Can You Mix and Match Guitar Pickups?

Pickups are one of the most relevant features of electric guitars. 

Without them, we can’t create such wonderful and powerful sound. 

So, if pickups are that important, it is worth taking care of them. 

And I’m not necessarily meaning to avoid them from being damaged. 

I’m saying that one should understand the way they work, to keep trouble away. 

Thus, it is wise to look for information on, for example, how to replace them. 

In this case, we’ll focus on whether you can mix-match guitar pickups or not. 

The short answer is the following: 

Yes, you can mix and match pickups from different brands, models, and even sizes. Sometimes, the guitar must undergo a slight modification for the pickup to fit in, especially when switching from passive to active pickups.

Now, before you run to the next guitar store and buy the first shiny thing you see, I encourage you to keep reading till the end. 

You’ll find useful information that could save you a pain in the neck

Can you combine any guitar pickups?

Most often than not, you can combine guitar pickups without much difficulty. 

It doesn’t matter if there are differences in the pickup models, brands, or types. 

The limitations to mixing and matching them are not too many. 

But which are they? 

Are there any limitations to mixing and matching pickups?

The limitations are mainly related to the body of the guitar and the pickguard. 

A pickup that is smaller than the pickup cavity will work perfectly.

However, some pickups might be slightly bigger than the pickguards. Therefore, you should either get a bigger pickguard or cut the one you have so the pickup can fit in. 

Another issue is the type of guitar you are working with. 

For example, 12-string pickups cannot be used with six-string instruments. And this is also true for 7, 8, or 9-strings.

The pickup should always fit the type of guitar you are using. 

Also, consider that active pickups will present certain issues. 

More specifically, active pups demand a battery compartment. 

In other words, if your guitar doesn’t have one, then you must create one. 

Thus, your guitar will yet again undergo modifications. 

For experts, this is not a real issue. Nonetheless, I advise you not to toy with the instrument if you don’t know what you are doing since you run the risk of permanently damaging your guitar. 

So, you want to replace passive with active? Great, you can do it. 

But please, always leave these matters to professionals. 

Lastly, combining both passive and active pickups also has certain limitations. However, it is possible to do it. 

Below we’ll discuss this topic more thoroughly. 

Will any set of guitar electronics work for any set of pickups?

Electronics won’t be a problem when replacing passive guitar pickups. 

Active pickups, as we mentioned before, will present certain issues. 

The problems are related to the modifications needed to be done on the guitar, so the instrument has a battery compartment for the active pickup.

Combining passive and active pickups

Can you combine both passive and active pickups? Yes, you can. 

But, it is no easy task. 

See, active pickups use 25K pots. On the contrary, passive pickups use 250 or 500K pots. 

This means that you should use a different set of tone control and volume for it to work. 

What’s more, consider that using just one pickup at a time will not be a problem. After all, you can wire up the tone and volume control for each pickup, which overall gives you more control over the instrument. 

However, having both pickups working simultaneously may not function in some cases. 

Active pickups’ signal saturates the signal of the passive pickup.  

Will any type of pickup fit your guitar?

The type of pickups tends to be not a problem. Pickups of different brands can work together. 

Also, if you are replacing pickups that are of the same size, then again, you will not face any issues. 

Now, the type of guitar plays a significant role in the pickup you work with. 

It’s worth mentioning again that a pickup for a standard guitar won’t function with seven-string guitars. 

In addition, changing the type of pickup will mostly require a drastic change in the guitar body. This is the case for those pickups that are relatively larger than the original pickup the guitar came with. 

Luckily, you can get a frame or adapter so the instrument doesn’t require that many modifications. 

One way or another, I encourage you to get pickups of the same type, if possible. 

Is it better to combine different pickups or to get a matching set?

Whether it is best to combine different guitar pickups or get a matching set depends mainly on the preference of the guitarist. 

If you are unsure and want to compare drawbacks and setbacks before deciding, then keep reading. 

We discuss both below. 

What are the advantages of mixing and matching pickups?

Mixing and matching different guitar pickups could lead to interesting tones. 

By combining two different types of pickups, you may acquire a customized tone. 

I would encourage you, though, to ask an expert if both models go together. 

It happens that certain models will not match well with each other. 

What are the disadvantages of mixing and matching pickups?

As I was discussing above, you should always do some research before purchasing. 

One of the disadvantages is that you may inadvertently mix-match pickups that just shouldn’t go together. 

You run the risk of making any pickup position sound disconnected from the rest. 

Most often than not, this is the result of mixing high output pickups with lower output pickups. 

Once again, I recommend getting some advice from experts before buying.