quick and dirty way to test pickups?

naneek

Tele-Holic
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Posts
656
Location
PNW
I don't have a multimeter, and need to test some pickups I bought online before the return/refund period expires. I have a unused quarter inch jack.

Can I simply wrap the pickup leads around the terminals of the quarter inch jack, hold the pickup up to a guitar, and strum away?

I just need to know if this is viable, otherwise I won't know if there is a problem with the pickups or my testing method.
Your help will be appreciated.

Thanks, and sorry if this is an obvious or dumb question.
 

Freeman Keller

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 22, 2018
Posts
9,064
Age
77
Location
Washington
I use Timbersmith's method to check lots of wiring issues if I don't have strings on a guitar. Just tap a pole piece with a small screw driver and see if switches work or the tone control does what you think it should or any other wiring issue. In fact on some guitars I'll wire up the entire harness and test it before putting it in a guitar.
 

bgmacaw

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
Posts
9,491
Location
Near Athens GA USA
For the future, you should just go ahead and get a multimeter. You don't need a fancy, expensive, one for guitar work.



multimeter.png
 

wabashslim

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Nov 26, 2005
Posts
3,332
Age
70
Location
Sonorous Desert
For a few dollars more you should get one that measures capacitance too. My $25 Chinese cheapie DVM checks capacitors much better than my $400 Fluke. Capacitors often have obscure or cryptic markings and measuring is the way to know for sure what you have (but it won't tell you voltage ratings!)
 

naneek

Tele-Holic
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Posts
656
Location
PNW
Thanks again for all the input on this topic everybody.

I just used this method again to test a set of late 60's teisco pickups, and check the functionality of the wiring harness.

It's very easy and effective.
 

wabashslim

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Nov 26, 2005
Posts
3,332
Age
70
Location
Sonorous Desert
For polarity you can just hold the pickups against each other and see if they repel or attract, right?
That only tells you about the magnets, not the coils. Whatever the method it would require the coils to be excited by a vibrating string (or whatever) in the magnet's field. An easy fix in a Tele, a little harder in a Les Paul, a real pain in the assets with Strats (lifting the pickguard to resolder pickup wires).
 
Last edited:

JRapp

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
May 20, 2019
Posts
1,025
Age
64
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Now, somebody come up with a quick & dirty way to test 2 or more pickups for polarity without installing them under strings.
Use the middle position or whatever combination, turn up the bass on the amp, do the tap thing with a small screwdriver and listen for bass rolloff as you turn both pickups all the way up. Likewise, the bass response should increase as you turn one of the pickups down.
 

edvard

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 15, 2016
Posts
2,427
Location
Bremerton, WA
Now, somebody come up with a quick & dirty way to test 2 or more pickups for polarity without installing them under strings.
That's easy: put the top of the pickups aimed towards each other and slowly bring them closer together. If you feel some "push", then the magnets have matching polarity. Now you can proceed with yet another type of 'screwdriver test' that requires a meter of some sort. See "Checking the Phase" about halfway down the page at this link:

One note that's not fully addressed there, but is uncommon:
If you want the middle position on a 2-pickup guitar or positions 2 and 4 on a 3-pickup guitar (like a Strat) to be humbucking, then the magnet polarity needs to be opposite but the pickups must be wired so the meter deflection goes the same way.
 




Top