Choosing The Right Guitar Pickup

By: Michael Russell

Choosing electric guitar pickup replacements is a common decision made by guitar players. Even the beginning player knows that having sub-par pickups is going to affect the sound that your new or old guitar produces. When someone purchases a guitar that isn't very expensive, it usually comes equipped with pickups that are either poor quality, or not to the taste of the consumer. For this reason, you can order or purchase many different pickups from many different companies to best suit the sound you desire.

Many vendors offer a wide variety of pickups for all types of guitars. Some of the main types of pickups are single-coil, humbuckers and acoustic. The single-coil picks are usually seen on the popular Fender Stratocaster. The Stratocaster is not the only guitar that carries this style of pickup. Thousands of other guitars use these as well. The one main difference between a Stratocaster and another guitar using single-coil pickups is the company that manufactures them. Fender offers top quality single-coil pickups to purchase even if your "Strat" did not come equipped with the ones you were wishing for. It is probably best to try out different guitars on the same amp to see what the best sound is for you. The single-coil pickups usually have a vintage tone, with more noticeable feedback. Fender does offer pickups that have less feedback though. Some guitars use up to three different pickups at once.

If you are searching for a more powerful tone, grabbing some humbucking pickups is the best choice. Such companies as "Seymour Duncan" and "Dimarzio" offer pickups for a wide range of guitarists. There are humbuckers for anything from a blues sound to a heavy crunch sound. These manufacturers have descriptions on whether the pickups produce a high pitch tone, or a warm, bass sound. To obtain these sounds, the pickups are loaded with different magnets, screws and wires. There are vintage sounding humbuckers as well, usually seen on the "Les Paul" style guitars by Gibson.

Acoustic guitars only require one small pickup and the variety is not as wide. Acoustic guitars don't have nearly as many pickup choices due to the fact you are just trying to amplify the sound of the acoustic guitar and not change the acoustic tone. The three major types of acoustic pickups are soundhole pickups, soundboard transducers and undersaddle transducers. The soundhole pickups generally make your acoustic guitar sound and look more like an electric guitar. These soundhole style pickups normally sound less like the unplugged acoustic. Soundboard transducers are the most natural sounding of the three. Although they are more prone to feedback problems, they give you the more authentic sound. That just leaves the undersaddle transducers, which are less visible than the other types. The undersaddle style has a more natural sound than the soundhole pickup but is used for finger picking and light to moderate strumming. Strumming too hard, or using a heavy pick can cause the undersaddle transducer to produce an awkward sound.

After brief introductions to all the different types of pickups available today, you should have an easier time choosing which pickup or pickups suit you best. Just remember to do at least a little research before spending your hard earned money and experiment until you make a decision you will never regret.

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Michael Russell

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