WT. Foster Tech Tip of the day April 5, 2015Question of the day! humbucker pickups that have covers, while others are open or uncovered, Is it just for looks or is there a reason for having pickup covers?
This all depends upon whom you ask. In the 1960s, players with Les Pauls or other humbucker-equipped guitar felt that removing the covers gave them a hotter, fatter tone. The earliest humbucking pickups, which were designed by Seth Lover at Gibson, first appeared on the 1957 Les Paul models. While the nickel/ gold-covered pickups were aesthetically pleasing, odds are good that if Lover felt they compromised the overall sound quality, he wouldn’t have designed around using them. Another factor that may have influenced him to use covers was for the protection of the fragile wire wrapping on the magnets. Not many places had air conditioning in 1950’s. Seth probably felt the covers would prevent sweat from getting inside the pickups and corroding the magnets or the coil wire. This would be one of those discussions that really doesn’t have an end. Humbuckers have been around for more than half a century with nobody to date showing any absolute evidence for or against the use of pickup covers. This remains a personal choice. Most modern humbuckers are wax potted making the removal of covers very difficult and a risk of damage to your pickup is very real.