Cons & Pros Of Having One Pickup In Guitar

Cons & Pros Of Having One Pickup In Guitar |

Want to know why your metal tone sounds better with just a pickup in your guitar? Today we’re going to talk about the advantages of a single-pickup guitar.

Let’s go back in time before we get started to see where this all started. The builders of the original electric guitars either couldn’t or wouldn’t have considered using more than one pickup. Looking at Rickenbacker’s steels or any lap steel from those formative years, you’ll see they all have single pickups.

That one pickup will be located close to the span of the river. This is where the steel’s body is the thinnest, which gives the resulting tone the most cut and top, and where the slide player has many areas to work.

Single-pickup instruments have always enchanted guitarists because of their affordability, versatility, and surprising individuality. Some guitarists argue that single-pickup guitars have a firmer tone, setting them apart, while others disagree.

Let’s look at the features of a single pickup guitar and why it sounds different from a regular guitar.

What Is The Advantage Of Having One Pickup In The Guitar?

The sound and resonance of a guitar with a single pickup are considered superior because fewer magnets act as pulls on the strings, dampening their vibration. Also, due to the lack of pickups, the bodies of these guitars can be made out of better wood, while the electronics can be kept to a minimum.

One element that identifies the most popular type of guitar in sales, the single pickup guitar, is its extreme simplicity. This may shock those who regularly consume media about such matters, yet it is representative of a large demographic.

However, only some have the luxury of a hundred different pickup combinations, coil splitting, tone controls, phase switches, piezo pickups, and everything else our wet little hearts desire. In addition, some people find unlimited tonal variations daunting, making the idea of a plug-and-play guitar exciting. However, just because they are essential doesn’t imply they can only produce one type of sound.

Phil-X :: Tips and Tricks - Episode 1 :: Why one pickup?


  • Tone
    We often tell newbies to avoid trying to imitate others and focus on developing their unique voices. Having the distinct sound of a guitar with a single pickup could be an excellent place to begin. Most guitarists employ anywhere from two to three pickups. So one pickup may be all you need to start hearing your authentic voice.
  • Simplicity
    This post’s first sentence alluded to the fact that having a single pickup can be a relief for many folks. Many players, faced with various options, may need more time to employ only a few sounds. Don’t choose one of these guitars if having only one pickup would ease their mind and give them a distinctive and better tone.
  • Improves The Finger Tone
    Hearing one of these guitarists perform through a crappy amp with an even crappier guitar will make you appreciate the adage that tone is in the fingers. The tonal diversity afforded by a guitar’s pickup selection is lost when only one pickup is installed.
    You’ll have to create your timbres using one of these manually. You’ll have to adjust the volume and tone controls more frequently to make up for the diminished output, and you’ll have to be more deliberate about which parts of the string you pluck and how hard you hit them.
  • Cost
    While it might seem that adding a neck and bridge pickup pack would not significantly raise the guitar’s pricetypically between $150 and $200—the contrary is true. The added expense of a second pickup is due to the extra work involved in creating the slot for it and wiring it in. As a result, single-pickup guitars are more affordable, and a bridge pickup is unnecessary in the case of metal music, for example.


  • Versatility
    The main criticism of a guitar with only one pickup lies here. You can’t get as many different tones as you would with two or three pickups. One can compensate for this by carefully picking and adjusting the volume and tone controls.
    Remember that you can do that in addition to choosing a different pickup on a “normal” guitar. The boundaries are clear, and most individuals would be reluctant to use one of these guitars for fear of boxing themselves in.
  • Tone
    One pickup guitar is said to have an advantage due to its distinctive sound, although that sound could be a deal breaker for other players. You may be aiming to imitate your favorite guitarist’s style. There is certainly nothing improper about that. On the other hand, perhaps you’re a session musician whose work frequently calls for “standard” tones that can only be fully attained using more conventional instruments.
  • Options
    One pickup instead of two might significantly lower the price of an instrument. But unfortunately, most manufacturers treat these instruments as aftermarket additions rather than merely variants of their primary lines. As a result, high-end guitar models rarely include a single pickup.

Source: WikiCommons

Why Do Single-Pickup Guitars Sound Different?

Many disagree on whether a guitar with one pickup produces a noticeably different sound. When attempting to understand these tonal variations, you must consider several aspects.

That they are substantial is beyond dispute. It’s not easy to pin down how many variables affect the sound or how the overall experience differs from that of a two-pickup guitar. Multiple studies are needed to investigate this, with care taken to maintain a scientific approach while accounting for confounding factors.

  • More Wood
    The guitar used by Eddie Van Halen, in which some cavities are absent, is an obvious exception to this rule. However, this illustration may lead us to believe that this detail is not crucial to the tone of this pickup setup. Those who think different woods produce distinctive tones would expect the proportion of wood used in an instrument’s body to have some bearing on the sound produced.
  • Less Magnetic Pull
    Not to dwell on the obvious, but again, pickups are magnets. Magnets have a powerful attraction that draws in guitar strings and other metal things. Because of this, it is entirely illogical to think that removing two or three sets of magnets and keeping one would lessen the string tension. This is likely not the case, as the strength of the contact between the magnets and the strings is at issue.
    You can alter the tone of a guitar by removing the neck pickup and leaving the hole unfilled, as demonstrated in experiments in which the guitar’s body wood mass was held constant. One intriguing possibility is that the magnetic attraction between the two pickups, which has already been examined, adds overtones that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
  • Electronics
    It’s common knowledge that guitar signals suffer from degradation the longer their path. To counteract this, buffers are often placed in the middle of the pedal chain. Simply said, the internal connections’ length and the electronics’ complexity are reduced in a guitar with one pickup. In addition, since there are fewer potential entry points for interference, there is less risk of something going wrong.
    The nagging question that persists, though, is whether or not this is a sufficiently large distinction to affect the prevailing tone of the discussion. Not likely, although testing that hypothesis is challenging, and even if differences do exist, they are likely to be negligible.
  • Sustain
    It has been said that guitars with a single pickup have better sustain than those with several. This could be because the pickups aren’t there to exert magnetic pressure on the string or because there’s more wood in the instrument’s body. Removing the pickup from your guitar will increase its sustain. No extra pickups mean better possible resonance and string vibration, or so the theory goes.
Do Single Pickup Guitars Sound Better? - A/B Test With Clean & Dirty Amps!


Everyone here agrees that the sexiest-looking guitars are those with a single pickup. In addition, several well-known performers in the past have opted to use pickups they didn’t require (EVH). The benefits of such a guitar, especially for a beginner, are numerous.

First, we’ve established that your fingers are the primary tone source, and this guitar is merely a tool to help you discover it. The needs of an instrumentalist are easily met by connecting the guitar to an amplifier and cranking up the volume. Finally, by eliminating the need to toggle between the volume and tone controls constantly, this guitar saves you time and reduces wear and tear on the electronics.

This article provided some clarity on the topic. If you play metal, you should consider purchasing one of these guitars because they are more affordable, capable, and adaptable than traditional instruments.

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