i found 2 humbuckers laying around my parts room and i think they dont work but cant be sure.. is there a way aside from wiring them into a guitar to check to see if they work? i have a multimeter if that helps.
what i do-

wire the pickup up to just a 1/4 audio jack, plug it into your amp, then take a spare guitar string and pull it kinda tight over the pickup and get someone to pluck the string for you.

move the string around to make sure it works, if it makes sound it works, if not its broke.
Official Aspie member

ANOUNCEMENT: Weird misspellings or words that make no sense? there was a good chance this was sent from my Droid 2 phone.
Quote by SinisterStrieth
.. You are the man.

RIP Dime RIP Michael Jackson
or you could save all that hassle and use the multimeter to check the DC resistance of it. If it returns a 'sensible' value, you've (probably) got a working pickup.
And by sensible, madbob means between around 7K and 18K depending on what pickup it is.

If your pickup has 4 conductors then you need to measure each coil individually so your readings should be between 3.5K and 9K depending on the pickup.
Not taking any online orders.
Also, try connecting it to an amp and tapping the pole pieces with screwdrivers.
Or if you have a tuning fork, give that a whack and hold it over the pickup.
ok.. i plea stupidity. i can get readings out of my multimeter through the pickups, but i dont know which one to use.

it looks like that sort of but it says (counter clockwise from the top left) DCV, DCmA, Ohms, and AVC, in the 4 corners and the right arrow with a line through it vertically at the 6 o'clock position. also the 3 inputs for my red and black connectors; mA, COM, and a V with an ohm sign and that arrow/line thing going across.

help... please. its been years since ive picked this thing up.
Ok, connect the black probe to the COM (common) point, and the red probe to the point on the right (with 4 different symbols, one of which is an omega). [it actually doesn't matter which way round you put the coloured leads, but i find it best to observe the conventions to avoid confusion]

Now, seeing as you're looking for DC resistance in the <20k range, swing the dial around to 20K on the ohms section, and start testing.
thank you, thats the setting actually i was getting the "best" looking readings.

one of the pickups was reading ~680 with red on the red wire, black on the ground, and ~1380 with red on the white wire, black on ground. the other was ~720 and ~1420, respectively. they are unknown humbuckers, only 3 wires.
That seems like it should be ok. Most multimeters will display the value as 7.2 and 14.2 when you select 20K but some work differently than others. I'm going to guess that the 720 reading is for 1 coil reading 7.2K and the 1420 reading is for both coils and translates to 14.2K. It basically means you have a pickup wound to approximately 14K and depending on the magnet used it could be very high output (like a super distortion) or a medium-high output (like a custom five) and the wiring is ok. Now the only thing to do is plug them into something and see if you get sound.
Not taking any online orders.
ok, i'll give em a chance, see if they make sound. i wanted to drop them in an old RG body for the 100GBP project thing going on, and this would save me... alot.