Beware of technical marketing claims and misinformation when choosing your pickups.
There is no question that magnetic pickups are at the core of our electric instruments, with some players and manufacturers going as far as saying they are all that matters. So, it's no wonder that pickups are surrounded by a lot of myths. Some manufacturers make bold claims and share flowery descriptions of what to expect, while at the same time failing to deliver at least some facts and meaningful data. The fact that invisible, mystical magnetism is involved doesn't help. But while it's easy to bash them for failing to deliver hard facts, we also have to ask ourselves whether we could understand this information and how far we're willing to dig into the technical basics.
Choosing pickups isn't easy! Not just because of the sheer number of models, but because most of us lack an understanding of detailed electrical and magnetic values, which most manufacturers don't provide anyway. Most pickup descriptions just share DC resistance and magnet material, which is what customers tend to discuss instead of learning to read wirings, a pickup's frequency response curve, or the interplay of different electrical values.
Luthiery schools teach far more about inlays and bindings instead of the basic physics behind the electronic circuits students will have to deal with. Not everybody has to be able to repair tube amps and electronics, but it would be helpful to know how to discuss the tonal influence of magnetic materials as well as how to handle a simple equation or an equivalent diagram of a resonant circuit.
Of course, terms like "resistance" and "capacitance" are familiar, but once a current in a magnetic field gets into motion, things will indubitably aggravate. Terms like impedance, inductance, resonant frequency, ohmic load, and eddy current don't make it less confusing, nor does the interplay between all those things. This opens the door for marketing claims and misinformation.
Choosing pickups isn't easy! Not just because of the sheer number of models, but because most of us lack an understanding of detailed electrical and magnetic values, which most manufacturers don't provide anyway.
Hand or machine?
We all have some legendary tones we're searching for, and there are lots of pickup manufacturers claiming to do exact replicas of our heroes' tools. But how close can they get?
You might guess it's sufficient to know the exact ingredients, like magnets, bobbins, wire, and the count of windings. Good luck finding the correct magnets—alnico can vary extremely, even among what is supposed to be the same type of alloy. Here, differences in magnetic force aren't the problem, but eddy currents (losses) are. It might be easier to get the right wire, since production consistency has improved a lot. And finally, there is the count of windings.
According to some manufacturers, this is not where it ends. In the early days of our instrument, pickups were wound by hand. They did have a motor to rotate the bobbin, but there was always a person standing next to the machine, guiding the wire by hand, which would lead to less consistent or loose windings, while an automated machine keeps tension and density constant. Handwound pickups are also called scatterwound, as the wires often crisscross diagonally over the bobbin. The theoretical result would be a slightly higher resistance, since more wire is used, and, thus, a minimally lower inductance and capacitance, but the differences are rather marginal since the lower density can lead to parts of the wiring being farther away from the stronger field. Practically, all these differences are hard to measure, and there should not be an inherent difference between handwound and machine-wound pickups.
Does zig-zag winding cause a different tone?
Fig. 1 — The right-hand rule—a common physics mnemonic for understanding the location of axes in a three-dimensional shape—for the Lorentz force (F) describes the force on a current-carrying wire (I=current) in a magnetic field (B) and shows the dependance of the angle (∝) between the two. (For the super nerd, also see Maxwell's equations and Faraday's law of induction.)
Courtesy of Wikimedia
Magnetic pickups work thanks to the changes in the magnetic field and flow via induction in the wires. Remember the right-hand rule of the Lorentz force from school physics [Fig. 1]? The main point here is the direct proportion of induction and right-angled orientation to the magnetic field gets smaller as a function of said angle 𝜶. In short: A diagonal wire has a longer run through the magnetic field but experiences the same induction signal as a straight one for an identical length of the magnetic field. The wire is longer and can have a higher ohmic resistance, but due to the pickup's long length and small depth, this difference is slight. It's therefore highly unlikely that the zig-zag pattern is causing a tonal change, rather than the unknown variance of eddy currents within the magnets. And it's even more unlikely that any of these patterns can be measured from outside a pickup, let alone distinguished!
So, we should be skeptical about the claims we read from manufacturers, whether it's from a company that claims it can identify 728 scatter patterns by measuring an installed pickup by using proprietary tools—as one pickup maker does—or whatever technical information it is that they won't share and we won't necessarily understand.
Can they make good pickups? Of course! Exact replicas? You judge.
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Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.