DIY Bass Guitar Pickups

diy bass guitar pickups

Pickups can make all the difference to your bass guitar tone. By providing more clarity and balance to your playing, they can make you sound more professional while improving musicality overall.

Pickups are magnetic transducers that convert vibrations from your bass strings into an electrical signal, typically located near the neck or saddles on your guitar body.


When making DIY bass guitar pickups, it is essential to select appropriate materials. This choice will have an impactful influence on the final quality and may also serve as components such as tuners, bridge, and frets.

Consider both your musical genre and desired distortion level when making this decision. For example, when performing on stage it would be beneficial to utilize a higher output pickup instead of one with moderate output levels.

Pickups are circular metal discs equipped with tiny electromagnets attached to wire coils, the design of which determines how much distortion will appear on your bass guitar. There is a wide selection of designs and sizes of pickups to choose from; small pickups may be more suitable for live performances while larger models may work better when recording music.

A quality pickup can range anywhere from $10 to $50 depending on its materials and construction quality, with ceramic (typically aluminum or titanium), plastic and steel being the most commonly used materials.

A quality pickup should also be built using premium components that can withstand wear and tear, including strong coils that can handle considerable pressure as well as powerful magnets.

Pickup kits are readily available for purchase online and at local guitar shops alike; alternatively, you can make your own by following simple instructions.

Start by gathering materials. Your first task should be cutting a piece of wood roughly equal in thickness to that of your guitar body using a template for guidance.

Before routing pickup cavities with your router, a drill will be essential in creating holes for neck and bridge pickups. After drilling these holes, routing will allow you to shape pickup cavities – one of the more time-consuming parts of this process but essential in ensuring a quality bass guitar.

Your next steps require you to obtain a soldering gun and set of bare wires for the pickup. Be certain that these bare wires do not touch other parts of your bass guitar during assembly.


Switching out your bass’s pickups can have a dramatic impact on its sound and how it responds to different styles of playing. As a beginner or experienced bassist, taking time to experiment with various pickup types is worthwhile as you determine which best matches your musical tastes and playing style.

Single-coil pickups for bass guitars are the go-to choice, producing full and clear tones suitable for many genres of music, while being exceptionally durable and long-term.

Humbucker pickups are another type of pickup that are great for bassists looking for an aggressive sound, such as metal and heavy music.

These pickups feature a large magnet and tight coil design to capture every nuance of playing. Furthermore, these models offer warm low end notes as well as growly midrange.

Nordstrand Big Single soapbar pickup is an example of such a pickup. Constructed using 43Awg wire and tightly wound and wax potted coils, it features tight coiling.

Stacking pickups also helps minimize intereference among coils and decreases any potential humming that may arise due to multiple coils in a pickup.

These pickups can often be found on basses manufactured by Fender, DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan and offer an easy installation process as well as authentic single coil tone.

These basses are tailored for an array of playing styles, from jazz and blues to rock. Furthermore, when combined with an active bass amp they produce even richer soundscapes.

These pickups are constructed of premium materials and boast precise specifications to provide ultimate bass guitar tone and durability.

If you are building your own bass guitar, it is essential that you have a clear idea of the design you would like. A plan can help ensure that you stay on track and complete the project swiftly while saving both time and money in the process.


Pickups are coils of wire wrapped around magnets that detect energy coming from your bass strings and send it directly to an amplifier, depending on what style or genre of music you play. Pickups can alter the tone of your bass in various ways to shape its sound in accordance with genre or style preferences.

Pickups fall into three main categories, active, passive or humbucker, with some even featuring different materials that help modulate and amplify string vibrations for an individualized sound. It is crucial that the pickup you choose fits with the body of your bass instrument perfectly to achieve optimal tone production.

On the market today, single coil or J pickups are by far the most popular type of pickup. These pickups are ideal for capturing the low notes that define modern bass guitar sound – making them a fantastic choice for rockers or players looking to recreate the sounds of their favorite musicians.

Humbucker or double-coil pickups are another popular choice on the market and provide more control than single coil models over your bass’s sound. Ideal for heavier genres such as metal and fusion music, humbuckers have a wide dynamic range and offer greater sound control overall.

An important consideration when selecting a pickup is polarity of coils. This factor determines if you hear any hum when connecting your bass into an amp.

If you hear an irritating hum, the best solution may be replacing your pickup with one from a reputable brand. When making this choice, ensure it includes quality components.

P90 pickups can produce a distinctive sound when connected to an overdriven amplifier, known as cycle hum. Unfortunately, it can become annoyingly distracting in environments with many electrical gadgets around.

Building pickups doesn’t require being an expert in electronics; all you need is some basic tools, research online and the ability to follow a simple plan.


Magnets are essential to pickup design, as they transfer electric signals between coils. Furthermore, they serve to suppress interference through phase cancellation – this effectively eliminates hum and makes bass sounds fuller, rounder and more defined than single-coil pickups.

Magnets can be made of various materials, including soft iron, Alnico and ferrite. Alnico pickups generally sound warmer and smoother due to having higher permeabilities than their ferrite counterparts.

Magnet selection will have a profound impact on the tone produced by your DIY bass guitar pickup. Experiment with various magnet types until you find one that works well with your individual needs.

Alnico magnets are essential when building your own bass guitar pickup, as they have a stronger permanent magnetic charge than steel and aluminum; therefore, their lifespan exceeds that of other types.

To give your bass an extra bit of character, why not opt for a magnet coated with either silver or gold plating? This will provide richer sounding vintage-esque vibe.

An aluminum magnet is another popular magnet choice for building your own bass guitar pickup, easily available at most hardware stores and usually sold in packages of two. They also come in different sizes to meet different pick-up shapes.

Magnetic pickups are an ideal choice for bassists seeking a rich, detailed sound without harsh edges, while piezoelectric or hexaphonic pickups may produce brighter and more acoustic tones.

No matter which magnets you select, make sure that the coils are wound correctly to ensure an even output from your pickup and its proper functioning. Test with a multimeter to check its efficiency; if output falls too far short of expectations you may need more wires around each magnet or use stronger magnets.