Confused about pickup resistance

Slt8576

TDPRI Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2017
Posts
79
Age
47
Location
Ohio
For the first time, I measured the pickups on my guitars with a multimeter and cable:

- Fender Telecaster MIM Standard - 5.85, 6.79 (neck, bridge)
- Epiphone Les Paul Junior P90 - 7.82
- Rickenbacker 360-6 High Gains - 11.00, 11.05
- Gretsch 5420 Blacktop Filtertrons - 4.28, 4.33
- Danelectro DC-59 Reissue - 3.53, 3.52
- Gold Foil Single Coil DIY Guitar - 5.85, 6.79

I had measured them because my Gretsch seems much quieter than my other guitars, even though the pickup heights are about as high as they can go. But the resistance listed above for the Gretsch is more than the Danelectro, yet the Danelectro sounds louder. The Tele and Goil Foil guitars also seem much louder, and they're roughly in the same resistance ballpark as the Gretsch.

Can someone help me understand the relationship between pickup resistance & volume? And do the various resistances listed above seem in the ballpark for the guitars above, or did I screw up the measurements?

Thanks for your help!
 

sjtalon

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Oct 27, 2006
Posts
11,204
Location
Upper Peninsula of Michigan
>relationship between pickup resistance & volume<

Not to be a wise guy but nothing really.

DCr more or less isn't like horsepower.

There are other things at play there...................................like magnet type and strength, and that effecting wire size & amount etc., in comparison.

So the problem is, a person can go to wally world and buy a multimeter for 15 bucks, and get measurements, as it's easy pezzy.

Then everyone got worked up about this measurement meaning something scientific, so forced manufactures to advertise said readings.

Also in comparison, as far as one exact brand pickup to another, they could be 300 or as many as 500Ω different, and a normal person in a TRUE BLIND A/B comparison, not be able to truthfully tell the diff.

And one that note, (or whichever one is played😁) POWER/OUTPUT wise, turning mount screws a few rotations one way or another
can compensate for it anyway.

So sorry to say, there is just too much in the soup to pick one noodle out and say that makes all the flavor.
 
Last edited:

Rob DiStefano

Doctor of Teleocity
Vendor Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2003
Posts
10,547
Age
76
Location
Free Jersey
In all of yer DCR examples, are you comparing apples to apples or apples to oranges or apples to watermelons?

If I build two Tele bridge pickups, using the same bobbin physical materials and dimensions, both with A3 rod magnets, but one is wound with 10,000 turns of 43AWG coil wire and the other is wound with 14,000 turns of 42AWG coil wire. Both will meter about the same DCR value, and yet they are as different in terms of sound, tone and output as day and night. That Sir, is an apples to watermelon comparison. "But they both have the same DCR!!!" Yup.

In essence, passive pickup DCR was and still is a bean counter marketeer's tool. What's important is understanding what your ears hear and what the pickup maker tells you.
 

Telenator

Doctor of Teleocity
Vendor Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2005
Posts
14,660
Location
Vermont
>relationship between pickup resistance & volume<

Not to be a wise guy but nothing really.

DCr more or less isn't like horsepower.

There are other things at play there...................................like magnet type and strength, and that effecting wire size & amount etc., in comparison.

So the problem is, a person can go to wally world and buy a multimeter for 15 bucks, and get measurements, as it's easy pezzy.

Then everyone got worked up about this measurement meaning something scientific, so forced manufactures to advertise said readings.

Also in comparison, as far as one exact brand pickup to another, they could be 300 or as many as 500Ω different, and a normal person in a TRUE BLIND A/B comparison, not be able to truthfully tell the diff.

And one that note, (or whichever one is played😁) POWER/OUTPUT wise, turning mount screws a few rotations one way or another
can compensate for it anyway.

So sorry to say, there is just too much in the soup to pick one noodle out and say that makes all the flavor.
It's kinda like, the winding/dc resistance is the horsepower, but the magnets are the torque!
 

trev333

Telefied
Ad Free Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2009
Posts
30,257
Location
Coolum Beach,Australia
loud/quiet comparison is a bit misleading, too.... you have an amp, adjust the volume for each guitar..

then they all sound as loud as eachother.... ;)
 

jaxjaxon

Tele-Holic
Joined
Apr 4, 2020
Posts
550
Age
68
Location
SanluisObispo CA.
To many variables to get a good Idea of how a pickup will sound just by its impedance. But in general, a high impedance will give more volume. But you can have other factors that will change how loud it is. I have a Arch top that came with duncan designed pickups and they had so much volume and distortion I changed them out they read 43.5 and 39.3 and changed them to a low out put under wound 21.2 and 18.5 .
 

Old Verle Miller

Tele-Meister
Joined
Apr 7, 2022
Posts
301
Location
Texas
Any magnetic field has an influence on the movement of the electrons in the windings. The concept is called magnetoresistance and generally an increase in resistance will occur with increased magnetic field.

So knowing the resistance of a set of PU's is more or less just an interesting comparative factoid that doesn't relate to output signal.
 

kiwi blue

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
Posts
1,997
Location
Wellington, New Zealand
Pickup wire comes in different thicknesses. 10,000 turns if 42 wire has more resistance than 10,000 turns of 43 wire. (The two most commonly used gauges.)

Different types of magnet also affect output, as does the placement of the magnet and whether it's rod magnets or bar magnets.

Resistance is a useful measurement if you are talking about the same type of pickup, made with the same type and gauge of wire, wound the same way, using the same magnets, and with the same kind of cover.

So if you have two bog standard strat A5 pickups wound with 42 gauge plain enamel wire, and one is 5.4k and the other 6.2k, you can reliably say the 62,k will be a bit louder and have a bit more mids.

I have some Charlie Christian type pickups wound with 38 wire that only read about 3k, but they are as loud as a 7.5-8k PAF style humbucker.
 

AJBaker

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Oct 3, 2010
Posts
4,462
Age
35
Location
Switzerland
DCr isn't meaningless, but it only makes sense if you know more about the pickup.

There are a few factors that can change DCr without changing the sound (much):

- Thicker/thinner wire:
42AWG is thicker than 43AWG, so it will have less resistance per metre. Theres also EVEN thinner 44 or 45AWG where a pickup might end up measuring 20k! Some of the very old pickups used very thick 41 or even 40AGW, and they might measure in the 2k range.

- Shape of the bobbin:
A Jazzmaster pickup is quite similar to a strat pickup, except that the bobbin is much shorter and wider. Because the bobbin is so wide, every turn of wire uses more wire than on a strat pickup. This means that an equal number of turns won't have the same DCr.


There are a few factors that can change the sound without changing the DCr:

- Build of the pickup:
This is huge. A P90 for example is completely different in build to a strat pickup, and they will sound nothing alike, even if they are wound with the same wire, with an equal number of turns. In this case, it's the fundamental difference of bar magnets with steel polepieces vs magnetic rod polepieces.

- Type/size of magnet:
A Gretsch filtertron is fundamentally similar to a PAF, insofar as both are made with two small bobbins in series with a bar magnet underneath. The big difference is that the filtertron has a MUCH bigger magnet, but fewer turns of wire. The result is a pickup measuring 3-4k, but which easily can hang with Fender (and sometimes Gibson) pickups measuring much greater DCr.


If we want to compare with a car:
The closest thing to horsepower would be 'inductance', which is measured in Henries (H).

DCr is more like the number of cylinders in the motor.
Intuitively we understand that more cylinders mean more power, but to get a true idea of an engine's power we have to take into consideration how big each cylinder is, what kind of fuel is being used, whether it's a 2-stroke or 4-stroke, and how many rpm the engine is being run at.
 
Last edited:

Rob DiStefano

Doctor of Teleocity
Vendor Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2003
Posts
10,547
Age
76
Location
Free Jersey
YES, if you understand a pickup's build, DCR will offer some measure of comparative sense IF you know the build of any other passive pickup.

FWIW - magnets in passive pickups have only ONE job to perform, magnetize the strings. There is no sound or tone in magnets ... well, while this is true, they can affect output and tone because a strong magnet (A5) will allow string excursions to create a stronger signal that's induced to and thru the TOP of the wire coil, and that can/maybe/might increase output and affect tone/sound. Vice-versa, a weak magnet (A3) will comparatively reduce output and that will also have some residual effect on output/tone/sound.

The real question is - how many guitarists (AND pickup winders) at the least know the effects of bobbin size, coil wire gauge, coil wire insulation thickness, coil wire turn counts, coil wire winding tension, magnet Gauss rates, as all of that applies to the output/tone/sound swirling in their mind's eye? And how does that apply to comparing and purchasing a passive pickup? This is where purchasing data frustration can end up with expecting a DCR value to explain a pickup.
 

Si G X

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Dec 8, 2019
Posts
2,688
Location
England
For the first time, I measured the pickups on my guitars with a multimeter and cable:

- Fender Telecaster MIM Standard - 5.85, 6.79 (neck, bridge)
- Epiphone Les Paul Junior P90 - 7.82
- Rickenbacker 360-6 High Gains - 11.00, 11.05
- Gretsch 5420 Blacktop Filtertrons - 4.28, 4.33
- Danelectro DC-59 Reissue - 3.53, 3.52
- Gold Foil Single Coil DIY Guitar - 5.85, 6.79

I had measured them because my Gretsch seems much quieter than my other guitars, even though the pickup heights are about as high as they can go. But the resistance listed above for the Gretsch is more than the Danelectro, yet the Danelectro sounds louder. The Tele and Goil Foil guitars also seem much louder, and they're roughly in the same resistance ballpark as the Gretsch.

Can someone help me understand the relationship between pickup resistance & volume? And do the various resistances listed above seem in the ballpark for the guitars above, or did I screw up the measurements?

Thanks for your help!

It looks like most of this has been explained above already..

If you wanted to measure and compare the output of each, then you would measure the voltage (in millivots) they generate when being played. You'd have to rig something up though (some strings above the pickup) because they won't create any kind of output on their own.

If you set them at the same distance from the strings that they are in the guitar, my guess (as a non-expert) would be that the guitars you think sound the loudest would produce the highest voltage (output) .. that seems like a waste of time though as you may as well use your ears!

unless everything else is 'like for like' then the resistance of the coil/coils (which is all you are measuring) is pretty meaningless. It's 'related' to the output of that pickup but it's not related to a different pickup with a completely different construction.
 

Rob DiStefano

Doctor of Teleocity
Vendor Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2003
Posts
10,547
Age
76
Location
Free Jersey
That's another key point about passive pickups - how is the height set with regards to the strings? Closer to the strings allows more magnetism to reach them which will produce more output and more of an aggressive tone. Further from the strings results in a weaker signal induced to the coil for less output and a more "acoustic-like" tone. SO many variables to consider ....
 

rigatele

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Apr 20, 2014
Posts
1,669
Location
Canada
Any magnetic field has an influence on the movement of the electrons in the windings. The concept is called magnetoresistance and generally an increase in resistance will occur with increased magnetic field.

Sorry, but the phenomenon that you are referring to, magnetoresistance, is not the primary nor is it a practically measurable or perceptible effect in a magnetic guitar pickup. You must be thinking of electromagnetic induction.
 

cousinpaul

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jun 19, 2009
Posts
4,038
Location
Nashville TN
There's also the value of the volume pot to consider. A pickup can perform differently in a different guitar or with a different pot. They don't exist in a vacuum.
 

Rob DiStefano

Doctor of Teleocity
Vendor Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2003
Posts
10,547
Age
76
Location
Free Jersey
There's also the value of the volume pot to consider. A pickup can perform differently in a different guitar or with a different pot. They don't exist in a vacuum.
It's far more than just a volume pot. It (sound/tone) starts with yer brain and fingers, then on to the pickups and what they're influenced by (aka "guitar") and what they feed both onboard and offboard. That's a lotta stuff that itty bitty signal hasta traverse, get massaged, and come out of a speaker(s).
 




Top