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Here are different types of Guitar Pickups

Here are different types of Guitar Pickups

For a good guitar tone, a lot of things should be kept in mind. For example, the body of the guitar or the quality of strings. But, the most important factor for a good sound in a guitar is the Pickups.

Pickups are small magnetized objects that generate a low signal when there is a disruption to their magnetic field, usually caused when the strings are vibrated. This signal then travels around many coils of wrapped wire inside the Pickup. It will eventually reach an amplifier where the signal is increased, and then can be heard through speakers. Because the generated signal is essentially what you hear coming out of the amplifier, the build of the Pickup and its unique features are necessary.

Let us take a look at some factors that will help you choose among various Pickups at the store:

Single Coil Pickup

The first Pickup design was called Single Coil Pickup that was featured in the first commercial guitar known as the Frying Pan, developed by George Beauchamp and Adolf Rickenbacker. As the name suggests, the Pickup was itself a Single Coil with two horseshoe-shaped magnets.

The only brand that made the Single Coil Pickup its own was Fender. The original model, Esquire, featured a Single Coil Pickup that evolved into two when the Telecaster was launched in 1952 and subsequently with three when the Stratocaster in 1954.

The feature of the Single Coil Pickup is that the sound is dazzling and cutting. Telecaster Pickups have a very distinctive ‘twang’ with very good-sounding highs and mids. Stratocaster does not match up to the Telecaster from the ‘twang’ point of view, but gives a warmer and a snappier tone.

The single drawback of these Pickups is that it tends to be very noisy. Although, modern Single Coil Pickups tend to reduce this problem significantly.                                                                                     

P90 Pickups

After the Second World War, Gibson contributed substantially to the development of the Electric Guitar, The P90 and replaced its previous bar or blade design Pickups.

The P90 is a Single Coil Pickup with a wide coil. This increases the hearing area of the Pickups, resulting in a bigger sound. But all feature the same inner design.


Humbuckers are the greatest contribution to the Guitar world by Gibson. Seth Lover designed this twin coil with the aim to ‘buck’ the ‘hum’.

It worked wonders. The two coils increased the output of the Pickup and also rolled back some higher frequencies. As a result, the tone was richer, warmer and more powerful. It eventually became the voice of rock music.

Active Pickups VS Passive Pickups

You may have heard of these in Guitar specifications. Many well-known Guitar companies have passive Pickups. Active Pickups first appeared for bassists and used a battery powered circuit to produce a powerful output with a balanced frequency range.

During the 70s, Jazz Guitarists used this same technology for the very same reason, thus obtaining a more balanced and clean tone. Later on, when heavy rock and metal music evolved, guitarists used Active Pickups because it allowed them to use distortion and drive amps harder.

However, the increased gain can mean that the entire signal path, from guitar to amp, has to be altered to accommodate the growth in gain- to reduce the input gain to the amplifier, for example.

As a result, for those who play in a variety of styles, passive pickups are often a more practical option.