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Yamaha SA30 pickup

Vintage Yamaha humbucker

This Yamaha SA30 pickup came to me for repair the other day and I decided to take some photos and share my thoughts on it with you.

Yamaha SA30 pickup - Mr Glyns Pickups

The Yamaha SA30 pickup is becoming a bit of a legend and getting rather sought after. Gone are the days you could pick one up cheap – the word is out. Thank you internet 🥴.

If you don’t know about them here’s some info:

This Yamaha SA30 pickup was sent to me with an intermittent fault. It would work if you tapped it but stop a minute later. That pointed towards it being an internal wiring fault rather than a broken coil, I needed to investigate.

Yamaha SA30 pickup - Mr Glyns Pickups
Yamaha SA30 pickup - Mr Glyns Pickups

With the cover off you can see the hook up wires – these were my number one suspects. Sure enough, there was a dry joint where one of them was soldered to the connectors on the base plate. Just to make sure I re- soldered all the joints and the pickup is fixed.

But that’s not the interesting part – look at those bobbins. They’re different sizes. They each measure in the 4.5 K Ohms range but they’re clearly wound with different gauge wire on each coil. These pickups are renowned for their clarity – so what’s going on?

The smaller coil on the left must be wound with thinner gauge wire and less of it than the one on the right. Thinner wire have a greater resistance for the same length.

The coil on the right looks like a conventional humbucker coil like an overwound PAF but the coil on the left would have a less full sound. It will have less bottom and lower mids and a lot less power. But that’s just the windings.

bobbins - Mr Glyns Pickups

Turn the pickup over and you can see a ceramic bar magnet but it’s how it connects to the poles that’s interesting. The bigger coil has a larger piece of steel coupling the poles to the magnet than the smaller coil. Measuring the strength of the magnetic field on the top of the poles the smaller coil is about 20% weaker. So this again gives the big coil an overwound PAF sound and the smaller coil still thinner.

 - Mr Glyns Pickups

So with the Yamaha SA30 pickup they’ve created that clarity by having one coil doing most of the work – 4.5k Ohms with a ceramic magnet has a bit more grunt than one half of a PAF. But the other coil on it’s own would have more of a weedy gold foil type sound. Then they’ve been combined in series as a humbucker. Smart stuff eh!

Feel free to contact me for pickup repairs or for a chat about my range of new pickups.

And here’s a great site for all things Yamaha SA, heaps of information here

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