robust tone as the pick itself thickens. Some of the more expensive picks like V-Pick and other high end companies have produced some great playing and sounding picks that don't give that "plastic" sound coming off of the strings. Plastics, being the texture that they are, often have a tendency to spin while playing and can be a distraction to some players.

Wood Picks

With the variety of available woods out there, the possibilities are broad when it comes to wood guitar picks. In most cases wood is going to give you a sound that is natural and warm. The brightness is increased with the hardness of the wood being used. Personally, I think that Brazilian Rosewood makes one of the best wood guitar picks as it gives a perfect balance of natural tone and brightness.

Bone & Ivory

For a bright, punchy cut through the band natural sound, Bone or Ivory is a superior choice. Without being too bright bone or ivory will still have a natural ring to it but on the brighter side of thing. 

Buffalo Horn

Buffalo Horn has become our favorite material for making guitar picks and our best selling. It seems to have just enough warmth and just enough brightness to bring out the natural sound of the instrument without leaning too far to one end or the other.  It's sound is somewhere between rosewood and bone with a strong hint of both. 

Shape Matters

There are two factors that can impact the play-ability  of a guitar pick with regard to shape. Just as thickness has an impact so does the shape of the edge that hits the string.  A sharper edge will sharpen the brightness and a more rounded edge will warm it up a bit. 

Ergonomics

After way too many years of compensating for spinning picks I finally got a wild hair and designed a pick that does't spin while playing. The objective was to use shape to counter act spinning and not a separate material on the pick as those materials tend to wear off. I wish I could say that it took weeks of research but the truth is that it took about 30 minutes to create a pick that fit the hand ergonomically. Typically we have to adjust our grip to fit the design of the pick and that is just bass-ackwards to me. Our result were hand made picks that you won't have to think about once you start playing. 

 

Hawkins Parlor Guitar

Follow us as we document building a Hawkins Parlor Guitar. This model was based on a 1904 Martin Parlor Guitar but with our bracing system