Good questions! A guitar pickup is a simple electrical component made of magnets and coils of wire. We chose to forego mojo sauce marketing and make excellent guitar pickups from the handful of variables that actually effect tone: Number of winds, thickness of wire, type of magnet, shape of coil, and surrounding material. An excellent pickup can be made by altering these variables - no extra virgin organic free-range new-old-stock materials needed.
We wind every Bootstrap Pickup that comes out of our garage. We reduce costs by making large bulk purchases directly from manufacturers of raw materials, and we are able to pass those savings onto you.
Custom orders are subject to a 50% restocking fee if returned.
Can I have a discount? What about bulk pricing?
Hey come on now, our prices are pretty great already. We do offer free shipping for orders of $60 or more though!
If you're purchasing a large OEM order ($2,000+ per order), we may be able to work with you and our suppliers to identify opportunities to further reduce costs and pass those savings onto you. This is the only circumstance in which we can offer additional discount.
Can I have free pickups?
Can I have a partial refund?
Sorry, we don't offer partial refunds under any circumstance. We're happy to refund your order upon return of your order.
Can you make a pickup with chewy, smokey mids and misty highs? What about to match my favorite guitarist?
Unfortunately, we cannot match subjective descriptions of tone. If you know what type of pickups your favorite guitarist used, we're happy to help match those specs with a custom order.
Can you make something like _____ pickup from another company?
We can usually match publicly available or privately measured specs. Shoot us a message through the Contact Us page and let's get to winding!
When will I get my pickups? What is your lead time?
Please check the product listing for the estimated lead time. Our lead times are listed in business days; please note: Saturday, Sunday, federal Holidays, Christmas Eve and Good Friday are not business days. If there is a banner notice at the top of our homepage advising a delay due to certain circumstances, this will add additional time to the projected lead time on the product page.
What does RW/RP mean?
RW/RP stands for Reverse Wound / Reverse Polarity. A set of pickups can either be RW/RP or Non-RW/RP. Sets of pickups that are RW/RP will have one pickup that is wound in the reverse direction and the magnets polarity also reversed. When these pickups are used together in standard wiring, they will be hum-canceling when two pickups are selected. In 3 pickup sets, the middle pickup is typically RW/RP. In 2 pickup sets, the neck pickup is typically RW/RP.
In our opinion, you should always choose RW/RP for your pickups unless you have a specific reason not to. These reasons may include: Guitar builds where historical accuracy is absolutely essential; uncommon wiring schemes that specifically call for non-RW/RP; you plan to pair our pickups with another company's pickups and you are certain that you need a non-RW/RP pickup to prevent phase issues.
Are your T-style bridge pickups wrapped?
Yes, our T-style bridge pickups now feature cotton string wrap. We use white wrap standard, with black being available upon request.
What is the difference between your Skookum-P.A.F.s and your Bootstrap Buckers
Tonally, our Bootstrap Buckers (Vintage Cleans) and our Skookum-P.A.F.s are very similar. The Skookum-P.A.F.s contain some expensive and hard to find materials that are as close as possible to vintage spec. The Skookums also contain a lot more USA-made materials, while the Bootstrap Buckers are assembled in the USA with US and imported materials. If your guitar requires materials and specs that are as historically accurate as possible, we highly recommend choosing our Skookum-P.A.F.s. If you are just looking for a great sounding set of pickups to put in your guitar, definitely go with the Bootstrap Buckers.
What role does resistance play in a pickup's tone? Do higher resistance values make a louder pickup or have higher output?
Resistance has become a shorthand of sorts for measuring pickup output in the pickup winding community, but in of itself, it has little practical effect on the tone of a pickup. While higher resistance values do technically filter the treble side of a pickup's signal, the small difference in resistance between different pickup models pales in comparison to other resistors and potentiometers (Typically 250-1,000 kOhm) within the typical electric guitar circuit.
The resistance value of a pickup varies for a number of reasons, including the length of the coil wire. A longer wire will have a higher resistance value, and will also have more wraps around a pickup bobbin which in turn means more wire to pick up the signal from the vibrating strings.
But resistance values can vary wildly between pickups and even between batches of the same pickup model. Resistance can be used in some circumstances to get a rough estimate of the output of a pickup -- all other variables such as wire thickness, room temperature, coil shape, winding tension, and magnet type being equal -- but it is not a reliable measure of output.
All Bootstrap pickups are wound to a specified number of winds for a particular model, and we do not wind to a specified resistance value.
What's the difference between 42AWG, 43AWG, and 44AWG wire? How does the wire gauge effect tone?
Different thicknesses, or gauges, of wire allow for different sized bobbins to be used while still achieving the desired number of winds on a pickup. As an example, the small T-style neck bobbin cannot easily fit 8000 winds of 42awg wire but can fit 8000 winds of thinner 43awg wire. That's why this thinner wire is typically used in neck pickups for Telecaster®.
There is very little practical difference in tone between these gauges of wire. Any differences such as resistance value or capacitance will be much, much smaller than other components in the guitar circuit. Differences in wire thickness do result in differences in coil size, which in turn may result in more wire being used as the coil gets bigger. At the extremes, this may mean that thicker wire (42awg) has higher output and less mids than thinner wire (44awg) for the same number of winds, but under most circumstances the effects will not be audible.
Does insulation type of the magnet wire affect the tone? Will Plain Enamel or Heavy Formvar coil wire give me a better sound?
Magnet wire in vintage pickups often had plain enamel or formvar insulation. Plain enamel wire is easy to identify by its dark purple/brown color. Different insulation types can result in a different total wire thickness (The thickness of the bare wire plus the insulation), and this, in turn, can lead to very small differences in the spacing between the copper coil wires. With a whole bunch of winds, this small difference in spacing can add up to a measurable difference in a pickup's capacitance.
Unfortunately, there is likely no practical difference in the actual tone of a guitar pickup once it's in the tone circuit of a guitar. Other components, especially the guitar output wire, vary in capacitance on orders of magnitude greater than any change in tone caused by the slight difference in coil wire spacing within a pickup.
Having a pickup wound in plain enamel or heavy formvar can be a great thing if historical accuracy is really important to your build - such as when restoring a vintage instrument. Sometimes it's really cool to just have an accurate reproduction of a vintage pickup, and that's totally okay too. If you want your pickups wound with a certain type of wire insulation, we're happy to do it - shoot us a message through the Contact Us page - but for the vast majority of players, there won't be an audible difference in tone.
Do different magnet types or grades effect tone? What does ALNICO mean? Is it better than ceramic pickups?
They sure do! The magnets in the guitar pickup serve one purpose: To magnetize the steel strings of an electric guitar. A stronger magnet makes for a higher output pickup because the stronger magnet more strongly magnetizes the steel strings. Those magnetized strings, when vibrating from being plucked, generate an electrical current within the coils of the pickup. Stronger magnets means the strings have a stronger magnetic field and this more current is produced with the coils of the pickup (Otherwise called higher output).
Pickup magnets typically come in two types: ALNICO and Ceramic. ALNICO stands for Aluminum-Nickel-Cobalt, three metals present in the steel alloy that determine the material's magnetic properties. ALNICO magnets can be quite pricey compared to other options.
Ceramic magnets are often used in less expensive pickups because it is a more affordable material. This has led to a bad rap for ceramic magnets as being only for cheap pickups. Cheap pickup designs will try to use a more powerful magnet to compensate for lower wind counts or poor quality materials, resulting in a weak, harsh or overly distorted pickup. But there is no reason why an awesome pickup couldn't be built with ceramic magnets! What is important is balancing the more powerful ceramic magnet with other variables that give a pickup its tone.
Bootstrap uses ALNICO magnets unless otherwise requested by a customer. Different ALNICO grades can result in different inductance values and output levels, and can also help determine how close the pickup should be to the strings for optimal tone.
Are nickel-silver covers better than brass covers? Which one gives the best tone? Which do your pickups have?
Most of our recipes call for nickel-silver covers when a metal cover is used, though sometimes we'll choose to use brass covers to achieve a particular tone. Nickel-silver is more magnetically transparent than brass and thus gives a tone closer to a pickup that has no cover at all. Brass, on the other hand, can absorb a bit of the magnetic field from the vibrating string, and this tends to filter some of the trebles from the pickup. In short, brass covers tend to give a darker tone. That's neither good nor bad, it's a matter of taste.
All of our metal baseplates and covers are nickel-silver unless otherwise stated.