Okay gang, here is part TWO of our discussion on understanding specifications of guitar pickups The resistance of a guitar pickup is often the most miss-understood spec This specification simply tells you how difficult it is for electrons to move from one end of a guitars coil through to the other end. Seriously friends, that's it! Folks read waaaaaay too much into this spec.
Let's talk about that! If you're in a hurry, feel free to skip to the bullet-points at the end. Folks often wrongly think that the resistance spec tells how loud or "hot" a pickup will be; to a certain extent that is true, but ONLY if all other variables are the same. Now lets say we removed the magnetic pole pieces, the pickup will STILL read 8K, but will produce absolutely no sound at all!
Because a magnetic guitar pickup is an ElectroMagnetic Induction devicewhich turns the motion of your strings in the presence of a magnetic field into current the sound that comes out the output jack of your guitar. Okay, hope that little trip helped, did you press the little button to "pluck" the string, cool, huh?
I hope you figured out that the overall sound of the pickup is the result of ALL the specs and materials in the pickup So, what DOES the resistance spec tell us? Kinda what you think it does For instance, if you take two Strat pickups that have the exact same composition and charge of Alnico magnets in them, are built on exactly the same bobbins, and the coil wire is exactly the same thickness gaugeand is coated with exactly the same insulating material That's a LOT of stipulations, but there's more; as in all things audio, this follows a logarithmic scale, it's not linear.
So, to wind a "hotter" pickup you don't count 1,2, So a pickup with 10, turns of wire is NOT twice as "hot" as one with 5, turns Ay caramba! But as you wind a pickup hotter, you soon reach the point of diminishing returns, because as you make it harder and harder for electrons to swim through the coil, you begin to have progressively bigger and bigger fish be the only ones burly enough to make the trip.
Just like the size of the strings themselves, bigger means lower frequency The HUGE takeaway here is this: Remember that Strat pickup with 5, turns for about a 4k resistance vs the one with twice the turns and twice the resistance? Get it? So, how about this: we wind that same Strat pickup with 10, turns of thinner gauge wire? Can you guess the results?In this three part series, I will explain the significance and interpretation of pickup-design variables and their effect on resistance, inductance, and resonance, in the context of the string centric model of pickup function.
The Strat pickup consists of a coil wound around six cylindrical pole pieces. In the classic Strat-style pickup, the pole pieces are also magnets and they serve to magnetize the string in the region directly above the pole piece. This apparently simple system is actually deceivingly complex. This makes the pickup an RLC circuit all by itself, and as such the pickup will have a resonant frequency.
Other pickup designs get more complicated than the basic Stratocaster pickup. Humbuckers utilize two opposing coils to cancel hum each with their own metal pole pieces and charged to opposite magnetic polarities with an external to the coils magnet or magnets, as illustrated in Figure 1.
Covers, baseplates, shields or other metal parts may be added for various design and cosmetic reasons. But in terms of thinking about all of these complex design variables, a very simple physical picture of pickup function can help inform our understanding. The point is to think of a pickup as a receiver of flux, not as a generator of a magnetic field.
The magnetic field of a pickup is simply there to magnetize the string. Once the string is magnetized, and especially in terms of how signal gets generated, we can simply accept that the string is magnetized, and think about the pickup as a receiver of the flux from this vibrating magnet.
Practically though, the string needs to be magnetized, and the most efficient way to do this is to incorporate a magnet into the pickup. The strength of the field that the string is in, and hence how strongly it becomes magnetized, will also be a function of its position relative to the magnets that are charging it. So obviously and from a practical perspective, the magnetic function of the pickup is important and necessary.
But again, the important part in how a pickup develops a signal, and in how pickups sound, is to think of the pickup as a receiver. Even here, magnets are important, not because of their properties as magnets, but because of how they interact with the magnetic flux emanating from the string.
In fact, the only absolutely necessary part to make a pickup is a coil. If we could magically magnetize a string above an empty pickup coil with no other parts, just a coil: the pickup would produce a signal when the string was vibrating. And even further, the only information that is emanating from the vibrating, magnetized string that gets turned into signal is the flux that passes through the center of the coil. So from a signal generation perspective, all of the other parts of the pickup are only important in so much as how they affect the magnetic flux that goes through the center of the coil.
None of this should be a revelation, really. An electrical signal is induced in the coil by the time varying magnetic flux that passes through the coil provided by the vibrating string. At the most basic level this is all that happens; a variable magnetic flux passes through the volume encompassed by a coil and a signal is generated.
Everything else is just modifying that basic physics. For example, we can think of pole pieces and other metallic parts of the pickup as a funnel that gathers up this flux and a system of magnetic pipes that help direct it through the center of the coil and back around to the string remember that all magnetic flux must form a complete loop back to the source. Some pickups, like Stratocaster pickups with their AlNiCo pole pieces, act more like an empty coil, where the magnetic flux from the vibrating string is barely affected by the presence of the pickup materials.
But even in this case, there are more subtle effects, and these effects are important in how pickups sound and what we like about that sound. In the case of no pole piece, the flux field radiating from the string is symmetric about the string with nice, even field lines and field contours a contour is a line of constant flux density that form concentric circles around the magnetized portion of the string in this 2D simulation, anyway — note that in this visualization we are looking straight down the string, such that the string appears as a circle at the center of the flux field.
Basically in this case, the coil is sitting in a field, but not influencing the field in any way. If we put something like an AlNiCo 5 pole piece inside the coil like a Strat-style pickupthe field starts to get pulled into the pole piece a little bit, increasing the flux density in the volume encompassed by the coil.This compares to Gibson, which started using double coil Humbucking pickups in Single coil pickups have a single slab of wound wire around magnet s.
Single coil pickups are easily influenced by outside noise. This would include 60 cycle hum and fluorescent lights. Humbucking pickup: This type of pickup has two single coils combined into one unit. Each coil is reverse wound so that the hum from first coil cancels the hum from the second. The two coils are wired in series so the total resistance is additive, hence producing a "hotter" and quieter pickup if the two coils were wired in parallel, the total resistance is half the sum of the resistances of each individual coil, assuming both coils are about the same resistance.
In either case parallel or seriesthe hum does cancel, hence the name "Humbucking". Parallel is why the "in-between" setting used on a Stratocaster combining the middle pickup with the neck or bridge pickupdoes not produce a Humbucking pickup sound.
Also, the in-between switch setting on a Humbucking two pickup Gibson is less powerful than each pickup individually. The two Humbucking pickups are combined in parallel even though the two coils of each pickup are in seriesthus giving the average of the two pickups divided by two.
Interesting, huh? Ohms: messure of resistance. The longer the pickup wire and more turns used, the higher the resistance.
PICKUP COIL ESTIMATOR
Also the higher the resistance, the louder or "hotter" the pickup. But be aware, higher resistance comes at a cost: lose of treble frequencies. This is why single coil pickups have more treble and less output than Humbucking pickups which use two coils. Hence Humbucking pickups have more mid-range and are "hotter". Also this is why single coil pickups that are wound with tons of wire to approach Humbucking ohms don't sound very good.
Turns or Windings: this is the number of turns of wire used on the pickup. Fender had a mechanical counter attached to their winding machines that counted the turns.
These vintage pickup winding machines were manually run by humans, so the exact number of turns can vary from pickup to pickup. Winding Direction WD : This is the direction in which the pickup was wound. Seymour Duncan's terminology best describes this: TL means the top of the pickup bobbin is facing left.
TR means the top of the pickup bobbin is facing right. TG means the top of the bobbin is turning away from the winder. TC means the top of the bobbin is turn towards the winder. Reversing the winding on a pickup will reverse the phase of the pickup. Magnetic Polarity MP : This is the magnetic polarity on the top side of the pickup.By ruger9March 13, in Epiphone Electrics. I'm going to be replacing at least my neck pup, but don't to unsolder everything to get a resistance reading before the new pickups arrive Bridge pickups somewhere in the 12k to 14k range, neck maybe 7k to 9k.
I've got an epi bridge pup right here that measured I believe I measured and marked them before I sent them I want to say the neck pickup in that set was somewhere just over 8k, and the bridge was close to the one I still have here, 13 and some change.
Maybe if he reads this thread, he'll check them before he installs them, he should be recieving them monday or tuesday I would expect. My 57CH neck PU measures 7. That's pretty much nailing Epiphone specs. Gibson have been able to wind to 0. So it's a bit weird differences almost amount to 1K. Holy crap. Thanks for that tip! It just never occurred to me.
Man, those bridge pickups are HOT! Funny how all the boutique pups matched sets are much closer Which is of no use to me. That's why I'm looking at a pup swap. In the early '80s players wanted a hotter bridge model to drive the preamp. Since modern amps are pretty much able to give you any sound you want including "balls to the wall everything on 11" at whisper-volumes, players seem to have found a new appreciation for vintage output pickups.
I love the JB I've got in the bridge of my 80's Charvel. A pick up's "resistance" value can vary due to things like: The number of turns of wire on the pup. If I measure using a 1 foot guitar cable, the measure again with a 25 ft cable, readings will.Checking Your Guitar Pickup's Resistance (kOhms) with a Digital Multi-Meter
The idea of the post was just to allow the user to get a very close idea of what's in. EPI pups are made in I suppose if pups not made at same factory, specs can vary Resistance isn't the only variable in output, either Some models can actually put out a louder percieved volume with a much lower impedance rating. That gives the 59 a surprisingly more "ballsy" tone, all other variables aside.These "K" numbers are the resistance ratings kOhms.
K is the abbreviation for Kiloor 1, You can experiment with different pots on your guitar: higher values produce a slightly brighter tone. Lower values produce a slightly warmer tone they remove little more of the highs. The signal from your guitar to the amp is a mix of highs, lows, and midrange sound. Like any electrical charge, this signal follows the easiest path to ground, and the path we give it is through the amplifier. When a control pot is added, part of that signal doesn't make it to the amp because some of the highs don't get past the pot.
These highs go through the pot, and bleed off to ground. The lows aren't able to make it through the pot's resistance, so they continue to the amp unaffected.
The first to go are the ultra-highs, and the lower the value of the pot, the greater the amount of signal that can escape to ground. This is why K pots keep your sound brighter than K: their higher resistance won't allow as much of the signal to bleed off. And a 1Meg-ohm pot has such high resistance that when wide open it sounds almost like having no control pot there at all. There's no control on this pickup at all, and all of the signal is going to the amp.
The sound is totally wide open, full volume, and none of the signal is held back. Here, a metal conductor we used a nail has been placed across the hot and ground wires, creating a short circuit.
All the signal goes through this short because it's easier than going through the amp. Nothing makes it to the amp, and there's no sound.
This is what a volume control does when you turn it all the way to zero. If we replace the nail with a resistor, most of the signal heads to the amp again the amp's an easier path than the resistor. A small part of the signal, however, can get through that resistor: some of the highs make it through, resulting in a less bright, warmer tone. A control pot is just a resistor: a variable resistor.We are still working for you!
However, there are more important things to take note of — at Fralin Pickups, we count turns rather than rely on ohm readings. An Ohm reading shows the D. It does not define the output of the pickup. The output of the pickup is affected by the number of turns of wire, and the magnet strength.
Ohm readings are a useful way of roughly measuring the output between identical pickup designs. The same applies to Humbuckers, which are normally measured by their ohm readings. A 9K humbucker will be higher output and louder than an 8K. Ohm Readings tell you if a pickup works or not. If you test a pickup and get a reading, there is continuity in the coil — it works.
If you get a reading of 0 Ohms, the pickup is shorted out. Ohm readings can help diagnose problems. When we rewind pickups, we might get an old Strat pickup that has a reading of 50K, when it should read around 6K.
This coil would need to be re-wound to be fixed. There are a few factors that can cause an ohm reading to fluctuate. Here are some of the most common:.
The most common mistake we see people make when using Ohm readings is comparing two completely different pickup designs to each other. For instance, our Stock Pure P. Our Blues Special Telecaster Neck also reads 7. For instance, the Humbucker might have two coils wired in series with 42 Gauge Wire, and the Telecaster Neck will have one tall, narrow coil with a Gauge Wire.
They might read the same, but their outputs and tone will be completely different. The number of turns is far more important than the Ohm reading of a pickup. If you got a Pure P. Neck that was reading 7. Always compare identical pickup designs. Call us when comparing different models. Call us. Note: this two-part article was originally one article, and I edited it into two parts for clarity and brevity. If you want to learn more about Polarity in general, read Part 1.
Reversing the polarity of a Humbucker is a relatively simple task when compared to a single-coil pickup like a Stratocaster or Telecaster pickup. This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on reversing pickup polarity. This article focuses on Single Coil Pickups. For Humbuckers, see Part 2.Your browser does not support the iframe tag. Find a pickup in the left hand list that you are familiar with. Highlight it by clicking on it. Find a pickup in the right hand list you would like to compare the first one to and click on it.
Click the Get Pickup Info! Click the links beside the check boxes to hear how they compare. Scroll through the two lists of pickups to find two that you are interested in, and select one in each list. Check the boxes that correspond to the cable setup you typically use. Listen to each pickup under a variety of cable and loading conditions by clicking the links beside the check boxes. The links work whether the boxes are checked or not.
The graph shows a frequency response curve for each of the boxes you checked.
The Guitar Pickup Tone Database
More detailed technical information appears below. Now pop open your favorite beverage and think about what you see. Can I contact you about this page? If you are a pickup or instrument manufacturer, we would be happy to speak with you about testing your pickups. Click the Contact button to the left. If you are an individual in pursuit of that killer tone, we regret we are not able to answer questions on individual pickups or what you should do to get that tone.
There are many discussion forums where you can air your questions and even discuss our data. We are sampling the pickups we encounter and cannot give any dates for having data on a specific pickup.
The Guitar Pickup Tone Database
Our pickup comparison database lets you compare pickups technically and audibly. We have measured the responses of many pickups for you, new models and old, and have compiled this information into a free database that you can use in pickup selection decisions.
There are some big problems related to pickup selection. The first is that they are not cheap. Paying a hundred bucks or more for a single pickup is a risky venture. On top of that, it takes an hour or two to install pickups in an instrument. Pickups also sound different in every guitar, being affected by the type of strings and their age, the shape and construction of the instrument, the type of wood, the temperature and humidity, and what the player had for breakfast.
For more detail, see our article on The Guitar Tone Equation. Another problem is that pickup tone is described in the press using the most wishy-washy adjectives imaginable: Brittle, strident, warm, gutteral, biting, smooth, etc.
What do these terms mean?