Are rusty guitar pickups bad? Can a rusty guitar pickup affect the guitar’s tone? Is a rusty guitar pickup bad for your guitar? What is the reason why guitar pickups get rusty? How to prevent my guitar pickups from getting rusty? Rust is one of the huge problems guitar owners face daily with their guitars. Rust is one of the reasons why a set of pickups gets damaged and it can be hard to stop when it already starts to build up on your gear. So, we know that rust build-up is dangerous for guitars, but is it also bad for your guitar’s pickups? Let’s check it out.
So, how does a guitar pickup work? As many musicians say that it is the heart of an electric guitar, a guitar pickup is made from one or more magnets that are inserted into the bobbin and wound with conductive wire. The guitar pickup is able to transform the mechanical energy that comes from the string vibrations into electrical energy that goes to your guitar amplifier, resulting in it producing an audible sound.
The invention of the guitar pickup was all from the discovery of electromagnetic induction by Michael Faraday in 1831. His theory that electricity can be generated from magnetism was realized when he connected a paper cylinder with wire coiled around it to an] device that has the ability to small electrical currents. As he moved a magnet in and out of the cylinder, he was able to generate current.
This discovery of Faraday has become an essential part of history, as it became the heart of numerous technologies that forever changed human civilization, and this is also the basis for why the guitar pickup was invented after musicians hoped to have a louder guitar that could be heard by people when playing in larger bands in the old days.
Why Rust Gets On Your Guitar’s Pickups?
Bad Storage Condition
One of the main reasons why your guitar pickup can get rusty is because of bad storage conditions. When you do not use your electric guitar, you have to store it in ideal conditions. When you let your guitar just out in the open and exposed for a long time, there is a huge possibility that your guitar pickups are starting to get rusty already.
So, if you notice that there is already a rust build-up on your guitar pickup, then it is all because of moisture. How can moisture make your guitar pickups rusty? When moisturized air reacts with oxygen and electrons on the surface of your guitar pickup, especially those metal parts, they always get corroded. The longer the metal parts of your guitar pickup are exposed to moisture, the faster they get corroded, as metals are most susceptible to corrosion under humid conditions.
Cheap Guitar Pickups
Another reason why your guitar pickup can get easily rusty is that it is cheap, and the materials used in making it are of low quality. High-end guitar pickups are usually corrosion-resistant, giving the rust a hard time build-up on the guitar pickup. If you do not like to have your guitar pickups easily getting rusty, you can try to replace them with a better set of guitar pickups, although this can be a little bit expensive.
The third reason may be why your electric guitar’s pickup is already getting rusty because you are using it while your hands are sweating. Sweat spots on your guitar’s pickup with additional moisture can cause them to have a rust build-up and could corrode over time if not prevented.
How To Prevent Your Guitar Pickups From Being Rusty
Store Your Guitar In Better Condition
One way to store your guitar to protect it from getting exposed to moisture is to place it on a guitar gig bag or hard case. A hard guitar case is really an excellent option for keeping your guitar and pickups from rust build-up, as it protects it from moisture, which is the usual suspect why it is getting rusty.
If you do not have any of the two on you, you should try to find a spot in your home that is cool and dry. If you see some evidence of dampness, start to keep the room to be always ventilated. When you notice that the area is dry, has high moisture and is really humid, you should get a dehumidifier, as it will keep your guitar from getting dry.
Get Better Pickups
Although they can be expensive, you should try to buy high-end pickups, especially those resistant to corrosion, if rust build-up on your guitar pickups is a huge issue for you. Expensive pickups use high-quality materials, making them more resistant to rust compared to cheaper guitar pickups.
Clean The Guitar Pickups Regularly
As sweat and moisture can be a significant factor in why your guitar pickup is rusty, one thing you can prevent it from happening is to clean your guitar pickups regularly. Keep a dry cloth and use it to clean your guitar pickups routinely. This is an important thing to do to keep rust from building up on your guitar’s pickups.
How To Remove Rust On Your Guitar Pickups?
One thing you can do to remove the rust from your guitar pickups is to use a mix of baking soda and water. Secure also a clean towel and anything that can be used to scrape the rust off, either dental tools, pen knife, small straight blade, or screwdriver can be one of your options.
After you mix the baking soda and water and turn it into a thick paste similar to the consistency of cake frosting, you can now apply it to the area of your guitar pickup where there is rust. Just leave it for an hour before you start to wipe the rusty area using the towel. This will remove all the rusty parts that quickly come off.
Use the dental tool or the tip of the small knife you have secured and gently scrape the remaining rust. Always remember to be careful when scraping the rusty parts on the guitar pickups. If rust does not come off after scraping, you can still reapply the baking soda paste on the rusty part, and you will have to repeat the method before starting to scrape off the remaining rust until all the rusty parts are removed from your guitar pickups.
Are Rusty Guitar Pickups Bad For Your Guitar?
So, are rusty guitar pickups really that bad? When it comes to the sound quality of your guitar, there is really not that much difference in the tone of a guitar with a rusty pickup compared to its previous condition, where there is no rust build-up yet. So, it means that rust does not heavily affect your guitar’s tone.
The only problem with rust is that it could corrode the guitar pickup, especially if it is metal, which can be a huge problem in the end if not prevented. It can damage the physical integrity of your guitar pickup to the point that you will have to replace it with a new one, which can also be very costly. So, as much as possible, it would still be better to prevent your guitar pickup from having a rust build-up.
Are rusty guitar pickups bad? When it comes to sound quality, no, but if you are concerned that it can physically damage your guitar pickup, especially if it has a metal body, then yes, it is really bad. So, in the end, it would still be better to keep your guitar pickups away from being rusty.