Measuring Pickup Output In A 335?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by gkoelling, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Is there a relatively accurate method of measuring output of pickups in a 335 style guitar without taking it apart?



    Thanks
     
  2. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    Even if you were to take it all apart, how would you "measure output"?
     
  3. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Digital Multimeter

    Perhaps my terminology was incorrect?
     
  4. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey Greg -

    As far as I know, without taking the pickups out, about all you can do is measure the resistance of the coils, but w/o removing the pickup from the harness your multimeter is gonna read the pots too.

    If you're looking for a relative number, you can just plug a cord into the axe and measure the resistance by holding one probe to tip and the other to ground, but I don't know if it's going to reveal much useful info.

    You checking for a broken coil? Or just trying to see how hot your pickups are wound?

    Mark Norwine winds pickups himself, for a bit of a living, he'll give good advice if you explain your goals to him - what you're trying to find out by measuring. He know all that stuff about magnets, resistance, induction etc, and more importantly, how they interact to shape output.

    Hope this helps, Dana O.
     
  5. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Thanks, Dana, I appreciate the info. I didn't think there was an accurate way to measure without removing them but I wanted to be sure.

    I have an inexpensive import 335 style and the pickups seem too hot to me. I was just curious as to whether there was a simple method to verify that.

    Again, much appreciation



    I hope you're well and ripping up the nearest Tele.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  6. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    Here's the deal: measuring (only) DC resistance won't tell you much of anything, especially "output".

    Output is directly proportional to the number of turns on a bobbin, but DC resistance (alone) won't tell you that. Having said that, I'm sure someone will eagerly jump in and say that "the higher the DC resistance, the higher the output", but that's not necessarily correct. Imagine 2 identical bobbins, one with 5000 turns of 42 gauge wire, and one with 4000 turns of 43 gauge. The 4000 turns of 43 will have a higher DCR, but the 5000 turns of 42 will have much more output..

    The type of magnet plays a role, too.

    Inductance is super important as a variable.

    Rp, Q, distributed capacitance.....they all play a part, too.

    In fact, DCR is one of the least important indicators.
     
  7. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Just turn the pots wide open, stick a short cord or jack in the output, switch to the pickup you want to know and measure the resistance.... you are going to be very close unless you have a bad pot.
    A lot of things determine the sound of a pickup, but resistance can be relied upon to tell if it's Hot or not, warmer or not. The rest is more subtle...
     
  8. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    mark is correct, but real-world swiveltung kinda is too; crank the knobs, switch to one pickup at a time, plug in a cable and measure across the other end of the cable;

    if these humbuckers are measuring like 15kΩ DC resistance you can take a wild leap of faith that they're way higher output than a 7.2kΩ PAF-type pickup.

    still, it's really only accurate when dealing with otherwise identical pickups, same wire, winding pattern, magnet, everything.

    measure the DC resistance of a dimarzio HS-3 stack (25kΩ!) and you wouldn't realize that it's actually lower output than a plain 7kΩ single coil fender strat pickup.
     
  9. jcs

    jcs Member

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    Yeah but if you happen to know the wire gauge is the same, then DC resistance is useful.

    Years ago, on the phone, Larry Dimarzio identified an unknown humbucker at 12k for me by me describing what the pickup looked like exactly AND the measured resistance...it looked much like his PAF but was hotter and was a custom wind for Dean guitars...killer sounding pickup too.

    Of course the magnet plays a role but it can be switched out easily on most humbuckers & P-90's, so that's not a given.

    One time I talked to Bill Lawrence & he lectured my on inductance but my original question for Bill was I was trying to identify several of his pickups (which can be difficult).

    I FINALLY got Bill to confess that the cleanest sounding of his humbuckers I owned was like 6k, while another much hotter pickup was like 11k.

    Dimarzio lists millivolts of output........who else does that?
     
  10. jcs

    jcs Member

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    For years vintage guitar dealers went on & on about how some PAF pickups got more winds & were therefore "hotter in output".

    If everything else is equal but one pickup happens to have more winds from 7.5k to say 8.5k it is then what?

    More gain?

    More mids?

    Hotter?

    Why does Seymour Duncan describe "more winds" as "hotter"?
     
  11. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    "....if everything else is equal...."

    That's the problem right there.

    Yes....if you have 2 mid-'70s T-top Gibsons, and one measures a little higher, it will be a little hotter.

    But that's not the case here. The OP has an "inexpensive import 335-style" guitar. So let's say he provides the DCR....what's the benchmark? Where are the constants?

    Without knowing many more parameters, I'm sticking with the knowledge that DCR [alone] won't tell you much about these pickups.
     
  12. Zexcoil

    Zexcoil Vendor

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    As has been made clear, DCR is not a bad number to have, but it doesn't tell you everything and it can be misleading, especially from an output perspective.

    If you could only measure one parameter, for me it would be inductance, at least where output is concerned.

    Of course this tells you nothing about magnetic strength and in fact inductance measured on a humbucker with and without magnets wouldn't be much different. Note that the humbucker without magnets would produce no signal...
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
  13. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Thanks to all who have posted.

    While it isn't an accurate indicator of strength/output, I decided to measure using a cable with the pots wide open anyway.

    The neck pickup read 14.66 and the bridge 15.52. I now know those numbers won't tell me everything but...
     
  14. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    Bingo.
     
  15. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    I'd bet a nickel they're the typical ceramic-magnet flamethrowers you find in budget guitars like this.
     
  16. Ronsonic

    Ronsonic Member

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    I notice that's how the variations among Bill Lawrence p'ups are described. Makes sense. Tells more than just DCR. But, again, that whole "all else being equal" factor comes in.
     
  17. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Gotta be. What's your Paypal address? I'll send you the nickel. :)

    I'm tempted to toss a set of Stew Mac Parsons Street alnicos in it. The guitar doesn't justify spending more than that and it would have to be an improvement.
     
  18. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    Chances are "almost anything" would be an improvement....
     
  19. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    i have to disagree here; this is really the one place where spending at least dimarzio or duncan money will make a night and day improvement to the actual sound (unlike upgrading any other part of the guitar).

    buying another cheap far-east pickup to replace the cheap far-east pickup you have is a total waste, i'd rather invest that money in beer and nachos.
     
  20. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    I love a good porter! Maybe Seth Lovers would be a better idea. I have to admit I had second thoughts of going through the hassle of replacing import pickups with import pickups.
     

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