8 Common Guitar Pickup Rookie Mistakes!
Lindy Fralin Pickups has been around for over 25 years, and in that time, we’ve seen all levels of guitar and bass player. From the bedroom hobbyist to the full-blown touring pro, we’ve all had to start somewhere. We’ve also seen all levels of guitar players make these simple mistakes, time and time again. This is our list of the 8 common “rookie mistakes” that can be easily avoided:
ROOKIE MISTAKE #1:
Choosing The Wrong Lead:
Not choosing the correct lead is one of the most common rookie mistakes, and it’s easy to avoid. Choosing the right lead when ordering your pickups will solve many headaches down the road. It will make your installation more manageable, and allow you to reverse the phase if need be.
We get a lot of emails with the subject line of “Help!”, and see a customer having a hard time installing a Gibson Lead in a Fender Tele. This lead won’t work for many reasons. The most common mistake we see: Buying a Single Pickup with an irreversible lead. An example would be buying a single P-90 for your Telecaster, with a Gibson Lead. Doing this will give you many headaches down the road – choose a 2-Conductor lead when ordering, and you’ll be set!
Research the correct lead, and go for it. Here are some helpful rules of thumb:
- You Cannot Reverse Gibson Leads. Only get these when you’re buying a Set For A Gibson-style Instrument. These leads are designed to install in instruments where each pickup has its separate volume pot. Installing this lead in a Fender instrument will create all sorts of problems.
- 2-Conductor With Shield: The most overlooked, but essential lead. You can reverse the phase if need be, and since the lead is insulated, the shielding won’t short anything out in a cavity.
- 3 / 4 Conductor: For Humbuckers, these are super easy to install, and give you all sorts of options down the road. You can reverse the phase too!
ROOKIE MISTAKE #2:
CHOOSING THE WRONG POT VALUE
Not choosing the correct pot value is one of the most common rookie mistakes we see. Your Volume and Tone pots are the second most important aspect of guitar electronics – and for a good reason. Putting a Humbucker through a 250K pot will most likely sound like your amp has a “mud blanket” on it. A Telecaster with low-output single coils will sound pretty awful through 500K pots, too. Knowing which pot value your pickup needs is the best way to solve this. Don’t be a rookie: check out our article here to become a pot-selecting wizard!
3.) Not Going To A Luthier When Times Get Tough
I get it. I’m a “do-it-yourself-er” too. I love getting my hands dirty and doing the work myself. However, sometimes, you have to quit before you start getting over your head. We answer a lot of questions from customers who are just way over their head with the soldering pencil in their hand. We always recommend going to the professional the same way you’d go to a mechanic for your car. Luthiers are better-equipped for the job, and most likely have the experience and specialized tools required to make your life easier!
4.) Killing Your Pickup Before You Install It
This one’s a heartbreaker: You just received your brand-new pickup. You unbox it, rip open your toolbox and start throwing the pickup into your guitar. You slip – and knick a coil wire.
Ouch. Your brand-new pickup is dead, and you’re left to purchase a new one. Pickups are super delicate and fragile. The coil is about as thin as a human hair and can easily be damaged. Even experienced luthiers have this happen from time-to-time, so be careful!
Furthermore, Guitars with an “extra fret” (where the fretboard hangs over the pickguard) require you to unbolt the neck before you can safely remove the pickguard and pickup.
Well, that does it, for now! Take your time when selecting your options, and you’ll spare many headaches down the road!