Magnetic pickups for electric guitars really are very simple devices: a magnet, some wire wound as a coil within the magnetic field … that’s it. However, due to the specific circumstances around the electric guitar and ist amplification as it has historically evolved, these pickups have some idiosyncrasies that give them their sound. Of course, our ears are the real judges when it comes to that sound … but our ears have their limitations. Moreover … or rather to add to the issue, a brain (hopefully 😉) is connected to these ears which brings perceptional psychology into play and many corresponding potentially ‘erroneous zones’. Physics certainly can be of help to avoid some traps when judging the sound of pickups – specifically, make some measurements here and there can be most helpful. Beware, though: the very popular simple measurement of the ohmic resistance of pickup DOES NOT CUT IT! There’s more to consider, and this is what Helmut Lemme’s article on there matter is all about:
P.S.: this article was originally issued in the magazine SUSTAIN (May, 2013); we appreciate being given the permission to re-publish it here!