Dark Neck Pickup Hack
If you have played or owned more than one electric guitar, chances are you’ll have noticed a trend when it comes to pickups; The neck pickup is much darker and quieter than the middle and bridge pickups. You may have tried to remedy the situation by adjusting the pickup heights in order to get the pickups to match relatively well. I have done that many times.
The fact is though, that doesn’t always do the trick. You are left with a dramatically lower neck pickup thats still too quiet and too dark. Too much bass, not enough high end punch. I eventually got sick of it and decided to search the internet, books, and setup guides. The good news is I found several remedies. Here is one of my favorites, I call it the Dark Neck Pickup Hack.
Before we start, there are a few things to consider. You will need to do some very minor soldering; It will be less than 5 minutes worth of actual soldering. If you aren’t familiar with how to solder its no big deal. A trained monkey could do it. Just search Google for How to Solder Guitar Wiring. Its a very easy process.
Time to Complete: 30-60 minutes.
- Soldering Iron
- .047 Capacitor
The goal here is to filter out the lower end frequencies that are dulling the pickup’s overall tone. The .047 capacitor will be connected in series with the hot output wire of the neck pickup. In series just means that one leg of the capacitor is connected to the end of the hot wire, and the other leg will be connected where the hot wire used to connect( this could be a volume pot or selector switch).
Dark Neck Pickup Hack Step by Step
Its really quite simple. I personally opted to add a length of wire to the second leg of the capacitor then connected that to my three way switch. Whatever you choose to do is up to you.
Disconnect the pickup hot wire from selector switch or volume pot whichever the case may be.
Solder the hot wire to one leg of the capacitor.
Solder remaining leg of capacitor to selector switch or volume pot. (This will be the same location that you just removed the hot wire from in Step 1.)
Put the guitar back together and test out your newly modded pickup.
I personally use this hack on all of my electric guitars and it does make a drastic difference in the pickups overall tone. Its an easy hack that pickup makers have used for decades. It is tried and true. Plus it is totally reversible and won’t harm your guitar. I hope you found this hack to be helpful in your personal pursuit for the perfect tone. Check back often for more Axe Hacks. Keep on Rocking!
The Axe Dr.
F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is a "Dark Pickup"
A "Dark Pickup" is a humbucker with too much low end, and not enough bright sounding qualities. Especially when compared to the Bridge pickup. This is an all to common issue on Humbucker/Humbucker guitars.
What is a guitar capacitor?
A guitar capacitor is basically just a high pass filter. Guitarists like to use them on tone pots. It blocks low frequency signal, and allows high frequencies to pass, thus "High Pass". So in rolling down a tone pot, you remove those frequencies, changing your guitar tone.
Do I need a capacitor on my guitar?
That is an excellent question. The answer is really up to you. If you use your tone pot to adjust your guitar tone all the time, and its important to you...then yes. You'll probably miss it when its gone. However your guitar will still function without one, you just won't be able to roll off your high frequencies anymore.