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Boutique PAF war: Holmes - Throbak - Ox4

corpse

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 9, 2007
Messages
4,187
I don’t want to go too far back in the process- at one point the copper can splash like bath water- but all wire is made with a mechanical drawing process. It starts at 8mm and is successively run through dies making it smaller and smaller.
Easy, right? No magic or madgick?
Back in the US in the 50’s quality all hinges on the wariness of the guy in the shop- this largely precedes any serious process control in the us. Tooling wears and suddenly there is an increase in the diameter. Not a huge deal- but this stuff is running at 1000 ft per minute ( that is a guess- now about 5000 ft per minute) and was probably only changed at the start of a run- and these shops are not doing custom made wire, they are building for the DC motor industry- so they run the heck out of it. How many feet of #42 wire do you get out of an 8mm rod that starts off at 10000 ft in the basket? ( called a stem BTW- no idea why). And what about the annealing controls- if it was run too hot it may have been soft and stretched? And setting up the entire machine is a decided and expensive trick. So they take the 8mm rod and butt weld the lengths together.
https://www.123rf.com/photo_100758930_coil-of-8-mm-electrolytic-tough-pitch-copper-wire-rod-.html
The diameter is .0026” - there is a huge DCR impact by a very small change in diameter.
So in the late ‘60’s someone at Toyota created SPC and it caught on. Folks realized how much of their bottom line was being impacted by that guy in the shop not regularly measuring and charting the wire OD. And the motor manufacturers, who were being invoiced by weight, didn’t want to pay for linear feet they weren’t getting ( as it gets thicker the weight per foot goes up).
And no motor wire shop worth their salt would have cared about Gibson’s magnet wire business to run a special wire- with the cost of a set up, they couldn’t charge enough to make it remotely practical. My thought- go find some old Siemens or better, General Electric or Dodge or Rockwell motors- and salvage the wire.
 

mdubya

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2010
Messages
855
I don’t want to go too far back in the process- at one point the copper can splash like bath water- but all wire is made with a mechanical drawing process. It starts at 8mm and is successively run through dies making it smaller and smaller.
Easy, right? No magic or madgick?
Back in the US in the 50’s quality all hinges on the wariness of the guy in the shop- this largely precedes any serious process control in the us. Tooling wears and suddenly there is an increase in the diameter. Not a huge deal- but this stuff is running at 1000 ft per minute ( that is a guess- now about 5000 ft per minute) and was probably only changed at the start of a run- and these shops are not doing custom made wire, they are building for the DC motor industry- so they run the heck out of it. How many feet of #42 wire do you get out of an 8mm rod that starts off at 10000 ft in the basket? ( called a stem BTW- no idea why). And what about the annealing controls- if it was run too hot it may have been soft and stretched? And setting up the entire machine is a decided and expensive trick. So they take the 8mm rod and butt weld the lengths together.
https://www.123rf.com/photo_100758930_coil-of-8-mm-electrolytic-tough-pitch-copper-wire-rod-.html
The diameter is .0026” - there is a huge DCR impact by a very small change in diameter.
So in the late ‘60’s someone at Toyota created SPC and it caught on. Folks realized how much of their bottom line was being impacted by that guy in the shop not regularly measuring and charting the wire OD. And the motor manufacturers, who were being invoiced by weight, didn’t want to pay for linear feet they weren’t getting ( as it gets thicker the weight per foot goes up).
And no motor wire shop worth their salt would have cared about Gibson’s magnet wire business to run a special wire- with the cost of a set up, they couldn’t charge enough to make it remotely practical. My thought- go find some old Siemens or better, General Electric or Dodge or Rockwell motors- and salvage the wire.


:applaude

Your photo from above, embedded.


100758930-coil-of-8-mm-electrolytic-tough-pitch-copper-wire-rod-.jpg
 

jwalker

Les Paul Forum Sponsor
Joined
Dec 10, 2004
Messages
2,576
In this video I explain how magnet wire is a factor in vintage P.A.F.’s and repro P.A.F.’s. It comes down to diameter and ohms per foot tolerances. P.E. coatings are still the same. The wire is the same but you have to handle the wire the way they did in the 50’s. Skip ahead to the 9:min. Mark if you want to get to the magnet wire info.

 

TM1

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 27, 2003
Messages
8,101
I don’t want to go too far back in the process- at one point the copper can splash like bath water- but all wire is made with a mechanical drawing process. It starts at 8mm and is successively run through dies making it smaller and smaller.
Easy, right? No magic or madgick?
Back in the US in the 50’s quality all hinges on the wariness of the guy in the shop- this largely precedes any serious process control in the us. Tooling wears and suddenly there is an increase in the diameter. Not a huge deal- but this stuff is running at 1000 ft per minute ( that is a guess- now about 5000 ft per minute) and was probably only changed at the start of a run- and these shops are not doing custom made wire, they are building for the DC motor industry- so they run the heck out of it. How many feet of #42 wire do you get out of an 8mm rod that starts off at 10000 ft in the basket? ( called a stem BTW- no idea why). And what about the annealing controls- if it was run too hot it may have been soft and stretched? And setting up the entire machine is a decided and expensive trick. So they take the 8mm rod and butt weld the lengths together.
https://www.123rf.com/photo_100758930_coil-of-8-mm-electrolytic-tough-pitch-copper-wire-rod-.html
The diameter is .0026” - there is a huge DCR impact by a very small change in diameter.
So in the late ‘60’s someone at Toyota created SPC and it caught on. Folks realized how much of their bottom line was being impacted by that guy in the shop not regularly measuring and charting the wire OD. And the motor manufacturers, who were being invoiced by weight, didn’t want to pay for linear feet they weren’t getting ( as it gets thicker the weight per foot goes up).
And no motor wire shop worth their salt would have cared about Gibson’s magnet wire business to run a special wire- with the cost of a set up, they couldn’t charge enough to make it remotely practical. My thought- go find some old Siemens or better, General Electric or Dodge or Rockwell motors- and salvage the wire.

Hi! So I'm going to guess too that wire back in the `50's was far from pure copper. I've been told it could also contain lead, silver, aluminium, etc. and other impurities. Most wire now is pretty close to pure `
Thanks!
 

duaneflowers

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 13, 2013
Messages
2,522
I don’t want to go too far back in the process- at one point the copper can splash like bath water- but all wire is made with a mechanical drawing process. It starts at 8mm and is successively run through dies making it smaller and smaller.
Easy, right? No magic or madgick?
Back in the US in the 50’s quality all hinges on the wariness of the guy in the shop- this largely precedes any serious process control in the us. Tooling wears and suddenly there is an increase in the diameter. Not a huge deal- but this stuff is running at 1000 ft per minute ( that is a guess- now about 5000 ft per minute) and was probably only changed at the start of a run- and these shops are not doing custom made wire, they are building for the DC motor industry- so they run the heck out of it. How many feet of #42 wire do you get out of an 8mm rod that starts off at 10000 ft in the basket? ( called a stem BTW- no idea why). And what about the annealing controls- if it was run too hot it may have been soft and stretched? And setting up the entire machine is a decided and expensive trick. So they take the 8mm rod and butt weld the lengths together.
https://www.123rf.com/photo_100758930_coil-of-8-mm-electrolytic-tough-pitch-copper-wire-rod-.html
The diameter is .0026” - there is a huge DCR impact by a very small change in diameter.
So in the late ‘60’s someone at Toyota created SPC and it caught on. Folks realized how much of their bottom line was being impacted by that guy in the shop not regularly measuring and charting the wire OD. And the motor manufacturers, who were being invoiced by weight, didn’t want to pay for linear feet they weren’t getting ( as it gets thicker the weight per foot goes up).
And no motor wire shop worth their salt would have cared about Gibson’s magnet wire business to run a special wire- with the cost of a set up, they couldn’t charge enough to make it remotely practical. My thought- go find some old Siemens or better, General Electric or Dodge or Rockwell motors- and salvage the wire.
Thanks for that!! I'm fascinated by this stuff. I recently toured the Pima Copper Mines near Tucson, AZ and learned all about the impurities and how even a tiny fraction of them can change the properties of the copper, which do exist even to this day (but to a much lower extent than in the 50s). Even the silver wire in one of my sets has impurities which are unavoidable and can be used to pinpoint the exact region it was mined. So I'm sure those impurities play as big a role as that of the tooling wear pre-SPC.

The old motor idea is a good one, but working with that old wire really is a nightmare. Unwinding a motor's coil and then rewinding it, while possible, would probably take days... with multiple unavoidable breaks along the way depending on its condition. Even some old wire still on the (wooden) spools breaks at the slightest yank. It's not a job I would wish on anyone!!

I think the bottom line is that regardless of the impurities, the tooling will never be the same... and I think that's the key. Finding NOS 50s spools may be the only practical way to reproduce the madgick. :unsure:
 

jwalker

Les Paul Forum Sponsor
Joined
Dec 10, 2004
Messages
2,576
Magnet wire is not pure Copper. It’s an alloy with other metals added. The alloy chemistry controls the ohms per foot of the wire the same now as it did in the 50’s. Sophisticated alloy standards existed in the 50’s as today.

BTW you can’t really reuse 42 awg wire from a motor or even an old PAF or P90. The act of winding the wire on bobbin with an automated coil winder, work hardens the wire and makes it brittle and impossible to reuse in a coil winding machine again.
 

deytookerjaabs

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Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
1,483
CZVIqCAWAAAuETP.jpg



IMO, you can't argue some miniscule artifact of industrial operation is giving magic to the magnet wire unless it's something you're testing when new. Keep in mind, the fact that different process can produce similar to same results, my 50 year old vita-mix still does it as good as jamba juice yet the machines are built differently. Point is, contrasting processes don't always equate contrasting results.


The material, as stated by Mr. Throbak is a copper alloy, is highly susceptible to environmental factors and thus isn't really the same stuff at all as it was the day it was wound.

Through heating/cooling and changes in environment there is an expansion/contraction coefficient for copper and IIRC it's fairly high compared to other stuff. Thus, your diameter all over in different ways on the coil is changing by that tiny degree of minutiae likely similar to any tiny bit of .00000XX change in industrial process. That same process also changes the atomic structure making the material more brittle year after year. The oxygen, same ****, it straight up changes the chemical composition of the wire. Just look at a road worn old pickup.


I think these contradicting arguments are flawed in the sense that some aren't looking for historical accuracy, some are simply fishing for reasons that they can use to say "Yep, A will never be like B because _________." Whereas, in logic, you should be working backwards that process.
 

JPP-1

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Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
1,308
I think OX4s are incredible (however I don’t care for their pickup covers). I have OX4s in 3 of my Les Pauls. Rewinds are similarly brilliant and I have them in 2 of my Les Pauls. I also have a Les Paul with original PAFs

I just ordered some Wizzs so I’ll see how they work out.

Regarding OX4s, I have a True Historic 59, my well worn beater guitar, after a pots and caps change, grovers, and a set of Low Output OX4, it has been transformed from a very good player into one of my all time favorite Les Pauls

Keep in mind that pickups and guitars need to work synergistically to get the best from both. I’ve had pickups that were beautiful in one guitar yet seem to lose their luster in another.

I’ve been more than delighted with OX4 and Rewind, YMMV. And with all due respect to Duaneflowers, his dislike of Throbaks is well documented throughout this forum. While I usually appreciate his considered opinions and he has a helluva collection of Les Pauls, his rants regarding Throbaks sometimes seems like axe grinding. At least to me. Bottom line, you‘re spoilt for choice from a variety of great winders whatever you choose.
 

JLee

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2010
Messages
71
I’ve never used Holmes, but own Throbak PG-102, OX4 Low Winds(I swapped the A4 to UOA5) and have owned Shed, Wizz, Manlius, ReWind, WB, Fralin...

The ReWinds were one of my favorite sets. So wish I had kept them.

The OX4 with UOA5 are amazing as well. I also dislike their covers. My set has Throbak magnets, as well as covers.

The Throbaks are probably my favorite all time pickups. They clean up like nothing else I’ve owned. Really woody and clear when rolled back. they seem to clean up better than anything else I’ve owned, despite being one of the hotter sets I’ve owned.
 

El Gringo

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Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
4,457
I still haven't figured out one thing: based on what people say that a boutique PAFs "made with the same materials and machinery that Gibson uses" are BETTER than the PAFs currently made by Gibson (Custombuker Alnico III Unpotted)?
I want to specify that it is not a polemic, I'm just trying to figure out if is actually possible an upgrade
Well let your ears be the judge of that question , also they have videos of the pickups on www.throbak.com
 

latestarter

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Joined
Nov 9, 2009
Messages
4,065
I've been meaning to write a note about my thoughts on all this...but I've lacked the time and I also don't have time/desire to argue about any of this stuff, but many seem to...so, here's the short n dirty from a gigging guitarist who loves Les Paul's into amps on break up. I can provide evidence of having owned every one of the pickups I list below, in pairs, in a Les Paul. More often that not, the very same Les Paul. This below is all subjective to my ears and brain.

Seymour Duncan Antiquities - good clarity, some honk, lacking punch esp on wound strings. A fresh magnet helps though and these get closer to say a Wizz tone afterwards. Still good value for money.

OX4 - Mark is great to deal with. They were balanced across the strings, not so woody/hollow but has a nice push and compressed well. I maybe should have kept these.

Stephens - had these in the Dewey Burst, and still play that guitar every now and then with its new owner. I found them balanced with a little more top end focused at times than I'd like (bright is fine, but shrill can be tiring, and my PAF's aren't shrill). Probably would have kept them had I not needed to move the Dewey on at pace.

BB Pro's 2002 (first year) - why put these in here? Because they sound very good. Close the PAFs with maybe a little less woodiness. A mainstay for me.

Zhangbucker - nice and smooth. Not as much character as I'd liked. More like a DiMarzio 36th PAF.

Wizz - ordered with the A5 and 7.6k neck and 8.5K bridge earlier this year. Nice and honky, great treble tones with character, but wound strings disappeared on the bridge p/up especially. Neck p/up clear and almost Strat like. Good bluesy tone, but almost an exaggerated hollowness. Sold them.

ThroBak - MXV101+ LTD (NOS wire) also a mainstay. Balanced, complex, articulate on the bass strings. Treble cuts but has depth and character.
PAFs - from an early '60 335. 8.1k neck, 8.4k bridge. Balanced tone. Although hot, don't break up as easy as you would think. Even with higher levels of overdrive they remain clearer than their peers. Woody, a little hollow, not as honky as say the Wizz.

ThroBak - MZV101+ normal wire. I like the NOS wire better, but these are still excellent and also a main stay for LP number 2.

Pat No T Tops - I replaced a set of '65 Pat No decals with Thro UOA5 magnets and these are very PAF like now as long as you have the treble down a little. Honkey, but bright. I reckon if you can get a set cheap (yeah right!) and throw some mags in there, they're close.

Pat No pre T Top - still have this is my SG Standard from early '65. Bright, midrange boosted, typical SG tones. The neck is a normal T Top...can be a bit mushy.

T Top - 7.7K w A5 - I have this in an old growth Jr build. It is sooo sweet in there. I've had it in other guitars and it always impresses. Chimey, almost single coil like...

So - ALL different. All will do different things well. But we're at the finer end of things...so, when the drummer kicks in etc etc.
Some are closer to each other than others. Closest to PAFs right now in my line up are NOS wire Thro's and BB Pro's. Next are the Pat No with A5 mags. There ya go.

EDIT - I have had literally dozens of 1960s Gibson humbuckers in the various guitars I’ve owned from that period but have not included them here ( other than mentioned as “currently owned”) as those pick ups have little variance over that period.
 
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CK6

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Feb 5, 2020
Messages
192
I've been meaning to write a note about my thoughts on all this...but I've lacked the time and I also don't have time/desire to argue about any of this stuff, but many seem to...so, here's the short n dirty from a gigging guitarist who loves Les Paul's into amps on break up. I can provide evidence of having owned every one of the pickups I list below, in pairs, in a Les Paul. More often that not, the very same Les Paul. This below is all subjective to my ears and brain.

Seymour Duncan Antiquities - good clarity, some honk, lacking punch esp on wound strings. A fresh magnet helps though and these get closer to say a Wizz tone afterwards. Still good value for money.

OX4 - Mark is great to deal with. They were balanced across the strings, not so woody/hollow but has a nice push and compressed well. I maybe should have kept these.

Stephens - had these in the Dewey Burst, and still play that guitar every now and then with its new owner. I found them balanced with a little more top end focused at times than I'd like (bright is fine, but shrill can be tiring, and my PAF's aren't shrill). Probably would have kept them had I not needed to move the Dewey on at pace.

BB Pro's 2002 (first year) - why put these in here? Because they sound very good. Close the PAFs with maybe a little less woodiness. A mainstay for me.

Zhangbucker - nice and smooth. Not as much character as I'd liked. More like a DiMarzio 36th PAF.

Wizz - ordered with the A5 and 7.6k neck and 8.5K bridge earlier this year. Nice and honky, great treble tones with character, but wound strings disappeared on the bridge p/up especially. Neck p/up clear and almost Strat like. Good bluesy tone, but almost an exaggerated hollowness. Sold them.

ThroBak - MXV101+ LTD (NOS wire) also a mainstay. Balanced, complex, articulate on the bass strings. Treble cuts but has depth and character.
PAFs - from an early '60 335. 8.1k neck, 8.4k bridge. Balanced tone. Although hot, don't break up as easy as you would think. Even with higher levels of overdrive they remain clearer than their peers. Woody, a little hollow, not as honky as say the Wizz.

ThroBak - MZV101+ normal wire. I like the NOS wire better, but these are still excellent and also a main stay for LP number 2.

Pat No T Tops - I replaced a set of '65 Pat No decals with Thro UOA5 magnets and these are very PAF like now as long as you have the treble down a little. Honkey, but bright. I reckon if you can get a set cheap (yeah right!) and throw some mags in there, they're close.

Pat No pre T Top - still have this is my SG Standard from early '65. Bright, midrange boosted, typical SG tones. The neck is a normal T Top...can be a bit mushy.

T Top - 7.7K w A5 - I have this in an old growth Jr build. It is sooo sweet in there. I've had it in other guitars and it always impresses. Chimey, almost single coil like...

So - ALL different. All will do different things well. But we're at the finer end of things...so, when the drummer kicks in etc etc.
Some are closer to each other than others. Closest to PAFs right now in my line up are NOS wire Thro's and BB Pro's. Next are the Pat No with A5 mags. There ya go.

EDIT - I have had literally dozens of 1960s Gibson humbuckers in the various guitars I’ve owned from that period but have not included them here ( other than mentioned as “currently owned”) as those pick ups have little variance over that period.
May I ask which amplifier(s) you use & speakers? Thanks!
 

latestarter

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Joined
Nov 9, 2009
Messages
4,065
65Amps Tupelo w/Celestion Gold (core giggig amp)
1973 Fender Princeton Reverb w/Weber Alnico and a Nightlight Jr attenuator
Divided by 13 BTR23 w/Eminence Red Fang Alnico (core gigging amp)
Supro 1605R
Trinity TC15 w/Celestion Blue in a Marshall 1974CX cab

The above are my current amps. There's a looonngggg list of previous classic and boutique things.
 

TM1

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Joined
Jun 27, 2003
Messages
8,101
As I have said before I have spent my entire career in the wire industry. When I started in the early 1980s copper sold for about $.68 a pound – it is now $3.69 a pound so back in the day especially in the 50s when copper was probably in the $.20 range there were not the controls in place to control the diameter. And it was Pure economics not technology at the time that drove this. Also with magnet wire the method for applying the insulation was emulsion – drawing a wire through an open vat of insulating material, versus conventional extrusion. I think this lack of uniformity combined with the winding tensioning, or lack there of, in those early winders makes for the unique sound of a PAF pick up.
I could go really geek on this topic but for the life of me I cannot find my pocket protector and I would hate to damage the carefully crafted “cool” persona I have made here.
Is there any difference in the makeup of the wire as in Now vs. `50's? I've heard the the copper wire from the `50's> 70's was different as in the makeup of the wire and impurities in the wire. Thanks!
 
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