Pickups bolted to body... discuss? Maybe?


I'm contemplating modifying an Esquire by bolting the pickup to the body. Still, I've realized that despite all the great adjectives I hear attached to how pups bolted into guitars are supposed to sound, I still don't think I have enough information to reach a worthwhile conclusion. For instance, I've heard it sounds thicker. Does that mean I should expect high and low-end roll-off? Or will the micro-phonic components of the pups just be stimulated by the resonance of the wood resulting in a harmonically-busier sounding signal? Conversely, that resonance could be canceling some frequencies and creating peaks in others that could be attributed to a thicker, but less complex, sound. If anyone has tried this, I would love to hear your experiences.

p.s. I am Ron Burgandy?
You mean like this?


I ain't happy with mine, yet.

Everything else I stick together starts well or gets well. I'm not satisfied with this yet at all. RF noise is really intense. I had squeal with the Keystone in the above picture.


Boris... that is a SWEET ASS piece of wood though.

Let me know if you ever want to replace that body with one that doesn't have all those crappy knots and bug holes in it. ;)


Silver Supporting Member
Well, you know in theory a magnetic pickup produces sound by the vibration of the steel strings interrupting the magnetic fields and producing a signal. It doesn't "hear" what we hear like a microphone does. It doesn't pick up vibrations like a peizo pickup does, etc. So, it that all is true it wouldn't matter one little bit how you attach them. You could have them hover above the strings and they would sound the same.

Of course in reality, magnetic pickups are somewhat microphonic and they do pick up some of the vibrations off the body. Some more than others, and in my experience tele pickups tend to be more microphonic than most, which means that how you attach them will probably yeild a noticable differance. I tend to believe that part of the "tele sound" comes from the bridge pickup being attached to the metal plate. Don't know what it will sound like bolted directly to the body. Please let us know when you've tried it.


Silver Supporting Member
I have had four MusicMan Axis guitars with direct-mounted pickups. I sold both of the HB models - I didn't really like their tone. But obviously, lots of folks do.

I still have the two MM-90 models, which also have direct-mounted pickups. I wanted to get the height of the pickups on one higher so I installed springs - So those are no longer direct-mounted. They sound a lot better now that the height is more appropriate.

Bottom line is that I don't really think it makes a positive difference.


consider the les paul (standard) > big heavy pickups held by 2 long screws into a plastic mount............

anyhoo i have a wolfgang with the PUs screwed dir to the wood and while it looks cool i'd be surprised (unless ur a bat) that u could tell the diff if it was config like a LP

so in conclusion 3 short screws securing a smaller pu to a metal mount should be ok ;)


It doesn't matter if the string or the pickup move that motion will produce a signal in the pickup. It is the motion of the string in the electromagnetic field that produces the current which is then heard as a musical signal. If the string vibrates it produces a signal. If the pickup vibrates it produces a signal.

So we know that how the pickup is mounted will make a differnece the question is can you hear it? And just how ridged should the mount be? Is a spring on a plastic pickup ring enough? Are surgical rubber hose better? Is mounting to the body on foam or solid to shims better? Maybe I like that sound of the pickup moving? ETC.


Senior Member
If the pickup is mounted to the body, it should vibrate in unison with the string to a certain degree, therefore reducing the effectiveness of the pick up no?

The pickup is isolated via ring arrangement, the full motion of the string should be realized.

If the pick up receives some of the vibration, it too is moving so the overall affect would be less signal right?


Clouds yell at me
Gold Supporting Member
Ummm, aren't they all? (soap-bars in a solid body, that is)

Coincidently, I just posted this in the batwing SG thread--

The larger pickguard allows soapbar P90's to be mounted to the guard itself, as opposed to screwed into the wood, with a bracket underneath. Note the screws on either side of the pickups in the top pic on this page. http://www.thewho.org/sg.htm

I don't know that there is any great advantage to this, but that's how they are.


I have an ASAT semihollow with the big MFD pickups mounted directly to the body. Everything works together great in that guitar, I wouldn't change a thing. I really don't know how to qualify the effect of that single variable on the overall tone though.

Cpt. Picard

I think you should try it, IMHO it can be hit or miss.

It seems Humbuckers have less tendency to "squeal" than single coil (especially high output singles), but thaqt could just be variations in wood density, string tension, etc.

I prefer the sound, at high gains it can give an interesting feedback breakup into higher order harmonics. Neat trick, YMMV.

For some reason, it seems to make pinch-harmonics easier, too...
or maybe just easier to hear...


I actually had a bit of a difference mounting direct to body, but I used brass sheet as the spacer, so no springs/foam under the pickup. Sounded rather meaty (alder body telecaster)

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