Without the pickups, many of our tools wouldn’t work at all. They are very important, and there is something to discuss about guitar pickups and how they work. In this guide I will help you to clarify everything, and here is a brief overview of what we are going to do:
- How Guitar Pickups Work
- Single coil against Gambacer
- assets versus liabilities
- Acoustic Guitar Holders
- In case of replacement/update
- My personal recommendations
They will carefully go through the basics of guitar pickups and help you decide which type suits you best. In that scenario, we have to take a bath!
How Guitar Pickups Work
Guitar pickups are usually made in one or two different ways – magnetic or piezoelectric.
Magnetic pickups are the most commonly used, and without them electric guitars and basses wouldn’t work properly. You can still play notes on an electric guitar, acoustically, but you can’t amplify them and make your sound audible.
These microphones are made with copper wire coils around a magnetic pole of alnico or ferrite. Normally the guitar has as many poles as strings. If you have a normal six-string guitar, you have six sticks on a one-armed pickup and twelve on a humbucker. See for yourself:
The pickups on guitars generate a magnetic field, and when the string hits this field, the vibrations of this field hit this field and generate an electric current that can now be heard by the amplifier.
Piezo packages have their own subtleties, which are discussed in the chapter on pickups for acoustic guitars, but they also contain vibration detection, albeit in a different way.
You can also customize different types of pickups for your guitar on your instrument, and depending on the position of the pickup you can change the sound. Here are a few options you may have already seen:
- 3 individual coils (bridge, center, cervical)
- 2 single coils (neck, center) and 1 humbucker (bridge)
- Double grumbler (deck, neck)
- Double humbucker (bridge, neck) and 1 single coil (middle)
- Single grumbler (deck)
In fact there is a difference in where these pickups are placed on the guitar, and there is a difference in pitch depending on that and the vibrations they pick up. There are different ways to compare guitar pickups with bridge and neck.
One possibility is that the neck of a pickup sounds softer and lower, while a pickup with a bridge sometimes sounds thinner and higher.
Some vans can also be designed and manufactured specifically for a particular position and this can be indicated on the packaging. Patterns designed for the position of the shaft are generally hot and have a higher yield than the neck pattern.
Sometimes they can even be sold as a set. A classic example is EMG 81 and 85. The EMG 81 is one of the most famous bridge vans of all time and has been linked to the 85 for years. Zack Wilde, known as Ozzy Osborne, was a pioneer of this pickup duo.
But also the combination EMG 81 and 60 is appreciated by many, and some can even use the double 81 like Kirk Hammet from Metallica. As some combos have become popular, many manufacturers such as Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio are known for packing some of their most popular pickups in kits.
This is the essence of how electric guitar pickups are made and how they work. This is a magnetic device that allows you to produce electric guitar sound through an amplifier. While we briefly talked about single-coil and humbucker microphones, we go deeper into the next segment.
Single coil against Gambacer
If you are looking for pickups for electric guitars for sale, you have two options: single-coil pickups or humbuckers. It’s easy to see which one you can get; take a look at the configuration of the guitar. But do you know the difference between them?
In the previous paragraph, we mentioned that single-reel pickups have 6 reels, and that humbuckers double these compared to 12. But that doesn’t necessarily mean humbuckers are better than individual reels. It just makes a different sound. Many guitar pickups for Stratocaster models will use all single-coil models, or maybe there will be 2 single-coil pickups and a humbucker.
Single-coil microphones sound more subtle than their analogue microphones. The clarity and high sound for which they are known make them a favourite with both country guitarists and surfers.
On the contrary, a grumbler often sounds louder and thicker than a simple rolling microphone and, as the name suggests, does not pick up any humming sounds. They also have more power than individual rollers, making them very popular and ideal for bridge positions.
All these characteristics make Humbucker very popular with rock and metal guitarists and sometimes even with jazz and blues players.
Unfortunately, depending on how your guitar is built, you may get nowhere with a certain type of microphone configuration if you don’t make any changes. For example, if you have a guitar that only supports 3 single-coil pickups, you’ll probably have to replace the pickup or do some tree work to make room for a humbucker.
Guitar pickups are active compared to passive pickups
Another choice you have when viewing the guitar pickups will be between active and passive. So what’s the difference between them? Actually, not so much, but just a few things that might make a big difference.
Active microphones get their name because they use an active preamplifier. Like a normal preamplifier you see everywhere, they do the same – they amplify your signal.
The preamplifier of the active van is powered by a 9V battery. Connecting a 9V battery is one of the easiest ways to determine if there is a home. If you find active guitar pickups without batteries, they will not be powered until you insert them.
EMGs are known for their active microphones, and the model 81 is currently their most popular model. They make commitments, but their assets, like in ’81, I think, they pull out of the water.
Passive sensors, on the other hand, do not use a 9V battery. These are the most common types of pickups for electric guitars. Although I like the sound of active microphones, I have to say that I generally prefer passive, and my favorite is Seymour Duncan JB. If I don’t have a battery, I have fewer problems and the vans always do what I need.
What are the best guitar pickups in between?
With these two types of pickups, people can be very controversial. I’ve met a lot of players who can’t stand the sound of active microphones and are incredibly loyal to passive ones. The same thing happens and vice versa.
Try thinking about it yourself. What do your favorite players use? What do you think is best? Ask yourself these questions because your opinion is the most important factor in the development of your own sound. I can only give you recommendations about what I and many others love.
You will find active and passive microphones from all major manufacturers such as Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio and EMG.
Acoustic Guitar Holders
What are pickups for acoustic guitars? In the first place they usually use piezo microphones or magnetic instruments such as an electric guitar. Since we’ve talked a lot about how magnetic sensors work, let’s first talk about the piezo.
The way piezas work is that electricity can be generated by crystals such as quartz (and some others). Piezo kits use these crystals in their design, and they are often placed under a bridge, but some types can be placed anywhere on the guitar.
Microphones feel vibrations and can produce an amplified sound. Since the waves and pressure can vary, this means that the speaker can also change. Piezoelectric receivers can be equipped with a preamplifier to amplify the signal, but also with a compressor, to obtain a smooth and regular sound that does not fluctuate too much.
In a way, piezos already look a lot like microphones. However, there are literally microphones that can be mounted in the guitar. These kind of pickups for acoustic guitars tend to detect feedback, but you get a more organic sound because they pick up extra sounds like pops and squeaking slippage from the string.
Magnetic pickups for acoustic guitar work in the same way as their electric counterparts. There’s not much to say about them, except that they usually stand next to the mouth of the guitar. Despite this set-up, it does not pick up sound from the body the way the microphone does.
Renovation or replacement of vans
Let’s face it – collections can sometimes seem awful. This is especially true for low-budget guitars, which often don’t have excellent electronics.
Defective pickups in stock are probably the most important reason why you should play a guitar with a replacement pickup. With a bad guitar you may not sound professional, but you can improve your sound right away by replacing one or two microphones.
On the other hand, what if you have a middle class or expensive guitar with decent pickups, but they don’t match your preferences? Buy new ones!
I once had a Jackson Soloist model that was equipped with a number of active EMGs. Since I prefer passive microphones, I bought a few different Seymour Duncan’s. If I remember correctly, I had a 59th in bridge and jazz in my throat. It’s the guitar:
Finally, the most obvious reason to replace cartridges is when they are damaged. Can guitar pickups go backwards? I’m sure it rarely happens, especially if the guitar is treated well, but accidents do happen. Outgassing and excessive heat or humidity are all possible ways to destroy your pickups. Also make sure your microphones are sufficiently and properly wired!
My personal recommendations
In this article we have discussed the different brands and models of guitar pickups. Although I can’t say which one is the best heavy metal guitar microphone or something like that, because it’s subjective and there are so many possibilities, I can tell you about some of the microphones I’ve really enjoyed over the years.
The first guitar pickup I really want to talk about is the guitar pickup of Seymour Duncan Daimbacher. I’m 99% sure this is the very first van I’ve traded in. Here’s a picture of one of my former Ibanezes.
This pickup works perfectly in deck position, he is very hot and aggressive, which makes him very good for metal. The harmonics are very pleasant and sensitive, so if you want to hit, this is your microphone.
You’re probably wondering what’s left in that guitar. These are the Dimarzio PAF Pro in the neck and the Dimarzio FS-1. My experience is that it is quite normal to mix and adjust guitar pickups, especially when they are all passive. In that case I have two Dimarzio and Duncan on this guitar.
In my opinion, the PAF Pro undoubtedly claims to be the best electric neck pick-up. It is so smooth and greasy that fast and wide passages seem perfect. Even the permit for this van seems clear.
Watch this video comparing PAF Pro with Evolution, which Dimarzio also made:
And finally, if you need some reliable humbuckers, I have to go get Seymour Duncan JB and some jazz microphones. Because they work so well together that it’s pretty easy to find them if you buy them together. These are the microphones I use for my main guitar, and they are always my favorite.
Dimebucker is a great microphone that I can handle, but they are a bit softer and fit my preferences a bit better nowadays. These microphones are always great for metal, but because they are more agile, they can also be used for other kinds of music. I warmly recommend it to anyone who wants to make the first exchange for a van.
Summary and conclusion
With so many different tastes of vans, where do you start? I hope that by following this guide you have learned something about them and about the choice of guitars.
Do you need a humbucker or a coil? It is dictated by the way your guitar/Pickgard is made. However, it is up to you to decide whether you want active or passive contact. If you play acoustics, you also have a choice.
You may have noticed that I love Seymour Duncan’s passive microphones. I’m not going to deny it, I love this brand of guitar pickups, but some of my other favorites are from Dimarzio. EMG has been good for me in the past, but I still have to try passive smoking. I never tried Seymour Duncan’s active mic either, Blackouts.
There is something for everyone and there are many guitar pickups for sale. If you have the same taste as me, you’ll probably like my references. If you’ve had enough of your old bulldozers and they don’t work so well anymore, it’s time to replace them!
Hi, I’m Mike. Being a guitarist for over 15 years, I decided to combine my hobbies – music, writing and learning – in one: GuitarMeet. I like to talk about music systems and share my knowledge with others. I appreciate all kinds of music, but metal will always be number 1!
electric guitar pickups guide,types of acoustic guitar pickups,types of guitar pickups,guitar pickups explained,guitar pickups humbucker,guitar pickup brands,best humbucker pickups for blues,guitar pickup construction
Disclosure: We are a professional review company & our reviews are not biased towards any of the products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give marks to only the very best that is given by our author. We are very independently owned & the opinions expressed here are our own. However, if you purchase anything after clicking the links present in the articles then we get some commissions for it which help maintaining the websites expenses like servers, security etc.