guitar pickups sound weak

Why Do My Guitar Pickups Sound Weak? (Troubleshooting Pickups)

Have you ever noticed that your guitar pickups don’t seem to be outputting sound like they used to?

Why do my guitar pickups sound weak?

There are a few reasons why your guitar pickups sound weak:

  • The height of the pickup might be too low. If this pickup height is not correct it can cause your pickups to sound weak.
  • The “hot spot” on your pickups is higher than you need, it could cause output to flow out in an unnatural way and affect the sound that you are looking for.
  • The pickups might be defective.
  • Your guitar’s wiring might be faulty. If you have a faulty wiring that is shorting out somewhere, it can cause your pickups to sound weak or a sound that is very different from what you are used to hearing from your guitar.

Troubleshooting Guitar Pickups

Guitar Pickup Not Loud Enough

Well, first thing to check is the height of your pickup. The reason why this might be happening is because you are using them too low, or the electric guitar pickups are not properly seated.

Next, you may need to check the phase.  If it is out of phase, it could cause it to not be loud enough.  Reversing the ground and hot wires should resolve this issue.

Bridge Humbucker Sounds Thin

A bridge humbucker can sometimes sound thin due to an improper installation.  If it is a four wire pickup you should recheck all the wires to make sure it was installed properly. If it is a two wire bridge pickup, then the height might be too low or too high.

Humbucker Not Outputting A Clean Sound

If it is not outputting a clean sound then you may need to check your phase wiring. If they are out of phase this can cause you to lose output and clarity. Reversing the wires may fix this. You can use an ohm-meter to check for an out of phase connection.

Low Output From One Pickup

If it is just one pickup then there are several reasons that could be the cause of the problem.  You might have some sort of loose connection or it might be that the pickup is defective.

Another common error is wrong phase. If it’s not in phase, you can resolve this by reversing wires to find out where they are out of phase.

Neck Pickup Low Volume

When your neck pickup is too high, it will not have enough output. The tone will be weak and quiet. If this is the case, you can try adjusting the height of the neck pickup. Use a small screwdriver to adjust. If you lower it too much or raise it too high, then it could cause a sound that isn’t enjoyable to hear.

A close connection could also cause a weak neck pickup tone. Check to see if any loose connection is preventing it from being loud enough.

Why Are My Guitar Pickups So Quiet?

If it is too quiet, you may need to check the height of the pickup. You can adjust them with a small screwdriver. Make sure they are at the correct height.  Especially if you installed new pickups, they might be low in output if they were not soldered in correctly.

Another reason it could be too quiet is due to loose wiring. Check around all of your wires for any loose connections that were not properly soldered in place or wires that are touching each other or bridging together.

There may also be a defective wiring due to faulty installation. If you are not sure, make sure your pickups are properly installed.

Guitar Pickup Sounds Very Different From Other Pickups I Have

If it sounds off, make sure you are using the correct phase for your pickup. If the phase is incorrect the tone will sound different from what you are used to hearing with an all-round guitar pickup. You can resolve this by reversing all four wires. This will put them in phase with each other.

If they are the same pickup but sound different, you may need to look at your wiring. Make sure it is not loose. If it is loose, make sure they are securely in place and make sure they are grounded correctly. You can also check to see if your guitar’s output jack is faulty or if there is a loose connection somewhere in your guitar wiring.

How Can I Make My Guitar Pickups Sound Better?

You can do so by adjusting your pickup height, rewiring your guitar pickups or adjusting your phase. If you have a faulty wiring that is shorting out somewhere, it can cause your pickups to sound weak or a sound that is very different from what you are used to hearing from your guitar.

How Can You Tell If A Guitar Pickup Is Bad?

If your pickup does not make any sound, it is bad. There is no way to tell just by looking at it. You need to check the wire connection to see if they are bad or defective.

If you have a pickup that does make noise, make sure it is the correct phase. Make sure they are in phase with each other. If it sounds weak, i don’t think a stronger signal will make a difference. Make sure the wire is properly soldered into place and that you have grounded it properly by checking for continuity.

Do Guitar Pickups Sound Better With Age?

There is no way to tell if your guitar pickups will sound better with age. Guitar pickups are very sensitive and may not give you the same sound with age. So if you are using good quality guitar pickups, it is safe to assume that they will sound good however old they are.

How To Get More Volume From A Humbucker

It is quite simple to achieve more volume when using humbuckers. Just simply raise the pickup height by about 1/4″ to 3/8″. This will give you more output and you can also lower the volume of your guitar if needed.

If you want to get higher output from your humbucking pickups, you can do so by using certain wiring techniques or using special types of pickup covers. Check out how to increase the volume of a humbucker.


There are a few things to take into consideration when setting up your guitar pickups. However, with the information provided here it should be easy to make adjustments to make your electric guitars pickups sound great.