Tala Wendigo™ Pickups are crafted with the best components to give you the best in power and tone.



What is a pickup?

At its most basic, a pickup is a simple electrical transducer that captures mechanical vibrations and converts them to an electrical signal. A coil of wire is wrapped around a magnet or magnets. When a steel string vibrates above the pickup it becomes a moving magnet that induces an alternating current in the coil of wire.

Cheap vs Expensive Pickups

The pickups found in low end guitars are made with plastic flatwork, ceramic bar magnets, low-grade steel pole pieces, poly-coated coil wire and 28 gauge lead wire. Expensive pickups use fiber flatwork, Alnico magnets, enamel-coated coil wire and 20 or 22 gauge cloth covered wire.


Pole Spacing

Ideally, the center of each pickup pole piece should be centered directly under the string. The problem is that different guitars have different string spacing. Just on Fender Stratocasters you may have 2 1/8" spacing at the bridge on a Standard or 2 1/16" spacing on an import. One size does not fit al when it comes to pickups. In addition to the bridge spacing, the nut is always narrower than the bridge and the string spacing is different depending on the point on the string. This can have an effect on three-pickup guitars such as the Strat where the pickups are widely spaced.



Since a pickup is a transducer it can pick up magnetic or electrical fields that interfere with the output, causing hum. Single coils are particularly susceptible to this. To mitigate this interference we first try to shield the pickup cavity. Low end guitars generally have no shielding, but better guitars use a combination of methods from electrical shielding paint to copper tape or plate.



Interference can be reduced by having multiple pickup coils with opposite polarity, which cancels the hum. This is the idea behind "humbucking" pickups. While traditional humbuckers have always had reverse-wound, reverse polarity (RWRP) coils, the same principle can be applied to single coils when using two in parallel or series. Low end guitars have three identical pickups, while better ones have the middle pickup RWRP so they are hum-canceling when used together.


Pickups are generally classified by their resistance. In generally, the higher the resistance, the "hotter" the output. A Strat neck pickup may range from 5-6k, while a bridge pickup runs from 7-9k. As with most things, there is a tradeoff - the more turns n the coil the hotter the output, but also more high-frequency attenuation.

Machine-wound vs Hand-wound

When a machine winds pickups they are very precise - the wire moves across the bobbin, then moves back with the next layer then back again, the way you would wind your garden hose back onto the reel. The problem with this is that long parallel runs of wire create something called "distributed capacitance" and it isn't a good thing. That's why electrical wires will cross every few pole - to break up the effect. Hand-wound pickups mean the wire is guided onto the bobbins by hand, and no human can go more than a few turns without having the wires cross. "Scatterwound" is a popular term that is generally the same as hand-wound, but there are machine which can introduce enough randomness to get the same effect.

Wax Potting

All our pickups are wax potted to prevent the coils from becoming microphonic, eliminating squeal when the wires in the coil vibrate against each other. Each pickup is dipped into a blend of paraffin and beeswax to coat the coils and fix the wire in place.

Coil Splitting

This refers to switching off one coil of a humbucker to get a single coil sound. In practice, one coil of a humbucker does not really sound like a single coil, but it does sound different.

Coil Tapping

Often used (incorrectly,) as a synonym for coil splitting, a true coil tap takes a signal from somewhere within the coil rather than from the end. This allows two different DC resistance values and switching between them gives you two different sounds. At this time, we do not offer coil tapping.

Wendigo™ Pickups

Why use our pickups instead of other boutique brands? Simply put, the main ingredient in most custom pickups is voodoo. Everyone claims their pickups are the best, but you don't have to be named Seymour, Lindy or Jason to wind a good pickup. We don't pretend that our pickups are the equal of the product of their years of experience and expertise, but can one really be said to be the best? What they all sound good, but the main point is that they sound different. Which one you prefer really has more to do with your individual taste. Do you like a hotter sound? The trade off is more high frequency attenuation. Do you like the wide range of tone you get with a less aggressively wound pickup? Do you like your humbucker coils in serial or parallel?

That's where the voodoo comes in. You can find endless discussions online about the most minute details of vintage pickups - for example, did the 1966 Fender Strat bridge pickup have 7123 turns or 7125? There is no answer. Guitars built in the vintage era were not built to that level of precision. There is the oft repeated quote, "We wound them until the bobbins were full." When the electro-mechanical counters broke down they would time how long it took to wind a given number of turns, then put a stopwatch on the broken machine. The fact is that vintage pickups al sound different, reflecting the manufacturing tolerances of the day. What does a vintage PAF really sound like? It depends on which PAF.

Everyone who has played our pickups likes them. If you want another brand we'll be happy to use any brand you want. Our pickups are generally much cheaper than pickups from Fralin, Lollar, etc., but as with all options on a Tala Custom Guitar, the choice is up to you.