If you’re someone who likes to mod guitars, then there’s a good chance you’ve got a spare set of gnarly old pickups sitting around that likely doesn’t sound like anything you want – well good news, I’ve got a few suggestions to make use out of these!

1. Change your pickup’s tone by swapping out the magnet for something different – if it’s a bar magnet you can do this easily by loosening the bobbin screws on the bottom of the humbuckers plate and sliding out the magnet. Try to keep the new magnets orientation the same otherwise you may run into phasing issues.

There are a good handful of replacement options that are inexpensive and easily obtainable online. A super simple magnet summary would be: Alnico 2 and 3 are lower strength, which will mellow out the sound and have a very clean and bass-heavy focus.  Alnico 4 and 5 will be fairly well rounded in most frequency ranges and Alnico 8 will be more powerful and have more output and focus in the higher frequencies. You can also use neodymium if you really want, but it can be harder to find and creates ridiculous amounts of output, volume and high frequency clarity – be sure to give our article on Alnico vs Ceramic for more information on this.

2. If you have a set of humbuckers with some adjustable screw pole pieces, you can easily modify these into a makeshift single coil with no more than a screw driver. All you do on this pickup hack is remove the screws in one of the coils and it’s now basically a big, fat single coil. This causes one of the coils to be eliminated from picking up sound, but not eliminated from the circuit so essentially, you get a loud single coil with very little hum. This can be fun if you want something more along the lines of a telecaster/P90-ish sound.

3. Finally, this is a pickup hack for those that are a little braver and not afraid of screwing things up – turning a humbucker into a 4-conductor with split-coil/phasing options. This is actually much simpler than it seems, so go grab your soldering iron.

(Check out this guide to soldering for beginners first if you have no idea what you’re doing)

The first thing you’ll need to do is find the + and – connection for each coil. To get to these wires, you’ll have to carefully remove the tape surrounding each bobbin until you get close to the bare copper wire. At this point you should find 2 insulated wires that are soldered to the thin copper wire. 2 of them will be joining the coils and the other 2 will be the hot and ground wires for the humbucker.

Now de-solder the wires joining the coils and wire each coil of the humbucker separately like a normal single coil – one wire is the hot/out the other goes to ground and now you have 4 wires coming out of the conductor lead instead of 2 and your pickup is ready to be taped back up and wired into a guitar for a ton of tonal options.

If you still hate your pickup after modding it, you can always check out some brand new Seymour Duncan pickups in our shop and we can help you find the sound you’re looking for!

So there you have it, 3 pretty easy pickup hacks that just about anyone can do as long as they take their time. I also encourage more research on the subject before you start if you don’t fully understand it. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out some more. We upload articles, review, guides, and more every day!


This article was written  by Keegan Connor, our editor located in Canada.

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