Got one to sell?

Got one to sell?

Get it in front of 160+ million buyers.

Pickups are your electric guitar's ears. An essential among guitar parts to hold onto, they take string vibrations and start the process that turns it into music. Without pickups, the electric guitar couldn't exist. Finding the right set is just as important as finding the right guitar. Every note goes through your pickups.

Picking Up the Music

The key to understanding pickups is basic physics. When you move a conductor through a magnetic field, it creates an electric current. Pickup coils produce a magnetic field, and steel guitar strings are conductors. So when you play the guitar the strings vibrate in the magnetic field of the pickup, which creates a current in the coil. That current is then fed to the amplifier where it's boosted and sent on to the speakers.

Single Coil Pickups

The first pickups made were single coils. Single coil pickups have a bright clear sound with great definition. Jimi Hendrix used single coil pickups almost exclusively. They take up less space than dual coils, too. The one catch is that they are sensitive to electrical interference, so you sometimes get a hum or buzz when you're playing in an electrically noisy location. Many Fender guitars have single coil pickups.

Dual Coil Humbuckers

Dual coil pickups, often called humbucker pickups, give you a heavier sound. The big idea with dual coils is that they work better in electrically noisy environments. The way it works is that the two coils have their magnetic poles revered, so their magnetic fields are out of phase. This arrangement generates two signals, which are combined to cancel out the background hum. That's why they are called humbuckers. Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top and TV's "Bones" fame often uses dual coil pickups. Most Gibson guitars come with humbuckers, and there are even humbucker bass pickups.

Some Guitars Are Special

While the two main options are single or dual coil magnetic pickups, there are other options. Many acoustic guitars can be fitted with piezoelectric pickups that transform vibrations directly into electrical signals. Some dual coil pickups have the option to split the signals from the two coils turning them into single coil pickups at the flip of a switch.

Tell us what you think - opens in new window or tab