June 1, 2012 Issue

Physics To Go 125 - Electric guitar

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Physics in Your World

Hyperphysics: Electric Guitars image
image credit: ReignMan, Creative Commons; image source; larger image

Hyperphysics: Electric Guitars

This photo shows the electric guitar pickups from a Fender Stratocaster. Notice that there are three different pickup locations, and each location has a pickup (the circular dots) for every string. Each individual pickup contains a magnet, a coil, and thousands of turns of insulated wire wrapped around the magnet.

To find out how an electric guitar produces sound from a vibrating string, see Hyperphysics: Electric Guitars. To learn about the physics of vibrating strings, see this additional Hyperphysics page.

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Physics at Home

Ear Guitar

Build an ear guitar (otherwise known as a string telephone) with the directions at Ear Guitar. Have an adult work with you.


From Physics Research

The Invention of the Electric Guitar image
image credit: NC State Department of Physics; image source; higher-res image/

The Invention of the Electric Guitar

The photo shows a modern electric guitar prototype developed in 1940 by a physicist at North Carolina State University. Check out this webpage to learn more.

Read about the development of the electric guitar in The Invention of the Electric Guitar.

(This feature was updated on September 24, 2013.)

Worth a Look

Music Acoustics: How does a guitar work?

To learn more about the physics of the guitar, including acoustic guitars, visit Music Acoustics: How does a guitar work?.

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