Electric Guitar: How itworks and Effects pedals. By Matthew Ede
How it began.• The Electric Guitar was invented in 1931, the electric guitar became a necessity as jazz musicians sought to amplify their sound.• Many people experimented with electrically amplifying the vibrations of a stringed instrument in the 1900s especially 1910 to 1920. With numerous people experimenting with electrical instruments in the 1920s and early 1930s, there are many claimants to have been the first to invent an electric guitar.
How it progressed.• Some of the earliest electric guitars adapted hollow bodied acoustic instruments and used tungsten pickups. The first electrically amplified guitar was designed in 1931 by George Beauchamp, General Manager at National Guitar Corporation with Paul Barth who was Vice President. The maple body prototype for the one piece cast aluminum "Frying Pan" was built by Harry Watson, factory superintendent of National Guitar Corporation. Commercial production began in late summer of 1932 by the Ro- Pat-In Corporation (Electro-Patent- Instrument Company Los Angeles), a partnership of Beauchamp, Adolph Rickenbacker (originally Rickenbacher), and Paul Barth. By 1934 the company was renamed Rickenbacker Electro Stringed Instrument Company.
What are pickups.• A pickup device is a transducer that captures mechanical vibrations, usually from suitably equipped stringed instruments such as the electric guitar, electric bass guitar, Chapman Stick, or electric violin, and converts them to an electrical signal that is amplified, recorded, or broadcast.
Pickups.• There are many different types of pickups and each one picks up the sound from the strings in a different way. There are Single Coils, Humbuckers, Mini Humbuckers, P90s, Piezo, Lipstick Pickups, And EMG’s Active Pickups. Every single one of these would pickup different frequency and would affect the sound slightly.
Pickups.• Single Coils- A single coil pickup for an electric guitar is composed of wire wrapped in a single coil around a single bar magnet or several rod magnets.
Pickups.• Humbuckers- A humbucker (or Humbucking pickup) is a type of electric guitar pickup that uses two coils, both generating string signal. Humbuckers have higher output than a single coil pickup since both coils are connected in series.
Pickups. • Piezo-These have a very different sound, and also have the advantage of not picking up any other magnetic fields, such as mains hum and feedback from monitoring loops.
What strings used to be and are now.• In the 1930s and on the first electric guitar they used steel strings.• Now they used nickel strings and some companies (Ernie Ball) and making Cobalt strings and some have nylon strings (but thats normally acoustic)• Kurt Cobain has been known to use piano strings
Strings. • The tone of a string depends partly on its weight, and, therefore, on its diameter or so-called gauge. Traditionally, a strings diameter is measured in thousandths of an inch. The larger the diameter, the heavier the string is. Heavier strings require more tension for the same pitch and are, as a consequence, harder to press down to the fingerboard. If a fretted instrument is restrung with different string gauges, it may be necessary to adjust string height above the frets, (the "action") to make the instrument easier to play or keep the strings from buzzing against the frets
The Wood.• Electric guitars can have solid, semi-hollow, or hollow bodies, and produce little sound without amplification• The woods over the whole of the guitar can make very different overall sounds. Mahogany has almost always been used for “Les Pauls” because it creates a thicker and warmer sounds. Maple or Alder on the other hand create a thinner more “Stratocaster” like sound.
Alder• Alder is used commonly because of its light weight, most commonly in Stratocasters. Has an excellent clean tone. It is commonly a tan colour without many distinctive grain lines. Not a good choice for clear finishes.
Ash Ash is available in two types: Northern (hard) or Southern (soft). Hard Ash is popular because of its hardness, with bright tone and long sustaining qualities.• Soft Ash (aka Swamp Ash) is much softer. Many 50s era Fender guitars were built with this wood. It has a much warmer feel than Hard Ash. Both variations have an open grain, meaning that a lot of lacquer is required to seal the wood. Excellent for clear finishes.
Maple• Maple is a very popular wood for necks and fret boards. Easily identifiable because of its bright tone, characteristic grain patterns and moderate weight. Its tonal characteristics include good sustain with plenty of bite. It is about as dense as hard ash, but is much easier to finish. Very durable.
MahoganyMahoganys weight and density are similar to maple, however mahogany carries are more mellow, soft and warm tone to it. Great sustain, but not well suited to clear finishes. Les Paul guitars are made with Honduran mahogany.
RosewoodRosewood is one of the heaviest woods available. Strat bodies made out of rosewood will weigh in at over 6 pounds, and remember that Stratocasters are quite small guitars. The sound is very warm, although the high end sounds are dampened. Finishes can be a little difficult to apply. Usually reserved for fret boards only.
WalnutWalnuts tone is slightly warmer than maple, although it still has good sustain. Walnut can look excellent with oil finishes, and is moderately heavy, but still lighter than maple.
BasswoodBasswood is a very light wood - even lighter than alder. It is very soft, and should not be subjected to much abuse. Clear finishes are not very desirable. However, basswood has a nice warm, soft tone.
Ebony• Ebony is commonly used in fingerboards. It is quite heavy, but has a very bright attack, good sustain, and excellent durability compared to rosewood.
Effect Pedals.• Effects pedals are used all the time by guitarist and bass players and even piano players.• The first effect pedal was in 1948 by Harry DeArmond. This device produced a tremolo by passing an instruments electrical signal through a water-based electrolytic fluid. In the 50s and 60s is when pedals became popular but were impractical like the fender reverb box and Gibson GI-VI
Distortion • The first amplifiers built for electric guitar were relatively low-fidelity, and would often produce distortion when their volume (gain) was increased beyond their design limit or if they sustained minor damage. One of the earliest recorded examples of distortion in rock music is the 1951 Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm song "Rocket 88", on James Cottons which guitarist Willie Kizart used anCotton Crop Blues amplifier that had been slightlyhttp://www.youtu damaged in transportbe.com/watch?v=x http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3VCPz8Qx4 Gbfnh1oVTk0In 1964 Dave Davies (second from left), lead guitarist of The Kinks, famouslyachieved a distorted sound on "You Really Got Me" by slashing the cones ofhis guitar amplifier with a razor blade.
Stomp Boxes • Stompboxes, or effects pedals, are effects units designed to sit on the floor or a pedal board and be turned on and off with the users feet. They typically house a single effect. The simplest stompbox pedals have a single footswitch; one to three potentiometers for controlling the effect, gain or tone; and a single LED display to indicate whether the effect is on or not.
Stomp Boxes • To preserve the clarity of the tone, it is most common to put compression, wah and overdrive pedals at the start of the chain; modulation (chorus, flanger, phase shifter) in the middle; and time-based units (delay/echo, reverb) at the end. When using many effects, unwanted noise and hum can be introduced into the sound. Some performers use a noise gate pedal at the end of a chain to reduce unwanted noise and hum introduced by overdrive units or vintage gear
Rackmounts • Rackmounts are most commonly used in recording studios and "front of house" live sound mixing situations, though many musicians use them in place of stompboxes. Rackmounts are controlled by knobs or switches on their front panel, and often by a MIDI digital control interface. During live performances, a musician can operate rackmounted effects using a "foot controller".
Multi-effects • A multi-effects device (also called a "multi-FX" device) is a single electronics effects pedal or rackmount device that contains many different electronic effects. Multi-FX devices allow users to "preset" combinations of different effects, allowing musicians quick on-stage access to different effects combinations