Pickup Preference Information (PPI)

The gateway to finding your sound

Nic Keeble

Have you been mis-sold PPI and ended up taking home the wrong sounding guitar for your style? Well enough is enough, time to take charge and do things your way.

First off, what is a pickup and what are the variations?

A pickup (or pup) is a transducer that responds to mechanical vibrations by converting them into sound. So essentially, it’s a magnet that amplifies your guitar. You have many different variations of pickups, but the main two you’ll encounter will either be a SINGLE-COIL or HUMBUCKER.

SINGLE-COIL                                                                                                                                                HUMBUCKER                                                                                                                                                                  

 

 

A single-coil pickup is a thinner / brighter sounding magnet, whereas the humbucker is two single-coils put together, so it is not only a thicker sound, but louder too.

The next step is to decipher your genre of choice, as you can fine down your final decision far quicker based on what music you like playing. Here’s a quick list to suss it out.

SINGLE COIL /

Pop, Blues, Country, Indie, Rock, Jazz, Funk Rockabilly, Shoegaze, New-Wave, R‘n’B, Ambient, Acoustic

HUMBUCKER /

Pop, Blues, Metal, Thrash, Indie, Jazz, Rockabilly, Shoegaze, R‘n’B, Ambient, Acoustic

Notice how a few genres overlap. Just because you’re using one style of pickup, does not mean you can’t break boundaries and try different genres. More often than not, one guitar can do both, or may even have a combination of singles and humbuckers. This allows the player to cover any genre without having to switch guitars.

 

Another great invention was the split-coil pickup, which is a humbucker with a switch that allows you to manually convert it to a single-coil when required; otherwise known as the ‘Hybrid Guitar’. MADNESS! Yamaha, PRS and Fender all present great examples of this within their vast range.

After all is said and done, pickup choice is totally personal preference, so what I’ve touched on above is not gospel for everyone. It’s completely up to you. I love the sound of a single-coil in a Stratocaster for their percussive personality and bright presence, yet I can’t wait to break out the humbuckers on a PRS when you just want to crank your amp up and shred it with some sweet riffs and power chords.

All the best with the search for the sound.

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