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Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to install pickups?
Why are your Humbuckers called a “Missing Link”? Aren’t they just Humbuckers?
Why does the site make such a big deal about adjustable magnets? Aren’t most pickups adjustable?
The Missing Link is just a Wide Range in a Humbucker casing, right?
Why is the “Minibird” named that way? Isn’t it just a Mini Humbucker?
I see that you don't sell the pickups that come on your Hollowtop guitars separately...what’s up with that??
What do the graphic “specifications” on the pickup descriptions represent?
What does the “EQ” graph show?
What does the “Attack” graph tell me?
What does the “Output” graph show?
What does “DC Resistance” mean?
What does “Inductance” mean?
What does “Magnet Type” mean?
What does “Wire Gauge” affect?
What does “Resonance Frequency” mean?
Can I order your Humbuckers without the engraving on the covers?
Can you overwind/underwind a pickup for me?
What is the tonal difference between Humbuckers and Single Coils?
What is your Return Policy?
Do you sell to dealers or builders?

 

What do I need to install pickups?
Pickup installation requires a screwdriver and a soldering iron. We have diagrams on our site for where to make the solder connections on your guitar. If you aren’t comfortable using a soldering iron, or are overly clumsy, your local guitar tech will be able to do pickup installations. If you wish to learn to do installations yourself, the learning curve is low and there are several soldering demonstration videos on youtube.



Why are your Humbuckers called a “Missing Link”? Aren’t they just Humbuckers?
Our humbuckers are called “Missing Link” humbuckers because they are built by combining design elements that are present in both humbuckers and single coils, namely magnetic pole pieces and humbucking double coils. While we love classic PAF humbuckers and similar designs, we couldn’t stop at already charted territory. Through research, testing, patience, and some good old trial and error, we developed the “Missing Link” pickup series to give unique tones that still sit within the two common tonal realms familiar to guitar players; humbuckers and single coils.

Why does the site make such a big deal about adjustable magnets? Aren’t most pickups adjustable?
Due to the unique magnetic structure design of our “Missing Link” pickups, they are more sensitive to pole piece adjustment than standard humbuckers. Adjusting the magnet pole pieces down and raising the whole pickup towards the strings will provide a tone with more midrange focus, whereas lowering the pickup and raising the magnetic pole pieces towards the strings will give more nuanced treble frequencies. This allows very a fine tuning of the pickup’s response, and can be adjusted differently for each string if desired.

Think of it like this: pole pieces flat with the cover and 1/16” below the strings*...you’re in Kalamazoo county. Bring the cover down from the strings while keeping the pole pieces 1/16” below the strings and your in Fullerton town.
*1/16” an inch below the bottom of the two “E” strings when pressed at the very last fret.

Note that the aforementioned pickup adjustments effect on tone isn’t present on the “Missing Link S” pickup, but the effect on string to string volume balance can still be adjusted by changing the individual magnet’s heights. This can be useful for guitars with a vintage style (7.25”) fretboard radius.

The Missing Link is just a Wide Range in a Humbucker casing, right?
The “Missing Link” pickups cover a much wider range of tones than the original Wide Range Humbuckers that Fender made in the 70’s.

It is first worth mentioning that current Wide Range Humbuckers Reissues are completely different than the vintage ones, and are essentially standard humbuckers. They don’t use threaded CuNiFe magnets like the originals. In terms of both design and tone, original Wide Range Humbuckers have no more in common with our “Missing Link” pickups than any other standard humbucker.

Vintage Wide Range pickups, however, have some similarities to our “Missing Link” pickups. We use a magnetic geometry that narrows the magnetic field for more clarity, we use magnets with a more lively attack, and we wind with several different types and sizes of wire for our different “Missing Link” model’s needs.

Our current offerings that come closest to the Vintage Wide Range Humbucker tone would be the “Missing Link +” pickup set. It is, however, not intended to sound like a vintage Wide Range. The “Missing Link +” is designed to be a bit more single coil like in EQ and feel. It also is wired in 4 conductor so one coil can be selected to run as a true single coil.

Why is the “Minibird” named that way? Isn’t it just a Mini Humbucker?
The “Minibird” is named the way it is because it uses a combination of a Mini Missing Link and Firebird design elements. It is designed to be extremely clear and uncongested with a full range frequency response.

The half of the pickup with the pole pieces uses a technique borrowed from our Missing Link pickups; using magnets as pole pieces instead of steel screws. This provides a snappy attack and clarity. The other half of the pickup uses a bar magnet under the cover that is actually one long pole piece. This is a technique borrowed from vintage Firebird designs that gives a smoother attack with more sustain.

What’s cool about having the two different halves on the Minibird, is that you can dial in the effect of each unique voice! Want more Firebird tone? Lower the pole pieces and raise the pickup height. Want more Missing Link tone? Raise the pole pieces and lower the pickup height.

I see that you don't sell the pickups that come on your Hollowtop guitars separately...what’s up with that??
The short answer is that we are selfish...so please read the long answer!

The long answer is that this is a truly unique and original design...and in a world where “it’s all been done” this is no small feat! To our knowledge, this is the only pickup in the world that lives in a mini humbucker casing and utilizes threaded magnetic pole pieces (amongst other proprietary design features). This unique design couples magically with our Hollowtops unique design, providing an experience that cannot be replicated...so yeah, we’re a little protective of that!

What do the graphic “specifications” on the pickup descriptions represent?
The specifications section contains a combination of raw pickup data and graphics to best illustrate the tonal characteristics of our pickups, and also aids in comparing different models. EQ, Attack, and Output are the quickest way to learn about a pickups tone. While the DC Resistance, Wire Gauge, Inductance, Magnet Type and Resonant frequency don’t mean much individually, but they will collectively provide an idea of the overall tone for fellow pickup aficionados….

The following FAQ questions address each spec in more detail. 

What does the “EQ” graph show?
The EQ graph represents the balance of frequencies each pickup provides. These graphs take into account each pickup’s corresponding position in the guitar (neck, middle, or bridge). Since the mid range of the audio spectrum is so vital to guitar tone, we separated the lower mids and upper mids to better represent each pickup’s unique tonal qualities. 

What does the “Attack” graph tell me?
The Attack graph represents how “percussive” a note is when the string is played. We feel that this is an often overlooked, but very important tonal aspect to represent. The further left a pickup is on this graph, the smoother it is, while the further right it is, the snapier it is. For example, an Alnico 2 Humbucker would be very far left, while most Fender style single coils will be very far right on the graph. Part of the Missing Link Humbucker’s magic comes from their attack being further right and having more definition than traditional Humbucker designs. It’s a Fullerton meets Kalamazoo love child!



What does the “Output” graph show?
The Output Graph represents how much volume the pickups produce relative to each other. These graphs take into account each pickup’s corresponding position in the guitar (neck, middle, or bridge). A higher output pickup will push overdriven amps and overdrive pedals into distortion sooner than a low output one; while a lower output pickup typically has more clarity and definition but don’t push an amp as much. With the myriad of amazing pedals, and low wattage amps on the market, extra output is a preference and not a requirement (and you know the sound guy prefers it ;).



What does “DC Resistance” mean?
DC Resistance is the most commonly misunderstood term amongst pickup nomenclature. It is often wrongly used to indicated a pickup’s output and tone, however it represents neither unless all the other elements of the pickups being compared are identical. The type of wire, wind pattern, wind tension, magnetic structure, pickup shape, inductance, and the presence of eddy currents can all vary drastically making DC Resistance alone a very poor means of comparing two pickups.

This is particularly relevant with some of our more unique pickups designs, which is why we include graphs on our site and other more detailed information for those who enjoy looking into pickup specs. We spend a lot of time taking various technical readings and listening to pickups before publishing this data. It is important to us that our specs and graphs are useful for finding the unique aspects players seek in a pickup.

It is also normal for DC Resistance readings to vary a fair amount depending on the temperature, humidity, and the exact meter used.

What does “Inductance” mean?
Inductance is the best single indicator of a pickup’s output and tonal balance. A pickup with higher Inductance will typically be louder and have a suppressed treble peak, with more bass and mids. With that said, it is similar to DC Resistance in the sense that it should not be used exclusively to assume how a pickup sounds. The type of wire, wind pattern, wind tension, magnetic structure, pickup shape, inductance, and presence of eddy currents all can vary drastically and make Inductance alone a poor means of comparing two pickups.



What does “Magnet Type” mean?
The Magnet Type refers to the grade of magnet used in the pickup. It has an effect on the way a string’s vibrations are translated to the amplifier, and also on the inductance of the pickup. How each grade of magnet effects the sound depends greatly on the magnet’s shape and location relative to the strings and the pickup’s wind. When comparing an identical pickup with just the magnet swapped, the differences are as follows:

From lowest output to highest:
- Alnico 3
- Alnico 5
- Alnico 4
- Alnico 2
- Alnico 8
- Ceramic

From least attack to highest:
- Alnico 3
- Alnico 2
- Alnico 4
- Alnico 5
- Alnico 8
- Ceramic

It is worth noting that a ceramic magnet will produce less Inductance than an equally shaped Alnico magnet, but typically will still have more output. Ceramic magnets are notorious for being used in place of Alnico magnets in cheaper pickups to save expenses, without regard for the tonal differences that would result. This has created associations with Ceramic pickups being inferior to Alnico pickups, but that is not true. A quality pickup can be made of with an Alnico or Ceramic magnet, as long as the pickup is designed with the magnet type in mind.



What does “Wire Gauge” affect?
Wire gauge refers to the thickness of the wire wound around a pickup. 42 AWG is the most common in guitar pickups, although we use a variety of different gauges and types to achieve particular results. Higher gauge wire is thinner and allows for more output if more winds are used, or more treble if wound to an equal output. Wire gauge is another color in a pickup winders tonal pallet (forgive the cheesy metaphor, but it’s true). For instance, the use of 41 AWG wire in our ‘78 Tele Bridge pickup is unconventional, and it sounds phenomenal!



What does “Resonance Frequency” mean?
The Resonance Frequency of a guitar pickup is the frequency where a guitar pickup has the strongest signal. This is typically in the lower treble and upper mid regions. The frequency and shape of the resonance peak has a significant effect on the character of a pickup. The frequencies around the resonant frequency also are boosted, making the resonant frequency placement a very important factor in how much a pickup provides treble, upper mids, and low mids in relation to the bass. We find this frequency by sending an electrical current through the pickup that sweeps through the entire audio range and recording where the signal has the strongest output.

Can I order your Humbuckers without the engraving on the covers?
We do not offer plain pickup covers, but we feel we have good reason to this madness: We do not mark the covers on any of our traditional wind pickups, and if we were doing clones of traditional humbuckers we would would not engrave the covers. But, alas, the Missing Link’s are not clones of anything! These are a unique design with a unique tone, and we are quite proud of that accomplishment. Our subtle markings simply confirm that you are indeed hearing something different than another PAF clone.

Can you overwind/underwind a pickup for me?
We currently don’t offer pickups made to customer’s exact specs. The reason for this is because making a pickup that lives up to our tone quality standards requires a lot of R&D, prototypes, and time. While we could wind one-off pickups based on customer descriptions using our knowledge and experience and hope that it sounds good, we prefer to sell our own designs that we know will sound fantastic!

However, if you are a guitar builder and would like to talk about tweaking one of our designs to fit your creation, we are more than happy to have that conversation.

What is the tonal difference between Humbuckers and Single Coils?
Most guitar players are familiar with the generalization that humbuckers tend to be warm and smooth, while single coils tend to be bright and percussive. These differences are mostly due to the differences in ways that humbuckers and single coils magnetically receive the strings. Single coils tend to have a narrow and concentrated magnetic field that focuses on a small portion of a guitar string. This is done using magnets themselves as pole pieces. Conversely, Humbuckers typically have a bar magnet underneath the pickup and steel pole pieces to redirect the magnetic field upwards towards the strings. This means a wider and less concentrated section of the string’s signal is being sent to the amp. This wider field results in phase cancellations amongst the string’s harmonics from separate locations on the string. The end result of this is less of the airy treble frequency that singles coils have, which in turn makes the bass and midrange stand out in a way that is unique to humbuckers.

Our “Missing Link” series of pickups combine both humbucker and single coil properties to create unique tones that bridge the gap between humbuckers and single coils. With all the benefits of a humbucker, and all the punch and clarity of an “F” style single coil, the Missing Link delivers the best of both worlds.

Humbuckers also cancel a large amount of electrical hum (hence the name “humbucker) from signals coming from outside of the guitar. This is because humbuckers are actually two pickup coils side by side, wired out of phase electrically and magnetically. This creates a situation where the electrical component of the pickup is out of phase, and therefore cancelling hum, but the the signal from the pickups is still in phase due to one of the coils also having the magnetic polarity reversed. This same method of hum cancelling is what is sometimes used to cancel hum when two single coil pickups are wired to play together with Reverse Phase and Reverse Polarity. This is commonly referred to as “RWRP”.

These are generalizations and some single coils are designed to cancel hum as well, like our “Missing Link S” models that sound like single coils, but cancel hum and fit in a standard humbucker route.

What is your Return Policy?
If for any reason one of our pickups fails to function properly we will be happy to fix or replace it within one year of the date of purchase.

And now that the legal rhetoric has been satisfied, we would like to add the following caveat: We take great pride in our designs and the quality of our pickups. If one of our products ever fails, we want to hear from you! It is very important that anything we sell function flawlessly and perform effortlessly. Please do not ever hesitate to contact us with questions, concerns, suggestions...or even compliments :)

Do you sell to dealers or builders?
Yes, we do sell to dealers and builders! We offer dealer/builder pricing based on quantity. We can also build unique pickup’s for your guitars. For pricing and questions please e-mail us.