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How guitar pickups work?

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  • How guitar pickups work?

    Hi everyone!


    First of all, I'm new here, so, "hello world!"


    Anyway, I've noticed that many of you here are experts, particularly in guitar pickups, so I thought asking this question is relevant.

    Before anything: I do know how it works (or so I thought).


    I did a lot of searching here and there about how it really works, even Seth's interview.

    Turns out, there's a lot of misconception and inconsistencies with how it's understood.

    The most reliable I found was, well on this website, which also led me to this incredible community!


    Now:

    I MAY know how it works based on Faraday's Law. (Yeah, I'm a geek when it comes to science-y stuff)


    But there's a reason why I'm still asking that question...

    I actually published an article, "How do guitar pickups work?"


    I'd love for any of you to check it out and let me know what you think?

    I thank you in advance!


    Note:

    I accept criticisms, for they are an opportunity to improve, don't you agree?

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum hrivers.

    I will take a look at your article and get back to you on that.

    In the meantime, i have found the various writeups on the 1728.org website helpful in understanding how pickups work at a technical level. Ref. the various links within the section header "electric guitars" at this index page of the 1728.org site.

    http://www.1728.org/indexfun.htm
    Originally posted by GuitarDoc
    Good diagram Shadowfire90, but it isn't what the OP wants.
    Originally posted by Sanford
    The hardest part about tone chasing is losing the expectations associated with the hardware.
    Originally posted by blueman335
    I've been slammed here a few times myself for not going with the crowd. I'd rather go in a different direction, and know why, then follow everyone else and not know why.

    Comment


    • #3
      I like where you are headed, but I'm not entirely sure you're applying the phenomenon you're describing completely accurately. First, it's worth noting that the string has no appreciable magnetic field of its own until it is magnetized by close proximity to the pickup containing the magnet. In the Zexcoil example you show, the coil without magnets would have produced little to no sound if it weren't for the magnetized pickup directly opposite it magnetizing the strings so that the non-magnet coil could "sense" them. Furthermore, if Zexcoil had removed the large pole pieces from the non-magnet coil, the output would have been essentially zero, everything else kept equal.

      Inductance for a coil won't change much either with or without a magnet (small exception when we're talking Alnico due to its composition), but output will suffer immensely with no magnet essentially "powering" the strings.

      Ultimately, I think the traditional view of the string moving through the fixed magnetic field of a pickup, causing disturbances, and thus generating voltage is not entirely inaccurate and is probably a little easier to visualize for the average Joe, though I do like your moving graphic!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by hrivers View Post
        Hi everyone!


        First of all, I'm new here, so, "hello world!"
        Developer?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jack_TriPpEr View Post
          Welcome to the forum hrivers.

          I will take a look at your article and get back to you on that.

          In the meantime, i have found the various writeups on the 1728.org website helpful in understanding how pickups work at a technical level. Ref. the various links within the section header "electric guitars" at this index page of the 1728.org site.

          http://www.1728.org/indexfun.htm
          That was actually informative, thank you!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Masta' C View Post
            I like where you are headed, but I'm not entirely sure you're applying the phenomenon you're describing completely accurately. First, it's worth noting that the string has no appreciable magnetic field of its own until it is magnetized by close proximity to the pickup containing the magnet. In the Zexcoil example you show, the coil without magnets would have produced little to no sound if it weren't for the magnetized pickup directly opposite it magnetizing the strings so that the non-magnet coil could "sense" them. Furthermore, if Zexcoil had removed the large pole pieces from the non-magnet coil, the output would have been essentially zero, everything else kept equal.

            Inductance for a coil won't change much either with or without a magnet (small exception when we're talking Alnico due to its composition), but output will suffer immensely with no magnet essentially "powering" the strings.

            Ultimately, I think the traditional view of the string moving through the fixed magnetic field of a pickup, causing disturbances, and thus generating voltage is not entirely inaccurate and is probably a little easier to visualize for the average Joe, though I do like your moving graphic!

            That's a really cool insight thank you! I really appreciate that.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by playas View Post

              Developer?
              I'm assuming you're also a developer? lol

              Comment


              • #8
                So what a pick up does is convert the vibration of the string into electricity. How it does that is: you need three things to create electricity 1. A magnetic field (the magnet), 2. A conductor in a loop (the coil), and 3. Relative motion between the conductor and magnetic field. The way the relative motion is created is that when the string vibrates it pulls the magnetic field along with it. Any changes in the relationship between the strins and pickup can change tone, for example lowering the pickup height causes the string to be placed further from the center of the field, and thus the vibrations pull on the field less. Or a stronger magnet will create a larger field and string vibrations will affect it more. Also I should specify, thats to produce AC voltage
                Last edited by allbutromeo; 09-15-2020, 04:53 PM.
                sigpic
                Gibson LP Trad Pro II->Various pedals->MEsa Boogie MkV->Owensby/219 Guitar Works Vertical Slant 2x12 w/WGS ET-65 and Veteran 30.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by hrivers View Post

                  I'm assuming you're also a developer? lol
                  No, but I work in IT and have done bits and pieces and currently starting out with java.

                  Welcome to the forum btw.

                  Comment

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