Electric Guitar Lessons For Beginners – Learn The Basic Sound Components of Your Electric Guitar

In a plugged-in electric guitar instrument, sound is created when the strings are strummed or plucked and the vibration from the movement is picked up by a magnetic device called the pick-up. The sound is amplified with the use of an amplifier which is connected to the guitar via a guitar cable. Electric guitars have two or three pick-ups that come with a pick-up switch that can be controlled to determine which pickup is active. The sound can be further manipulated and modified by turning the volume and tone dials (or knobs) of the guitar, the tuning knobs, as well as knobs of the amplifier.

1. Pickups.

Basically, a pickup is made of a long copper wire that is wound or coiled around one or more magnets. When electricity passes through the copper wire, the magnet/s in the middle of the coil detects the movement or vibrations of the metal strings. Electrical impulses travel through the wire inside the pickup due to these vibrations, and when attached to the amplifier, the impulses create the sound heard from the amplifier. Early single coil pickups were quite problematic because they produced an electric buzz or hum, which can be very distracting when the volume is turned up. To solve this problem, the Gibson guitar manufacturer developed a two-wire pickup that cancels itself out and thus reduces the magnetic feedback. This development was called the “hum bucker.” Today, modern single coil pickups produce less noise than their early counterparts.

2. Knobs and Dials

Most electric guitars have three knobs or dials for controlling the volume, treble and bass tones which are produced by the built-in electronics of the guitar.

3. Tremolo bar

Also called the whammy bar, the tremolo bar allows the player to quickly and easily alter the pitch of the strings, lowering or making the sound higher as the strings are being played. It is usually placed just below the saddle of the guitar, hanging below the strumming hand. Not all guitars have tremolo bars, thus it is not absolutely essential for all kinds of guitar players.

4. Tuners

The tuners are found at the headstock of the guitar and are used to tighten and loosen the strings, thereby tuning them to a specific note. Some guitars that have tremolo bars have the tuners at the tail of the guitar rather than the head, to lock the strings in place at the Nut and keep the strings in tune. The standard tuning for electric guitar is EBGDAE but other types of tuning such as Drop-D are used depending on the preference of the guitarist and the kind of music played.

An understanding of the basic sound components of your electric guitar will always stand you in good stead.