Quick Guide to Guitar Pickups

Quick Guide to Guitar Pickups
Hollow-bodied electric guitar

An electric guitar pickup consists of a series of six magnets - one for each string - wrapped in copper wire. It picks up vibrations from the guitar strings and converts these vibrations into electrical energy that can then be amplified. The type of pickups on your guitar affect the overall tone of the instrument.

Most electric guitar pickups are passive, which means that they don't need any external power. You do get active pickups on some rarer guitars which run on batteries and further beef up the output signal to your amp. Regardless of whether it is passive or active, the type of magnets used in the pickup and where are they are placed on the body of the guitar all contribute to the resultant tone.

Single Coil Type: These types of pickups involve one single coil of wire wound around a magnet. They are the simplest design of all the pickup types and can often be found on such classic guitar styles as the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster.

P90 is a variation on the single-coil pickup, with a sound that’s a little more aggressive with a higher output. Examples with P90s include Gibson Les Paul Special and Yamaha Pacifica. Often P90s are used in combination with humbuckers.

Humbuckers involve two single-coil pickups which are side-by-side and wired together. This gives them a powerful, loud output suitable, but not limited, to heavier genres. Classic guitars with humbucking pickups include Gibson ES-335 and SG.

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