Explain this to me about pickups

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1,283
1 - If I swap the neck and bridge humbuckers in a Les Paul, the "new" neck pickup will be brighter now, and the "new" bridge pickup will be more tame?

2 - How much does the type of magnet have to do with how "hot" a pickup will be?

3 - The majority of bridge pickups in Les Paul guitars sound to my ears to be very biting and aggressive. Is it the pickup or the position of the pickup - in the bridge?

I know this is common knowledge to most of you, but not to me. That's why I'm asking.
 

Dan40

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,387
The majority of that "biting" sound comes from the fact that the bridge pickup is mounted so closely to the bridge. Back in the day, pickups were wound the same and simply installed with no concern whether it was a bridge or neck pickup. Nowadays pickup makers are winding the bridge slightly hotter to eliminate some of the bite while winding the neck a little less to add in some brightness.
 

swiveltung

Member
Messages
14,492
The bridge pickup may be hotter. As such it should not be brighter in the neck position but warmer.... generally.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,260
1 - If I swap the neck and bridge humbuckers in a Les Paul, the "new" neck pickup will be brighter now, and the "new" bridge pickup will be more tame?
nope, it'll be the opposite, the bridge will be even brighter and the neck will be even woofier.
3 - The majority of bridge pickups in Les Paul guitars sound to my ears to be very biting and aggressive. Is it the pickup or the position of the pickup - in the bridge?
like @Dan40 said, it's the position; good balanced pickup sets are wound to "make up for" where they're located, with the neck pickup made thinner and brighter and the bridge pickup made fatter and darker, so as to compensate for where they sit in the guitar and have about equal volume.
 
Messages
1,283
So why are bridge pickups wound with more output than the neck pickup?

If you have two equally wound/output pickups installed, then the bridge would have a lot more output and out of balance with the equally wound neck?
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
33,058
So why are bridge pickups wound with more output than the neck pickup?

If you have two equally wound/output pickups installed, then the bridge would have a lot more output and out of balance with the equally wound neck?
The string excursion over the neck pup is greater. Greater movement generates a higher signal voltage.
The honky bite of a LP, the strident ice pick of a Strat, the upper mid twang of a Tele..all bridge pups.
Deal with it. I have not found a cure.
 
Messages
1,283
What a fantastic explanation! Thank you Matt!

I had always wondered what would it sound like if the pups were switched. I ran across this interview with Robben Ford, and found his setup to be interesting. At 13:00 he talks about the pickups in his Les Paul.
 

Dan40

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,387
Also, since the neck pickup is in a position to pick up more vibration from the string, and thus produce more voltage, it is common to have it set lower than the bridge pickup to balance the output. If the neck was set as close to the strings as the bridge pickup, in most cases it would be louder and overpower the bridge pickup.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,260
If the neck was set as close to the strings as the bridge pickup, in most cases it would be louder and overpower the bridge pickup.
which works out well, since the strings are "looser" up over that neck pickup and vibrate over a wider arc, meaning that the pickup magnets tend to pull on the string more and make it sound warbly and out of tune.

lowering the neck pickup corrects both issues.
 




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