Wiring Your Sound: Choosing the Right Copper Wire for Your Guitar Pickups

February 23, 2024 by
Nebula Belgium, Steven Van Hout

The world of electric guitar pickups is vast and intricate, with numerous components working in harmony to produce the desired tone. One such crucial component is the copper wire used to wind the pickups. The type and gauge of this wire can significantly influence the sound of the pickup. In this article, we'll explore three primary types of copper wire: Polyurethane, Plain Enamel, and Heavy Formvar, focusing on the gauges 42, 43, and 44.

1. Polyurethane Copper Wire

  • Characteristics: Polyurethane copper wire is known for its thin insulation layer, which allows for more wire windings in a given space. This results in a higher output and a brighter tone.
    • 42 Gauge: Offers a balanced tone with good clarity and output. Suitable for general-purpose pickups.
    • 43 Gauge: Being slightly thinner, it allows for more windings, resulting in a slightly brighter tone compared to the 42 gauge.
    • 44 Gauge: The thinnest among the three, it's often used in pickups requiring high output and brightness.

2. Plain Enamel Copper Wire

  • Characteristics: Plain enamel wire is reminiscent of the vintage era. It has a thicker insulation layer compared to polyurethane, which means fewer windings in the same space, leading to a warmer and more vintage tone.
    • 42 Gauge: Produces a warm, vintage tone with moderate output. Ideal for those seeking a classic sound.
    • 43 Gauge: A bit brighter than the 42 gauge but still retains the vintage warmth.

3. Heavy Formvar Copper Wire

  • Characteristics: Heavy Formvar wire is characterized by its thick insulation. This type of wire was commonly used in the 50s and 60s Fender pickups. It offers a clear, bright tone with a pronounced high end.
    • 42 Gauge: Delivers a clear, bright tone with a strong emphasis on the high frequencies. Perfect for those looking for a vintage Fender sound.
    • 43 Gauge: Similar to the 42 gauge but with a slightly reduced high end, leading to a more balanced tone.


The choice of copper wire, both in type and gauge, plays a pivotal role in shaping the sound of a guitar pickup. Whether you're aiming for a bright, modern tone or a warm, vintage sound, there's a wire out there tailored for your needs. It's essential to understand the characteristics of each wire type and gauge to make an informed decision when designing or choosing a pickup.

Nebula Belgium, Steven Van Hout February 23, 2024
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