How Does an Electric Guitar Pickup Even Work?

You’ve probably heard an electric guitar unplugged from an amp, and it’s not that exciting. We know we need amplifiers to hear them well, but what’s creating the sound we hear through the amp? What makes and electric guitar electric? Let’s dive in a little and learn!

What Is A Pickup?

At their most basic, pickups are magnets. These magnets have a certain magnetic field in which our signal is picked up (hence the name). 

What are The Pickups Picking Up?

Our strings can be made out of many things, but all strings are magnetic alloys. When we introduce them into the magnetic field, when not moving, they do nothing. But, once we strum we are disrupting that magnetic field at a given frequency. The frequency (or note) that’s appearing in the magnetic field can be changed by us fretting the strings at different points on the neck.

So, That’s What I’m Hearing?

Of course there are many types of pickups; single-coil, humbucker, P90, warm, bright, metallic–the list goes on for awhile–but at their core pickups are magnetic fields that “hear” different frequencies, and put them through our electronics, into our amp, and out for our ears to hear. In an acoustic guitar you’re hearing the amplified vibration of the strings, but on an electric you’re hearing the frequencies that travel through the pickups and our tone/volume circuits. 

I want to go even further…

For more questions about shaping your personal sound via pickups or tone circuits, come on in and talk to me or John! We would love to share our experiences, educate you, and even do some research with you. Creating your electric sound profile is a ton of fun, and a great learning experience. 

For a more scientific dive into how pickups work, checkout Hank Wallace’s post on Atlantic Quality Design’s website.

Elixir Strings – Polyweb vs. Nanoweb

Elixir strings are the long-lasting, coated guitar string that dominates the market. Elixirs boast “a microscopically thin, advanced polymer tube that surrounds the string to protect it from corrosion and dirt without making any contact whatsoever with the critical area between the windings where the “critical zone of tone” is found and each perfect note is born.” But, there are two different “flavors” of Elixir strings; Polyweb or Nanoweb.

Image result for polyweb and nanoweb elixir

The prefix “poly” comes from Ancient Greek, meaning “many,” and “nano” means “extremely small.” These definitions are dead-on. The polyweb strings have multiple coatings of the Elixir Formula, while the nanowebs have only one. Different feel, different tone, and different life spans help decide which string you want to use! Both polyweb and nanoweb strings come in Phosphor Bronze and 80/20 Bronze, allowing you to customize your tone even more.

So, next time you’re changing your strings, give the Elixirs a try! You never know, you might find your new sound!

The Scarlett Focusrite Audio Interfaces – A Game Changer!

If you’ve been in the store, you’ve most likely seen our microphone testing setup. We know we put sound into the microphones, but how does it get into the computer? We have to take sound, turn it into a computer code, and then turn it back into sound! Audio interfaces, like the Scarlett Focusrite, do this for us. 

Image result for scarlett focusrite

Of course many computers are equipped with microphones, and can do this transference of sound on board, but they don’t have the best microphones or processes for the job. Having a separate component to do this allows for the job to be done much better, ending in a better end product for you.

The Scarlett Focusrite in a versatile product. We carry both the Solo and the 2i2 models. The solo has one 1/4″ input (for guitar) and one XLR input (for a microphone). The 2i2 has 2 stacked inputs, meaning they can be either 1/4″ OR XLR.  With a left and right output, as well as a direct USB connection, you can plug in almost anything, and go almost anywhere with that sound. A neat headphone output also allows you to listen to the sound on the interface, before sending it to speakers or your computer.

Scarlett Focusrite 2i2 Front and Back Faces

One notable aspect of the Focusrites are the negligible amount of latency when recording. Many interfaces have large amounts of latency, making on-spot recording hard, and adding extra work to match up tracks. The Focusrite has barely any, making your ears happy, recording easy, and editing simple. Plus, it’s a a dang good price.Audio interfaces with similar performance standards are double (or more!) the price of the Focusrite. 

Overall the Focusrite line offers stellar performance, on-time recording, great processing, and all at an affordable price. Stop by the store TODAY to try one out. We’d love to sit down and show you how to use it, and make a fun on-the-spot song with you!

Bass Guitar Wiring -> Before; During; After

Customer dropped off beautiful old bass guitar, had some rewiring done in 1975!  Owner stated it was cutting out and sometimes had no signal.

A little messy and maybe a little crusty

Got the go ahead to rewire with new pots and output jack but save the switches and capacitor.

Got all the crusty foil off

Got the new foil on and placed controls on the pick guard.

Got it all wired up.

All wired up

Wired in pickups and all is well.

New volume and tone control, output jack. Saved the capacitor and switches.

Got a question about the electronics in your guitar?  We can do most any electrical work on guitars.  Stop by and let’s take a look.