"But this goes to eleven?"
A series of articles from Bass Guitar Magazine by C. Alexander Claber
Click on each link to open a pdf in your browser or right click to download it for later pleasure. I've tried to make these columns as accessible as possible but sometimes they get a little deep and may require some reading, pondering and then reading again at a later date before they entirely make sense. Despite that I hope that even the complete newbie can take something useful from them on their first pass!
My apologies for the tardiness of the update - been a bit busy designing and building speakers - the missing three columns will follow to complete the set. There will be more, the new issue of Bass Guitar Magazine hit my doormat yesterday, including a fascinating article about impedance.
BGM56 July 2010 - Pickups, voltage, current and gain
BGM63 February 2011 - Real specs vs 'marketing specs'
BGM65 April 2011 - Myths and Masking
Furthermore, due to the word count related challenges of magazines and the somewhat challenging material we're discussing, we're trying to write a bassopedia that explains every single word in our columns that might confuse a beginner bassist with zero science knowledge - yes, this is going to take some time! We'll rearrange it into alphabetical order shortly, but here's the start:
Glossary of Bassdom:
Magnets - pieces of iron, nickel, cobalt or some rare earth metals like neodymium, or alloys thereof, which can be magnetised so that they generate a persistent magnetic field
Magnetic field - just like the field coming out of the North pole and back into the South pole that compasses align themselves with, small scale versions of this field can be created by permanent magnets or electromagnets
Voltage - also known as Electromotive Force (aka EMF - not the one hit funky rock wonder), this describes the potential difference between the electrons flowing in an electric current
Potential difference - aka Voltage, this is the force the electrons in the system have by virtue of their charge. Instead of electrons picture a series of cannonballs - the higher you lift these cannonballs the more potential difference there is between the energy they have in their raised position and if left sitting on the ground
Current - the flow rate of electricity, determined by the voltage applied to said component divided by the resistance that component has to current flow
Head - the amplifier box that sits on top of a rig; also the device upon a bass player's neck that makes everything happen; also the pressure of water in a system (the higher up the water tank driving the system - which is why mains water comes out of water towers, to give it head - the greater the pressure down at ground level
Pressure - Force per unit area; also that thing that can cause both great performances and train-wrecks
Work - the use of energy to produce a physical result, for instance climbing a staircase involves the use of chemical energy from combustion of foodstuffs to lift the human body to a greater height, thus turning chemical energy into potential energy plus some waste heat
Power - the rate of doing work, the more power you have the quicker you can climb that staircase
Tone - that elusive ingredient that defines your sound, also known as timbre in old school orchestral circles; also the pot/cap combo on a passive bass which acts as a low pass filter to reduce high frequencies in the signal
Potentiometer - an electrical component which can act as either a variable resistor or a voltage divider depending on how it is wired, these are found inside your bass and amp behind every knob
Passive electronics - any electrical circuit that does not take in extra energy from an external source such as a battery or mains power, and thus can only cut voltage when being used to change tone or gain