Wire – A fine thing

Wire is a very critical part of each pickup when it comes to the frequency response, the production consistency of each model, and, of course, the final quality of the pickup. At GAS pickups, we use the best available wire, found at worldwide leaders in coil wire supply, such as MWS, Elektrisola, and Scientific Wire Ltd. Polysol coated wire P155 (AWG 42 and 43), plain enamel (AWG 42), and heavy PVA (AWG 42) are some of the finest wire sorts that we use.

High-quality wire is essential for a pickup’s quality. The copper wire used on guitar pickup coils is of a very small diameter, mostly between 50μm and 63μm. The diameter is indicated according to the American Wire Gauge (AWG) system. It ranges from AWG 42 (63μm) to AWG 44 (50μm). The consistency of the wire’s diameter across its length is an important quality factor. Some companies (like Elektrisola) cover the outer wire surface with an ultra-thin layer of tin in order to keep the diameter as constant as possible.

A crucial thing is the insulation of the wire. There are many types of such insulation available, from ultra-thin plain enamel up to thick, heavy PVA (grade 2). The insulation thickness is more important than the insulation material itself because it determines how far the coil windings are from each other (called the winding density). This winding density will define coil values as the capacitance and the inductance, and therefore the overall frequency response spectrum of the pickup. With the same number of windings, a coil with wire of thicker insulation will show a wider frequency spectrum than the same coil with wire of thinner insulation.

A further factor that determines the winding density is the tightness of the winding procedure. More-tight winding leads to a denser-wound coil than less tight winding, and this also affects the final sound. By identical number of turns, tighter wound coils show a more midrange enhanced tone, than loose wound coils which show a more open tone.

Last but not least, the winding placement (distribution of the winds over the coil length) also defines the coil consistency and, thus, the consistency of the pickup. In order to provide the highest consistency between pickups of the same model, we use homogeneous winding, which means that all wire turns are precisely placed one next to the other without any gaps between them. However, in order to achieve different tonal characteristics, we use different winding profiles in our models, like parallel, oval, and triangle.