Picking A Guitar Pickup

High-output pickups are distorted and mostly unpleasant in the tonal spectrum. They generate distorted tones exactly as designed. The usage for these distortion producing pickups are limited at best. Low to mid-output pickups are more versatile and much quieter. They represent better and more clear, clean guitar output signal choices. They’re perfect for clean sounds, however you have the option of dirtying up your sound by changing your amp settings or plugging into distortion pedals. In the myriad of choices for amps you’ll find one that can easily distort at will. Most amps have enough gain to make any pickup generate heavy distortion levels. Picking a pickup just became easier.

No Special “Pickup Finding” Magic

First of all, there is no “magic formula” that will direct you toward the right pickups. It’s all smoke and mirrors. The pickup manufacturers want you to believe that you need a certain set of pickups based on several things. These are, the wood in your guitar, the kind of music you play, the wood in the neck, etc. Once you plug a guitar in an amp all of these factors make little difference if any. Sorry, no magic. The playing field is completely leveled when the guitar is amplified. So what do you really need?

Picking A Pickup

Picking a pickup is so simple you’ll kick yourself when you discover it. What you need is simply a “good signal” to the amp. That is all. If your pickup produces a good, clean, clear signal, perfect! As a result, you can find all kinds of ways to over-process your guitar with just the amp. Remember, today’s amps have the ability to create, alter, and add almost anything you can think of to your signal. Most amps today have enough gain to make any pickup generate heavy distortion levels. Let me repeat, ” Most amps today have enough gain to make any pickup generate heavy distortion levels”.

To Stagger or Not To Stagger

Follow The Crowd ?

I know lots of people who only wear “name brand” clothing. So do you? What if there was something else that fit better, looked and felt better? Would they wear it? From my experience- No. Well, the same goes for guitar pickups. If you’re just a name brand Lemmings kind of player there’s no changing you. However, if you’re intelligent, independent, not easily lead by the crowd and find your own path preferable, then you’ll benefit from a great set of pickups that just sound good. Most of all, they have a good solid signal for you to process.

One Way or Two Way Street?

It seems that when a “distortion” pickup is chosen there are 50% less options in how you can use it. Wouldn’t you rather have more options than less? When you’re out on a gig do you prefer more options or none? When you have polished tone from your guitar you can let the amp distort it if desired. If you have an over-wound high output distorted style pickup your only option is to distort it more. Most importantly, if your sound is clean you can leave it that way or distort it through a pedal or amp gain. Would you choose a one way street or a two way in the middle of a song out on a gig? For example, sometimes you need a bit more room on a gig. Thus, you may not want to limit your choices.

Know what I mean?

image Haywire Custom Guitars-Double Fatcaster Guitar "Picking a Guitar Pickup"
Haywire Custom Guitars-Double Fatcaster

About the Author:

Mr. Rick Mariner Owner and Founder and CEO of Haywire Custom Guitars Inc. He is a member of The Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (A.S.I.A.) as well as a guitar player. Rick holds a bachelors degree from University of Md. and a Masters degree from George Washington University. Rick developed his exclusive 8 – Point “Gig- Ready” guitar process that allows for Custom Guitars that are “GIG-READY”. With Rick’s many years of development and guitar set-up experience, Haywire Guitar shop “Builds satisfied players… one Haywire guitar at a time”.

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