Pickups for electric guitar

Pickups for electric guitar

No matter how hard you strike the strings, the guitar has its own volume limit. In a large audience, and even more so in a concert hall, busting and even a fight are not audible without subsound. You can, of course, use a microphone , but in fact, a pickup is much more convenient .

And in electric guitars, this element is basic, because in electric instruments there is no resonating body that amplifies the sound.

More about pickups

With the development of electrical engineering, guitar designers began to think about how to use the achievements of science and technology to amplify the sound. The translation of sound vibrations into electrical ones, and then the reverse transformation through an acoustic system, but already repeatedly amplified, opened up the widest possibilities for performing skills, not to mention the modification of sound using various devices.

Pickups for electric guitar

Pickup device

A guitar pickup is a device that uses electromagnetic forces and the vibrational resonance of a trembling string.

Structurally, an electromagnetic pickup is a permanent magnet around which an inductor is wound. All strings are made with ferromagnetic alloys, which means that their movement causes the magnetic field to fluctuate. As a result, an electric current appears in the coil, which is transmitted through special wires either to the preamplifier in the body of the electric guitar, or directly to the output jack.

Depending on the number of coils and their mutual arrangement, there are several types of electromagnetic pickups.

Types and types

There is a multi-stage amplifier classification system that every guitarist should understand.

According to the principle of action

Electromagnetic pickups . The basis of action is electromagnetic induction. Oscillations of metal strings in a magnetic field cause corresponding impulses of electromotive force. These pickups do not work with nylon or carbon strings.

Pickups for electric guitar

Piezoelectric pickups . It is based on the principle of electric current generation in piezoelectric sensors under the influence of mechanical action. At the same time, vibrations of not only the string, but also the resonating body are transmitted to the amplifying device, so piezo pickups are used to sound acoustic instruments.

Pickups for electric guitar

By volatility

Passive . The current generated in the inductor is transmitted unchanged to an external amplifying device. Because of this, the sensitivity of the pickup must be high, because sometimes extraneous overtones and interference appear. You also need a good quality speaker system and amplifier.

Active . The design of the electric guitar has a preamplifier. After the current is induced in the coil, it first passes through the board, at the output of which it already has a greater amplitude of the sound wave. It consumes little energy – a 9-volt Krona battery is enough for power. The device itself has smaller magnets and fewer turns in the coil, which gives rise to the sound in the bottoms and tops, while in passive pickups the middle is more pronounced.

By design

Single . One magnet, one coil. A sharp attack, clarity, capture and transmission of all the nuances of the game. As a result, it “catches” extraneous noise and creates interference from side eddy currents.

Humbucker . There are already two coils, but they are located on the same magnetic circuit, and they work in antiphase. This allows you to extinguish extraneous noise and parasitic excitations. Although the humbucker produces a weaker and less powerful sound. But it is much cleaner.

Hamkanseller . In fact, it is similar to a humbucker , only the coils are not located next to each other, but one above the other. The noise reduction effect is retained, and the expressiveness and intensity of the output signal increase.

Many modern electric guitars have several types of pickups.

By location

In the jargon of guitarists, they are called ” bridge ” (after the name of the tailpiece in English guitar terminology) and neck (“neck” is usually called neck ).

Bridge pickups are most often humbuckers , as aggressive combat is played here using various guitar effects. Neck singles are usually designed for solos and picks, and also smooth out the “fat” lows and piercing highs, compensating with the middle.

Where can I buy a guitar pickup

In the music store “Student” you can find pickups of various types. Newbie. Buying a classical guitar for the first time, you can immediately equip it with a simple piezoelectric element. For active concert activity or studio recording of acoustics, advanced active and passive devices are provided with different locations, including in the top deck hole.

For owners of electric guitars, a wide range of pickups of different types and designs is provided. Any style of sound and manner of sound production will be output to the amplifier or headphones as required by the discerning musician.

How to choose a pickup

Choosing a pickup is a responsible and experimental matter.

If you are just starting out in the world of guitar music, ask your teacher or seniors what configuration they recommend for a beginner. Starting to play, carefully listen to your feelings, develop a unique style of play. And remember that you can break all the rules in your time – that’s what Jimi Hendrix did, which allowed him to become the greatest guitarist.


The world of guitar electronics is vast and varied, and it’s exciting to try new mediums to create a particular style of sound. A good, properly chosen pickup is also part of the recognizable playing style, fame and popularity.

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