If you enjoy this post, please hit the LIKE button below.  That way we'll know what kind of things you enjoy seeing here on CBN.  : )

Note:  see additional designs in the comments following.  For those interested, a link to a finished, marketed version of this pickup concept is available here.


In another thread of some 1,100+ comments and almost 20,000 views, a number of us here on CBN have been brainstorming a viable, reproducible, easily-constructed mag pickup that doesn't involve winding thousands of coils around a bobbin.   After quite some time and discussion we have to admit...


Credits to contributors are at the end of this post.  Following are photos, parts list and diagrams for construction.  Total building time:  15-30 minutes. Versatility:  considerable.   Sound quality:  equal to a standard 6-pole pickup, but more clear and bright with little or no perceptible hum or distortion.

Here are the photos:

Note: this is only one of several micro-transformers that can be used in this project.

We have here a copper wire loop soldered it to two prongs of a 4-prong transformer, with the other 2 prongs leading to a volume control or guitar jack.  

The transformer is glued to a block of wood just as an experimental base.  It allowed me to clamp the unit to my test-guitar that I use to test all my pickups-- basically strings, tuning keys and bridge on a stick.

I tried this using standard guitar audio wires to lead from the thick copper wire to the transformer-- no good.  It seems essential to solder the copper wires directly to the transformer leads to maintain current flow. 

I used alligator clips and standard guitar wire to lead from the back two prongs to the jack.  No problem there.  So we can solder standard wire directly to the output poles.

Volume is excellent.  Sound is crystal clear without any buzzing or hum.  

I call this community experiment an absolute success.   Use something prettier than duct tape as a covering (to hold the magnet between the copper wire) and I would say this is a "finished, usable pickup" of final-stage design.   It's fully functional, can be installed as-is through a very small slot in the face of the git (to the side of the neck-through), and the magnet/wire combo can be standard distance from the strings and still deliver good, quality sound.

So on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being "prototype on paper" and 10 being "ready for everyday use"... I'd mark this an 8 or 9.  All it needs is the wood block removed and a more attractive covering over the wire and magnet.  It is a fully-functional transformer-based pickup.  (EDIT:  Rate this a 10.  I added the decorative covering tonight just before posting this.  Looks great.  Will post photo later.)

Here are the specs on the device:

Magnet:  2" x 1/4" x 1/16" Neo, N45


Mouser Electronics  http://mouser.com

Potted Transformer  part #553-CSE187LP

Current Rating:                 30 A     
Turns Ratio:                     1:500     
Secondary Resistance:     21 Ohms     
Termination Style:            Radial     
Length:                           24 mm     
Width:                            21.5 mm     
Height:                           18 mm     
Frequency Range:           50 Hz to 400 Hz

Price:  $3.91 each + shipping, with quantity discounts.   Manufacturer will ship standard 1st class ground if the company is called and special request made.  Otherwise it's expedited shipping and a bit pricey.

Note: onsite photo shows non-potted transformer.  As the photos above show it is a nicely potted black cube with four prongs.  Easy to install.   Once a person has this method down I estimate building time 15 minutes.  That's pretty awesome for a fully-functional guitar pickup.


This has about the same quality of sound as a regular single 6-pole guitar pickup.  It's perhaps a bit more clear and "precise", without any distortion or hum.  

At risk of self-promoting (I'm not... just well-acquainted with the product) comparing this to my FlatCat™ pickups... very different.   Being humbuckers, FlatCats are far richer and more mellow in tone, as would be expected.   I've never heard one of Elmar's pickups, but I can say the same for Dan's:  considerably richer and more mellow than the Induction pickup.

So we're looking at a replacement for a standard single 6-pole pickup... but without augmentation it's nowhere near the sound quality of the flat pickups-- nor would it be expected to be since we're comparing a single pole pickup to a thousands-of-winds humbucker.  It is brighter and more clear than a 6-pole single, which is a plus.

I have installed these on both CBGs and a 2-pickup 6-string standard electric, and it works great. We have a functional, working, easily-replicated design for a new kind of CBG pickup.   Congrats folks. 


Note: either the copper wire or the magnet must be insulated.  It's fairly easy to wrap clear packing tape around the magnet (or even regular cellophane tape).

We could make a humbucker form of this using one of two methods:

1.  Curve the copper wire on around another magnet placed at opposite poles to the existing magnet, then run the wire back down to the transformer.   (I believe that would work).

2. Put an identical unit right next to this one with the polarity reversed.  I would consider this the superior option as this would allow "coil tapping" as well.

3. Humbucking really isn't necessary as this is "noiseless" tech as it sits.  No coil wrap to pick up RFI or EMI... so no need for hum cancellation!  To my knowledge, building a "humbucker" would increase power, but offer no advantage otherwise.

We have the technology.  We can build it. Congratulations to everyone who contributed to that brainstorm session.  Credits will be presented in comments (in alphabetical order) as soon as I can manage. 

Be sure to read the comments section for further design information.


Edit:  it was pointed out a correction was needed in the first comment, and as it couldn't be edited decided to delete it and just add it here.  : )

Second version of this pickup:  Single coil transformer with pass-through induction.

Third design:  Pass-Through Single-Core Transformer Induction Pickup

Darryl's Coil-Through-Transformer design


Buggy's coil-though-transformer design


* Create a copper or aluminum plate with a cut down the middle, leaving one end intact.  In the diagram above it's been bent so that part of it can slip under the box face, out of sight.   That's just for pretty.  In practice the plate can be left straight with a hole cut on the right side for the rest.

* Two holes are drilled in the plate and bolts & double nuts attached for holding a thick copper wire.

* The copper wire is passed through the hole of a 2-lead, center hole specific-strength transformer.

* Leads go from the transformer, either to volume control or straight to jack.

Why it works:

The magnet acts like any magnet does in a pickup.  It creates a magnetic field which is disrupted by vibrating strings.   The aluminum (or copper) plate acts as a single coil, replacing thousands of wire wraps with one single large-area conduction surface.  The electricity flows with extremely low resistance, but very low voltage (far lower than a standard pickup).  It is carried by the copper wire through the step-up transformer.  That transformer reduces amps and increased volts, to convert the current to a voltage level readable by a guitar amplifier. 

That's it in a nutshell.  A lot of people have contributed here to this design.   It's been tested and proved to work.  Basically, a highly unique guitar pickup design produced by our community here.  Pretty nifty, eh?


PS. I went through every page of that other thread, and here is a list of the conspirators  CONTRIBUTORS to this project, in alphabetical order.   I've included folks even if they just posted a one or two helpful entries.  Every bit counts. (if I missed anyone, please let me know):


darryl kernaghan
David L.
Hal Robertson
John Sawyer  
Matt Quinney
Nathan Binns
Paul Craig
Ron "Oily" Sprague

A tip of the hat to Joseph Rogowski, who many years ago created a similar concept, although he never developed it to market stage and for some reason it didn't become widely known or used.  Also acknowledgement to the Lace company who designed and mass-marketed the Alumitone, which although made in a different material, fashion and method, uses similar principles to those developed here on CBN.  

An updated, finished and marketed version of this pickup is available here:



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FYI - the design that is credited to me in this post is not mine.

looks like Buggy's method

Okay, only way to fix it is to delete the comment and make it part of the main article-- probably not a bad idea overall.  Thanks for the update.

For new CBN members:

The above blog is one of the most revolutionary projects to hit CBGs in years.  It's the culmination of lots of thought and experimenting by a number of people to produce the final results we see here.

Magnetic/wire Induction isn't a totally new concept (induction and transformers have been around a long time and Lace makes a different kind of induction pickup called the Alumitone), but this is new in the kind of transformer used, the method of production, ease of production, and the ease of installation.  This is indeed a new style of guitar pickup. 

The difference:  the current is produced by thick copper wire, and the transformer can contain either one or two coils, depending on the design used.  (Pass-through transformer uses one coil, four-prong transformer uses a step-up dual coil system.)

This pickup can be made by anyone who can obtain a specific design of transformer and magnet (easily available online) and use a soldering iron or spot torch.  It presents a totally new tool to makers of CBGs-- a different kind of guitar pickup than the piezos or standard mag pickups commonly used.   This is a pickup you can make without tedious wrapping of thousands of coils of hair-thin wire.

So we're glad our community was able to join together and produce this device-- and hope you get great enjoyment from using it.

Please hit the LIKE button above if you wish to thank everyone involved in this project.   A lot of folks put a lot of brain power into collectively producing these pickup designs-- which is made available to you freely to use in building your own guitar pickups.

wayfinder  I am about to try a few experiments building one of these style pickups but as it has been a while since i read through this massive tome of information and i have no desire to read it all again....unless i have to..

I have a question, for the copper loop did you only use solid copper wire? have you, or anyone, tried multicore wire something like 4mm or 6mm wire ( i dont know the US equivilent) ? i know we tried bonsai wire but as you found out it is difficult to solder Aluminium wire.

Timothy, i've found it doesn't have to be wire, have got good results with aluminium tube and copper tube, [3/16" o.d.], it seems the bigger diameter you can get through the transformer, the better the effect

thanks Darryl , i figured it would be worth the test with different wire. i also have an idea for the transformer.  the transformer linked by Wayfinder shows as discontinued on the Australian RS components website. and mouser want $30 for one shipped to Aus   http://au.mouser.com/cart/

Timothy, I haven't used the 4 prong transformer Wayfinder has posted, and not sure if it is more suited,but i've had good results with the AS 104 Nuvotem transformer, readily available from RS and 24 hr delivery in Aus. Maybe Finder can say if he thinks it is a better performer or just more suited to his method.

Those are good transformers Darryl.  I haven't been able to compare them against the step-up versions.  I'd try to guess which one will deliver what sound and volume, but it's a pro / con thing.  The step-up transformer is a direct-wire connection but uses far smaller wire (the legs) for the conductance.  The pass-through allows larger wire to go through the coil but has no direct connection; it's all inductance.  Hard to say which will work "better" or will give what kind of sound results without actually testing both side by side.  That would be an interesting experiment.

Just an un educated guess, but i'd think your direct wired tranny would most likely compensate for any induction loss on the pass through tranny, how much, i've not the remotest idea, but it appears logical, it just happens the AS series are easily obtained in Australia, whereas the Mouser is price prohibitive, and i think it is the opposite in the States

got this on order from ebay  


cant lose for a buck. i actually had an idea of using a plastic sewing machine bobbin and popping 500 to 1000 winds on it, make my own transformer... most machines have an atachment to wind bobbins with adjustable tensioners .

5A to 5ma will be a 1000:1 ratio.  Let us know how it sounds.  It's certainly a good price.


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