View Full Version : Question about some guitars
02-23-2001, 09:41 PM
A lot of guitars (all strats for example) have the 5 position selectors switch, I hear the difference in every position, but (having been in japan since I've taken up guitar, and I dont know any japanese so I cant get lessons), I have no idea what the mechanical or theory behind the selector is. What exactly does it do to the tone of the guitar?
02-23-2001, 10:40 PM
*The 5 position switch not only allows you to combine pick-ups but also allows phase switching of the coils....I'm sure other members here can give the exact specifics, but understand that pick-ups are a coil of wire that induces current around a polarized metal....by phase-shifting, you can change the dynamics of the induced current, there-by changing the "signal" (field of induction) that goes to your amp.....Sorry if I'm vague....I know others can explain it better....
02-23-2001, 11:51 PM
Each pickup has a different tone and sound, the combinations are first position is the neck pickup the second is a combination of neck pickup and middle, the third is the middle alone, fourth is the the middle and bridge and the fifth is the bridge pickup alone. and the positions go from left to right, the farthest left being the first position.
02-24-2001, 06:07 AM
The neck pickup alone has the sound with the most treble
and the bridge pickup has more bass , and good (at least on my guitar) for playing blues and santana style
on some guitar i've seen that have a set of hum/single/hum
the first humbecker has the most dirty sound, and the second has quite clean sound...
just play with the selector and you'll find the difference by yourself
02-24-2001, 03:00 PM
Each of the pickups on a Strat is a single coil of wire wound on a plastic bobbin with six small magnets. The magnets are all positioned with the same pole at the top. This is the most basic type of pickup, and has been in existance since sometime in the 1930's.
Any time you get a wire moving in a magnetic field, or in this case, a magnetic field moving near a wire, there is a current induced in that wire. Making the magnetic field stronger, or using lotsa wires (like in a coil), increases this effect.
The pickup magnets create a field; the vibrating strings cause movement in the field; the fluctuating magnetic field induces current in the coil wires; the amplifier boosts that small signal to make it strong enough to drive the speakers. 'Still with me?
Now, adding another pickup makes things interesting. As the string vibrates, it moves in one direction, then comes back in the opposite direction. The current being induced in the coil does the same thing. If both pickups are identical, the induced current will be flowing in the same direction in both pickups, and they are in-phase. If any of the characteristics of one of the pickups is reversed, the current in that pickup coil will be opposite to the other one, and the pickups are out-of-phase.
If these out-of-phase pickups were getting exactly the same stimulus from the string, the signals they produced would be equal and opposite. They would cancel each other out, and there would be no signal left for the amplifier to work with.
This doesn't happen on your Strat because the pickups are sensing the vibration at different parts of the strings. The size of the vibration, and the harmonic frequency content at these different locations is just different enough that there is only partial cancellation. The result is that slightly hollow sound you get with switch positions 2 and 4.
The three pickups in a stock Strat are usually indentical except that the magnets in the middle pickup are 'upside down'. This reverses the magnetic field around the middle pickup, reversing the phase of its signal relative to the other two pickups.
Companies that specialize in such things have developed expertise in 'tweaking' the pickup characteristics to produce different results. 'Hot' pickups usually have more turns of wire on their coils, and/or stronger magnets. Choice of materials gives a lot of options to work with, and everybody has their own personal idea of what the 'ultimate' pickup should be. Humbuckers use out-of-phase cancellation to get rid of the hum induced by the power-line magnetic fields produced by the transformers in big amplifiers. Since this requires having two coils in each pickup, we have the 'lotsa wire' condition which produces a high-output signal 'chunky' sound.
There are thick books available which are devoted to this subject. I'm going to knock off now, rather than write another one here. Hit the library. Do some reading. You'll be amazed at how much is going on inside the gizmos we take for granted.
I haven't looked at it lately, but this website can generally give you a start on understanding just about anything: http://landau1.phys.virginia.edu/Education/Teaching/HowThingsWork/home.html
Keep asking about things. There aren't any stupid questions, although sometimes you can get stupid answers.
02-26-2001, 08:15 AM
Zeppelin, you got your pu's backwards; should be neck=bass and bridge=treble.
Lord: nice explanation in layman's terms.
02-26-2001, 01:29 PM
Yeah John you right..
i dunno why i did write it like that...
probably i was too tired and didnt really noticed what was i writing...
02-26-2001, 08:27 PM
LordoftheStrings, that was exactly what I was looking for. You helped me a lot! Take it easy
02-26-2001, 08:40 PM
I figure it as my way of repaying you for the kick I got from your sign-off!
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