Alright, so every single day you plug in your guitar, strap it over your shoulders, and begin wailing away. Some days you may hear some odd noises in your guitar, such as a buzzing, and it may bring you to wonder; what’s going on?
This may also bring up thoughts on what exactly goes on inside of your guitar.
The only way to understand is to know the basics of how the electric guitar works.
Believe it or not, every time you hit a string, you are creating electric audio signals. Those little things under your strings that are called pickups do exactly what their name suggests; they pick up the signal of your strings and send them to your amp.
Guitar pickups are actually made of magnets and coils of wire. The wire serves as a conductor for the signal that the magnet picks of from your strings. This means that your strings are the direct noise maker of your instrument. Neat, huh?
Every single time that you pluck, slap, strum, or strike a string, you are sending a magnetic signal through your pickups and into your amp. Your pickups are connected to your tone knob, your volume knob, and your amp jack through wires which are soldered to them.
Solder is a type of conductive metal that is used to connect wiring. Each knob you have is actually connected to something called a pot. A pot is yet another conductor, made of pure metal, and there are actually two basic types of pots; 250k and 500k.
The numbers refer to the conductivity value. Active pickups (or battery-run pickups) primarily use 250k pots as they need less voltage, whereas passive pickups (the most common type) usually use 500k as they are hotter pickups.
Once you strum a string, its single is sent through the magnets in your pickups through the wiring of the pickups, and into the pots.
Into the amp jack, of course. Amp jacks are made of different metals that all have the same quality; conductivity. There is a wire that runs from your main pot (the back of which will have multiple wires connected to it –this is known as the ground) to the jack. This wire takes the signal that was sent from your string to the pickup, into the pot, and conducts it into the jack.
Once the signal reaches the jack, it travels into the tip of your cable (yet another conductor) and through the cable, which is inside made of braided wires. This signal then travels all the way through and into your amp.
That’s a lot of travel for such a short time. Many of the noises your guitar makes are due to either bad grounding or faulty wiring, all of which can be fixed by a guitar technician.
Now that you know exactly how much goes into each note, you may come to appreciate your guitar just that much more.