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Old 11-06-2012, 09:58 AM   #1
Shadowofravenwo
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Confused on Guitar Pickup output

If I am reading things right, low output pickups tend to have more range than higher output pickups. I don't get how that is possible. Wouldn't the higher output grab the different ranges better?
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:04 PM   #2
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You really need to define what you mean by "range"; do you mean frequency range, dynamic range, pure output range? If you don't know which you mean then you should do more research before you look at pickups any more.
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:31 PM   #3
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Sorry, dynamic range, I think. I have done some research and I am confused. That's why I'm asking.
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:42 PM   #4
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Depends on the pickup. Some high output ones are very compressed sounding, some are very open.
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Old 11-06-2012, 04:10 PM   #5
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It's not usually the pickup itself but the input of the amp or pedal you're using. Guitar amps tend to distort with a higher input signal (that's often the point), and distortion is a loss of information. If a wave turns into a squarewave it's lost information - nuance - because that's what an overdrive is - wave information lost due to overload. So the more output you have on a pickup, the more signal is going to be lost to clipping. If you had a perfectly clean amp, then it wouldn't matter as much - which is why bassists and jazz guitarists use active, high output pickups even if they only ever play clean.

From a physics standpoint I think the flux sensitivity should be the same regardless of the number of windings on a pickup. The magnet strength comes into play somewhat since it can dampen the vibration of the string, but I wonder how much of a difference that really makes within the passive pickup genre.
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Old 11-06-2012, 04:59 PM   #6
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you read correctly in fact.

generally (this is not the case with actives or certain high-output designs), higher-output pickups require a stronger magnet. A stronger magnet pulls the strings more, which reduces their ability to vibrate somewhat. This reduction in vibration can lead to a perceived loss of dynamic range. Lower output pickups (assuming they still have sufficient output to generate a suitable signal) cause less string pull and therefore can have a broader dynamic range (the original idea behind active pickups was the you could have a very weak pickup- huge dynamic range- that got it's output from a pre-amp instead).

of course, the higher-output signal hitting the pre-amp section of your amp also impacts tone (essentially as described above- remember actives were often used due to increased dynamic range, not just for output).
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Old 11-06-2012, 05:09 PM   #7
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A higher output pickup also has more windings of wire and typically needs thinner wire so that the bobbins don't flare.

More wire + thinner wire = more resistance. More resistance = loss of high frequencies.
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:04 PM   #8
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Ok. So is that why Zakk Wylde's guitar notes are more defined, and Slash's has more of a creamy sound. It's because Zakk uses high output pickups that distort more, where as Slash's low putput pickups have more of a range? Or am I way off base?
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowofravenwo
Ok. So is that why Zakk Wylde's guitar notes are more defined, and Slash's has more of a creamy sound. It's because Zakk uses high output pickups that distort more, where as Slash's low putput pickups have more of a range? Or am I way off base?


way off based. Zakk uses active pickups, which are very weak pickups that use a batter powered pre-amp, which produces the gain.

part of the difference in how they sound is in the pickups, but the bigger issue there is the amp. yes, they're both marshalls, but they're hardly the same amp. Zakk also uses very articulate and bright sounding speakers. finally, they're not setting up their amp controls the same way
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:17 PM   #10
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Slash tends to use the neck pickup of a smooth set of pickups into a dark sounding amp that tends to get fuzzy and frothy. Wylde is using a bridge EMG into a brighter amp with a cleaner preamp. I think he also uses EVM speakers which are super squeaky clean. So there are a lot of factors - more than the ones I listed, certainly - and one of those is pickups. You can't say that they're what make the difference but it's a piece of the puzzle.
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:21 PM   #11
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Darn. I'm trying to figure out by listening to what the difference is. I'm really finding this pickup thing confusing.
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:21 PM   #12
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What do you mean by bright? I'm not sure I get it.
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:33 PM   #13
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More treble. Less bass.

You're not going to be able to hear the difference between pickups on a studio produced album any more than you'd be able to guess what color underwear a TV announcer is wearing. There's too many factors and too many things in the way. You can't just pick a variable and expect to hear it loud and clear among the million others going on at the same time.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc8995
More treble. Less bass.

You're not going to be able to hear the difference between pickups on a studio produced album any more than you'd be able to guess what color underwear a TV announcer is wearing. There's too many factors and too many things in the way. You can't just pick a variable and expect to hear it loud and clear among the million others going on at the same time.


this.

Pickups are important, don't get me wrong, but you're looking at one tree instead of the forest.

what exactly are you trying to figure out here though?
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:21 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by al112987
A higher output pickup also has more windings of wire and typically needs thinner wire so that the bobbins don't flare.

More wire + thinner wire = more resistance. More resistance = loss of high frequencies.

Hmm, you seem to have a few things incorrect here.

More resistance = loss of volume. Look to your guitar's volume knob.

More capacitance = loss of high frequencies. Due to the filter that is created in the system. It's also why cables with low capacitance will retain the highs, where as a 30 ft coiled cable will remove them.

Pickups are categorizes by DC output. DC output is not a determination of tone, but it does tell you how hot they are. Hot pickups don't have a loss of highs vs vintage pickups.
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:58 AM   #16
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No, he was right on both counts.

More resistance is not a loss of volume in this case. Higher R is proportional to the winds in the induction loop which is proportional to output. The volume knob is not at all a reasonable comparison in this situation - that's a resistance to ground, not in an induction loop. Completely different application and not at all relevant here.

A hotter pickup with more resistance will have a lower resonance point, which does indeed reduce the presence of treble frequencies. A hotter pickup will indeed have a loss of highs when compared to a similar lower output pickup.

I'm not sure why you mentioned capacitance at all, it wasn't part of the discussion and it's not necessary to include it.

If you don't want to take my word for any of this, you can expand a lot of it from Faraday's law, or if you don't want to do the math you can listen to Seymour Duncan who knows a thing or two about the topic.
http://www.seymourduncan.com/suppor...ck_a_pickup.pdf
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Old 11-07-2012, 10:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by |Long|
Hmm, you seem to have a few things incorrect here.

More resistance = loss of volume. Look to your guitar's volume knob.

More capacitance = loss of high frequencies. Due to the filter that is created in the system. It's also why cables with low capacitance will retain the highs, where as a 30 ft coiled cable will remove them.

Pickups are categorizes by DC output. DC output is not a determination of tone, but it does tell you how hot they are. Hot pickups don't have a loss of highs vs vintage pickups.

Sorry bud, but go look at a wiring diagram and come back and tell me where a volume knob is in the guitars circuit. In fact, a higher resistance in a volume pot equals MORE output because less of the guitars signal is being grounded, but that is really not pertinent to my point on pickup output because a pickup resistance is in series with the guitars signal and a volume pot resistance is in parallel.

And no, resistance is not a direct measure of "output", but people still use it as an indirect indicator. More resistance typically means more winds of wire. More winds of wire means more output.

Hot pickups don't have a loss of highs compared to lower output pickups? That's news to me. Two pickups set at the same height with the same magnet and one wound to 7.5k and the wound to 10k, tell me that one is not darker than the other.

Last edited by al112987 : 11-07-2012 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 11-07-2012, 10:19 AM   #18
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more turns = more inductance

inductance impedes high frequencies, hence the loss of treble


Resistance play a part as well, but it more affects how the resonant peak in the frequency response is shaped (and how it plays with the cables capacitance and the input impedance of your amp, etc...). Generally, less resistance = more resonance.
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Old 11-07-2012, 10:40 AM   #19
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I'm just trying to figure out guitar pickups and be able to have a informed-ish knowledge to draw from. Since I don't know what questions to ask, I am having trouble.
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