Is the noise from my new Lollar pickups “normal?”
We will be publishing a three part series on guitar pickup noise. In this series you will be able to read the main questions we get on this subject. Each of the questions will be followed by a thorough answer or discussion.
I just got my new pickups installed and I seem to notice more noise than I’m used to. Is there a problem?
It is interesting to note that one of the most common “causes” and “solutions” to hearing noise from your new pickups is recognizing the fact that they are brand new. In other words, we find that just after a new set of pickups is installed, our customers are listening to their guitars much more intensely than usual. You are listening to the new pickups for the first few times, in much greater detail, and you are paying more attention to them. We typically recommend that you do a side by side comparison of your new set and a set you are “used” to. The best way to do this is simply get out another guitar that you’re familiar with and switch back and forth. After doing this a few times, most players realize that the new set is actually similar, if not better, when compared against a familiar guitar.
I hear a little noise from single coils AND humbuckers, what’s the difference?
Single coils are sensitive to both 60 and 120 cycle noise. Of course humbuckers cancel the very loud, low frequency noise of the 60 cycle frequency. But all pickups will sense the 120 cycle frequency. Fortunately it can be displaced by shielding and having your strings grounded. For example, when you touch the strings most of the 120 cycle goes away. The most distracting is the 60 cycle hum, because the only thing that will quiet it is actually moving the position of the guitar relative to your position on the stage or in the room. In other words, the solution to this is simply standing in a different place.
If I hear a little noise from my new pickups, is there something wrong with the pickup?
The noise is not the pickup itself – it is caused by external electro magnetically generated fields. The pickup is basically acting like an antenna and “receiving” the signals generated by this electrical field. Also, the size of the coil can have an effect on how much noise is generated – a bigger antenna has a better ability to receive these signals. So that means a P-90 or Charlie Christian with a large wide coil will be noisier than a narrower, taller Fender type coil.