What does Scatter wound actually mean?
The term "scatter wound" is one of those buzzwords we hear all the time. I have clients ask me regularly "How Scatter wound are your pickups?" So what does this even mean?
As we saw from our blog post on handwound pickups
, the tension, traverse, and speed (at least at our shop) are all controlled by hand. This differs from a machine wound pickup where all of these variables are automatic. For this discussion we are mostly concerned with traverse. This refers to how many winds per layer are put on the coil and how evenly they are laid down. Most of the time, off the shelf machine wound pickups are very evenly wound with the wire laying neatly on the bobbin. When this is controlled by hand, some "scatter" happens.
This means that the layers may be even a lot of the time, but because of the hand control, a few layers may be less even or no be perfectly laid on the bobbin. The truth is, this amount of randomness becomes a bit of a signature for most winders. Each custom pickup builder will have his own take on this, and it will affect his signature tone. How does Scatter affect tone?
Scatter wound Vs Machine wound tone...
Our blog post about pickup output
briefly touched on something called "capacitive loss." This happens anytime two wires lay parallel to each other. When those wires are either very long, or layered parallel to each other many times, High frequencies begin to get lost. The pickup can act as a Capacitor. This happens in every pickup, but hand wound pickups have less capacitance as a rule than machine wound ones. This is because of the "scatter" that happens when winding by hand.
The difference is heard in the form of clarity and definition. Hand wound pickups usually have crisper highs and clarity. Machine wound pickups of the same specs may sound more sterile and flat. Is one better than the other? Not really. There are tons of amazing machine wound pickups. It is just a matter of taste. Check out the video below and the bonus footage that shows some other differences between lower priced pickups and custom made ones.....