Pick me up before you go go

Pick-ups are important. They’re little magnets wrapped in thousands of wire coils that turn string vibrations into loud guitar noises.

Jag close up 2The magnetic field – created by the magnet in the pick-up, no less – detects string vibrations caused when the guitar is played. The vibrations create a signal which is relayed along a cable (more usually called the guitar lead … never to be confused with the lead guitar) to an amplifier and then out through a loud speaker.

The very first pick-ups for musical instruments were invented almost 100 years ago in the 1920s. But their development really took off in the late 1940s. Originally there were several different approaches to building pick-ups – they weren’t all electro-magnetic, but that was the approach that worked best, attracted the most attention and led to the explosion in use and popularity of the electric guitar.

Different pick-ups have different characteristics, and will therefore affect the tone of the guitar. I’m not on a mission to sound like Johnny Marr, but his guitar has a great tone – a great range of tones, to be more exact, which is what I was more interested in emulating.

So it quickly became obvious that I was going to need the same (or at least very similar) pick-ups.

The pick-ups on the Johnny Marr Signature Edition Jaguar are specially made by a Cornish company called Bare Knuckle and were custom designed to be reminiscent of a 1962 Fender Jaguar in Marr’s collection.

You can’t buy them. They were specifically made for the Johnny Marr Signature Edition Jaguar and licensed to Fender.

However, you can buy something very similar from Bare Knuckle for £140. I know because I asked them. That was good to know – it meant I had a sense of what I should be prepared to bid, and the knowledge that there was a serious alternative should the originals elude me.

 

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