Guitar Pickups: Do they affect your guitar’s tone and sound quality?

If you’ve been a guitar player for quite some time now, you would have developed a certain familiarity and comfort in it and would now be exploring on different accessories and upgrades that you could use to step up the game. A lot of people could play a guitar, but few could play it well.

With the help of the right upgrades and good skills, you can make good music!

If you’re eyeing new guitar pickups for your next purchase, you might be wondering, are guitar pickups worth the buck? What could it do for your music? And most importantly, will it affect a guitar’s tone?

Before we get on in disclosing the answers to the said questions, let’s settle common ground on what a guitar pickup is:

Pickup: the guitar’s center

If your guitar was a person, its center is its pickup. It is what gives life to your guitar and this could turn a relatively low quality guitar a new personality. Wow that sounded like magic. But no, it’s not like you got a new guitar. To compare, if we are to personify your guitar, it would be like your guitar had a makeover. Possibly a haircut or a wardrobe change. It’s the same guitar, but better.

It could work wonders in upgrading your guitar’s current state. A guitar pickup change could bring forth clearer and better sound quality. How does that happen?

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What can a pickup do?

A pickup can only do so much. It can’t change everything, but it could make your guitar louder on stage, make its presence more evident, most especially with accompaniment and in larger areas, and lastly, it could sustain notes that slowly die down on the feedback.

Guitar Pickup Mechanism

Guitar pickups are made to convert a string’s vibration into electrical signals that could be recognized by an amp or mixer. This change in sound and feel is evident as heard on the speakers, from the amp. This works through magnetism. Magnets create fields that move in response to a string’s vibration. This is what is translated to the said electrical signals that is easily recognizable by amps.

Since guitar pickups work through magnetism, a higher output is produced when the pickups are closer to the strings.

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These magnets’ material is what usually create changes in tone. Since these magnets are the ones creating the magnetic field, different magnets create different kinds of fields that in turn produce different tone characteristics.

Some are sweet and vintage, while others are stronger. Ceramic magnets are usually louder and stronger, and is thus favored by rock artists.

Dissecting a guitar sound’s sources

A guitar’s tone and sound quality is a mixed result of its features. So as already said, changing your pickups doesn’t work like magic. Sound and tone also relies on materials, structure, shape, size, strings and even how your guitar was made. However, upgrading your guitar pickup would be one of the biggest shortcuts in achieveing a better quality fast.

Strings, Tone, and Pickups

It is important to note that nylon strings are incapable of interacting with magnetic fields. It is thus of great importance to use the right kind of strings if you plan to upgrade pickups.

Pickup placement

Pickups could also significantly change tone and output by its placement. Since its sound originates from the vibration of the string, and a string vibrates differently along the length of a guitar, changes in pickup placement would create significant changes in sound. It’s fun to experiment on this but generally, a pickup placed near the bridge is usually brighter and the sound brightness is lessened as it is moved towards the neck.

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After knowing all these things, why should you decide on changing your pickups? Well, that is entirely your choice, but it’s a good move for sure!

Guitar pickups are easy to deal with and they’re easy to use. Changing your pickup is really easy, so if you want to go back to your old one, it wouldn’t be hard too. It would also be fun to experiment on changing its placement, and you can all do it by your self by your bedside table or in the sofa. It isn’t as relatively irreversible as changing your tuner or guitar neck’s profile. Try it out and think about it!

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