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Pickup Output.... How Hot is Hot?

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Pickup Output

When we are pickup  shopping, this seems to be the Thing we are most concerned with. Usually, the DC resistance of the pickup is what we refer to as the "output" of a pickup. Is the the only thing we should be concerned with when pickup shopping?

What affects pickup output?

The DC resistance of the pickup refers to the resistance of the wire that is used on that particular pickup. More wire resulting in more resistance is one possible measurement of output of THAT PICKUP. There are other factors that affect output. The strength of the magnet is a huge factor.HBfield Referring back to our blog How Pickups Work  we know that the strength of the magnetic field affects how much AC voltage is produced, and this has a major effect on output. The thickness of the wire is a HUGE factor. The smaller the wire, the higher the resistance per foot. This means that a coil wound to 8K with 43 gauge wire is physically smaller than a coil wound to the same value with 42 gauge wire. Right away we can see that selecting a pickup based purely on the DC resistance could be misleading.

Output and Tone

The general rule of thumb is that the higher the output, the more high frequencies are lost. This is explained in further detail in the video below. What is the result. It is possible that a very high output pickup, depending on construction, could be perceived as "weaker" in the mix because of the frequencies that are lost. What questions should be asked when ordering or selecting a pickup OTHER than "How hot is it?" What will i be using this guitar for? Rythym, Lead, both? Where do I want it to sit in the mix? Does it cut for leads? or sit back and hold the rythym? What effects will I use that could affect what frequencies I want to emphasize? How will I set my amp As you can see there are many other factors that affect output. It is good to ask all of these questions in your quest for tone.

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