How to make a single coil guitar pickup!
This will show you how to make your own guitar pickup. It won't look or sound exactly like a regular pickup, but its a fun and interesting project.

What You'll Need:

- 42 or 43 gauge copper wire (very thin)
- Six steel machine screws and nuts
- Neodymium (super strong) magnets or one long bar magnet
- Thin plastic (like that on a cd case) or Thin pieces of wood
- Wax
- Wire
- Solder
- Superglue

-Dremel and dremel accessories
-Sewing machine (optional)

You can go out and buy all these things, but you can probably find most of them within old crap you already possess. For example, I found the copper wire in a pair of broken dog clippers. And if you don't have some of the equipment you can always improvise.

Here are some links I found useful while learning how to make my pickups:

Stew Mac--Pickup Building (especially "Single Coil Pickup Kits")

A guy who made a humbucker.

GuitarAttack Look at Winding pickups "Guerilla Style" to see more about the sewing machine pickup winder idea.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Make your pattern

There are just a few parts to a pickup, and the bobbin(the thing that holds the coil) is the first thing you need put together.

To do this, you'll need to do is make up some kind of pattern for your bobbin. You need one piece for the top and one for the bottom. Look at the pictures and factory made single coils to get the general idea. You can make it in the traditional shape, with rounded ends, or you can be lazy like me and use a more squarish design. Either way will work.

Then you'll need to transfer this pattern onto the material you're using for your bobbin. You can use plastic (from a cd case, for example) or thin pieces of wood. Wood works well because it's easy to work with and has a unique look, but I decided to use plastic for this pickup.

Last of all, cut out your bobbin pieces.

Before you go through all the trouble to make this and short out your coil to the screws, wrap some tape around the screws just like you wind the wire (around ALL screws, not each).

you need to have glazed wire for this to work

driftman3 months ago

Here's a link for some cheap neodymium magnets:

kuro-hirochi3 months ago

does the amount of copper wire matter very much

hibbly7 months ago
Where did you get everything from ? How much did it cost? Could please make an able on hooking them up.
VGR1018 months ago
will t work if i use 37 gauge copper wire??pls help...
usafbrat VGR1017 months ago
VGR101 usafbrat7 months ago
how many winds should i do??37 gauge wire
You could mount this in a cigar box guitar
sai krishna12310 months ago
can i use bar magnets instead of these super strong magnets?????
Yard Sale Dale11 months ago
If you're going to use screws, you can make spacers out of bic pens. Just remove the ink pen tube and cut down the white plastic tubes with a hacksaw.
Yard Sale Dale11 months ago
I'm planning to make my own pickup for fun. I wonder if you can just use a variable speed drill mounted in a vise, if you're pulling the wire from a spool. Nobody I know has a sewing machine. Be careful though, wires can slice! Maybe put a stick or big screwdriver through the spool of wire to keep your hands clear.
Phoghat11 months ago
What I've learned from experience and through some research:
The more windings you put on, the stronger the signal output, but higher frequencies will suffer.
Thinner wire cuts highs more than thicker
Tall skinny coils give a cleaner sound and shorter fat coils sound more "dirty"
More wire = greater resistance measured by multimeter
3-6 K ohms = clearer tone
9-13 K ohms = loud heavy tone
Just a word to the wise. You can customize, and experiment to get exactly the sound you want

cdoggy12 months ago
Hah wow never thought of that
davidpaul235 years ago
1.can I do my windings directly on the screws for humbucker pickups? it so that i should use a 44 gauge coil and not less gauge than tat.... what happens if I use a lesser gauge coil than 44' mann? 3. how'll i know that I've done 5000 windings on my screws? 4. watz the difference bet the single coil and the humbucker pickups buddy....?
The main difference between single coil and humbucker pups is that, for the purpose of canceling the unwanted noises like hum buzzes and interferences, the two coils in a humbucker pup are opposite to each other. In the first coil of the humbucker, the poles have the North pole up, and the current goes in a clockwise motion through the wire. In the second coil, the South pole is up, and the current runs through the coil in a counter-clockwise motin. That makes the two magnetic fields cancel inteferences from other eletromagnetic fields. And, due to the number of windings on the wire (wich ads up since they are connected to each other) it has more output, and a more "fat" tone. That's basically it, there's a lot of physics behind pups, and even a small change in one of the steps can change drastically the tone you'll get. That can be very bad, or awesomely great!
So, would you need to wax between winds or separate the two coils in some way, or is the opposite wind enough to dampen the field (if that's even the right term)?
Leperello Mikesiah (author)  davidpaul235 years ago
1. yes you can.
2. You can use a thicker gauge, but try and get the thinnest you can.
3. You can count your winds, but I just put as many winds onto the bobbin as I could.
4. A single coil is only one coil. A humbucker is two single coils wired together to "cancel" (reduce) the hum.
Single coilSingle coil


Yup leperello nailed those questions, but I bet too much smaller would make a huge pickup too, but hey Leperello I just wanted to thank you for putting this up, very informative! Theres a site build that has some good tech info on pickups ( I didnt see the main page stuff just linked to the pickups) but I needed the basic dig in and tear into it concept down, before I rebuilt my pickups, so thanks for taking the time to post this!
a humbucker is a type of pick-up that is bigger and louder and its like two small normal pickups put together so they work together one makes it more clear so it doesen't have as much fead back and the other is like a normal one so thats how it works "BUDDY"
It's nothing to do with feedback, it's what freestriker said, it's to do with cancelling RF hum caused by... lots of things.
a humbucker is a double coil pickup the two coils make sounds like hum buzz disappear in single coil pickups if theres is a radio or tv near the pickup make those sounds
LSP davidpaul235 years ago
Just one thing, if you want to make a humbucker, 5000 windings would be alright. Given the way those things are wired (internally) it will be pretty powerful. You also get to use 43 wire but carefully as the thinner you go the more highs you lose. I thought you were asking in general, in case you are looking for answers on buckers these are my 2 cents.
rb521 year ago
use an old computer HD which have RE magnets in them.
pmann1 rb521 year ago
Damn good idea. I have a bunch of junked HDDs and the magnets are very useful for a wide variety of projects. You can break your fingers trying to remove them if you put them in the wrong place, though - so be careful!
seoman86311 year ago
How long should the wire be? And also, is there any ideal height for the bobbin?
Is it bare wire or enamel coated wire?
Ok, didn't get it, is it bare wire or enamel coated?
can I use the hard disk drive magnets? Or they have to be individual?
hey,can i use this method to create a pickup for bass guitar
tareqazan4 years ago
how many turns ?
thousands, just keep going untill it looks right, honestly, this part is hard to screw up and you cant really overdo it
DK69 PAPAROACH3 years ago
Man thats fast thats 15 min. is 900 seconds, so 6000 turns divided by 900 seconds is like 6.7 turns per second, I am lucky to get 4 turns a second, but Im gettin old, How did yours sound?
Depends on what sound you're going for. 4500 wraps is underwound, and will have a clearer sound. If you want hotter, crunchier pickups, go with 5500 - 6000. 5000 is pretty average.
Yea the more turns the stronger the output, if you want high gain, and a hardcore sound use more turns, few turns for a lower, mellow clean, warm output, but that doesnt mean 8000 turns is going to make you an awesome metal god! LOL it will pick up more noise though.Jukebox has it pretty straightforward right though, I talk too much.
kenny0012 years ago
do i just make 2 and put them side by side to make a humbucker?
mjovanović2 years ago
great instructabe, im making my pickup, should wind it in next few days, just one question about the wire you used, seems to me that that is not 43 or 42 awg wire, seems too thick... the question is am i wrong and if im not, what gauge did u use?
anyone, would it be ok to wind it using a 0.04mm wire? 42 gauge is 0.06mm, and 43 is 0.055.

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?


PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!