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.

Essential in Learning; Essential Elements

 

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Essential Elements is one of the many method book series we keep in stock here at the store, for many reasons! Checkout this article on how they got started, here.

Tapewound Bass Strings – What??

 

 

 

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If you’ve ever looked into the different types of bass strings available to you, you might have come across tapewound bass strings. Maybe you knew what they were, but for those of us that dont, here’s some information.

A tapewound string, at its core, is the same as a regular wound bass string. The difference is that they have a thin layer of “tape” (nylon material) wrapped around them string. This usually produces a warmer, smoother, rounder, and softer tone on the bass guitar. 

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A tapewound string with the nylon wrapping peeled back

 

Some Artists Who Use D’Addario Tapewounds

To find out more about D’Addario’s tapewound strings, visit their awesome site by clicking here.

Taylor Guitar’s Ebony Project

In 2011 the CITES appendices deemed Ebony as an endangered wood species. That meant that, without proper documentation, this wood was basically unusable in guitar manufacturing, and getting wood with the right paperwork was difficult. But it was more than that.

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Raw Ebony

Ebony has been farmed for years, and the way it was being farmed was not the most environmentally friendly. Essentially, what was happening was that loggers would go out into the forests everyday, cutting down 20-30 ebony trees. Ebony is a variable wood, and has some dark spots as well as light streaks. Only about 3 of those trees being cut down each day was being used in manufacturing, as they had no irregularities in color. We realize now that those streaks of blonde are quite beautiful, but the realization, and use of all those cut-down trees, came almost too late. The ebony supply was quickly disappearing, and Taylor Guitars has seen this, and is making efforts to restore and preserve our ebony supply.

Taylor Guitar’s Ebony Project

Taylor’s Ebony Project is working towards a “more socially responsible and environmentally sustainable model of sourcing ebony.” In 2011 Taylor Guitars entered a co-ownership of an ebony mill in Cameroon, Africa. In this partnership, not only does Taylor Guitars focus on the ethical and efficient sourcing of the wood, but they are also working on planting new ebony forests. It’s vital that we plant new ebony forests because, as Bob Taylor himself said, “if we don’t replant, we won’t be making guitars in 50 or 100 years.” That may seem far away, but it takes many years for an ebony tree to become mature enough to yield a product. Through ethical growing, sourcing, and ideals Taylor Guitars is helping ensuring the presence of ebony in our future.

For more information, and cool videos, on Taylor Gutiar’s Ebony Project, visit their website.