How To Test Guitar Pickups

If your guitar has been acting up or if you are not getting the sound you desire from it, you may need learn how to test guitar’s pickups. It is not uncommon for classic pickups to malfunction after years of use – solder points can weaken and break apart, and wires can become frayed and broken—but thankfully, there is an easy way to check if your guitar’s pickups are in working condition. So if you are having problems, these simple steps can help diagnose any problems you are having with your guitar’s pickups and get you back to what is really important: the music.

To begin with, you will need the following tools:

  • Multimeter (volt/ohm meter)
  1. Visually inspect pickups. Loosen or remove the pickups from your guitar and visually inspect the wiring and solder points. If you notice that any solder points are broken or weak, simply apply more solder with a soldering gun. If you notice that any wires are damaged, simply replace the entire wire, soldering each end to its correct solder point.
  2. Test pickups with multimeter. Disconnect the pickups and measure the resistance between the two wires that are connected to it by using a multimeter. A functioning pickup will measure between nine and fourteen  kOhms. If you receive a measurement that is lower than nine, then you probably have a short in one of the wires.  If this is the case then you simply need to replace the wire. If your kOhm measurement is higher than fourteen (or infinite), it means that the pickups are malfunctioning and needs to be either rewound or replaced. If your pickups are older it is better to replace them rather than try to wind them again. However, if you do decide to have your pickups rewound, find a professional guitar technician to assist you, as they will be practiced in the art of pickup winding.
  3. Replace pickups and test guitar. Once you have diagnosed and fixed the problem, connect the pickups to the guitar, replace/tune the strings, and plug your guitar into an amplifier. Play a note and determine if the pickup is functioning correctly. If it is, then rock on!
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