The History of Gold Foils


May 8, 2023

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Few guitar pickups garner responses as polarizing as Gold Foils. To their proponents, they’re an ideal way to capture the vintage sound of classic Fenders and Gibsons, with a range that can be augmented to suit different playing styles. To detractors, they’re a passing fad best left in the history books.

The coils are made from base copper coated with gold in order to provide extra corrosion resistance. It allows the coil to remain cooler and avoids the risk of copper corrosion from acidic vapors in the air interacting with the surface of the coil. The copper is also coated to prevent electrical currents from heating the coil and causing it to deform or break.

Paper used in the cologne process was made from kozo, which is pale creamy yellow with a silk-like texture. It was brushed over with raw lacquer (ki-urushi) and sulphur (iwo) and then gilded with gold leaf. This gilding was done by women cutters with curiously shaped scissors. The resulting thin gilded leaves were cut into lamella that were then spun around a core of silk, linen or hemp, which was known as the soul of the yarn or inse guld in Norwegian.

This yarn was then woven into the infamous coils, with each strand of gold weighing no more than half an ounce (about seven to ten ounces in total). The discovery of these spirals in a field near Boeslunde in Denmark prompted archaeologists to speculate that they were a votive offering made by someone who had come here to worship.