Types of guitar pickups

Types of guitar pickups

Types of guitar pickupsElectric guitar is definitely one of the most popular instruments when it comes to light music. The origins of the popular to this day “dechy” date back to the forties of the twentieth century. An electric guitar, however, needs something to make it play. Guitar pickups, which probably have the greatest impact on the sound, have passed through the decades and are still undergoing evolution and are changing to further adapt to the needs of modern musicians. The seemingly simple design of the guitar pickup can radically change the character of the guitar, depending on the type of magnet, number of coils and design assumptions.

A brief history of the guitar pickup

How much BUM! for electric guitars appeared, as I wrote earlier, in the 1935s and 1951s, attempts to amplify the signal appeared earlier. The first attempts with the use of a stylus installed in acoustic guitars did not bring the intended results. The groundbreaking ideas of one of Gibson’s employees – Walter Fuller, who designed in XNUMX a magnetic transducer, known practically to the present day. Since then, progress has gained tremendous pace. In XNUMX, the Fender Telecaster appeared – the first mass-produced electric guitar with a body made of solid wood. This construction required the use of special pickups that would be effective enough to help amplify the instrument that was supposed to break through to the rhythm section playing louder and louder. Since then, the development of pickup technology has gained tremendous pace. Manufacturers began to experiment with the power of magnets, materials, and connecting coils.

Construction and operation of an electric guitar pickup

Transducers are usually made of three permanent magnet elements, magnetic cores and a coil. Permanent magnet generates a constant magnetic field and the string introduced into vibration changes the flux of the magnetic induction. Depending on the intensity of these vibrations, the volume and sound of the whole change. The material from which the transducer is made, the power of the magnets and the material from which the strings are made are also important. The transmitters can be enclosed in a metal or plastic housing. The design of the converter and their types also influence the final sound.

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Types of transducers

The simplest guitar pickups can be divided into single-coil and humbuckers. Both groups are characterized by different sonic value, different output power, which is associated with a variety of applications.

• Single-coil – found the widest application in Fender constructions. They are characterized by a bright, quite “raw” sound and a smaller signal. The problem with this type of design is unwanted hums, which are particularly troublesome when using various types of distortion. Despite these handicaps, these pickups enjoy unflagging popularity and it is difficult to count outstanding guitarists who built their unique sound on singles. The main advantages of this type of pickups are the aforementioned sound, but also a great response to articulation, the natural transfer of guitar values ​​to the amplifier’s speaker. Nowadays, several manufacturers have designed a noiseless songle-coil, adding an additional voice coil that is inactive. This allowed to eliminate the hum while maintaining the characteristics of a typical single. However, opponents of this solution believe that it affects the sound and loses the original sound. The single-coil group also includes the P-90 pickups, often used in Gibson guitars to brighten the dark sound of mahogany wood. The P-90s have a stronger signal and a slightly warmer sound. The Fender pickups used in Jazzmaster guitars have a similar character. A stronger signal, it works great with distorted timbres and the rawness of the sound appealed to guitarists involved in broadly understood alternative music.

Types of guitar pickups

Fender single-coil pickup set

humbuckers – it arose mainly from the need to eliminate unwanted hums emitted by pickups with one coil. However, as is often the case in such stories, the “side effects” revolutionized guitar music. The two coils began to sound very different from the singles. The sound became stronger, warmer, there was more bass and middle band loved by guitarists. Humbuckers tolerated more and more distorted sounds better, the sustain was lengthened, which made the solos even more epic and powerful. The humbucker has become an indispensable part of rock music, blues and jazz. The rich sound feels “nicer” and more “tame” than the singles, but at the same time heavier. This provided a field for introducing stronger magnets, which absorbed more and more distortion. Jazzmen appreciate humbuckers for a warm, slightly compressed sound. Combined with hollowbody guitars, they generate a natural and harmonic-rich tone ideal for this musical style.

Types of guitar pickups

Humbucker firmy Seymour Duncan


Recent decades have resulted in countless solutions brought about by technological advances. The EMG company has introduced active transducers to the market, the natural signal of which has been minimized and amplified by an artificially built-in active preamplifier. These pickups require additional power (most often it is a 9V battery). Thanks to this solution, it was possible to reduce noise and hum to almost zero, even with extremely strong distortion. They come in the form of singles and humbuckers. The sound is even, modern and metal musicians like it in particular. Opponents of active drivers argue that they do not sound natural and warm enough and their signal is too compressed, especially on clean and slightly distorted tones.

Currently, there are many manufacturers of high-quality pickups for electric guitar on the market. In addition to precursors such as Gibson and Fender, Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio, EMG enjoy the highest reputation. Also in Poland we can find at least two global brands. Merlin and Hathor Pickups are without a doubt.

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