Have you ever wondered if the covers on guitar pickups have any effect on the tone of your instrument? It’s a common question among guitarists that has sparked plenty of debate over the years.
While some claim that pickup covers can make a difference in the sound of a guitar, others say they have no influence whatsoever. As with many things, the truth lies somewhere in between.
So, what’s the deal with guitar pickup covers? Do they really affect the tone of the instrument or not? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at pickup covers and explore how they can possibly affect the sound your guitar produces.
What Are Guitar Pickup Covers Used For?
Pickup covers are small pieces of material, usually plastic, ceramic, or metal, that are designed to fit over the magnets of guitar pickups.
The most common purpose of them is to protect the magnets from damage from various outside factors, but people also use guitar pickup covers because of their aesthetics.
Pickup covers can provide a cool classic look because many vintage guitars have them, especially Gibson, Gretsch, and Guild guitars with metallic humbucker covers. They can also add some degree of customization to your guitar since you can find them in various colors.
For example, if you don’t like your white single-coil covers on your Strat, you can get some black ones instead or virtually any color you wish.
How Can Pickup Covers Affect Tone?
Now, although there are some tangible benefits to having guitar pickup covers, do they have any noticeable effect on your guitar tone, good or bad?
Yes, guitar pickup covers can affect your tone, but their impact is trivial mainly and something you don’t necessarily need to be concerned with at all.
These covers have the potential to reduce the extra noise and can dampen some of the high-end frequencies, and for some people, this can be considered beneficial. On the downside, they may reduce your overall output too.
However, the tonal differences caused by pickup covers aren’t usually attributed to the material used to shield the pickup; instead, it’s believed that the surface creates a slightly-increased distance between the pickup and the string.
If you think the guitar pickup covers are negatively affecting your tone, no matter how small, try adjusting the height of the pickup. You may find that it solves the issue.
The fact of the matter is that guitar pickup covers do have the potential to alter your tone, and for some people, this change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
That said, if you perceive a difference in your guitar tone while having covers on, it’s most likely caused by the height rather than the plastic or metal protecting the magnets.
The type of guitar pickup you use will matter much more, as well as your amp and any effects you use. Of course, as they always say, your tone is also in your fingers, so keep practicing, and you’ll see more profound differences than any guitar pickup cover can make.