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Frequently asked questions

Q: What are your humbucker wiring colour codes for four conductor pickups?

A: I use the same codes as Gibson. Black is screw coil start, green is screw coil finish. Red is slug coil start, white is slug coil finish. So for normal operation you solder the white and green wires together and insulate them … then connect the red to ‘output’ and the black to ground.

Q: Do you carry the pickup I want in stock or will you wind it for me?

A: Generally I have a small number of my standard single coil Strat and Tele style pickups in stock as there are fewer ‘choices’ with these.

My Humbuckers are pretty much always wound on receipt of your order, as there is a choice of bobbin colour, covers, hookup wire, leg length etc etc!

Q: How long after I order will my pickups arrive?

A: With pickups I wind to order you can expect delivery within two working weeks.

Q: Can you make me a copy of a —–––––––- (insert name of popular pickup here)?

A: I probably could … but that’s not what Oil City Pickups is about. My aim is to produce fine sounding pickups in their own right. I can certainly get you into the ballpark … but if you are copying another guitarist’s tone you will need to pay attention to his amps and effects too!

Q: Do you offer ‘relic’ finishes on your pickups?

A: Sometimes: however this is a science all on its own and very time consuming to do properly … I’m happy to quote for all custom  work, but I’d much rather concentrate my efforts on providing great sounding pickups that you can put real mileage on rather than adding fake ‘mojo’.

Q: Do your pickups sound as good as —–––––––- (insert name of iconic vintage pickup here)?

A: There’s a great deal of rubbish talked about producing copies of old pickups. Our take on this is that unless you uncover a stash of unused fifties wire, uncharged fifties magnets etc, you will never exactly replicate the tone of a pickup made sixty or so years ago. There are those that claim they can … and good luck to them! Everything changes over the years: amps are different (even the ‘reissues’); recording techniques are different, etc. We even listen on digital mediums rather than a needle in a groove!

We try to get my ‘vintage spec’ pickups as close to the sounds of olden days, and the recordings you love as is physically possible, but I don’t believe anyone can replicate the exact sound.

Q: What potentiometers and capacitors do you recommend with your pickups?

A:This will obviously vary according to the pickup and guitar, but Strat® and Tele® style pickups are best with 250k logarithmic or ‘audio’ taper pots and my humbuckers are designed for 500k logarithmic or ‘audio’ pots. I prefer ‘log’ pots on tone and volume. I like Bourns or CTS pots myself.

As for capacitors go for the normal value for your model … for a Les Paul … start with a .22nF. I like them for Teles too! for a Strat® try a .47nF. It’s all subjective however, and the cap only has any real effect when you start to use the tone knob.

Q: I measured my Oil City pickup on my multimeter … and its resistance is not the same as quoted on your site.

A: The stated electrical resistance is an average figure derived from testing several examples. Wire batches vary, and resistance is a poor and misleading way of measuring a pickup’s actual output. Sadly the pickup making industry has (in the main) settled on this standard … and it’s actually almost too late to set the record straight. But I’ll try:

What counts with a pickup is how many turns of wire it has … the more turns the more ‘power’. Also the more powerful a pickup’s magnets are, the bigger its perceived ‘volume’.

A PAF style humbucker will probably have 5000 turns or so per bobbin of relatively thick 42awg wire … and that will fill the bobbins pretty well completely. In order to get more winds and more power you need to use a finer gauge wire … say 43awg. The thinner wire will have dramatically more resistance however. Say you want 5700 turns per bobbin … not a vast increase in turns compared to the PAF … just a smidgen hotter really. But as 43awg has a much higher resistance your pickup has now gone from perhaps 7.6k with 42awg wire to maybe 10k with 43awg! But it’s not actually a lot louder.

Resistance also varies considerably with the temperature at which you take the reading … pickups measured in a cool workshop can appear less ‘powerful’ than ones measured in a summer heat wave.

So comparing pickups wound with different wire purely by their resistance is … as the Borg would say, ‘futile’.

Q: How can oil City pickups be any good when they are significantly cheaper than some of your ‘boutique’ competitors?

A: Try them and see!

Q: Where are your pickups made? Do you have them made for you in the Far East?

We wind pickups in Leyton, East London, and I am proud to be contributing to both the local economy … and Britain’s (in our own tiny way).

As a matter of principal we would never turn our production over to any third party foreign manufacturer. Oil City is about producing a product that can proudly display ‘Made in Britain’.