Harmony gold foil rewind
I've rewound a few of these but always forgotten to take pics (which is common for me) of the process and I like pics in my blogs so this time I made an effort to try and get the whole process down.
These gold foils are similar to other companies but along with the Teisco gold foils these are considered some of the best in the field. These, like Danelectro lipstick pickups proved that simple and cheap doesn't always mean bad. In fact, in the vintage guitar world simple and cheap can be amazing.
The basis of these Rowe pickups is a simple coil of wire wrapped around a rubber magnet. Yep, you read right. These simple little pickups were the brainchild of Harry DeArmond who, along with his manufacturing facility Rowe Industries, made attachable pickups for guitars early on in the progress of the magnetic guitar pickup. He would go on to be the main supplier of Harmony guitars who were cranking out mammoth amounts of cheap, affordable guitars most of which needed .... a pickup or two (or 3 or 4)
While it's debated (not really important) who "invented" the gold foil first it would appear Teisco were fitting them to guitars about 5 years before Harmony and while the term "gold foil" is now used for any cheap (or boutique) pickup with a foil style top, there are differences between models and manufacturers with some being standard pickups with a piece of "gold foil" to fit the name.
The Harmony (or Rowe Industries) pickup here is a completely different construction to say a Teisco gold foil and is essentially a magnet consisting of rubber impregnated with a ferrite material (like some fridge magnets) with a thin plastic sheet glued to the top and bottom of the magnet which is all then used as the "bobbin" to wind the wire onto. This plastic becomes very brittle over time and this one had cracked in a couple of places that needed to be repaired before rewinding. The fairly low gauss magnets run under all 6 strings giving a more balanced volume across all 6 strings.
The wire used on these Rowe gold foils was a standard plain enamel 44 AWG which is where they get some of their kick from since the magnet is relatively weak. With 44 being so thin you can wind more of it into a given area compared to say 43 or 42 which are the other common pickup wire gauges. Adding more wire (generally) gives you more output so the weaker magnetic field is offset but the greater output from the coil.
This one was wound with approx 7500 turns of 44 giving an output of just over 10K. I generally wind neck versions a little lighter with the last one of them I did being just under 7000 turns giving 9K.
Of course, number of windings, type of wire, type of magnet, physical size etc all makes a difference to how a pickup will sound but quoting 1 or 2 of these specs will not give you much (or any) information about how a certain pickup will perform or sound. In the case of these gold foils the metal cover and copper (or steel) plate on the bottom of the pickup will also affect fluxes and frequency response (and hum) but suffice to say that the cheap and simple construction of these pickups, if rewound properly will generally sound "the same" as the original, which is to say they have great frequency response with plenty of output. They go into distortion or fuzz well and (with the right pots) will clean up beautifully without loosing too much tone. They tend to have great articulation and clarity and can push the front end of smaller more sensitive amps into the first stages of breakup.
This one was reassembled and attached back to the Harmony scratchplate and sent back to the customer.