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How do pickups differ from microphones?


RudyH

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It is unfortunate that there is so much gobbledegook when it comes to guitar electronics. It is extremely HARD to get any kind of CONSISTENT information about amps, pickups, pots, etc. Everybody says MINE is best" (and maybe THEY think so) ..that makes 300 people claiming to be best for one reason or another and nobody seems to really know. So you rely on some **trusted** expert (your luthier, your manufacturer, your music professor) to steer you right. (But ALL you get is their view of it) Nobody actually knows and very few sources will be honest about what they know -- or worse what they do not know. But then have you ever gone to your car dealership and tried to get them to be honest about ANYTHING? If the car dealer thinks you don't know any think you will pay $75 or more for an oil change. Few are more than 50% honest (the rest is BS and sales hype).

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How do pickups differ from microphones? Is a pickup a kind of microphone?

 

Passive pickups are somewhat microphonic.

 

Dampen the strings on your guitar, then tap on the body with your knuckles. You should hear it through the amp. That's microphonic affect.

 

That does not make a pickup the same as a mic though. A mic is designed to amplfy waves of air pressure, and a pickup is designed to produce power pulses through strings vibrating within a magnetic field.

 

If you had metal vocal cords, a pickup would work great as a mic.

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How do pickups differ from microphones? Is a pickup a kind of microphone?

 

Let me see if I can explain this in a nutshell. A pickup and a microphone do exactly the same thing except in a different way. They create electrical impulses from a magnetic field.

 

In a pickup the metallic string disrupts the magnetic field of the pickup magnets and creates an electrical field through the coil.

 

As Dynadude stated, sound waves are not magnetic so there must be a conversion process. That conversion is done by a diaphram. The sound waves move the diaphram to which the coil is attached, and that coil resides between the poles of a magnet. So you have a moving coil disrupting the magnetic field.

 

So:

Pickup - Energy created through a fixed coil by the metallic string disrupting the magnetic field

Microphone - Energy created through a moving coil attached to a diaphram by air pressure moving the coil to disrupt the magnetic field.

 

Does that make any sense at all. I'm not sure I hepled any!

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