What does the DC resistance of a pickup mean?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Brian N, Feb 23, 2016.

  1. Brian N

    Brian N Member

    Dec 13, 2015
    When looking at pickups, they always list the DC resistance. What does the DC resistance actually mean as far as the tone/sound is concerned?
  2. Structo

    Structo Member

    Apr 10, 2007
    The DC resistance of a pickup is kind of a lay term, because a pickup which is an induction device will vary in impedance along with the frequencies.

    DC resistance is simply the resistance you would read with a Ohm meter.

    The more wire wrapped around the core, the higher the DC resistance.

    So you can kind of use it as a guide since over wound pickups tend to be hotter sounding.
  3. bob-i

    bob-i Member

    Oct 16, 2005
    Central NJ
    On tone and power? Nothing.
  4. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

    Dec 14, 2010
    This seems to be one of those subjects shrouded in mystery, rife with misinformation, and prone to eternal internet debate :)
  5. Nimbley

    Nimbley Member

    Oct 7, 2015
    A pickup is simply an induction device. The more wraps of wire around the coil will have more resistance (higher ohms). The more wraps of wire you have around the magnet, the higher the voltage created when the string moves in and out of the flux lines generated from the coil. Meaning, higher resistance of the pickup will equal more output. Not really a mystery, just the known properties of electricity.
  6. Zexcoil

    Zexcoil Vendor

    Sep 24, 2005
    DC resistance represents a measure of the difficulty of passing current, in this case through a coil of wire.

    As such, it will depend on a number of factors. The overall length of wire in the coil (more wire = higher resistance), the gauge of the wire (smaller wire - higher gauge - has more resistance per unit length), temperature (higher temperature = higher resistance).

    As stated above, guitar pickups are inductive devices. The most important thing about the coil is the number of turns it contains. So, you could envision two coils with the same number of turns made out of different gauge wire would be very similar inductively, but very different resistively.

    So, what does the DCR of a pickup mean? It depends. If your pickup's from the same "family", for instance, single coil Strat style pickups using the same form factor, 42 gauge wire and AlNiCo 5 magnets of similar composition, then DCR can tell you quite a bit. And that's not trivial, since that family of pickups encompasses quite a bit.

    It also tells you something about how that pickup is going to interact with the controls. In general if you have higher DCR pickups, you'll want to use higher value pots to maintain your high end. 250 k for relatively low DCR singles and 500 for relatively high DCR HBs, for instance.

    If you're comparing different types of pickups, the number gets less meaningful.
    VaughnC and Brian N like this.

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