Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Pickups

2. Introduction

What does an electric guitar pickup actually do?

There is nothing mysterious about the basic principles of the electric guitar pickup. The phenomenon at work also makes many other devices possible, from the bicycle dynamo to the microphone. The principle involved is known as ‘induction’.

Any device based on induction exploits the relationship between two basic physical forces - electricity and magnetism. A guitar pickup is essentially an ‘electromagnet’ consisting of a coil of copper wire wound around one or more magnetic cores – usually one per string.

The most common applications of electromagnets involve sending an electric current through the coil in order to magnetise the core, which then attracts or repels some nearby metal object in order to do something useful such as moving a loudspeaker cone, or turning an electric motor. A magnetic pickup works exactly like this, but in reverse - the movement of a metal object near the core of the magnet generates or ‘induces’ a current in the coil. The nearby object in question is of course the guitar string, which is why it has to contain a magnetic metal such as steel or nickel, and why strings made from other materials (for example plain nylon) do not work on electric guitars. You may have wondered why guitars don’t pick up and amplify other sounds, even if you scream directly into the pickups – the answer is that the air may be moving, but this does not disturb the magnetic field.

A slow-motion film of a vibrating guitar string would show it moving from one side of its rest position, all the way to the other side and back again, many times every second. This ‘alternating’ motion induces a corresponding alternating electric current in the pickup. The frequency of vibration corresponds directly to the frequency of the induced current. For example, the note A (top E string, 5th fret) has a fundamental frequency of 440 cycles per second – far too fast to observe with the naked eye – and induces an alternating current with the same frequency - 440Hz. This current is electrically very weak – if fed directly into a loudspeaker, the cone would not move enough to produce any sound at all – it must therefore be boosted by an amplifier.

Your Contacts
Phone: +49-9546-9223-20
FAX: +49-9546-9223-24
Question!
Question! Give the right answer and win 1x Thomann Black Fiber Violin 4/4 worth €166.
What was the real name of Bob Marley, the King of Reggae?
Conditions of participation
Terms and Conditions for participation
in online competitions

Note: Participation in an online competition runs independently from any purchase at Thomann GmbH. The following Competition Rules apply when participating in any online competition run by Musikhaus Thomann:

  1. Competition

    1. The competitions are organised by Thomann GmbH, CEO: Hans Thomann, Hans-Thomann-Straße 1, 96138 Burgebrach, Germany.
  2. Participation

    1. Competitions are only open to persons of full age.
    2. To take part in the competition you must answer all questions correctly, fill in the registration form and submit your entry to Thomann GmbH by pressing the "send" button.
      By pressing the "send" button the participant accepts the aforementioned terms and conditions.
    3. The participant is responsible for entering their email and/or postal address correctly. Entries to the competition will be logged electronically.
  3. Qualifying Entrants

    1. Staff of Thomann GmbH and any cooperation partners and their dependants are excluded from participation.
    2. Should these conditions of participation be violated, especially by using illegitimate means, Thomann GmbH reserves the right to exclude persons from the competition. In case of such violations prizes can be withdrawn and claimed back subsequently.
  4. Announcing the winner

    1. The winners will be notified by Thomann GmbH by email or in writing and their names may be published on the homepage www.thomann.de. The winner accepts this form of publication explicitly.
      Should for whatever reason the winner not claim their prize, then a new winner will be drawn.
    2. The prize presented to the winner may not be identical to the item description. There can be deviances regarding the model, colour etc.
    3. The merchandise prizes will be sent by Thomann GmbH or by one of its contracting delivery companies, per freight forwarder, courier or postal service to the postal address indicated by the winner.

      The delivery is free of charge. Only extra transport costs and customs/duties must be covered by the winner. In the case that the delivery has to be made through a freight forwarding company the freight forwarding company will contact the winner to arrange delivery timings.
    4. An exchange, cash alternative or replacement prize is not possible.
    5. The claim to the prize or replacement of the prize cannot be assigned to a third party.
  5. Data protection

    1. The participant accepts explicitly that Thomann GmbH saves all necessary data for the duration of the competition and forwards them exclusively for purposes related to the winning process to the respective cooperation partner, who is also permitted to save the personal data only for the duration of the competition. The participant is free to withdraw his entry at any time. Please direct the withdrawal to:

      Thomann GmbH
      to the data protection officer
      Hans-Thomann-Straße 1
      96138 Burgebrach, Germany
    2. Thomann GmbH is obliged to consider the regulations for data protection according to the Federal Data Protection Law (BDSG) valid at the conclusion of the competition. In this context the general data protection regulations under notes regarding data protection should be noted.
  6. Liability

    1. Thomann GmbH will be released from any obligations by handing out the prize.
    2. Thomann GmbH is not liable for the insolvency of a cooperation partner and the resulting consequences for the implementation and processing of the competition.
  7. Other

    1. Legal proceedings are barred.
    2. The law of the Federal Republic of Germany applies exclusively.
One of our Fans
Great service....even got an answer to a question on a Sunday !
M. D., 24.05.2018

Pickups overview

Yamaha P-125 BK Boss GT-1000 Line6 Power Cab Plus Dante AVIO AES3 IO Adapter 2x2 Dante AVIO USB IO Adapter 2x2 ADJ PRO-ETBS ProEventTable Bag II Reloop RP 4000 MK2 Yamaha L-125 BK Gator iMac 21" Tote Bag Flyht Pro Rack Drawer 19" 3U 28 cm lock DW SM 2224 Bass Drum Spurs Marshall Origin 50H Head
(1)
Recommended
Yamaha P-125 BK

Stage Piano Graded Hammer Standard Keyboard (GHS) with 88 weighted keys, Pure CF Sound Engine, 24 Tones, Max. Polyphony: 192 votes, Dual, split and duo function, Two-track recording (one song), 20 Rhythms (drums + bass), Intelligent Acoustic Control, 21...

to the product
€549
(2)
Recommended
Boss GT-1000

Multi effect pedal 32-bit AD / DA, 32-bit floating-point processor and 96 kHz sampling rate, New BOSS DSP engine, specially developed for audio applications, AIRD (Augmented Impulse Response Dynamics) brings BOSS's Tube Logic concept to a digital guitar processor,...

to the product
€955
(1)
Recommended
Line6 Power Cab Plus

Active Modelling Guitar Box With integrated USB audio interface, With 6 loudspeaker simulations (expandable), Equipped with: 1x 12"speaker and 1" compression driver, Power: 250W @ 8Ω, Frequency range: 70 - 20000 Hz, Maximum level: 128 dB @ 1 m,...

to the product
€746
Recommended
Dante AVIO AES3 IO Adapter 2x2

Y Adapter Transmits two channels each from AES3 to a Dante network and vice versa, RJ45 Metal plug with built-in LEDs, 1 XLR male output, 1 XLR female input, 96 kHz / 24 bit, Robust housing for day-to-day tasks...

to the product
€163
Recommended
Dante AVIO USB IO Adapter 2x2

Dante AVIO USB IO Adapter 2x2; for connecting a computer to a Dante network; perfect for recording or play back a stereo signal; robust housing; fully functional Dante interface; transmits two inputs and two outputs; class compliant

to the product
€124
Recommended
ADJ PRO-ETBS ProEventTable Bag II

ADJ PRO-ETBS Pro Event Table Bag II, Carrying bag suitable for Pro Event Table II, optimally protects against dust and scratches, carrying straps for easy transport, not suitable for the first version of the Pro Event Table, made for #427915

to the product
€44
Recommended
Reloop RP 4000 MK2

Quartz-driven DJ turntable with high-torque direct drive Speeds (RPM): 33 1/3 - 45 - 78, Pitch with selectable range of +/- 8% and+/- 16%, Reverse function, Connections: 1 PHONO output (gold plated) and 1 GND ground connection, Incl. platter,...

to the product
€285
Recommended
Yamaha L-125 BK

Yamaha L-125 BK; stand for Yamaha P-125 BK; colour: Black

to the product
€128
Recommended
Gator iMac 21" Tote Bag

Nylon Bag Fits 21" Apple iMac Water resistant, Good grip and protection with adjustable foam blocks and hard-panel reinforcement in the front flap, Foldable sun and dust protection, Double zipper, Strap and handle cutouts, Reinforced, detachable carrying handles, PVC...

to the product
€118
Recommended
Flyht Pro Rack Drawer 19" 3U 28 cm lock

Flyht Pro Rack drawer 19" 3U 28 cm with lock. Robust and easy glide lockable metal rack drawer. Colour: black, Dimensons: WxHxD 483 x 134 x 280 mm, weight: 6,3 kg

to the product
€43
Recommended
DW SM 2224 Bass Drum Spurs

DW SM 2224 Bass Drum Spurs, for mounting onto bass drum hoop, rubber/metal rod, sold in pairs

to the product
€54
(1)
Recommended
Marshall Origin 50H Head

Tube Amp Head for Electric Guitar Gain boost function, Two voicings (Normal, High Treble), which can be mixed continuously via the tilt control, Switchable power reduction for full sound in any environment, 1 Channel, Power: 50 watts, Preamp tubes:...

to the product
€649
Feedback Found an error or want to give us feedback about this page?

We're looking forward to hearing from you and aim to solve any problems as soon as we can.

Please leave a comment. Please enter your e-mail address.