Manual Guitar Pickup Winder




Introduction: Manual Guitar Pickup Winder

Having seen numerous types of pickup winders I decided to try and build one of my own. At an attempt to reduce costs I decided to build it as a manual winder.


1 x fishing reel (second hand £2.50)

1 x reed switch and magnet the type used in alarm systems N/O (£2.40 -Ebay)

1 x calculator (£1.50 - Amazon!)

2 pieces of generic sheathed wire (mine came from an old PC fan (free)

1 old toilet roll holder (free from work!)

1 x magnet (£3.40 Ebay)

1 x piece of scrap plywood (free)

1 x piece of scrap batten (free)

1 glue stick or piece of dowel (cost?)

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Step 1: Planning the Set Up, Building the Winder.

Your piece of plywood should be large enough to house all the components and not be too crowded. (Mine is about 45 cm x 30cm).

Lay out your components so that every thing is in line in relation to the reel.

As the fishing reel is not ideal for a bobbin winder it needed modifying,

first step is to remove the pick up / bail numbered one (1) on the image

Second step is to remove the drag adjuster (9), then remove the spool (7) depending on the type of reel you use there will be a long tapered pin running through with a locating pin in the middle, remove the lugs so that the spool can rotate and the pin can move freely in and out without pushing the spool as well.

Third step is to take a piece of scrap wood that is a bit deeper the the edge bail lugs (1), mark and drill a large enough hole in the middle to allow movement of the center pin. Use the existing screw holes to hold the scrap piece of wood in place, mark where the pin exits the furthest and cut with a hacksaw (note I tried removing my center pin but for some reason it caused the mechanism to foul and jam).

Fourth step glue a neodymium (rare earth) magnet to the approximate center of the spool assembly. (this so you can attach your bobbin).

Fifth step is to attach the reed switch to the reel I used a piece of glue stick and hot glued it to the main housing and hot glued the magnet to the reel arm with just enough space so that the magnet closes the relay.

Your winder is now ready to be attached to your board.

Step 2: Building the Counter.

This part of the build is one that I have seen on numerous other builds so I take no credit for the idea.

In relation to my counter build, I discovered that sometimes smart people can be really dumb! this part took me more time than I care to admit!

You will need a calculator that is easily taken apart (screws instead of sonic welded).

After removing the screws and taken off the back I discovered a screen printed circuit board and little rubber buttons.

attaching wires to the buttons will do nothing but cause the calculator to not function,you need to attach the wires from your reed switch directly to the screen printed circuit board.

I used painters tape and it held quite well, once you have the wiring in place secure it with tape or glue so that the wires don't move.

Clamp the case back on with finger pressure or reattach the screw if you are confident the wiring is secure.

Turn on the calculator on then press 5 + 5 and then either press equals and then turn the handle, or you can skip pressing equals and turn the the handle.

As the handle turns and reaches the reed switch it should display a new number.

Fault finding

(its at this point the smart /dumb comes into play).

If you find that the calculator inst responding to input, the wires may have slipped or the the reed switch and magnet are in proximity and the circuit is closed (move the handle and try again).

Once everything works hot glue the wires to the calculator case to prevent slipping or accidental snagging.

Step 3: Spool Holder - the Easy Bit

In trying to work out the best way to build a spool holder, I came across an old toilet roll holder and inspiration hit.

To be fair any set up that will hold your spool will do, the biggest issue will be with how to apply the correct amount of tension to prevent breakage and tangling.

So my sett up is toilet roll holder and a pencil coupled with finger pressure on the spool for tension. I am toying with the idea of a piece of thin plastic to sit on the wire as it spools out. So I may update this later on.

Step 4: Sticking It Down

Once your set works its time to fix it all down.

I used a piece of batten to attach my reel to the board, this gives enough height to turn the reel handle without fouling in the board and banging knuckles.

Everything was hot glued down except the calculator counter I used a Velcro pad so i would be able to change the battery ( yes it has a fake solar panel on the front!)

And that is my manual guitar winder built for less than £10. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my little build.

(Fishing reel diagram from Wikipedia no copy write infringement intended.)

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    6 years ago


    Nice build!

    Will the magnet hold a pickup core while it's being wound?

    And two more questions:

    Why "5+5"? (do you mount the reed/magnet before some gearing? I usually tap -2 +1 Enter Enter (then it's at 0 and ready. note that some are more responsive than others. A cheap mechanical pedometer is yet an option and very easy to connect to.

    And what Wikipedia diagram?

    Have a nice day :)


    Reply 6 years ago

    Omnivent, the reel spins five times for every wind of the handle (standard gearing for a reel I believe). Yes the magnet is strong enough to hold a great deal of weight. The Wikipedia diagram is the picture of the reel with the parts numbered - sorry for any confusion.