How to Reduce the Output of a Humbucking Pickup

Written by matthew anderson
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How to Reduce the Output of a Humbucking Pickup
A humbucker pickup's output can be reduced by adjusting the pickup height. (electric guitar body image by Jeffrey Zalesny from Fotolia.com)

The output of a guitar pickup is primarily determined by the way it was constructed. Humbucker pickups have two coils that produce more output than a single-coil pickup. Some humbuckers have a coil split option that turns off one coil to reduce the output. However, this also causes the noise reduction, or humbucking property, of the pickup to be lost. It is possible to reduce the output of these pickups without losing this—just adjust the pickup height.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Guitar amplifier
  • Screwdriver

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Locate the adjustment screws for the humbucker pickup. These are the screws located halfway up both sides of the pickup. These screws actually connect the pickup to the pickguard or pickup ring. Any screws located at the corners of the pickup are not adjustment screws. These are screws that connect the pickguard or pickup ring to the guitar body.

  2. 2

    Turn the left adjustment screw counterclockwise. This will lower the pickup height for the humbucker pickup under the bass strings. The reduction of output for the pickup is greater the further away the pickup is from the guitar strings.

  3. 3

    Turn the right adjustment screw counterclockwise. This will lower the pickup height for the humbucker pickup under the treble strings.

  4. 4

    Test the guitar pickup through an amplifier. Adjust the screws until you reduce the output to the level desired.

Tips and warnings

  • The adjustment steps are for a right-handed guitar. A left-handed guitar is strung in the opposite direction. In that case, the right screw adjusts the bass side of the humbucker pickup and the left screw adjusts the treble side of the pickup.
  • There is a limited amount of room for adjusting the pickup height. You will need to replace the pickups with lower output models if you want to decrease the output any further while still maintaining the humbucking effect.
  • The face of the humbucker pickup does not have to be parallel to the surface of the guitar. You can reduce the output of the bass strings and treble strings to different heights. For example, lowering the left side of the pickup further than the right side will reduce the output of the bass strings more than the output of the treble strings.

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