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Upgrading Your Pickups

Guitarists are always on the lookout for ways to improve their sound, and one of the most effective upgrades they can make is replacing their guitar's pickups. Upgrading pickups can significantly impact the instrument's tone and playability, as well as reduce unwanted noise. However, with so many different pickups available on the market, it can be challenging to know where to begin. In this post, we'll explore what you need to know when upgrading your guitar's pickups.

The Benefits of Upgrading Pickups

Before diving into the different types of pickups available, let's first discuss why upgrading pickups is worth considering. The most significant benefit of upgrading pickups is the improvement in tone. Pickups are responsible for capturing the sound of the guitar's strings and converting it into an electrical signal that can be amplified. Different pickups will produce different tonal characteristics, so swapping out your pickups can help you achieve the sound you're after.

Another advantage of upgrading pickups is the reduction of unwanted noise. Pickups can pick up electromagnetic interference from other electronic devices, causing unwanted hum and buzz. Upgrading to noiseless pickups can make a big difference in the clarity of your sound.

Choosing the Right Pickups for Your Playing Style

When selecting pickups for your guitar, it's essential to consider your playing style and the genre of music you typically play. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

Single-Coil Pickups: Single-coil pickups are known for their bright, clear, and crisp tone, making them a popular choice for genres like pop, country, and blues. However, they can also be noisy, so be sure to look for noiseless options if that's a concern.

Humbucker Pickups: Humbuckers are known for their warm, full, and thick tone, making them a popular choice for rock, metal, and jazz. They also tend to be less noisy than single-coil pickups.

P90 Pickups: P90 pickups are a bit of a hybrid between single-coil and humbucker pickups. They have a fat and gritty tone that works well for blues and rock.

Active Pickups: Active pickups use a built-in preamp to boost the signal, resulting in a more powerful and focused tone. They're commonly used in metal and hard rock but can be suitable for any genre where a more aggressive sound is desired.

Other Considerations

In addition to the type of pickup, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind when upgrading:

Output: The output of a pickup refers to the strength of the electrical signal it produces. Higher output pickups will produce a louder and more distorted sound, while lower output pickups will be cleaner and more dynamic.

Magnet Type: The type of magnet used in a pickup can impact its tonal characteristics. Alnico magnets are commonly used in vintage-style pickups and produce a warm and smooth sound, while ceramic magnets are more powerful and aggressive.

Installation: Upgrading pickups typically involves some level of installation, which can range from a simple swap to a more involved process that requires soldering. Be sure to consider your comfort level with the installation process before making a purchase.

In Conclusion

Upgrading your guitar's pickups can be a great way to improve your tone and reduce unwanted noise. By considering your playing style, genre, and other factors like output and magnet type, you can choose the right pickups to achieve the sound you're after. And with so many great options available on the market, there's never been a better time to upgrade your guitar's pickups.

Leigh Jones - Luthier

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