We do everything in-house here at PROTO. Each pickup is built from scratch when the order comes through. Most build times are 10-14 days, occasionally longer for very custom work, occasionally shorter if we have things in stock. Feel free to email us directly before purchasing if you’re in a rush or need something by a certain date.
We start by designing and laser-cutting our own bobbins and flatwork from raw material to fit (almost) guts in to any cover. This means that we can make a p90 in a humbucker size, or a humbucker in a p90 size, or a giant single coil Stratocaster-style pickup in a humbucker cover… you get the point! It also means that we can adjust string spacing and offer sizes that are not readily available as stock options from almost any other company. We include metal eyelets and other small details at this point in the process as well.
After the bobbins are cut, we load the magnets by hand (for pickups that require magnet poles) – your choice of A2 , A3, A5 and A8 – and then seal with lacquer. We stock magnet sizes for Strats, Teles, Humbuckers, Mini Humbuckers and more. If you need something specific, let us know.
Then we wind! Almost all of our pickups are wound on our vintage Gorman Bobbineer Pickup Winding machine. The Bobbineer allows us to finely tune our winding patterns and speeds and is one of the finest machines on the planet. We have a second modern winder for certain builds and needs, but the Bobbineer is the star of the show and one of the only fully operational machines that we know to currently be in service in the guitar industry. We stock and wind with several wire options, different gauges and finishes for anything from the most current modern styles to extremely accurate vintage rewinds.
After the coils are wound to your desired output, we assemble them in the cover of your choice. We stock traditional Silver/Nickel PAF-style covers, “Radiator” covers, lipstick covers, various p90 covers, hybrid p90/hb covers, relic covers, BBQ covers, foil inserts, glitter inserts… the sky is the limit on cosmetic options, and we love a challenge. We affix either vintage-style cloth pushback wire or modern braided wire depending on build.
Once fully built, we vacuum pot our pickups in a mixture of bee’s wax and paraffin unlike any other pickup company uses. Most guys melt down some wax and dip the pickups in. Boring! Our process requires an apparatus with a special lid that allows a high-powered vacuum to suck all the air out, essentially sucking the waxy mixture up INSIDE of the pickup, solidly securing and sealing the coils. This GREATLY reduces microphonics and movement inside the coil and has zero effect on the top end, regardless of what some nerd on a forum might tell you! It’s a pain in the butt and a messy procedure, but one that we feel makes out pickups road-ready and future-proof.
We spend a lot of time and effort experimenting and matching up proper value pots and caps (where applicable) to each individual pickup and player’s needs and would be happy to discuss and recommend options to our customers. Treble bleeds, phase switches and coil splits are all available as upgrades on our custom pickups.