Pickups for electric guitars, also known as pickups, They are a fundamental element in our beloved string instruments.
We can divide these into three large groups: Single Coil, Humbucker and P90. But, which one is best for us?
Stay and we will solve this and other doubts about them.
What are electric guitar pickups?
At a technical level, a electric guitar pickup is a transducer designed to capture vibrations and convert them into electrical currents. Its composition is almost entirely of coils of copper wire that embrace small metal cylinders, called magnetic poles.
Its main task is to record the sound emitted by the strings to redirect it towards the amplifierwhich makes them essential for the sound to reach it well.
Single Coil Pickups
The Single Coil pickups are characterized because it is a single coil of “U”-shaped wire. They are frequently used on guitars Fender Stratocaster and Telecasteralthough we also find them in other manufacturers.
These pickups have a bright and crisp sound, with great dynamic response and good clarity in the treble tones. On the other hand, they can also be prone to picking up background noise, such as hum and electromagnetic interference, especially in environments with a lot of static electricity.
Although single coil pickups are widely known for their use in electric guitars, they are also used in acoustic guitars and electric basses.
The Humbucker pickupsvery popular since 50suse two wire coils instead of just one, as is the case with single coil pickups.
They are characterized by having a thicker and warmer sound than the previous ones and by having less background noise and a greater signal output. This is because the two coils of wire in the pickup are wound in opposite directions and connected in series, which cancels out electromagnetic interference and produces a cleaner, louder sound.
We can find them on style electric guitars. Gibson, like the Les Paul and the SG and in many more brands. They are also used in guitars jazz and blueswhere a softer and warmer sound is sought.
Their sound is uniform across the entire frequency spectrum, making them ideal for heavier, more distorted styles of music, such as rock and heavy metal.
The P90 pills They are, so to speak, in the middle of the previous two.
It is an electric guitar pickup that is characterized by its large size and rectangular shape. They are a type of single coil pickup, similar to single coil pickups, but have a unique and distinctive sound.
Unlike single coil pickups, the P90 pickups have a larger coil that produces a thicker, warmer sound with more mids and less highs. The sound of P90 pickups is often described as “thick” and “fat,” and is very popular in genres such as rock and the blues.
They can be found on Gibson style guitars, such as the Les Paul Junior and the SG Special. Although as with the previous ones, its use has expanded to a multitude of guitars other than the ones we mentioned.
One of the advantages of P90 pickups is their low background noisemaking them more suitable for playing in environments with a lot of electromagnetic interference, such as bars and clubs.
Main differences between these electric guitar pickups
In summary, P90 pickups are an excellent option if you are looking for a thick, warm soundwith less background noise than single coil pickups.
On the other hand, if you want a more sound bright and crisppills single coil or humbucker pickups They may be a better option for you.
Depending on the sound you want to achieve, you can opt for a more “vintage” and distinctive sound like that of single coil pickups, or alternatively for humbucker pickups, which have a thicker sound with less background noise.
Although as we always say, there is no written rule here and each musician will be guided by their experience and the objective they have. We do hope to have helped you in your choice.
Finally, our colleague, Adry Serrano, tells us more about these three types of guitar pickups in the following video.