Piezo Pickups

Posted: 13th July 2012 by Graph Tech in Electronics, Just Cool Stuff, Pickups, Technical Resources

Piezo comes from the Greek word that means “to squeeze.” Piezo pickups are formed from a crystal or ceramic material, which produces electricity when stressed. They function by the piezo element senses the small changes in pressure as the string vibrates, and produces alternating current. An electrical charge is pumped down a wire proportional to the amount of pressure applied.

Most factory-installed piezo pickups are placed underneath or within the string bridge, where vibrations are the strongest. When under-string placement is not possible or practical (or for temporary use), piezo pickups are mounted with glue or tape to a part of an instrument that receives the most vibrations. For most stringed instruments, the ideal surface for mounting is the instrument’s soundboard or bridge. Graph Tech encapsulates our piezo elements within our ghost saddles.

Piezo pickups were developed in the late 1960s. Prior to that time, amplified acoustic musicians had to stay in one place on the stage to accommodate microphone placement. Piezos also allow musicians to alter the sound of their instruments, when used in conjunction with a tone-adjustable pre-amp or amplifier.

Piezo pickups have a very different sound from magnetic pickups, and also have the advantage of not picking up any other magnetic fields, such as mains hum and feedback from monitoring loops. In hybrid guitars, this system allows switching between magnetic pickup and piezo sounds, or simultaneously blending the output. Piezos are capacitive devices and the sound changes dramatically with the input impedance of the amplifier you use, so a pre-amp is commonly used. A preamp is a small electronic interface that buffers the pickup from these variations and ensures full-frequency response. Unlike the magnetic pickups used in electric guitars, piezos are very good at sensing higher frequency sounds, making them ideal for acoustic guitar applications, which have a higher proportion of the upper frequency sound than their electric counterparts. As they work with pressure rather than magnetism, they are also well suited to non-magnetic strings, such as bronze or even nylon.

For more information on the piezo pickups and how they are used with the ghost system, check out our web site.

We change the way you play!

Magnetic Pickups

Posted: 10th July 2012 by Graph Tech in Electronics, Just Cool Stuff, Pickups, Technical Resources

Magnetic pickups

A magnetic pickup consists of a permanent magnet with a core of material like alnico or ceramic, wrapped with a coil of several thousand turns of fine enameled copper wire. The vibration of the nearby lightly magnetic strings modulates the flux linking the coil, thereby inducing an alternating current through the coil of wire.


The coil – Insulated copper wire. Most common is a 42 gauge (40-49 gauge). The higher the number, the smaller the wire.
– Copper cannot be touching bare copper because it will short the circuit (enamel, poly nylon)
The bobin
- The part that has the wire wrapped around it. A tall thin one puts the pole pieces close to the strings creating more upper mids and treble (Strats) Short and fatter ones (P90′s, P-bass, or Jazzmaster) creates a thicker more powerful tone with more mids.
The magnet-

A clay-like blend of magnetic iron & rare earth elements that’s formed into bars. Harder to magnetize but very stable once it is. It is bright with enhanced upper mids, hard and aggressive, compressed dynamics and punchy bass.
Alnico: An alloy comprised of aluminum, nickel and cobalt usually made into rods & bars. Easier to charge but less stable and can lose charge over time. They can sometimes be categorized in different numbers (alnico II or alnico V), this refers to the composition strength. The higher the number, the more cobalt (the stringer the magnet). The lower the number, the softer the magnetic fields (more sustain, softer sound, etc…)

Customer Ghost Story

Posted: 7th June 2012 by Graph Tech in Artists, Electronics, Just Cool Stuff, Pickups, Reviews
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Here at Graph Tech we love to hear stories from our customers about their install, find out what happen when one player discovered a ghost inside his archtop.

The attached photo represents the finished product of my Ghost upgrade to my Gretsch G100CE arch top guitar.  Thanks to your assistance, this project went very smoothly from beginning to end and the end result is the best sounding (and amplified) acoustic arch top guitar I have ever heard.  There were also no cut/drill modifications to the guitar required at all, partly due to the floating bridge and partly due to careful planning, and lastly due to the lack of need for a lot of bells and whistles to achieve the sound requirement.  I really appreciate all of the time, effort and documentation you provided that enabled me to plan and complete this project so easily.  I also appreciate that you responded to each and every email inquiry, which were numerous.

I have no earthly idea of how many, if any, full size arch top guitars have been upgraded to a Ghost bridge and Acousti-Phonic preamp, so I will keep the project description as short as possible.

The original Gretsch bridge did not have the correct post center to center dimensions for a Ghost Resomax bridge, and I wanted to preserve the original Gretsch bridge, so I purchased a tone pro style roller bridge with a rosewood arch top base.  I discarded the roller bridge saddle, removed the magnetic mounting bushings from the Ghost Resomax bridge saddle and just slipped it in place on the bridge base, where it fit perfectly.  I replaced the existing Gretsch bridge assembly with the new one, adjusted the height and scale positioning, tuned the strings and it was in perfect intonation without any adjustment to the factory settings of the Ghost Resomax saddle positions at all.

The next set of steps involved extensive testing prior to final installation, just so I could figure out what was really necessary to accomplish the intended end result, so I won’t bore you with those details. However, I was immediately impressed with both the Ghost bridge and the Acousti-Phonic preamp.  Great sound!

I had a pick guard custom made to provided an uncut, undrilled replica of a 1951 L4C pick-guard in 5 ply blk/wht/blk/wht/blk that I custom fitted to replace the original Gretsch pick-guard, but without volume, tone controls or switches.  I made just one cutout for the neck mounted Gretsch Filter-Tron pickup and drilled two beveled screw holes for mounting.  It fit perfectly the very first time.

The Acousti-Phonic preamp board and associated wiring are all loosely, but securely, suspended in the “F” hole slot directly beneath the pick-guard.  There are so few places to put anything on an arch top guitar without cutting holes in it, I resorted to powering the Acousti-Phonic preamp using an AA size battery holder containing two 6 volt CR11108 Lithium batteries in series for a 12 volt power supply that takes much less space than the 9 volt battery/mount and clip does (battery life will be less, and battery cost will be more, but that is not important to me).  The battery and holder also are out of sight underneath the pick-guard, but are easily removed for battery replacement.  I used the quick switch for initial volume balance setup between the ghost bridge and the Filter-Tron mag pickup and then removed it.  I used a spare two-pin 2 conductor wiring harness that came with the preamp and cut it in half to make two other connections.  One was used for a shorting plug to pass through the Ghost volume input, and the other was used to connect the magnetic pickup input, so there are no volume or tone controls nor switches installed, as well as no unnecessary wiring or bulk to take up space.  I did replace the original ¼” jack with the stereo jack provided with the Acousti-Phonic preamp kit and it works great mono blended and in stereo with the pickups separated.  The volume balance adjustment is about 2 db higher for the Ghost Bridge compared to the Filter-Tron pickup, which is just about right to my ears.

Voila!  One nice looking and fantastic sounding Graph Tech Ghost equipped arch top guitar!

Thanks Graph Tech!  And Special Thanks to Gray!

We’ll change the way you play!

Graph Tech & ML Basses

Posted: 4th May 2012 by Graph Tech in Company, Just Cool Stuff, Nuts, Testimonials
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ML Basses have been voted by NoTreble.com as the “Bass of The Week”. They build amazing instruments in a small local shop with a little help of Graph Tech products! Check the review out…….

After 20 years of work making and repairing stringed instruments, Meaulnes Laberge formed ML Basses to focus on building electric basses. One of his striking instruments is the Volcan, an edgy yet elegant design available in 4- and 5-string configurations.

ML Basses Volcan Bass

Featuring bolt-on construction, the Volcan is built with a light maple body, three-piece maple neck and an Indian rosewood fingerboard. An interesting piece of hardware is a thumbguard made of ABS, which is slightly textured and scratch-resistant.

Other hardware on the bass includes a Graph Tech black tusq nut, a Hipshot A-style bridge and Hipshot Y-style tuners.

ML offers a few options for pickups including either Aguilar AG J-70s, EMG DCX/CSX, or EMG TWX sets. The controls are laid out for a pair of Volume knobs and a pair Tone knobs, though you have the option to include Aguilar’s OBP-3 preamp. ML also includes an on/off switch on every bass.

The ML Basses Volcan is hand built to order in Canada and has a base price of $2,575. For more, check out the ML Basses website.

Check out the article here.

We’ll change the way you play!

LSL Instruments & Graph Tech

Posted: 25th April 2012 by Graph Tech in Company, Just Cool Stuff

After meeting at the 2012 NAMM show, LSL Instruments and Graph Tech Guitar Labs really seemed to hit it off………. more specifically with our “Head Honcho Jr” Tarina Dunwoodie. They discussed the many different parts we manufacture and how they could be incorporated into their line of instruments. Afterwards they were so impressed with the caliber of parts that we build that the suggestion to make a “Tarina” guitar was brought up, and now a few short months later…………………

The Tarina

Check out more about this cool, California based company

LSL Instruments

We’ll change the way you play

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Here at Graph Tech, we get asked all the time “what is the difference between TUSQ & TUSQ XL?” or “What exactly is Fossalite?”
Here is a quick run down on the different type of materials we manufacture and why you would choose one over the other………….

TUSQ: Definitely our premium material, both in performance and market presence. TUSQ is typically used on higher end instruments like Taylor, Martin, Gibson etc.  TUSQ produces more harmonics in the mid and upper range of the guitars.

Nubone: Nubone is a derivative of TUSQ.  It has a lot of the same tonal characteristics as TUSQ. Like all our materials it is completely consistent from piece to piece and within each piece. NuBone amplifies lower fundamental tones and overall volume of stringed instruments. Nubone is used for lower end instruments typically, like Jay Turser, Mahalo Ukulele, Valencia etc.

Fossalite : Fossalite is our newest material. It is extremely hard and it resistant to UV. Fossalite amplifies the lower and mid harmonics of a guitar and other stringed instruments. Fossalite is the same price as TUSQ and another premium material, just a different sound. Fossalite is used on Larrivee Guitars and Walden Guitars.

We’ll change the way you play!

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Every player has had both the pleasure and pain of using a locking trem at one point or another! If you have ever wanted to change your string gauge or tuning you know how much trouble this can cause. Here is a great setup guide you can use when installing your LB63 bridge for both the String Saver and the ghost version.

Changing strings on your locking tremolo

1. Unlock the three clamps at the nut with the 3mm Allen wrench provided with the guitar or bridge.
2. Set the fine-tuners on the bridge to the middle of there tuning range.
3. Change one string at a time (starting at either E string) by first loosening the string and unclamping it at the saddle with the 3mm Allen wrench.
4. Cut the ball end off the replacement string with a pair of wire cutters.
5. Place the freshly cut string end into the center of the saddle and tighten the clamping screw until it is difficult to turn.
6. Thread the other end of the string under its nut clamp and under the string hold down bar, then to the tuning key and tune the string. [Pull on the string until it is tight around the tuning key and retune.]
7. Repeat 2 thru 5 until all strings are replaced.
8. Check your tuning on all strings once again.
9. Re-clamp the three nut clamps.
10. Check your tuning once again making any adjustments this time with your fine-tuners only.

Tuning your locking tremolo

Tuning your locking bridge is certainly a tricky business when the bridge is floating. This is because the total tension of the strings must balance the total tension of the tremolo springs with the base plate of the bridge parallel to the face of the guitar and with the strings tuned to the desired pitch. So, follow these steps and what I just said will start to make some sense.

1. Loosen the three string clamps at the nut
2. Set your fine tuner screws on the bridge to the middle of their adjustment range.
3. Tune the strings to your desired pitch (this can be drop tuning, open tuning, or standard pitch, the procedure is the same for any tuning) with an electronic tuner starting with the low ‘E’.
4. When you have finished tuning all of the strings, check the tuning on the low ‘E’ again. If the low ‘E’ is now flat, re-tune the strings starting again with the low ‘E’ but this time tune the E, A, D, G, and B strings a little bit sharp, then the high ‘E’ to pitch. If the low ‘E’ is sharp, re-tune as just described only tuning the first five strings a little flat. You must tune the strings a little sharp or flat to get to your tuning because every time you change the tension (or pitch) of one string, the other strings change pitch in the opposite direction.
5. Repeat step 4 until all the strings are at the desired pitch.
6. When the strings are at the desired pitch, check to see if the bridge base plate is sitting parallel with the top surface of the guitar. If the base plate is tilted forward away from the body, you must tighten the tremolo springs tension by turning the spring claw screws clockwise and repeat step 4.  If the base plate is tilted back toward the body, you must loosen the tremolo springs tension by turning the spring claw screws counter-clockwise and repeat step 4. [Step 6 only needs to be done on initial set-up of the bridge or if you change to another gauge of strings or change to a different tuning.]
7. When the bridge is sitting parallel to the face of the guitar and the strings are tuned to the desired pitch, re-clamp the three nut clamps and re-tune (if necessary) once again using only the fine tuners.
8. When tuning is complete, check the action of the strings off the neck. If your action is to high or to low, adjust the action with the two rocker screws (bridge pivot screws) using the 3mm Allen wrench. This adjustment will slightly change your tuning. If your fine tuners run out of range you must repeat steps 1 thru 7.

Intonating your locking tremolo

[before intonating your bridge you must tune your guitar using the tuning instructions above]

Check the intonation:

1. Tune all the strings on your guitar to an electronic tuner with all the nut clamps released.
2. Determine if the intonation of the string you wish to change is sharp or flat by chiming the string directly over the 12th and checking the tuning. Then, carefully press the string down to the 12th fret and check the tuning again with the string fretted. If the fretted note is flat when compared to the chimed note, then the saddle must be moved toward the nut until the chimed note and the fretted note match. If the fretted note is sharp when compared to the chimed note the saddle must be moved away from the nut until the chimed and fretted notes match.

To move the saddle:

1. Once you have determined which direction (toward or away from the nut) to move the saddle, loosen the string until it is limp.
2. Loosen the attachment screw holding the saddle to the bridge plate while holding the saddle in place. Move the saddle in the desired direction a small amount (about 1/16in on the first adjustment and your best guess on subsequent adjustments) and re-tighten the screw. [Note: If the saddle will not move forward because it is resting against the attachment screw, you can move the screw to the next hole forward on the bridge plate. This will give you more adjustment range. Also, if you need to move the saddle away from the nut to a position where the attachment screw can no longer clamp the saddle firmly, you can move the screw to the next hole back on the bridge plate.]
3. Re-tune the string and check the intonation again using the procedure outlined above (check the intonation).
4. Repeat this cycle until each string is properly intonated.

When you’re finished with the intonation procedure re-tighten the nut clamps. This will not change your intonation setting.

1. Check to see if the base plate is sitting parallel with the top surface of the guitar. If it seems to be tilted forward, toward the pickups, then you need to tighten the springs and retune the guitar and check the tilt again. If it is tilted back toward the body of the guitar loosen the springs and retune the guitar. Repeat this procedure until the bridge sits level.
2. Make sure the nut is attached securely by tightening the nut attachment screws. This is critical for tuning stability.
3. Make sure the string clamps at the nut and bridge are very tight.
4. Make sure the saddle intonation screws are tight.

If these things have been done correctly and your bridge still does not come back to the proper pitch when using the tremolo the knife-edges may be damaged. To check this you must remove the bridge. You can easily remove the bridge with the strings still clamped in the bridge by removing the tremolo springs. [Be sure to hold on to the bridge when removing the springs.] If you don’t feel comfortable doing this take the guitar to a good guitar repairman. Check the knife-edges. They should not be dull or rounded or chipped.

We’ll change the way you play!

Guitar Picks Shootout!

Posted: 12th March 2012 by Graph Tech in Just Cool Stuff, Picks, Reviews, Testimonials
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