Pickup output

bluesoul

Member
Messages
4,646
For years I have had a rule of thumb that has worked pretty well...DC resistance of 5.9-6.2 for Strat pickups. I have always felt lower wound PU's sound thin.
Boy was I slapped in the face today!
While I have read before not to judge a pickups strictly based on DC reading...it seemed to be the rule for me because it worked.....for 30 plus years!
Today I decided to take a reading on my Rocketfire total 60's. Spec on Nicks website show appr...neck and middle 5.6-5.7 ohms range with bridge 6.1-6.3...something like that as I recall.
And that was about what my set read. (which I almost refused to believe!)
Another guitar loaded with SD SSL-1 (California set)....spec about 6.5 ohms. I have always thought that set has a great vintage strat sound even though the wind would be considered a little hot.
Both sets IMO sound very correct for an early 60's strat PU....and the output is just right.
Interesting thing is that the Rockfire set has a little more punch and output(or perceived output)...compared to the Duncan set. Very strong full sounding neck and middle...but read lower than I would normally expect!
Neither set sounds overwound...neither underwound....big difference in DC readings.
Nothing like real experience to teach an old dog new tricks!
 

bluesoul

Member
Messages
4,646
Well as I said...I have read that before! Just never found it useful....or found that anything reading low sounded anything but thin. However, I now see evidence. I still use the Bill Lawrence nickle method for string ht BTW!
 

Rotten

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,754
So, for those of us shopping for pickups, what is useful information?
 

Ron Kirn

Vendor
Messages
8,682
Direct Current Resistance, or DCR is only a cursory measurement relative to a pickup's performance. it refers to the wire's reluctance to permit an electrical voltage to pass straight through from one end, to the other, The voltage, a constant "push" is Direct current.. like what you get from a battery that is illuminating a flashlight bulb.

Problem... there is NEVER any Direct Current present in our electric guitars (unless it has an active system, requiring a battery, that is a completely different discussion) Note that word NEVER . . DCR in a guitar is kinda like measuring how wide a road is to tell how fast your car can go...

However the DCR (direct current resistance), even though misapplied to the electric guitar's components, can SUGGEST potential performance.... however, some of the "hottest" pickups available have the lowest DCR readings found. Kinda like asking how big the pot is to tell how many people you can feed.. problem that doesn't tell ya how much food is IN the pot, or what the food is....

So... what is useful information? Stop trying to pre quantify sonic metrics of a guitar's components. Possibly the ONLY reliable source is to call the pickup manufacturer and talk to them. The guitar is a tool with which the artist plies his trade.. you should dictate to the tool what sound it will make, you should not allow the guitar to determine how your art sounds.

"We", at least those of us that are "honest" enough to tell ya, cannot predict what your "guitar experience" will be... "You" hear differently from me, I hear differently from everyone else, everyone else hears differently from everyone else... so... how can any one of "us" tell "you" what you will hear?

Any of the more notable guitars have a past track record relative to it's signature voice... A Strat's gonna sound like a Strat, a Les Paul, a Tele, a Telecaster, etc., Dano, Ricky etc., etc., etc., the changes in that baseline "voice" made by a set of pickups is relatively subtle... and those subtitles can only be intelligently discussed by those that designed those subtitles into the pickup.

Those that labor under the notion that simply changing the pickups will make you sound like your "Guitar God" of preference, or make a huge difference in your sound.. ya may as well move on, there's nothing anyone here is gonna be able to say that helps ya except...master the guitar.. and all these other distractions fall into a manageable, and correct relevance.


Every guitar is different... every one... it is currently impossible to manufacture two guitars that sound exactly alike... that's empirical, it can be repeatably proven in even modestly outfitted sonic labs... . . the next thing to consider... there exists such a broad, deep reservoir of components from which to make any one of the many designs... that alone also "muddies" the "water"... how can a specific Tele sound like another, if the two have different bridges? That difference might be subtle, but to some of ya, those subtitles apparently are as subtle as a heart attack.. so it has to be considered..

it has always fascinated me, the breadth of ignorance a question like, say, what does Lollar Special T's, or Fralin P.A.F. infers, simply because the question is always posed without listing what kinda wood the body is made of, and how much does it weigh? At what frequency does it ring when rapped with the trusty definitive determinative of resonating possibilities, the knuckle... and what type of paint, and how thick the paint is, is the neck a set neck, neck through or bolt on, if bolt on, are the screws Steel, Stainless Steel, Cryogenically treated?? are inserts used, what gauge bolts, what thread?? What cap value, is it PIO, how old is it, how old is the oil? What pots, is it modern PVC coated wiring or Cotton covered Vintage wire, are the pickups mounted directly to the body, or suspended from the pickguard? is the fingerboard Rosewood, Maple, Ebony, Pau? is it a one piece neck, a two piece, and is the truss rod a traditional or bi directional? what kinda nut and keys... are the frets Stainless? or Nickel silver, and what size?? is the whole darn thing over 50 years old??

Once ya gets past those few variables... what amp? is it solid state, or tube, OEM or Boutique? what speaker and what size? How many are there? Then let's move onto the room? is is acoustically engineered, or just some garage that has been paneled with the cheapest thing ya could find at Home Depot?

So.. what was the question.. "what is useful information?" Oh yeah, sorry, more specifics required...

But... if ya wanna know how a pickup sounds, call the pickup manufacturer... those of whom you have heard have a reputation and will not BS ya... all any of us can offer is anecdotal experience, and typically the experience is completely undisciplined.

But... Merry Christmas all, I'm waiting for Santa to get done... :p

Ron Kirn
 

Rick51

Member
Messages
3,835
...

Any of the more notable guitars have a past track record relative to it's signature voice... A Strat's gonna sound like a Strat, a Les Paul, a Tele, a Telecaster, etc., Dano, Ricky etc., etc., etc., the changes in that baseline "voice" made by a set of pickups is relatively subtle... and those subtitles can only be intelligently discussed by those that designed those subtitles into the pickup.

Those that labor under the notion that simply changing the pickups will make you sound like your "Guitar God" of preference, or make a huge difference in your sound.. ya may as well move on, there's nothing anyone here is gonna be able to say that helps ya except...master the guitar.. and all these other distractions fall into a manageable, and correct relevance.

...

Ron Kirn

I have to respectfully take exception to this,I think. Not quibbling, but I changed pickups in a Squier Standard Tele about ten years ago. The OEM pickups were touted as overwound and were very muddy through my 5E3. I replaced them with a set of Fender OV's, and the difference was like night and day. A perfect result for me.

Ron, I've got to tell you: Those OV's and the 5E3 really did make me sound like Steve Cropper :) , the earlier recordings when he used a Fender Harvard and the white guard Tele. This sound:

 

fitz

Member
Messages
2,993
While I have read before not to judge a pickups strictly based on DC reading...it seemed to be the rule for me because it worked.....for 30 plus years!
Same here. I always used DC resistance readings as the output indicator of pickups. I found out as I recently delved into it that although it is a good indicator of output of the same pickups, it doesn't necessarily hold true in comparing different pickups together as there are many other factors that play in to this. Types of wire, gauge of wire, magnets, guitar circuitry all play into output. Cases in point:

1) I have a 57 AVRI Strat with 57/62's (5.6K) and a G&L Legacy with the SSL-1's (6.5K) in them. The 57/62's in my Strat are much louder than my Legacy no matter how high I raise the pickups on the Legacy. I would say the Legacy is only 75-80% as loud as the AVRI, but the SSL-1's are a tad fatter than the 57/62's despite the lower output. I suspect the PTB circuitry in the Legacy may have something to do with that, but I can't say for sure.

2) My Guild Newark St. Starfire IV has two mini Anti-Hum LB-1 “Little Bucker”pickups. The neck pickup is 7.2K. The bridge pickup is 5.0K. This goes against everything I thought as I figured the bridge would be weaker than the neck pickup. People in the forums (probably non-owners) said this was a horrible mismatch and really questioned what Guild was doing. It turns out the bridge pickup uses thicker 41 gauge wire rather than the 42 gauge on the neck which increases output without increasing resistance. I'm not sure why the choice in different wire gauge, but I can tell you the output is similar and there is no mismatch. All in all, I find the whole pickup spec thing pretty interesting but I still realize I don't have a complete grasp on it.

Also, interesting read regarding the Guild pickups: http://guildguitars.com/a-deeper-look-at-the-starfire-pickup/
 
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ballhawk

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,176
But... Merry Christmas all, I'm waiting for Santa to get done.
Merry Christmas to you too and everyone here! And to those who celebrate something else... or nothing... goo goo g'joob;)
I knew someone would be able to explain the BL reference to shoe size more capably than I could; not surprised it wad RK. His respect and love for BL is evident on many forums.

Although not as familiar with BL him self on a personal basis as others, I fondly remember phone conversations with Becky and Bill when asking for advice.

And yes, I have had simple pickup replacements totally change a guitar for the better to my ears. But maybe it's because black shoes go better with the outfit than brown.
Of course you can never go wrong with blue suede shoes. Go with everything.
 

Ron Kirn

Vendor
Messages
8,682
not surprised it wad RK.

well I was gonna let it pass... What Bill said on many occasions always expressed the same sentiment.... He shared at one NAMM I was at that the DCR is as important to a pickups performance as the color socks the guitarist is playing...

While it can act as a cursory reference point... it can be quite misleading too.. it's just not a good way to tell anything even close to definitive regarding what a pickup is capable of, or designed to do.. rather like .. the gift's small size displayed openly the insincerity despite that it WAS 20 carats..

His point... the overall design has to be considered... for instance, on something like the ubiquitous alnico single coil.. say it's 6.4 K .. . not unlike a whole stack of others... but that says nothing of the type AlNiCo... or the strength (gauss), or the diameter of the individual magnets, or if the magnets are flat or beveled.. or the density of the windings... and this are just the "slap ya in the face" differences... there exists a litany of others ya just aren't aware of...

thus the DCR is only marginally more descriptive than stating the color of the bobbin... and, as I pointed out.. we all have differing preferences, and worse, different hearing... so any group of us will have different opinions of any one of the many excellent pickups available..

I tell guys that just don't know.. to take a leap.. it's like hearing ya have won a fine car, it'll be a Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche... etc.. ya don't know what it will be, but you're probably not gonna be too disappointed with whatever ya wind up with.

Ron
 
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bluesoul

Member
Messages
4,646
Direct Current Resistance, or DCR is only a cursory measurement relative to a pickup's performance. it refers to the wire's reluctance to permit an electrical voltage to pass straight through from one end, to the other, The voltage, a constant "push" is Direct current.. like what you get from a battery that is illuminating a flashlight bulb.

Problem... there is NEVER any Direct Current present in our electric guitars (unless it has an active system, requiring a battery, that is a completely different discussion) Note that word NEVER . . DCR in a guitar is kinda like measuring how wide a road is to tell how fast your car can go...

However the DCR (direct current resistance), even though misapplied to the electric guitar's components, can SUGGEST potential performance.... however, some of the "hottest" pickups available have the lowest DCR readings found. Kinda like asking how big the pot is to tell how many people you can feed.. problem that doesn't tell ya how much food is IN the pot, or what the food is....

So... what is useful information? Stop trying to pre quantify sonic metrics of a guitar's components. Possibly the ONLY reliable source is to call the pickup manufacturer and talk to them. The guitar is a tool with which the artist plies his trade.. you should dictate to the tool what sound it will make, you should not allow the guitar to determine how your art sounds.

"We", at least those of us that are "honest" enough to tell ya, cannot predict what your "guitar experience" will be... "You" hear differently from me, I hear differently from everyone else, everyone else hears differently from everyone else... so... how can any one of "us" tell "you" what you will hear?

Any of the more notable guitars have a past track record relative to it's signature voice... A Strat's gonna sound like a Strat, a Les Paul, a Tele, a Telecaster, etc., Dano, Ricky etc., etc., etc., the changes in that baseline "voice" made by a set of pickups is relatively subtle... and those subtitles can only be intelligently discussed by those that designed those subtitles into the pickup.

Those that labor under the notion that simply changing the pickups will make you sound like your "Guitar God" of preference, or make a huge difference in your sound.. ya may as well move on, there's nothing anyone here is gonna be able to say that helps ya except...master the guitar.. and all these other distractions fall into a manageable, and correct relevance.


Every guitar is different... every one... it is currently impossible to manufacture two guitars that sound exactly alike... that's empirical, it can be repeatably proven in even modestly outfitted sonic labs... . . the next thing to consider... there exists such a broad, deep reservoir of components from which to make any one of the many designs... that alone also "muddies" the "water"... how can a specific Tele sound like another, if the two have different bridges? That difference might be subtle, but to some of ya, those subtitles apparently are as subtle as a heart attack.. so it has to be considered..

it has always fascinated me, the breadth of ignorance a question like, say, what does Lollar Special T's, or Fralin P.A.F. infers, simply because the question is always posed without listing what kinda wood the body is made of, and how much does it weigh? At what frequency does it ring when rapped with the trusty definitive determinative of resonating possibilities, the knuckle... and what type of paint, and how thick the paint is, is the neck a set neck, neck through or bolt on, if bolt on, are the screws Steel, Stainless Steel, Cryogenically treated?? are inserts used, what gauge bolts, what thread?? What cap value, is it PIO, how old is it, how old is the oil? What pots, is it modern PVC coated wiring or Cotton covered Vintage wire, are the pickups mounted directly to the body, or suspended from the pickguard? is the fingerboard Rosewood, Maple, Ebony, Pau? is it a one piece neck, a two piece, and is the truss rod a traditional or bi directional? what kinda nut and keys... are the frets Stainless? or Nickel silver, and what size?? is the whole darn thing over 50 years old??

Once ya gets past those few variables... what amp? is it solid state, or tube, OEM or Boutique? what speaker and what size? How many are there? Then let's move onto the room? is is acoustically engineered, or just some garage that has been paneled with the cheapest thing ya could find at Home Depot?

So.. what was the question.. "what is useful information?" Oh yeah, sorry, more specifics required...

But... if ya wanna know how a pickup sounds, call the pickup manufacturer... those of whom you have heard have a reputation and will not BS ya... all any of us can offer is anecdotal experience, and typically the experience is completely undisciplined.

But... Merry Christmas all, I'm waiting for Santa to get done... :p

Ron Kirn

Merry Christmas back to ya Ron!
Question: Maybe you have addressed this before, but what are your thoughts on body/neck combinations?
For me, it just does not work unless that part is there.....and sure, I know there are many other factors. Years and years of playing around with this stuff...swapping things around changes things. A neck I can't find a home for and deem it to be a dud...finally finds a body and it works! Pickup sets that kill it in one set up sound thin and weak in another....swap them to another body or change necks...and bam they come alive!
All most always....(as in most of the time) the neck/body combination sounds right before I ever plug it in and hear it in it's amplified state. It sounds the way I expected it would sound. When it sounds lifeless before amplification...well that is normally how in comes out once it is plugged in and electrified.
What is the good (or bad) word on this?
 

shane8

Member
Messages
33,250
Bill Lawrence said, "DC resistance (Rdc) tells you as much about a pickup's tone and output as the shoe size tells you about a person's intelligence!"
this should be a sticky :aok

why do winders even quote dc resistance?
 

songtalk

Member
Messages
3,545
Inductance + turncount + DCR + alnico type + magnet diameter + gauss + wire thickness = now you have their recipe and can make them yourselves! :confused:

But yeah, DCR is weak (pun intended).

That being said, we've "had" the formulas for building our own nice guitars for years now, and people still buy em.....so, maybe that's an argument for transparency among winders. How many people would really clone your wind? Probably not a lot.
 

Ron Kirn

Vendor
Messages
8,682
why do winders even quote dc resistance?

many aren't even aware that DCR has no real application as far as pickup metrics go... the reason it's mentioned at all is because the "market" expects it.. that's it... and it's just less of a hassle to list it so those that labor under the assumption that it means something useful will have it at their disposal..

When a pup maker lists the DCR, with no real valid explanation, that's the worst kinda of condescending crap.. Kinda like a car manufacturer listing the Cubic feet of passenger space as it relates to the performance of the car. It's rather like they think "you're" all a bunch if starry eyed minions that will "bite" on every tidbit of information they brush off the table for your consumption..

Here's a very basic example of why the DCR tells ya nothing...

When winding the pup... there has to be some resistance on the wire as it's being spun onto the bobbin... there are many ways to do it... but DON'T do it and the wire looks like a backlash on a fishing real.. the tension, or resistance is what keeps the wire "orderly"... well that tension is what determines the density, or number of strands of wire per square millimeter. Meaning if you cut the pup in half and looked the wire ends.. and measured a square millimeter, and counted how many wires were "packed" into that area.. it would tell you the density of the winding. A metric Bill Lawrence engineered his winders to regulate with precision.. it IS an important factor if you want one batch of a specific pickup to sound like the next.

When was the last time ya saw a pup maker even mention it... well you're not... it's kinda like Hans Bethe 'splaining the calculus necessary in creating the explosive "lens" required to precisely compress the core to initiate the nuclear reaction in "Fat Man" . . . for you 'n me, it's a complete waste of time... I'm with you on this one, gimme a beer, 'n bring on the dancin' gurls.... lets get to what IS important :cool:

The more tension, the more wires get packed into the small area, the more wires, the hotter the pup (unless other "things" have been taken into consideration).. but... BUT!! the DCR could still read exactly the same for one wound at high tension, and one wound at low tension... but they sound so different, and with different relative outputs that you're standing there checking the battery in your VOM, scratching your head.. wondering WTF?? the DCR's the same....

Also the more tension the more the wire is stretched as it spun.. the more it's stretched, the smaller it's diameter, or gauge becomes... how do ya factor that?? or do ya just look at the DCR and think, "Same, same.. cool, they're the same... let's rock" .... with "lets rock" being the only thing that's relative"..

also.. potting.. didja know that the insulating coating on the wire is often designed to react in a specific manner with the time of exposure and temperature of the potting solution...so Formvar isn't necessarily Formvar.. it's like seeing a fast red car, thinking my car is red, so mine is fast too...

The correct heat applied for a specific time alters the metrics of the winding.. because the insulating coating changes properties as it is heated... so if ya just dunk it into melted wax, with little regard for the specific temperature of that wax, and the length of time it is exposed, (this also requires knowing the temperature of the assembly prior to dunking)... each batch of pickups come out with completely different metrics.... so again, two pups of exactly the same DCR can actually be two completely different sounding pickups..

It also mean you can take two wound pickups, with exactly the same everything,, then pot 'em at different times and temperatures and make two completely different pickups... no difference except the potting process...

So the DCR info is kinda like a "kid" explaining the "physics" of a rocket motor, saying, "Ya squirt Rocket fuel into the motor, 'n light it on fire and it burns fast, and goes out the end and makes the rocket go real fast.. Oh, and it's loud too." Is that correct, yeah, it is, but as useful information, umm ... ya may just need just a little more.

here's another little curiosity... didja know that if you measure DCR, the core temperature of the pickup impacts the reading... so, if you favorite guitar gawd's pup was, say, 6.2K, and you are convinced that you gotta have a 6.2 k pup to sound like him, you gotta know at what temperature his pickup was read... and measure your's at the same temperature...

This is why you may be playing outside on a warm Summer day, thinking "God, my guitar sounds awful.. dammit..." then the next night be playing a Wedding Reception in a Cold Air-conditioned room, thinking "What in heck.. is this the same beast I was playing yesterday, thing sounds amazing..." the temperature changed... that's it...

So now all you DCR guys have to convince the pup makers to list the exact temperature the pickup was read at too... life is so complicated where ya complicate it... :p

Ron Kirn
 
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Mpcoluv

Member
Messages
4,434
To sort of paraphrase RON, the DC resistance is just a byproduct of how a pickup is constructed. It's only useful as a comparison for pickups that are identical except for turn counts. People tout it all the time (sometimes usefully) on pickups that are constructed similarly. It never applies when you are comparing very different recipes - like filtertrons to DiMarzios, or traditional Strat pups to Joe Bardens.
BTW - Wood matters (except when it doesn't)
 

Mincer

Senior Member
Messages
4,596
So, for those of us shopping for pickups, what is useful information?

The resonant peak, but that just tells you about where the output is centered. The best, useful info is personal experience or good friends with personal experience. We are all shooting in the dark and hoping for the best when blindly buying new pickups.
 

Ron Kirn

Vendor
Messages
8,682
it would be helpful if Seymour and other well established makers.. would publish for wide distribution, a very elementary synopsis on how use the metrics that should be supplied... and encourage the pickup making industry to establish a standard for those metrics..

Kinda like in the early 70's the HI -FI industry, at least the better manufacturers quit inflating amp output power and went with RMS ,,, where a 60 watt amp was 60 watts under load, as compared to the low lifes that would quote IPP (Instant Peak Power) where it could, momentarily, deliver a few thousand watts during a transient, but the RMS wattage was say only 5 watts... Big woop...

I would talk with Bill about this back before he past... but ya know Bill.. a simple synopsis would be limited to about 450 pages....

and tell Seymour I sed howdy I haven't seen him since that Nashville NAMM where he put on the party.... kinda miss that life...:cool:

rk
 

Zexcoil

Vendor
Messages
6,104
The important parameters that define the output and character of a pickup are:

Q
Resonant frequency
Inductance
Magnetic strength
Resistance

Q is the "quality factor". Quality factor is a measure of the efficiency of the pickup as a filter. Basically it's the width of the resonant peak. A high Q is represented by a sharp, tall resonant peak (like an AlNiCo5 Strat pickup). A low Q is represented by a shorter, fatter resonant peak (like a humbucker using steel poles).

Resonant frequency is the peak frequency in the impedence or gain versus frequency curve. It comes about because the pickup is an RLC circuit.

This figure shows both Q and resonance of an RLC circuit (guitar pickup impedance plots look like this):
22050.png

from http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/tex...rent/chpt-6/q-and-bandwidth-resonant-circuit/

Inductance (L) is a measure of the pickup's ability to induce an electrical signal in the presence of a magnetic field (or vice versa). This is the single most important parameter regarding output. Inductance is a function of the number of turns on the coil (L is proportional to turns on the coil squared) as well as the permeability of the pole piece and (to a lesser extent) other metal parts of the pickup. Permeability is a measure of the tendency of a material to concentrate a magnetic field. At a relative permeability of 1, the magnetic field is totally unaffected (air has a permeability of 1). At high permeability, a magnetic filed will be sucked into the material. Exactly because it concentrates the magnetic field, permeability (especially in the core of the coil) acts like a multiplier of output. In an ideal closed magnetic circuit, inductance is linearly proportional to relative permeability, but in an open magnetic circuit (like a pickup) it is much less than linearly proportional.

The important part of magnetic strength is how the string gets magnetized. In fact the only important function of the magnet in a pickup is to magnetize the string.

Resistance (R) is a function of the type and size of wire used in the pickup. Resistance is not a great descriptive measure of pickup performance, but it’s not unimportant either. For instance, the relative resistance of the pickup compared to the controls is very important in determining the high end that is retained. A lower resistance pickup, all other things being equal is more efficient than a higher resistance pickup.

The measured value of Q and resonant frequency are dependent on the way the measurement is taken, specifically the resistive and capacitive loads applied to the system. Measured values of Q and ƒr will be different with 250 k controls and a 15 foot cable than with 500 k controls and a 10 foot cable, for instance.

I think the single most important parameter is Q. Q defines the basic “voice” of the pickup. In a gross oversimplification, high Q is “stratty” and low Q is like a humbucker. Absolute value of the resonant peak can play into this of course, and especially as the resonance gets driven down into the audio range it starts to have a more dramatic effect on the tone we perceive.

In general though, on the opposite ends of the spectrum we have:

Strat pickups: relatively high Q, relative low L, relatively high ƒr
Humbuckers: relatively low Q, relative high L, relatively low ƒr
 
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