Your Cart is Empty

The Most Important Spec in Electric Guitar Pickups: Induction!

by vaughn skow March 30, 2018 2 min read

The Most Important Spec in Electric Guitar Pickups: Induction/Inductance (the active form of induction)!

Ta-DA!  We've reached the end of our discussion on electric guitar specs.  Please read parts one and two if you haven't already.   At this point you know that the typical electrical guitar pickup is a magnetic induction device, so naturally the amount of actual INDUCTION generated is a specification of utmost importance.  No, it's not Resistance (again see the last blog).  Unlike the somewhat messy resistance spec, induction/inductance is really quite straight forward, let's talk about it!

What Henrys Induction means electric guitar pickups

As an inductor, the induction spec does the best job of telling us how "hot" a pickup will be, and to a lesser extent it's tone.  That's why I get so darn riled up over the fact that most guitar pickup manufacturers don't even LIST a pickups inductance ... but DO list the nearly worthless RESISTANCE spec!  Inductance is usually measured in Henrys (H), named after Joseph Henry (1797–1878), the American scientist who discovered electromagnetic induction independently of and at about the same time as Michael Faraday (1791–1867) in England.  Yea, it's always cool to discover a physical principal and name it after yourself :-)

What's so cool about the induction spec is that it can always be used to compare the output two magnetic pickups, regardless of the materials or other specs of the given pickups.  Unlike all other specs on a magnetic pickup, the Induction spec is all inclusive.  While the resistance will measure the same regardless of if there even IS any magnetic field, and the magnetic charge will remain the same regardless of the resistance of the coil wire ... Induction takes it ALL in!  As a matter of fact, the induction even takes into account things you might not have ever considered ... like the material of the pickups base/frame and it's cover, if present.  Why did Leo put a base-plate on the bottom of his Tele Bridge pickup, or metal claws around his Jaguar pickups?  To increase induction ... and thereby increasing bold output!

Yep, I purposely said "bold" output, because with higher induction comes not only more output, but also a bigger, bolder, fatter tone.  As I mentioned last week in part two of this series, all things audio follow a logarithmic scale, not linear ... so as in resistance, you eventually hit the wall of diminishing returns where induction is concerned.  But please do remember this: induction will always tell you the output and tone of a pickup, regardless of the other specs and the materials the pickup is made of.

The bullet points here are terribly brief and to the point:

  • Higher induction/inductance means more output and a bigger, bolder tone.

  • Lower induction/inductance means a lower output and a thinner, weaker tone.

  • The inductance numbers can be directly compared across ALL makes and models of pickups!

Yep, inductance is the ULTIMATE guitar pickup comparison tool!

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.