Chemistry of an Electric Guitar

Chemistry of an Electric Guitar

Electric Guitar

The electric guitar instrument has been one of the most influential, pivotal instruments of modern popular music, and the primary and foremost musical instrument behind entire musical ideas and genres. Today, the electric guitar is one of the most widely played and produced instruments. The electric guitar’s popularity and influence today can be traced back to 1925.

Basically the electric guitar contains several components like body, neck, fret board, jack, potentiometers, capacitors, pickups, strap buttons, bridge, volume/tone knobs, ferrules, neck plate, screws, tuning machines, fret wire, fret board, nut, truss rod, fret dots, bridge, and strings and all of these components are made up of various chemical materials and other materials.

Chemical Equation of an Alnico Anisotropic Magnet


Components and Chemical composition of electric guitar

  • Guitar Pickups
  • Guitar Frets
  • Guitar Strings
  • Guitar Body

Guitar Pickups

Guitar Pickups are generally made up of Alnico alloy and its chemical composition is

Alnico History & Manufacturing Process

The Alnico magnet used in the P90 Humbucker Pickup on a Gibson SG is an anisotropic magnet. Alnico was first produced in 1921 by metallurgist Dr T. Mishima in Tokyo, Japan. Alnico is used in the guitar pickup due to its magnetic properties, which allows it to produce a strong electrical signal to be amplified.

Anisotropic Alnico magnets are manufactured through a process of sintering. Alnico Sintering involves a mixture of powdered Iron, Aluminium, Nickel, Cobalt, Titanium and Niobium undergoing atomic diffusion at high heat. The powder mixture is placed in a sand die of the desired final shape of the magnet and heated to 1280°C, cooler than the melting point of the entire mixture, in a vacuum atmosphere of hydrogen gas, which exerts extensive pressure upon the mixture in the die. Under the pressure and heat of the hydrogen atmosphere, the atoms in the individual powder particles diffuse across the boundaries of each particle, thus fusing the powder particles together into one solid piece of Alnico metal in the shape of the die in which the powders were cast.

Guitar Frets

Guitar Frets are made from nickel-silver alloy and also from stainless steel. Nickel-silver alloy is consists of various metals like copper, nickel and zinc.

Guitar Strings

The strings fitted to the guitar also have an influence on tone, so the materials which make these strings plays important role. Other important factor which affects guitar tone is strings should contain a magnetic metal.

Guitar Body

The types of woods which are used for guitar body is alder, swamp ash, mahogany, poplar, and basswood. The solid body ensures that the amplified sound reproduces the string vibration alone, thus avoiding the wolf tones. These guitars are generally made of hardwood covered with a hard polymer finish, often polyester or lacquer.

Mahogany Wood

Mahogany is a naturally occurring substance and it is the material used to make the body and neck of the Gibson SG guitar. The major component in the rigid cell walls of mahogany is cellulose which constitutes 50 per cent in total composition. Even guitar neck or body, painted and coated with protective nitrocellulose lacquer varnish.


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