Best Guitar pickups 101

How to choose the best guitar pickups for the sound in your head.

Choosing the guitar pickups for your guitar starts with the an idea of the sound that you want and then knowing about what makes a pickup sound the way it does so you can get closer to that sound.

What is a guitar pickup and how does it work? What is a pickup made of? What make a single coil different than a humbucker?

In simple terms, a guitar pickup works when a steel guitar string moves through a magnetic field and causes electrons to move through a coil.

The minute current generated is and sent down the guitar cable into the amps preamp section to be amplified from there.

But why do pickups sound so different between the choices out there?

Subtle changes big results.

Choice of parts makes a big difference not only that, the way they are assembled makes a big difference too.

Magnets, magnet strength, metal alloys of the magnets, pole pieces and wire. The tension that the wire is wrapped with, how many turns of wire. Probably allot of things that are a pickup makers secret formula too.

Single coil. - A single coil of wire wrapped around either pole pieces that are magnetic or the magnet is mounted below the plain metal pole pieces. These generally have more treble. Think Stratocaster - think Beach Boys, think Jimi Hendrix. Seems like they are light years apart but yet they both have the single coil pickup Strat as the instrument of choice.

Humbuckers - Double single coils wired together in a way that cancels most of the hum picked up by the electronics that all of us are surrounded by in our modern world - lights, monitors, refrigerators etc. Humbuckers have a fatter sound than a single coil.

Heavier Rock and Roll sounds are more than likely from the humbucker.

There can be a wide range of quality of sound from both a single coil type pickup and a humbucker. Experience and attention to quality by the pickup maker can make a world of difference.

All of these factors combined along with your choice of guitar make up the synergy of the sound produced.

Tastes in pickups are about as individual as people. I will give you my choices for different applications but realize this is just a starting point from my perspective.

Best Guitar Pickups - My suggestions

Grouped according to the type of music this is what I recommend.

The best guitar pickups I've found for Country guitar pickups: Lollar single coil telecaster pickups. These are expensive but worth it if you have the funds.

Go here to find out what they have to offer.

Metal guitar pickups: Bill Lawrence L-500.

Bill Lawrence has designed pickups for modern Fender guitars and they are outstanding. The ones I recommend and from

Hard Rock and Roll guitar pickups: Rockfield SWC - I have these in my Les Paul. Among the most amazing if not the most amazing pickups I have ever heard.They kick butt.

Surf rock and roll pickups: Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Surfer. Slap them in your Strat.

There are my choices like I say your tastes might be different, but I think these are some of the best on the planet.

Make sure you check out these related webpages on this site.

1. Choosing guitar amplifiers - tube or solid state? This makes a huge impact on your sound. Don't waste your money on an amp you're not happy with. Here're some guidelines on choosing the right one.

2. Guitar amplifier settings - How to set the controls on your amp for the best sound.

3. Electric guitar tuning - Are you getting this extremely important step right?

Are your strings making you sound really bad?

4. How to buy a guitar - You can have the best pickups in the world but the guitar that they are in still is very important. Some very important things to look for.

Links to useful website

Seymour Duncan Pickups

Pickups Made by Bill Lawrence

Rockfield Pickups

Thanks for visiting, plenty more to see.

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