Guitar Pickup Tips and Tricks
January 21, 2011 by David Wagner
The heart and soul of an electric guitar comes right down to the pickups. Pickups can be modified and adjusted to change the tone that your electric guitar produces. Messing around with your pickups can be quite the task, but with a little know how you can achieve a variety of tones. Some of these tips are simple adjustments that you can do yourself, while some of them might be a bit more difficult and require you to find someone skilled in the trade.
The most basic adjustment you can make to your pickups does not involve removing any hardware on the guitar. The tone knobs and switches on your guitar can give you all sorts of tone changes. It can be amazing how many different tones you can create by mastering the ins and outs of your onboard tone and volume controls. The volume knob itself does a lot more than just change the overall volume output. With the volume knob all the way up give the guitar some overdrive and slowly turn the volume knob down. You will notice that as the volume knob is lowered the overdriven sound is cleaned up a bit. When adjusting tone knobs it is best to start with a clean amp setting in order to hear and understand the tonal changes made by adjusting the knobs. Experiment with different tone settings until you find the right tone.
Used in conjunction with the tone knobs, the pickup select switch (on guitars with more than one set of pickups) can drastically change the tone of your guitar. The position of the pickups on the guitar body generally dictates the tone that they will produce. The closer the pickup is to the neck produces a mellower, smoother tone. The closer the pickups are to the bridge produces a shinier, higher tone. Play around with the pickup select switch along with your volume and tone knobs until you find the sound that you want.
One of the easiest ways to spice up the tone of your guitar is to simply clean and tighten up your pickups. Often times, guitars that have been around the block and seen a few things can have pickups that have become dusty and even lose. This can cause all sorts of problems and interfere with the overall tone of the guitar. Tightening up your pickups usually involves a simple twist of a screw driver to tighten the lose pickup. To really clean up your pickups simply remove the pick guard and remove the pickups by losing the screws on the sides. Use a microfiber cloth to remove as much dust as possible. If the pickups look rusty you can use a rust dissolving agent to remove the rust. During this process it is very important to not disrupt the wiring inside the guitar and pickups.
The screw driver is really an integral tool when it comes to making adjustments to your pickups. One of the easiest ways to change the tone that your pickups produce is to either lower them farther away from the strings or to raise them up closer to the strings. Moving the pickups lower will give your guitar a bit more muted sound, while raising the pickups closer will give you a little extra punch with more treble. With single coil pickups this modification is done by adjusting the screws on the sides of the pickups in small increments. What other guitar accessories do you need?