What Are Guitar Pickups?

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Have you ever attempted to play an electric guitar while unplugged? The voice doesn’t move quite far, and you’re unlikely to listen over a performer. When an electric guitar is connected to a strong amplifier, it can be heard all the way over a nightclub, concert venue, or perhaps a sports arena. This is possible thanks to a guitar pickup. Here I will tell you what are guitar pickups and how it works.

What are guitar pickups?

To put it simply, a pickup is like a microphone for an electric guitar. A guitar pickup is a hub that detects sound waves in the strings and transforms them into an electronic signal which can be enhanced, resulting in noise!

A pickup’s magnet is mainly formed with a base material like alnico or ferrite, then rolled up with copper coils, but by varying these characteristics, such as the metal matrix or the number of loops, you can achieve a variety of sounds!

Types of guitar pickups

Guitar pickups are of two types; humbuckers and single coil.

Single coil

Six separate magnets are encased in the thick wire. The magnetic field is dispensed when the guitar chord is plucked, and this shift is caught by the cord and then sent to the amplifier.

Mono coils have a concise, jangly sound that feels fantastic through a spotless, single amplifier setting. Rolled wire around six slugs pole pieces creates this form of single-coil pickup (it then creates a bobbin by flatwork).

To safeguard the wire, a cap is generally situated over the pickup. However, mono coils have a disadvantage: you will notice some background buzz, which is normal for the single-coil encounter. Some players feel by the extra noise because it gives them a classic sound. Others prefer to get rid of it and appreciate the immaculate single-coil sound without the hum.

Blues, country, and indie styles are created by single-coil pickups.

Humbucker pickups

A humbucker is comprised of two coils rather than one, with magnets pointing in opposite directions (one pointing north ‘up’ while the other pointing north ‘down’). The distinctive single-coil hum is nixed when linked together. They produce thick, loud, and smooth sounds.

Humbuckers are designed with two different pickup wires wound in opposite directions over a core magnet. The 2 distinct coil orientations nullify the hum (thus the name “hum-bucker”), and the entire tone is denser, noisier, warmer, and chunkier than mono coils. Humbuckers work well in heavier styles such as rock music, hard rock, and metal, and they can also add tenacity and edginess to blues. Humbuckers’ smoother, sleeker tone gives them an advantage for jazz, particularly when used in the neck spot on a large hollow-body guitar.

Both pickups on the same guitar

In some situations, single coils and humbuckers can be found in the same guitar. A humbucker in the bridge location with single coils in the center and neck positions, Humbuckers in the neck and bridge with a solo in the center, or a single-coil in the bridge location of a Telecaster with a humbucker in the neck position are all popular permutations.

Single coil and humbucker are two main types of pickups; people who want to know what are guitar pickups also have to learn about other sub-types of guitar pickups.

P90 pickups

P90s are a kind of single-coil pickup that is bigger than a Strategist pickup and has a warmer, denser, and rawer sound. It works well with slide guitar and is appropriate for punk, blues, country and alternative music, and vintage metal as well.

Passive and active pickups

Passive pickups are used in traditional guitars. Any basic Strat, Tele, or Les Paul pickup is a passive pickup. They do not require any external power to run, but they can be audible only when plugged into an electronic amplifier.

On the other hand, active pickups make use of active circuitry to increase overall output. To obtain their better volume, active pickup sets require an external energy source, usually a 9-volt charger.

Acoustic guitar pickups

Amplifying a ukulele can be challenging. The vibration that arises inside the body of a ukulele is exactly what makes it wonderful – maybe the most important part. The piezo aspect, which lives beneath the bridge seat and converts the sound waves of the chords through the bridge into amplifier sound, is the most common form of pickup for acoustic guitars.


Guitar pickups vary from guitar to guitar and the type of sound someone can play. People who want to know what are guitar pickups can easily understand that by reading this article.

Jim Henneberry

Jim Henneberry

I love playing my guitar, and my kids got hooked along with me.
This is a family thing now - why don't you join the family fun? :)