Part 1: Pickups
Where does the electric guitar signal come from?
The previous drawing illustrates the electrical and magnetic function of a single-coil pickup. Some pickups might use six permanent magnets in place of the six pole pieces to create the magnetic field, but the idea is the same: create a steady magnetic field around a coil in proximity to the guitar string. The name "single-coil" pickup becomes more significant when compared to the humbucker or "dual-coil" pickup.
Pickups: Single-Coil vs. Humbucker
Connecting Multiple Pickups
- DC Resistance: This can be measured directly with an ohm meter and gives you an idea of how many turns of wire the coil has. If the same gauge of wire was used for two pickups, then the pickup with fewer turns to the coil will have a lower resistance which, in general, makes for a lower output level and a brighter sound.
- Inductance: Inductance is the ability of an inductor (or coil) to store energy in a magnetic field. A higher inductance makes for a higher output level and a darker sound.
- Peak Frequency: This is the frequency beyond which the output level begins to fall dramatically. A higher peak frequency would make for a brighter pickup.
Variety is the spice of tone.
In Part 2, we will discuss how the volume and tone controls, called potentiometers, function in an electric guitar circuit.