Pickups are an integral part of your tone.They, along with your amp and the tone-woods of your guitar.
There are five main types of pickups-Singlecoils,Humbuckers,P90's,mini-humbuckers and railed/stacked singlecoils

Singlecoils are pickups that will give a very bright sound.they are used on most stratocasters and telecasters.The downside of singlecoils is that you will get a faint (or not so faint,in some instances) humming noise in the background.

To rectify the humming, another coil is added,which is reverse polarity reverse wound, to literally buck the hum.They give a fatter, more meaty sound used on Les Pauls and SG's.

P90's are closer to the singlecoil end of the spectrum, they give what is described in guitarist magazine as a "fat single coil sound", in practice, they give a slightly darker sound of the singlecoil, but still keep the humming.

Mini-humbuckers are what the title describes them as,a mini humbucker, as there are less winds on the pickup themselves, resulting in a darker sound than a P90 but a brighter sound than a normal humbucker.They do still allow for hum free playing though.

A railed/stacked humbucker is a humbucker that can fit into a singlecoil slot on a scratchplate .They, although classed as a humbucker, give a sound closer to a mini-humbucker.They though,as a humbucker, still stop the humming.

There are also piezos,which are used much more in acoustic guitars.they respond to the vibrations on the bridge saddles/wood and transfer it into electrical currents, then the electrical currents are changed back into sound waves by amplifiers.

There are also two divisions within pickups, passive and active.
A passive system requires no battery and are generally referred to as the standard pickups.They are used on most guitars.A passive system however does not allow for the boosting of frequencies,but rather the lowering of certain frequencies through capacitor use.

An active system is a system powered by a battery.It allows for boosting of freqencies etcetera, which is not possible with a passive system,however, with an active system,the tonewood of the guitar creates less of the tone, and although these are regarded as the "holy grail" by many metal and hard rock guitarists,many other guitarists dislike them as they prefer their own shaping of tone though the use of specific woods.

Finally, a list of some pickup manufacturers

Seymour Duncan


Lindy Fralin

Rock Monkey

Bare Knuckle


Stevens Design

Last edited by ManicBluesist at Feb 28, 2008,
+1 to the sticky icky
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...This is explained in so many other places, what'd be the point of sticky-ing it?
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Didn't Kerry King use MGs at some point?

I think he just endorses them because he likes sacks of money
kay.pics up, and also, just about like an in depth description of how a pickup is made, what it does etc for people wh dont really know wat it is.
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This is deep
Was the pun intended?
Actually no

E-married to Nikki82
Last edited by ManicBluesist at Feb 27, 2008,