In a hand-wound pickup, you get 1 machine & 1 person operating it—the operator controls the tension & varying speeds. With mass produced pickups that are manufactured in a gang assembly with multiple coils being wound at once, the quality suffers. Micro shorts in the windings develop as a result of cracking in the insulation of the wire which in turn causes a “muddy” sound in the pickup. The cracking is caused by improper tension on the coil wire; which by the way is approximately 1/2 the thickness of a hair. When hand-winding, you can vary the speed and feed which produces a scattered winding that gives each pickup it’s charm and individualism. A pre-programmed machine cannot produce this by itself.
YES ! The great thing about custom pickups, is that you can fix the things that bother you about your guitar’s original sound. I test and determine the power output of the remaining pickups and adjust the new one accordingly.
Over the years, I have found that I can adapt pickups for use in almost any steel stringed instrument. These days, there are many basses (and some guitars) that have pickups and pickup cavities that the aftermarket industry do not make pickups for. However, I can make custom bobbins to fit any cavity and also make beautiful wood covers to match your guitar or bass.
This is a very common question with a very unpopular answer. The application of your guitar (i.e. Rock, Jazz, Blues, etc.) will dictate what materials & power output will be used. This would need to be discussed with the customer before the building of the pickup begins.
Again, this is a matter of personal taste. I have found that any sound that comes from an active pickup, you can also get from a passive pickup. Low impedance pickups are slightly quieter operationally but also have a generic sound from a lack of coil windings. Batteries are also a pain in the butt!
Ultimately the decision to repair your instrument is up to you. I have found that after the hundreds of repairs & restorations I have done over the past 25+ years, there is a certain pride & contentment that comes from bringing an old instrument back to life. You should be advised of the approximate value of your instrument after repairs for an educated determination if you should or should not proceed. Sentimental value usually overrides typical appraised value as this cannot be priced.
Without seeing the instrument up close it is very difficult to judge, but estimates don’t cost a nickel. I find that many customers are resigned to the fact that their guitar/bass is a lost cause, only to be pleasantly surprised that it’s not nearly as costly as they thought to repair it. It is always important to inquire before making a move to a new guitar because you never know what kind of jewel you may already have.
Some instruments are actually made better than they used to be – primarily due to R&D and new technology. These are usually the boutique guitars and not the introductory instruments. However, the pressure of mass production and lack of time to prepare and dry the woods properly make for very unstable instruments. Instruments made 25-30 years ago may not have had great electronics, but they were much more stable and make a better candidate for restoration.