How to Make a Guitar Pickup

I play bass and I used to play electric guitar and I’ve always wondered if I could make my own set of pickups. Well, now I can and you will to with this how-to guide for homemade guitar pickups.

Basically you’ll need some durable plastic, you will cut it in the shape of a pickup, and for that you can just look in a music instrument catalog and find out what regular pickups look like. Glue the two cut out pieces of plastic to a wooden core, and make sure they’re glued on with hot glue, not wood glue because wood glue peals over time.

Secondly you have to wind the pickup with wire. The wire will feed to the output jack in your guitar and that will create the sound and the tone. If you have a Piezo pickup microphone, don’t worry about winding because the pickup microphone will carry the sound. After you wind the pickup leave a lag of wire and solder that to the output and input jacks running inside the body of your guitar. Hollow bodies are easier to wire and rewire because of course the bodies have been hollowed out for a more sustained tone and the sound carries better with hollow body guitars and bass guitars.

After wiring and soldering the lag to the output and input jacks inside your guitar, run a sound check to test the tone and overall sound. If there is no sound, consult a professional and let then wind the pickup. Winding the pickup is the most difficult part because you have to make sure you have enough wire.

Drill four small holes in the pickup and connect the wire to each hole. Check for sound and keep testing it until your indicator let’s you know you have a sound hookup. Take one small screw and screw it into the coil of your pickup, check for sound but don’t use anymore screws.

Lastly, dip the pickup in a small bowl of hot wax from any old candle around the house. Just melt the candle down, all you need is one so don’t overdue it, and dip the pickup in the wax for 1 minute to 1 minute 1/2 for an even coating. The wax will protect the pickup from damage over time.

When you’re all done screw the pickup into its proper place on your guitar. Sound check the guitar one more time to make sure the pickup is responsive.

Learning Guitar

I found an interest in music when I was around 13. I wanted to play the acoustic guitar, so my parents bought me a cheap one off the internet, thinking it wouldn’t last. I ended up finding a Hal Leonard guitar lessons book and began reading that. After a few months I realized how much I enjoyed music and playing guitar. I began using youtube as well as a few other websites to watch how other people played so I could follow them . I started learning some basic chords and began to put those together to forms songs. It took almost 5-6 months before I could even think about playing a full song. but after that time passed, I was able to transition between chords easily and found myself playing much more advanced songs. I still teach myself everything I need to know on guitar and continue to practice and learn new songs on a daily basis.

Some tips:

-don’t give up! It can get extremely frustrating at times, but it takes a while for fingers to get used to that type of movement.

-practice scales. scales can strengthen your fingers to play those hard to reach chords

-start slow. don’t try to play the whole song the first time. start just playing the chord progression then speed up until you reach the speed of the song.

-play every day! if you take time off, its easy to forget how to play, and also the strings can be rough on your fingers

-watch others play. don’t try to learn just by reading. go to youtube or some other website, and watch how someone more advanced does that skill, then try it for yourself!


Shut Up and Play Your Guitar

Does Being a Dad Make You a Bad Teacher?

Is it wrong to start out with a quote from Frank Zappa? I would guess not, especially considering the guitar guru and founder of the Mothers of Invention can also be considered single-handedly responsible for the Valley Girl. Maybe it’s his fault I’m in the state I’m in!

Still, Zappa was the farthest from my mind in the laborious decision to let my two daughters take guitar lessons. It wasn’t like this was an easy decision. Their father, after all, plays and even recorded two CDs with his brother to moderate success, thank you very much. While the first attempt was less than stellar, our second release, The Blind Leading the Blind does enjoy a modicum of success, even if it does fit the stereotype of being “big in Europe”.

I did try, after all, though my spouse would probably relish saying it was a perfunctory attempt at best. I would dispute that, claiming frustration. I’m not sure why the attempt at teaching my six-stringed skills failed. I did teach myself.

At the ripe old age of 19 I made the decision that I was going to learn how to play the guitar like the man they called “God”. Slowhand, Cool Hand Luke, the man who created the “woman” sound, Eric Clapton. I even went so far as to buy a Fender Stratocaster, for way too much money, from the local music store. It was sunburst, meaning, the stains on the natural wood grain were light, almost yellow in the middle turning into a dark brown, almost black on the sides. I bought it because it looked exactly like the guitar on the back of the “Layla” album.

I was in college for journalism but had no job and nothing but time. I was an awkward, frustrated, angry teen from a small town relishing his newfound freedom and bored out of my skull in the process. So I eventually broke down and confessed to buying the guitar to my parents, who allowed me to keep it if I learned to play it. I had a reason now.

Over the next year I listened to every Clapton, Buddy Guy, Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, Hendrix, and Vaughan album I could find. I learned the simple riffs and screamed at the frustration of my inability to learn the complicated ones. It took me two straight days with no sleep and a cache of Old El Paso frozen Chimichangas to learn to play Stairway to Heaven, but I did it.

By the time I was 20 a guy doing his laundry in my building heard me playing “How Many More Times” through my new wah-wah pedal and knocked on my door, asking me to join his band. I immediately accepted, figuring I’d either be murdered tomorrow or playing music like I’d dreamed all my teenage life.

It took me one year to reach that first goal. One year.

It took me less than one month to fail teaching my kids to play guitar.

I thought it was the equipment. I had given my youngest daughter a 1960 Supro student electric. (I’d actually bought it because it looked cool with a tweed amplifier I had, but she loved it and I wanted her to have a cool guitar) I thought the neck too wide and the tuning machines too stiff.

Then I thought they weren’t paying enough attention. I bought a DVD with a chord book and thought I could reinforce what it said.


Maybe it’s the material! I know they love that alternative, 3-chord, grunge meets dance techno stuff, with some Green Day mixed in for good measure. That’s not great guitar soloing and melody like “God”, that’s just a bunch of chords thrown together!

But it wasn’t the music. In fact, it was me that was the problem. I know how to read music from my days of playing trumpet in high school. I have no basis for the guitar.

I never got angry nor did I ever yell at my children, I just got frustrated. It turns out I was far more wise than I thought. I did the best thing I could ever have done and hired someone else to teach my kids.

Here is why: I did nothing right in how I learned to play the guitar. I had a finite way I wanted to do things and I did it. As a result, I am doing everything wrong. I know the chords, but have no idea what I’m doing that makes the “G” chord I’m playing a “Suspended fifth” or something like that. I just know it sounds good. Hell, I’m even holding the pick wrong. Everything I do comes from my angry, tortured, teenage years where I wrenched every note, sound and melody from the guitar. In the process, I beat the instrument into submission, tearing at the strings by holding a pick with two fingers, pulling up on the strings and plunking the notes out.

My children will do it right. They will know a suspended 5th from a major 7th. They’ll know how to delicately change the dynamic of a piece. They’ll know when to calm down and coax a note from their instrument, calmly, serenely.

Not long after I bemoaned my failure to my brother Adam, possibly one of the greatest musicians you’ve never heard of, he told me what I CAN teach them. Adam told me that sometimes you just aren’t a good teacher. But what he told me I had achieved as a musician is something my children will get from both watching me and listening to my performances: emotion.

While the girls will learn the notes, scales and dynamics, my brother said that what I considered wrong was what made my playing so right. That anger, emotion, sadness, joy, everything I thought was beating my guitar into submission was also the deeply entrenched feelings I could release. Adam reminded me of why I had bought that first guitar. I wasn’t learning to be proficient or get girls or be famous. The guitar was my way of opening up the gates and letting out all the emotions I couldn’t express.

My teenage years were difficult, almost depressing. I wasn’t happy, I couldn’t “get the girl”, and I was almost paralyzed when I was forced to talk about any of my feelings. But that guitar, it was the surrogate. I could be frustrated the girl of my dreams was dating my friend and play “Have you Ever Loved a Woman” with fierce abandon. I could miss home and play Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song”, but it always sounded like me playing it, not some note-by-note copy. That, Adam said, was what differentiated a guitarist from a “guitar player”. If you listen to their version of a song, you feel what they’re feeling.

So while my girls will learn how to read the music and play the notes, the greatest lesson they’ll get from their father and their uncle won’t involve sheet music. At home, after the amplifier is turned off, they’ll learn how to play with emotion. After all of that, one day, maybe, people will sound off the greatest players and find that with the Becks, Claptons, Santanas and Vaughans, one day, someone might just be able to say: “what about Manoucheri?”

God help me, though, if I ever start having to say “turn it down!”

How to Learn Guitar?

Learning Guitar is not easy and selecting the right method to learn it is even more challenging. If you plan to learn Guitar, you have a good number of resources available. You can choose from books, online and offline courses, video lessons or you can learn from an experienced teacher! But finding the best learning method could be as challenging as playing Guitar itself. This is especially true for new students who feel completely lost when exposed to a large number of Guitar learning resources.

Finding the best method to learn Guitar depends on several factors and there is no “One method fits all” solution. Since each individual is unique, you must select a method best suited to your needs and background.

Before you invest your time and money on a Guitar course, you must evaluate your situation based on the following criteria:

1) What is your motive to learn Guitar? If you want to play Guitar as a hobby, you can pursue any learning method but if you want to go pro and play in a band, you need exposure to as many learning resources as possible.

2) Do you have any previous exposure to music theory or playing another musical instrument? If you do, you can pursue Guitar lessons on your own as you are already familiar with music concepts. However, if you are completely new to music, it is highly recommended that you take help of a professional who can guide you till you are comfortable playing Guitar on your own.

3) Are you a fast learner? If you got a good ear, you can pick concepts easily and make good progress in short amount of time. But if you are a slow learner, you would need more time and help to master the lessons.

4) What is your best learning style? Can you grasp concepts easily just be reading/listening or do you need access to extensive audio and video training material?

5) How much money are you willing to invest on good lessons, books, courses etc? If you are a complete beginner, you need good reference books and a teacher to get started and all this costs money.

6) How much time can you devote to practice? Most teachers require you to devote few hours every week to practice the lessons that you learn. If you are hard pressed for time, you can invest in a home study course that lets you learn Guitar at your own pace instead of hiring a teacher.

7) Do you want to learn any specific style such as Blues, Classical or Jazz? Depending on your preferences, you would need specific resources to learn a particular style of guitar.