Pickup compression and harmonics

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by theprofessor, May 6, 2019.

  1. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    1) there is an increase in harmonic content with an unpotted pickup. The problem is that the harmonics caused be the loose windings are not necessarily related to what one is playing....they are random. They are also hard to control with higher volume/gain with the result being what I call squealing pig syndrome.
     
  2. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    I see. Thank you. That was the proposition I was having the harder time accepting: that lighter potting had nothing to do with harmonics. It sounds like that is not true; it is simply that the harmonics are random and do not correlate to input from the pick, hand or whatever.
     
  3. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    1: No, lighter wax potting will increase harmonics because anything that you do to increase the frequency response will increase the amplitude of the harmonics. Realize that harmonics don't exist without a fundamental, by definition. All harmonics are frequency multiples of the fundamental frequency of the note that is played. However, as I mentioned before, the difference is not very significant in the mix of factors that add up to a pickup response. Harmonics can't exist in a pickup by definition, they belong to the string. The pickup can exhibit microphonic resonances, which is why amp feedback can bypass the strings and excite those resonances directly in the pickup - causing the "pig squeal".
     
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  4. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    OK, here it is again, this time in a description of Lollar Vintage T neck pickup on the Lollar website:

    "This is the matching neck pickup for the Vintage T Series bridge pickup. It offers full-bodied midrange and a clear top end that sounds full and clean with moderate amp breakup. It's wound with larger diameter wire to give you less compression compared to typical Tele neck pickups. Made with Alnico 5 magnets, wax potted coils, and vintage style cloth covered lead wire."

    That makes two high-end pickup winders using such terminology. It has to mean something, doesn't it?
     
  5. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Ask them to explain in physics terms why they believe their claims to be true.
     
  6. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

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    I love compression in guitar tone also! And compression is there to be heard in the Greg Koch video.

    I can’t speak to what pickup design gives more compression, though.

    My usual approach is to select pickups for the tone that I prefer (I like low-wind clarity, say around 6.2k to 6.9k DCR in Tele pickups, with 42AWG wire) and I get my compression from a Compressor EFX and the amp. With a good compressor, you can have beautiful, compressed tone without having to crank the amp to high volumes.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  7. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    The audio in internet video seems to compress for whatever reason. The dynamic range is far from what you'd experience if you were sitting in the room. You can't rely on the audio of a video to deliver 1:1 dynamics.
     
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  8. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

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    Indeed, but it is the compressed sounding tone itself (whether created by pedal, amp, pickup, or listening via internet video reproduction) that The Professor was enjoying the sound of.

    For me, the pedal/efx and amp combination gets the compressed tone that I love.

    And I think it may be a bit easier to get that compresssion with lighter strings and lower action - somehow? Vs. heavier strings. I don’t know the mechanics of it, though.

    Also, it seems easier to pinch out sweet harmonics with lighter strings, as well, choking up tightly on a Dunlop Jazz III. (10’s or 9.5s vs. 11s). I have some guitars set up with 11’s, some with 10’s, and a couple with 9.5s.

    Tone, obviously, is the result of a large system involving the player’s technique, the guitar set-up, string selection, action height, the pickups and electronics, any EFX involved, and amplification settings.

    It is a complex system that we’re trying to simplify down to one component.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  9. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    The old school Lace p-ups definitely SOUND compressed to me. This seems a good explaination why.Their weak magnetic field fails off faster than normal due to the topology, so the string volume response isn t as dynamic.
     
  10. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    "compression" as it relates to guitars and pickups seems to be another buzzword like pickup "dcr".

    no matter what the guitar or pickup, the creation of electric guitar sounds has a path that starts with the guitarist and ends in some manner of amplification speaker device. there's a heckuva lotta stuff between that start and end signal stream, and it only takes one significant item to make a difference.

    if you want an audio compressed tone, use a compressor. seriously. it will greatly limit dynamic range and can squeeze it all into a very narrow band that's great for olde tyme am radio. maybe that's what some mean by "pickup compression". i dunno how a passive transducer can do "audio compression". i do know they can be built to render clear, "bell like", "piano like" tones that balance well across the octaves.

    the materials used in a passive pickup, along with its design parameters and build process are all that matters, and all of that can be the difference between pickups of the same or different builders.
     
  11. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    I like un-potted PU's.

    Mostly, because of their "own fidelity" and "open" sounding-ness.

    I can control compression ect.; but I really want as "pure" of a sound as I can get... otherwise, use I use cheap and/or the stock pickups.

    Save my $$$!

    But, sometimes the "best" pickup's...

    ... are the cheapest.
     
  12. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    In either case it's not real compression, but a combination of a effects that sounds similar to compression. In the first case, the sense that a pickup compresses, what you're really hearing is the sound of the transient being cut off at a lower frequency. Hence, a "hot" pickup with a low peak frequnecy sounds very compressed, while a low output pickup with a high peak frequency sounds clear and dynamic. If you turn the tone knob to zero, you are emulating the sound of a SUPER hot pickup, in terms of frequency though not output, and you will notice that it sounds uber compressed.

    I'll have to make a visualization to explain this sometime, but for now, if you look at this spectrogram, you can see that at time=0, along the back, there are red peaks that extend all the way up to 1kHz, and likely beyond. Notice that the red peaks towards the higher frequencies are very brief, while the red peaks at low frequencies are very long, with respect to time, with the fundamental "key note" extending the farthest. When you cut off the peak frequency, you remove those brief red peaks, leaving behind only the longer ones at the lower frequency. When you have only long lasting harmonics, and no short ones, you get something that sounds like compression, it sounds like the notes are holding longer, but in reality you're just omitting the higher, short lived harmonics.


    [​IMG]

    As for low action causing compression, the string hits the tops of the frets at the moment of the string pluck, and that impact robs the string of energy. The subsequent string movement is less, it doesn't impact the frets and so it remains at that decay rate. That too sounds like compression on account of the fact that the distance between the frets and the string will only allow the string to move freely so much. Any excess energy imparted into the string by the guitarist gets removed by the impact, which sounds like compression, but isn't.
     
  13. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

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    Interesting analysis.

    Whether real compression or "sounds like" compression - it's a tonal quality that some players really enjoy.

    That sound of strings lightly hitting the frets while vibrating is an effect that many have purposely implemented. It has a very distinct sound - one that I tend to associate with Strats, for some odd reason. :lol:

    Maybe we should call it a "compression-like" effect?
     
  14. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    If compression is merely a consequence of a lower resonant peak, it should just be understood as such, and not regarded as a specific attribute of a pickup, for the sake of marketing. Especially the idea that larger wire somehow increases compression, that just not how things work. It's a struggle to propagate truths and facts in the face of all this false or misleading marketing.
     
  15. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

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    Tell it to the pickup marketers.

    I don't think most players think much about compression when they are selecting pickups. I know that I don't. I choose pickups for tone and get my compression from EFX/amplifier.

    And on a couple of guitars, one of my Strats especially, I employ the low action/slight string buzz for tonal effect.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
  16. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    This is a huge effect that, so far as I can tell, does not get adequate appreciation or discussion. It is something that is easy to mistakenly attribute to pickups or electronics, when in fact it is all about setup.
     
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  17. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

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    Sure is. Kind of cool, too - for some styles of music.
     
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