Jun 29, 2016

Guitar Pickup DC Resistance Measurements

          While only one factor among many, the DC resistance of a guitar pickup is a very useful metric that can tell, roughly, how many winds a pickup has on it and how "hot" it will sound, or how much voltage it will put out to drive your amp.

          A pickup with a low DC resistance will generally sound thinner and twangier, with more pronounced attack and clearer treble.  A hotter wound pickup will sound warmer with more pronounced mids, dampened treble, and drive the amp a little harder as well.  Other factors such as magnet strength and pole piece distance each play their own part, but the resistance, or at least the number of winds, plays one of the largest roles in the overall shape of the sound.  That in mind, I decided to measure a few of my own guitars and share the results for the science-y aspect of it and hope that you find it interesting, if not necessarily extremely useful.

          The "standard" by which many other pickups can be measured is the original Gibson PAF humbucker.  Famous on all the classic, terribly overrated original Les Pauls of the 50's and 60's, the PAF was handwound without a whole lot of rigid measurement in place, but generally ranged around 7-9 K ohms.  Most modern humbuckers are a bit hotter, but single coils are still generally more lightweight, around 5-7 for most Strat pickups.

          I started with my SX Callisto Custom, the closest I have to a Les Paul.  The bridge pickup clocked in at about 12.5 K ohms, which is hotter than vintage but right in the sweet spot of most more modern pickups.  The neck checked out at the cooler vintage 8.5 K.  So far, so traditional!

          The old standard Stripes the partscaster has very standard 5.5K readings in the neck and mid pickups from a cheap Chinese set, while the custom "Reel Character" pickup that I just built and installed runs at a chill  4.5K coil tapped and a warm 6.5K with the overwinding.

          My Schecter Omen was predictably hotter, as a guitar geared towards metal, with the bridge pickup at a smoking 14.8K ohms.  The neck surprisingly was little different, still powering at 14.2K ohms, close enough that it's possible they use the same pickups for the bridge and neck position on the lower end Schecters.

          Finally I checked the resistance of the Ibanez RG8 eight string.  The neck pickup was a fairly hot 12K ohms but the bridge was an astounding 25K ohms.  On a six string, this would be a blasting-ly compressed and hot pickup, but spread out on the 8 string scale it manages to be rather weak and thin sounding, quite surprisingly.  Perhaps in this case the magnets have something to do with the output as well, because even adding another two strings, 25K ohms should be enough to put out a meatier tone, but I suppose there's a lot more to it than general intuition.

In the meantime, I've been scouring the internet for other pickup specs and I have an Excel spreadsheet in the works to get together a reasonably comprehensive and unified resource for any other curious pickup dabblers, let me know if you'd be interested in helping find some of the specs for that project :)

No comments :

Post a Comment

Questions, comments, concerns, complaints? Leave your thoughts below!