Other Equipment

Good Pickups Cheap Eletronics. Do Electronics Matter?


Many foreign guitars such as Korean and Japanese have not very good pickups or electronics so many of us find we have to change the pickups. I suppose in this day and age the Japanese electronics are much better now such as in Gretsch Japan and some of the Fenders but in the past they have not been so hot.

Do you feel changing the electronics is really necessary? I am sure that if you leave the electronics (pots, wires, caps) but change to good pickups you will hear a big difference but what about electronics does it really matter much? I always change the electronics as well as pickups so I never have just left the old electronics. I know bad solder joints are a problem but that's not what I am talking about. So if the solder joints are fine but you have foreign pots, wires, switches and caps do you really feel it makes a difference?

Easy enough to change the pickups by just unsoldering and soldering in the new pickups but a pain to go thru all the wiring or expensive if you don't know how to and pay someone. I know how but sometimes lazy and want to have someone do it but it cost money.



No matter how good the guitar, the electronic aspect is what you bought it for, so then the electronics are seriously important. If you don't plug it in, it won't matter. Inside, top quality pots and connectors and switches, as well as good shielded wire, using the pickups of your choice, all installed by someone who knows what they're doing, are all parts of making the instrument sound the way you want.

There is a lot of differences in wire. I like Belden---used many different types for decades. I'd use coax throughout. If you don't want to pay someone to do it all for you, consider getting a TVJ premade harness and install it yourself, and the pickups are all you'd need to solder. Finicky job, sure, but you'll have "done it yourself" and it'll be a better instrument for it.


wabash thank you for the info.

In the past I would have someone do all my electronic work but I actually know how to solder but I am lazy and paid someone. Now money counts a lot and I can afford the parts but I should do the work myself to save some money.

I have a Jay Turser hollow body that I have a ALNICO V Staple Magnet pickup and some generic P90 I had from a Carlo Robelli archtop at one point that is very hot (12 resistance) in it. The Robelli P90 is good for the bridge. On the archtop I am so lazy to install the electronics because of the work involved in doing soldering and wiring in a hollow body that all I did was the pickup swap but I am seriously thinking of changing the pots, wires, etc ...


As long as the job is done well, good solder joints etc. Most modern coax is great. MOst modern components are pretty good. I don't think you will hear any difference when swapping out wire, or pots (unless you use the pots on your guitar a lot , better quality ones will last longer if used a lot). It's mostly about durability in usage.


You might also consider the value and taper of the potentiometers.

A guitar may sound darker than it should due to low resistance pots - like 300Ks that Gibson has put on countless Les Paul. Conversely, inherently bright sounding pickups may sound shrill or edgy with 500K or 1M pots.

The taper is more about feel, so you may find that a volume control's response is too sudden or a tone control doesn't really cut in until the control is almost fully back.

It's also worth checking tone capacitor values because there is always some degree of treble roll off even with the tone control fully up. So the value of the cap is worth considering because it determines the cutoff frequency. The effect is compounded by the volume pot value because that determines the strength of the resonance peak at the cutoff frequency.

So if your Strat sounds too bright, ensure you try it with a 0.1uF tone capacitor rather than a 0.047uF before you start spending money on fancy pickups.

Clearly there are quality issues when it comes to electronic components in cheaper guitars, but there are often suitability issues even on more up market ones.


Although I have both a P90 and a Staple Magnet in mine, the main pickup to me is the Staple pickup so with that in mind which Cap value and what Pot values would you suggest? Also I guess Audio Taper and not Linear Taper, correct? The P90 matters to me but mostly the Staple but they are similar so I think whatever works for one works for the other.


I just had new pots, caps, selector switch and wiring put into my CIJ '62 custom tele. It's quieter, there is a more gradual taper on both knobs, the whole thing feels more 'finished'. There is something I miss about some of the trashier sounds on the bridge pickup, but I can always mess up the sound.Harder to make trashy sound smooth.


Good quality wire of a decent gauge and well soldered connections all help with the quality of sound you will get, as well as good pots of the appropriate resistance and taper. I was reminded recently of the importance of good cables, too, when I tried some new patch cables. I don't use many FX - 3-4 at most - but once I had plugged in 2 or 3 of these new patch cables it occurred to me that my sound was lacking punch and bite. Put my old patches back in place and my sound was returned.

It all matters but there is the law of diminishing returns. You don't need to buy "the best cable ever" but good quality counts. The best pickups in the world will still sound crap though bad wiring and cheap cables.


Good quality cables are always a good idea, they last longer, aren't microphonic etc...Just don't get sucked in by 'monster cable' or gold plating etc. Anybody with real electrical knowledge will tell you it's hooey


If it sounds good, don't touch it. If it crackles or sounds dull or other signs of electric hardware failure show up, get some upgrades. Better caps is extremely marginal. Better pots should get rid of crackles. Changing value of pots is what you do when you want to have brighter or darker sound. The pickups should be good. But very good pickups shine most when played clean in a live solo environment. When live on stage in a loud mix, good pickups sound good but it will be hard to tell the difference or appreciate the class they might have.

Register Sign in to join the conversation