Would a neck pickup work in a bridge?


It will work and sound just fine on it's own. 6.4k is somwhere in the ballpark of 8500 turns, and with Alnico 5 magnets, it won't be too bright for the bridge. As long as neck and middle aren't too far from that pickup height should be able to compensate for any differences in volume. The other reason bridge pickups are wound hot is that it makes the pickup less trebly. The higher harmonics sensed by the pickup are relatively closer in amplitude to the base tone near the bridge than farther up the strings.

If this is going in a MIM strat with ceramic magnet pickups, it's probably a great fit for the bridge.


Original PAF pickups didn't have a neck or bridge spec. However, in today's standards, necks are generally lower wind than the bridge to give it more clarity and bridge hotter to give it more warmth (mids)


My Les Paul came with a 490r humbucker in the neck which was too dark and muddy for my taste. After replacing it with a Duncan Seth Lover, as an experiment I tried the 490r in the bridge to see if being in that position would bring out the highs and mids more. To my surprise it sounded great in the bridge and balanced well with the low output Seth Lover in the neck.

On my Strat with Lace Sensors, I didn't like the high output Red in the bridge so I tried a Blue in there which is generally used in the neck and was very pleased with the sound. Much warmer and smoother.


Funny you mention this. I recently put a set of Tex Mex pickups in my CV 60's strat and just the other day replaced the 7.4k bridge pickup with a Tex Mex neck pickup (6.4k) that I bought on eBay. To me the guitar just didn't sound like a proper strat with the hotter bridge pickup. Now it sounds like it should. Back in the day strats had three of the same pickup. There was no such thing as a calibrated set. I just adjusted the pickup heights to compensate for the different output levels. No problem at all. That said, it is a thinner sound at the bridge. But it's a good sound.
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Platinum Supporting Member
There's actually a fairly sizable camp of people who use the EMG 85 in the bridges of their guitars. I have mine in the bridge of an Ibanez RG550; sounds great. Biggest proponent of this is Kurt Ballou from Converge, who has installed 85s in basically every guitar he plays.
thing is, the 85 is actually a louder and bassier pickup than the 81 it's usually paired with! it's even physically bigger inside the epoxy shell. the 81-br/85-n pairing makes no sense, and is very unbalanced. you don't notice with typical metal gain levels, but the 85 in the neck is way louder than the 81 in the bridge.

swapping them makes for a much better balance, with the deep, loud 85 in the bridge and the bright, cutting 81 in the neck.

(in fact the 85 can be too powerful, becoming rumbly with low metal tunings; it's why the sharp, tight 81 is still the industry standard for that kind of music. i've noticed that in recent years EMG players are starting to get hip to the idea of pairing their bridge 81s with something that actually balances, like the 60 or even another 81.)


I would certainly try it! I've had some great discoveries when it comes to pup swapping. Sounds to me like the whole neck/bridge differentiation is all marketing...

I agree wholeheartedly - experiment! What's the worst that could happen? You take it out.The best? You get your own sound! Go for it!

Funny how so many truly creative Pros strive for their own sound, and so many of us hacks devote the majority of our time trying to cop others! :idea


Dinosaur Sr.

If it's a tex mex, the neck pickup has 6.4k resistance. The tex mex set comes with an even hotter bridge (7.4k), so the 6.4k tex mex neck i would say is somewhat hotter than a standard vintage strat, but not a lot hotter. For example, the fender custom shop 69s have 3 identically powered 5.8k pickups, the fat 50s come with a 6.2k neck (and slightly lower neck & middle). So if you want a hot pickup, the tex mex neck is more like a medium or slightly hot one (vs a vintage wound one at least), and depending on the guitar you're putting it in may not be much hotter than what you have in there. If it's a mexican std strat for instance, I'm guessing the pickups in there might even be hotter possibly. Hope that helps.


Silver Supporting Member
I use a middle single coil on the bridge of my SSS strat and it sounds pretty sweet


Didn’t EVH put a 335 NECK HB in his Strat? I have a SD ‘59 neck pup I’ve used in the neck AND bridge of various guitars it’s always worked. High output for some situations, comparatively low for others.

It’s relative to the other pickup’s outputs. These days we're used to the bridge being hotter than neck.

No rules. Let no one tell you different.

Capstan Philips

Silver Supporting Member
IMO most modern strats would probably sound better with a nack pickup in the bridge than an overwound bridge pickup, i.e. effectively just like the classic Strats from the golden era,


I always wondered this. Say you buy a set of strat pickups and their all the same output. Is the bridge “wound differently” or is the only differed the amount of winds?


I’ve been mixing pickups for years.

The only rule I have is to match the pair/trio of single coils North/South/North (or South/North/South) so I get hum cancellation when both are on.

Duncan and Fender wind/polarize opposite directions for their individual positions so if you mix one of each you can have two bridge or two neck pickups and the middle switch position will still be hum canceling.

You can’t have a Duncan neck and Fender bridge (or the opposite) and have it hum cancel in the middle position as both pickups are South polarity.

Single coil strat pickups in my Mustang bridge position are upside down (semi-Hendrix upside down as in Bass strings on treble poles, not slanted backwards) as the routing won’t allow it to be in the strat position….makes no difference to me.

I do it my way. :D

EDIT: if you want to know if a pickup is North or South put a compass to the top of the poles and you will see it immediately. I have a very small cheap one for this purpose.
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I always wondered this. Say you buy a set of strat pickups and their all the same output. Is the bridge “wound differently” or is the only differed the amount of winds?

My Un-expert understanding is the main difference between pickup tone on a guitar comes from its location. Closer to bridge higher frequencies resonate more…. Kinda makes sense that there will be more vibration from body of guitar at the center then towards the edge and high frequencies are the ones get lost quickest most easily .. like when go into another room and just hear the low coming through.

And you can tell that’s the case because same pickup will often be used for both and difference is entirely placement … sometimes they’re different but I think that’s more to accommodate different frequencies at different locations rather than create it.

Of course they’ll be a difference from pickup if they’re completely different pickups like hum vs single but it’s not like any pickup needs to be neck or bridge and same pickup will sound different in different spot on same guitar.


Gold Supporting Member

On most my two pickup guitars the neck ALWAYS sounds fuller and hotter than the bridge, no matter how hot the bridge is. It's called "string vibration". Soooooo, if you put the neck pickup in the bridge position, you are going to get an even weaker sound.
Some people prefer that though, I personally will always take a fairly closely matched set over something with a hot bridge pickup.

That's a big part of Gibson's Custombuckers and a lot of the boutique stuff too. There's just lots of variables, like I've never encountered any P90 guitar that didn't have a massive volume boost in the neck due to so much bass.
There's absolutely no reason at all why it wouldn't work. At the end of the day, it's just another pickup. Bridge pickups are usually wound hotter to compensate for the fact that the strings vibrate less and this is why a neck version in a set is always a lower output, so that they balance. Moving a neck pickup into the bridge position just means that you get a lower output bridge pickup but that may not be a problem if it's quite hot for a neck pickup anyway. One thing to remember is that DC Resistance is not always a massively accurate indicator of how hot a pickup is as the gauge of wire will affect the resistance. 13DC resistance with 43AWG wire will be a hotter pickup than the same DC resistance using 44 or 45AWG wire. The bigger the number, the thinner the wire and therefore, the greater the resistance, so you don't need as many winds of wire to get the same resistance. A lot of this is down to preference. I prefer bridge pickups that use 43AWG wire because they tend to have the slightly hairy tone I like in that position. I prefer 42AWG wire in the neck position because it tends to give a rounder tone.

You will also often find that neck pickups tend to use softer magnets than bridge pickups. The hotter the pickup, the more you will tend to get a muddy tone so more powerful pickups tend to use ceramic or alnico 5 magnets to keep things tight. This is why PAF pickups are often made with softer magnets like alnico 2 or 4. They're nothing like as hot, so you can get away with a softer magnet. My usual preference is alnico 2 with 42AWG wire for the neck position but as I use a DiMarzio Super Distortion in the bridge of my main guitar (ceramic and 43AWG) I decided I needed something hotter in the neck so I didn't get a volume drop, but I also didn't want something as modern sounding as alnico 5. As a result, I opted for alnico 4 but used 43AWG wire to keep things a bit more articulate. If the neck pickup you're referring to is a genuinely hot pickup, it may well be alnico 5.

To a degree it's all about experimentation. A DiMarzio PAF Pro is often used as a neck pickup, but I've used it in the bridge position of an HSS Strat and it was superb. There's no harm in giving it a try and if nothing else, you will learn something about your preferences.

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