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johnnyvn

Dumb question alert: What makes one pickup louder than another

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Hey guys,

 

As you can tell from the title of this thread, I don't know tons about guitar electronics.

 

So, I own a Memphis '59 Reissue ES-330. As many of you know, these were released about 4 years ago.

 

A year or two later, Memphis released a '61 Reissue ES-330. My friend owns one of those.

 

So, the other day, we compared the two, and one thing that really stood out was that the bridge pickup on the '59 was way louder than the bridge pickup on the '61. We looked at the distance from the poles of each pickup to the strings above, and they were pretty much the same. So would it be right to assume that it's simply the pickups themselves that account for the volume difference (BTW, same amp, same cable, etc). I mean, what else could it be?

 

And if we believe it's just the pickup itself, what makes one pickup louder than another? Is it the amount of "winds" of wire around the magnet(s) or something?

 

Can anyone explain?

 

Thanks much...

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A guitar pickup is, by design, an electromagnetic transducer.

 

The combination of a strong magnet and a wire coil creates, in essence, a generation of electricity when metal strings are strummed or picked nearby. Variations in the magnetic field, from the vibrating metal guitar strings just above them, generates a miniscule electrical current.

 

The combination of various magnet types (ceramic versus Alnico, etc, and whether they are designed with visible magnetic 'polepieces' or a single large bar or strip magnet) and the manner in which the wire is wound around it, will change the characteristics of that electrical signal.

 

And so yes, the amount of windings will affect the overall output.

Whether or not they are dipped in wax with affect the tone as well.

 

 

Re; magnets, Alnico II is a lower output magnet that is level and smooth-sounding, and oh so warm.

Alnico V is a bit more bright, with a spanky punch. Alnico VIII is somewhere in between those two.

 

Ceramic has a higher potential for output, and a very bright, in-your-face tone.

 

Okay, I'm gonna shut up now.

:huh:

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A guitar pickup is, by design, an electromagnetic transducer.

 

The combination of a strong magnet and a wire coil creates, in essence, a generation of electricity when metal strings are strummed or picked nearby. Variations in the magnetic field, from the vibrating metal guitar strings just above them, generates a miniscule electrical current.

 

The combination of various magnet types (ceramic versus Alnico, etc, and whether they are designed with visible magnetic 'polepieces' or a single large bar or strip magnet) and the manner in which the wire is wound around it, will change the characteristics of that electrical signal.

 

And so yes, the amount of windings will affect the overall output.

Whether or not they are dipped in wax with affect the tone as well.

 

 

Re; magnets, Alnico II is a lower output magnet that is level and smooth-sounding, and oh so warm.

Alnico V is a bit more bright, with a spanky punch. Alnico VIII is somewhere in between those two.

 

Ceramic has a higher potential for output, and a very bright, in-your-face tone.

 

Okay, I'm gonna shut up now.

:huh:

 

Hey, thanks for that explanation. But now I have a follow up question.

 

Both guitars *supposedly* have the same pickup in them (I forgot to mention that important fact in my first post). They are the MHS P90's. So, I was thinking that the pickups *should* be pretty similar sounding. Yet the '59 bridge pickup was much louder and (perhaps simply because of the volume) sounded like it had more character and "balls" (sorry, ladies, it's just figure of speech).

 

So would it make sense that there would be a big volume difference from the *same* pickups made by the same company?

 

Thanks again...

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I can only imagine that there might be a slight variation in output from identical models of pickups from a given manufacturer, accounting for deviations or errors in configuration-management (or the fact that one pickup was made on a Monday, and the other on a Wednesday).

 

But a noticeable, significant difference?

In the same guitar?

Not likely.

 

 

Now, the same model of bridge pickup, each mounted in a different guitar, in your case, one in the '59 and one in the '61?

One sounding louder than the other?

On that I can speculate.

But it won't be much help.

 

So many variables involved, between the two guitars.

Thickness of wiring, types of potentiometers, quality of connectors, accountability for a number of components and various bits, from different vendors?

Too many variables to account for there.

 

:mellow:

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Interesting, just a thought. Measure each guitar's distance from the bottom of the strings holding down the last fret to the top of the pole-piece. That would give you an accurate measurement to verify they are exactly the same.

 

Something else you didn't mention, are they both strung with the same gauge strings?

 

I'm sure you are strumming or playing your notes with the same thickness pick and amount of effort too.

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Interesting, just a thought. Measure each guitar's distance from the bottom of the strings holding down the last fret to the top of the pole-piece. That would give you an accurate measurement to verify they are exactly the same.

 

Something else you didn't mention, are they both strung with the same gauge strings?

 

I'm sure you are strumming or playing your notes with the same thickness pick and amount of effort too.

 

Yes, we did measure the distance and moved the bridge height on the 1961 so that it would match the 1959 height. Good question about the guage of the strings. Not sure about that. Felt the same but perhaps it could be string related at least a bit.

 

Yes, to strumming and playing at pretty much the same volume, same guitar chords, same cables, picks, same amp, etc.

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