JAES: Guitar Pickup: Measurement of its Two-Dimensional Nonlinear Function

 March 19, 2020    Antonin Novak
research    research_electroacoustics    research_nonlinear    

A. Novak, B. Lihoreau, E. Brasseur, P. Lotton & L. Simon (2020), "Guitar Pickup: Measurement of its Two-Dimensional Nonlinear Function", J. Audio Eng. Soc. Vol. 68(3), pp. 184-192.

The work presented in this paper deals with the experimental measurement of the non-linear static function of a guitar pickup. This function is measured in both the vertical and horizontal directions of the vibrating string.

We measured three different types of Seymour Duncan pickups: (a) an SSL-5 single coil pickup, (b) a humbucker double coil pickup (SH-2N), and a humbucker rail pickup (STHR-1B). Their photos taken during our experimental test are provided below.

Details on the method and results are available in the paper. This short blog post shows just one example of these results in which the static nonlinear function of one of these pickups is represented in the vertical direction, in the horizontal direction and in both directions forming a 3D graph of the static nonlinear function of the pickup.

This paper addresses the question of why some guitar pickups distort more than others. The electromagnetic pickup of an electric guitar is a nonlinear device that can provide a pleasant distortion. Although the pickup is a simple device consisting of a coil and a few magnets or pole pieces, the measurement of its nonlinear function is a difficult task. This research shows a measurement technique that can estimate the nonlinear function of a pickup in both y and z directions of the vibrating string. The experimental results are provided for three different types of pickups: a single-coil pickup with six staggered pole-pieces, a humbucker pickup with six equal-height pole-pieces, and a humbucker rail pickup. The measured nonlinear functions of the three pick-ups are very different from each other, leading to different distortions. These experimental results confirm that the pickup geometry plays an important role in distortion.

    author={Novak, Antonin and Lihoreau, Bertrand and Brasseur, Emmanuel and Lotton, Pierrick and Simon, Laurent},
    title={Guitar Pickup: Measurement of its Two-Dimensional Nonlinear Function},
    journal={J. Audio Eng. Soc},