pickup placement on electric guitar

I’m a happy bunny!

Endless moving around of pickups on spare electric guitar has never really satisfied.

The maths (arithmetic) suggests the harmonics that give a single note its tone are multiples of the root frequency: f, 2f, 3f, etc.

for a note C, the full sound would incorporate all these notes:

C, C2, G2,
C3, E3, G3, Bb3
C4, D4 …

C2 is an octave above C etc.

The wonderful open source software MuseScore just happens to have a midi approximation to a sine wave, so I had a play:

(MuseScore regulars please note. I’m a complete beginner and guaranteed to have done something wrong!).


Note: the higher harmonics on a guitar string are increasingly wild approximations to the given notes.

Changing the relative volume of the harmonics generates some truly bizarre sounds – guitar stomp box (FX) overdue πŸ™‚


Addendum September 2020:

I’ve since built my own electric guitar (first such project), and done a major upgrade on a Squier Affinity (excellent build and playability with poor pickups). All three pickups replaced with hotrail pickups, each independently switchable between single coil and humbucker mode. Like project #1, neck and bridge pickups in humbucker mode with the middle as single coil gives 5 distinct, very pleasing tones …

Very pleased with the results πŸ™‚

Conclusion: The exact placement is not so important as the contrast in output between the middle pickup and the neck / bridge. This gives unique sounds (with a strat type setup) at selector positions 2 and 4Β  (neck/middle, bridge/middle).

πŸ¦‰ Β© Peter Fairbrother @pjforguk www.pjf.org.ukΒ  πŸŒ„


  1. It will. I’ve been mending flat roofs and the like, which are priorities in dry weatherπŸ€”β˜” but the musical loft beckons. It’s easier with lyrics (limits the infinite options) so I’ll try to write something new… Tomorrow! πŸ“πŸŽΆ

    What’s the Emoji for “we’ve heard that before”? πŸ™„πŸŽΌ

  2. I look forward to new music from the loft. That would be a good name for your forth coming album! Perhaps you could grow long hair and add 3 members forming a group. Yes,I can see it all now!

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