Can anyone help me with any information regarding pickups at all? i have no idea about them i've never really looked into em and my friend said he was getting new pickups to make his guitar sound better. what can you tell me or where can u direct me (site, thread, etc) to get me this info? thanks.
pickups are a magnet with copper wire wrapped around it.

there are different types of magnets such as

if you want good pickups emg's or duncan design are great.
Quote by c-rob6422
Can anyone help me with any information regarding pickups at all? i have no idea about them i've never really looked into em and my friend said he was getting new pickups to make his guitar sound better. what can you tell me or where can u direct me (site, thread, etc) to get me this info? thanks.
Pickups are what generate the signal that come from your guitar, you can think of them as a microphone of sorts, at least in practical function. Here is kind of a quick run down of how everything works. It's a bit of a wall of text so...

All a pickup is is a magnet with wire wrapped around it. Physics tells us that changing magnetic flux through a closed loop creates current in the loop (it's Faraday's law of induction). That's essentially all that is happening in a pickup, a string vibrates in the magnetic field of the pickup and that creates a change in flux through the coil. That generates a voltage which creates current and that current is sent as the signal into your amplifier. Different materials (such as wire insulation, different wire gauge, magnets) affect the sonic properties of the pickup. Thus they can change how your guitar sounds when plugged into an amp.

That's pretty much the basis behind how a pickup works. A lot of things can affect how they sound, like the previously mentioned magnet type (the most commonly used magnets are alnico II, V and ceramic magnets) and also how the amount of turns of wire on a pickup, which is generally (but inaccurately) measured by the pickup's DC resistance, and the winding pattern (how the wire is laid down in a coil).

If you think about how a pickup works, it makes sense that if you have more winds on a coil (more loops), then you generate more overall voltage which creates current. Obviously, the more current, the larger the signal, so the more turns on a pickup, the more output you get. A lot of things kind of determine the output though, a stronger magnetic field will create a larger voltage in a closed loop, so an alnico V magnet will result in higher output than an alnico II magnet in the same pickup. However theres a downside and several things come into play when talking about the winds on a coil. 1) the more wire you lay on the coil, the most resistance you're going to have (obviously, as there is really no perfect conductor), and resistance reduces the amount of current for a certain voltage. So, you have this balancing act of sorts between the number of turns and the resistance in a coil. Another thing that affects DC resistance is wire gauge, thinner wire has higher resistance than thicker wire, but on a coil, you can create more turns with thin wire, so in that regard, a pickup that is wound to 9k ohms with 42 awg wire is not really going to be lower in output than a pickup wound to 13k ohms with 43 awg wire, even though we guitarists have this nasty habit of associating DC resistance with output. However, there are going to be different sonic qualities. Generally, the more you wind a pickup up, the less high end there will be, and you will increasingly add more and more mids. This is just a general thing as you will find a lot of really high output pickups that are very bright and also low output pickups that might have a softer high end, different things contribute to this, such as winding pattern and magnet type and strength.

Take as much as that as you need in understanding pickups. People are always going to argue about pickups, the biggest hting on this site is people saying that pickups make little, barely noticeable differences, which I completely disagree with, pickups make up a huge part of your sound, especially if you use a simple signal chain. I use a les paul with PAF style pickups straight into an early Marshall style plexi halfstack. The difference between every set of pickups (which range from Seymour Duncan and Dimarzio, to high end custom sets from WCR and Wolfetone) are extremely noticeable (and they are all fairly similar in style) both through the plexi as well as my Marshall AVT50 practice amp.
Last edited by al112987 at Dec 13, 2009,
Quote: "An electric guitar pickup uses the same principle of operation as an electric generator.

A generator or dynamo consists of a coil of wire and a magnet. The coil is made to move in the field of the magnet and, thanks to the wonders of the natural laws of physics, an electric current is induced in the coil.

So the electric guitar pickup consists of a magnet and a coil. But they do not move - both are in firmly fixed positions. The only thing that moves is the guitar string, which vibrates when picked.

It would in theory be possible simply to have a magnet beneath the strings and then pick up the current induced in the strings themselves. Doubtless this has been tried and obviously not found to work sufficiently well. Plainly, a guitar string is a poor imitation of a coil. If connected as part of an electric circuit then it would effectively be a coil, but a coil of only one turn.

So the action of a guitar pickup is a little more complex...

When the string moves in the magnetic field then, since it is made of a magnetic material, it disturbs that field. The disturbance of the field, which acts with the same frequency as the vibration of the string, is physically equivalent to actually moving the magnet. So a current is induced into the coil with the same frequency as the vibration of the string.

The resulting output is moderate in voltage but low in available current. So the electric guitar must be plugged into a specially designed input circuit, which all guitar amplifiers have, that does not require much current. Such an input is called a high impedance input.

Electric guitar strings are made from steel. If they were made from nylon, aluminum, silver, gold or any other non-magnetic material, they simply would not work."

Also click the link.


Last edited by johnro6659 at Dec 13, 2009,