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Epiphone Les Paul Pickup Question


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hey everyone.

so i have a beater guitar (a special ii) that i want to throw some slightly better pickups in. i have a set from an epiphone les paul, the silver plated ones with screws exposed for one side(i believe these are adjustable poles?) they look like this:


anyways, i got them from someone awhile ago and don't know which is the rhythm and which is the bridge pickup. One has a red wire and the other blue. the wires in each split into a white wire (hot) and bare wire wrapped around that (ground), so they must be single conductors. does anyone have an epi they could check to see which is which?

i read somewhere that if the pickups are not identical, the bridge will typically have a higher resistance than the neck. is this true? i dont have an ohmmeter on hand currently to check anyways, just curious.

if the resistance is the same for both, is there ANY difference between the pickups?

I also heard that a higher resistance corresponds to a higher output. is this true? if so, why, shouldn't higher resistance reduce the output?

also, i really don't know what it means to be "single conductor" could someone explain this as well? thanks.


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If you orient the pickups so that the wire is coming out of the right hand side of the pickup (when looking down at them) for each pickup, the bridge typically has the exposed screws on the bottom and the neck has them on the top (meaning towards the headstock). That is what is most common, though not strictly regulated. A bridge pickup typically has higher DC resistance because it typically has more windings (more wire on the bobbins) which is what increases output. If resistance is the same, there could still be differences such as magnet type, winding direction, which pole is north, etc. Nothing says you can't use a bridge pickup in the neck and vice versa.

As for resistance and output, if two pickups are wound with the same wire (gauge, enamel, etc.), then the one with a higher DC resistance will almost always have higher output because it has more windings on it, which increases the electromagnetic field strength with directly translates into a larger induced EMF from a string vibrating with the amplitude. However, different pickup manufacturers use different wire types and gauges, so a direct comparison between DC resistance and peak voltage output is not possible.

A single conductor pickup means that it has one wire that is hot and one wire that is ground. This means that the two coils of the humbucker are hard wired to each other within the casing. If you had what is called a "four conductor" pickup, the four leads (+ and -) of each coil would be available for running to switches, etc. which would allow for coil splitting (using just one coil of a humbucker instead of both). Hope this helps.

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i seem to remember blue being for bridge and red for neck. wire length and a resistance reading should confirm that

they also (at least used to) stamp them with an R or an F... but its not R for rhythm, its R for rear (bridge) and F for front (neck)

if the resistance is the same for both, is there ANY difference between the pickups?

yes, even if you use two identical pickups they are still sensing different parts of the string. Have a look at the string vibrating, you will notice it is moving a lot more over the neck pickup than the bridge pickup - this is the super basic explanation for why the position we put the pickup in affects the way it sounds

It is also why we tend to use a lower powered pickup for the neck. if we used pickups that were the same output it gets harder to get a good volume balance between bridge and neck because the neck is sensing a lot more movement - i.e it is louder.

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