+

# Meters and Stuff

### Last month I alluded to the idea of using a multimeter to test pickups and configurations. If you aren’t aware of these handy little gadgets, here’s a brief introduction.

Last month I alluded to the idea of using a multimeter to test pickups and configurations. If you aren’t aware of these handy little gadgets, here’s a brief introduction.

Multimeters are so named because they perform multiple functions. They can typically test AC voltage, DC voltage, amperage, and resistance. For our purposes we will use the resistance function. Resistance is measured in ohms, so multimeters are sometimes referred to as ohmmeters.

There’s no need to have a thorough grounding in electronics theory to use a multimeter, so feel free to go buy one today if you don’t already have one; you’ll be using it in no time. The basic premise is this: insert the meter’s two leads into a circuit and you can read the current, amperage, or the resistance of whatever lies between them.

Electrons, or electricity, can flow through various materials, such as wire. When electrons are flowing, we call this an electric current. Every material presents some degree of resistance to current flow. Some, like gold wire, have a low resistance, so current will just zip right through. Others, like a Snickers bar, have a high resistance. You’re not going to get a lot of current flowing through a Snickers bar. The material’s size is also a factor; for instance, a fat gold wire has less resistance than a skinny gold wire. It’s like a garden hose; more water will flow through a fat hose than a skinny one since the fat hose provides less resistance.

Also, a circuit is essentially an unbroken electrical path. If we put a single coil pickup on the table, making sure the leads aren’t contacting each other, that is an incomplete circuit. The two leads are just opposite ends of a single piece of wire, and electrons won’t flow through this piece of wire – they don’t like dead ends. But when we touch the two leads together, we now have a complete circuit, or an unbroken path. Electrons can now flow through this circuit.

Pull the two leads apart again, stopping any current flow. If we then insert our meter into the circuit, touching one of its leads to one of the pickup’s wires, and the other meter lead to the pickup’s other wire, we complete the circuit through the meter, which reads the resistance of the coil. In this case, the meter would actually generate a current through the circuit, which would allow it to measure the circuit’s resistance. Since the only component in this particular circuit is the pickup, essentially one long piece of wire, the only thing being measured is the resistance of that long piece of wire.

We just checked a coil with the meter to see whether it was intact. Sure, we measured the resistance of the coil, but that doesn’t necessarily tell us anything of much value – something we’ll explore in-depth in a future column. What is of value is that our measurement was not miniscule – or nearly zero, and also not infinity.

This indicates that the coil is intact, and the pickup should work. If you stumble across an old pickup, a multimeter will very quickly allow you to determine the condition of the coil. What the meter is telling you here is, “Man, I’m shoving a lot of electrons through this wire, and every electron I push through one end comes out of the other, giving 100% return. I didn’t lose any electrons, but it was really hard work, meaning there’s a lot of resistance.” Well, it should be hard work, that’s a lot of wire, and did we mention how skinny that wire is?

But what if the meter reads essentially no resistance? What if, instead of something like 6.8k, or 6800 ohms, you read something like .3 ohms? Even though this is fairly unusual with a pickup, it would indicate a short in the winding, meaning the electrons have found a shortcut or a path that will allow them to bypass most of that long piece of wire, and they’re taking it! Hey, why go the long way if there’s something easier? For example, if the two solder joints on the bottom of the pickup somehow got jumpered by something like a blob of solder, the electrons would head up one lead toward the coil, but just before they got there, they would see the path to the other lead, and they’d come right back down, bypassing the coil altogether. So the .3 ohms would be telling you that all you were reading was the resistance of the two leads but not the coil, which would show minimal resistance.

It’s more likely that instead of reading nearly zero ohms, you would read infinite ohms. We’ll discuss what that would mean next month. Until then!

George Ellison
Founder, Acme Guitar Works
acmeguitarworks.com
george@acmeguitarworks.com
302-836-5301

## Guitar Center Presents: Holiday Gift Guide

Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.

### Les Paul Desert Burst Satin

Gibson
\$2,399.00
<p>The newest addition to Gibson’s Traditional series, the Trad Pro V electric shares the same DNA as a Les Paul—mahogany body and neck, carved maple top—but adds modern advancements. It’s super comfortable thanks to its weight-relieved body, and it feels awesome in your left hand with its asymmetrical neck shape. Playability is paramount: the compound radius rosewood fretboard makes it easy to bend strings cleanly high on the neck. You'll hear the difference, too: With its dual Tradbucker pickups and advanced electronics – allowing coil splitting and tapping – this versatile tone machine can handle almost any musical style. If you’re looking for a guitar that combines the best elements of classic Gibson mojo and modern features, you’ll find it here.</p>

### Spark MINI

Positive Grid
\$229
<p>It might be tiny, but Positive Grid’s Spark MINI delivers a huge quantity of tones…and fun. This 10-watt practice amp sounds great with electric, acoustic and bass. It’s battery-powered and easily recharged via USB, and is barely larger than the palm of your hand. It contains four onboard guitar tones (Custom, Solo, Lead, Rhythm) and access to 33 amps and 43 effects via the free Spark app. The app also offers educational and play-along tools, and makes it simple to post your performances to social media. It’s rare to find a product that has so many potential uses: sidewalk busking, songwriting, practicing, home recording and more. No matter what style you play or your level of experience, you’ll find a lot to like in this amp.</p>

### GAMMA 50w

GAMMA
\$199 \$169
<p>Looking for a flexible amp that’s equally at home for practice, rehearsal, or live gigs? Check out the GAMMA G50 and take advantage of its special holiday pricing. This 50-watt, dual-channel 1x12 combo amp delivers all-analog tone in a lightweight package – a perfect grab-and-go companion. It’s loaded with features like Bluetooth connectivity and multiple amp voices, so it can cover any music style or genre. With its premium quality True Blue High Headroom speakers, the GAMMA G50 also provides clear, punchy clean tones, making it a great choice as a pedal platform too. If you’re in the hunt for a portable, powerful and affordable amp this holiday season, be sure to include the GAMMA G50 on your wishlist.</p>

### Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand Tweed

Fender
\$279
<p>Here’s a guitar stand that’s as eye-grabbing as the instruments it’s holding! The Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand boasts a classic vibe, from its tweed exterior to its rich red plush lining. And it’s great for gigging. The Classic Series 5 looks like a traditional case, but easily turns into a roadworthy, super stable guitar stand. Rugged features include a 3-ply hardshell wooden case, vinyl-wrapped steel carry handle and steel latches. The interior plush lining ensures that your guitars are protected from scratches and dents. If you want a great-looking way to display your guitars at home, or if you’re looking for a backstage/onstage solution to safely hold multiple guitars, here’s a handsome option.</p>

### Fender Holiday Guitar Cable Keychain

Fender
\$4.99
Here’s the perfect stocking stuffer for every guitarist and bassist: grab a bunch of these Fender Pluginz Guitar Plug Keychains and spread the holiday cheer with your friends and fellow musicians. This cool keychain features a genuine Fender guitar plug. If you already have a Pluginz Jack Rack key holder, this will fit right in. By the way, you can also use these as tree ornaments if you’re looking to add a dash of rock ‘n’ roll to your holiday spirit.

### Fender Limited Edition Holiday Sweater

Fender
\$49.99
It’s an annual tradition: each year the folks at Fender reveal their newest limited edition holiday sweater, and it’s a smash hit. This year’s model is particularly sharp looking: black sleeves emblazoned with the famed Fender logo, and a torso adorned by red, white and green seasonal graphics. Don’t miss out: grab your sweater while supplies last, because this limited edition item will sell out faster than you can say “winter wonderland.”

### Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array Speaker System

Harbinger
\$799 \$599
<p>The Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array offers a professional PA solution with big sound and a wonderfully compact footprint. Acoustic musicians, DJs and bands will find it a great choice when performing in small venues, coffeehouses and practice spaces. But don’t be fooled by its modest size: the MLS1000 delivers the perfect blend of mobility, robust sound and full-featured electronics. Its built-in mixer supports up to five sources at once, including Bluetooth audio. You can go from the car to the stage in a single trip, set up in two minutes and give your audience a well-balanced sound that evenly fills an entire room. Built-in reverb, chorus and 2-knob EQ per input allow an ideal mix for vocals and instruments, while a 10" subwoofer and a six-speaker vertical array cover the full frequency range with high-quality sound. Comes with a column bag and sub cover to protect the system for transport and storage, and Smart Stereo capability gives you the option to link two units for unified sound, control and signal routing. </p>

### Sterling Audio P10 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Sterling Audio
\$79.99 \$54.99
If you’re looking for an affordable microphone for acoustic guitars, amps, snare drums, and more, meet the P10. Sterling Audio’s dynamic instrument mic is an all-purpose champ, ideal for live shows, practice spaces and home recording. It complements acoustic and electric instruments alike: Its custom-tuned microphone capsule focuses on bringing your sound to front-of-house, with crafted mid-range and high-frequency detail. The cardioid polar pattern provides superior off-axis noise rejection on stage, ensuring that your instrument is heard, while an isolated custom capsule suspension system minimizes stage noise and rumble. And it’s rugged: the reinforced grille and die-cast head assembly and body are designed to survive the rigors of the road. Includes protective microphone pouch and mic stand adapter – a complete, road-ready package.

### Sterling Audio Harmony H224 USB Audio Interface

Sterling Audio
\$149.99 \$99.99
The Sterling Harmony H224 audio interface is a dynamite choice for recording in a home/project studio or mobile sound environment. Compatible with popular recording apps, it offers studio-grade circuitry and flexible monitoring, all optimized for desktop recording. With the H224 it’s easy to achieve clear, transparent sound. Its class-leading NXS mic preamps deliver less noise and a cleaner signal for all your recordings, while its front panel instrument inputs have their own optimized circuitry that makes the H224 one of the best interfaces for recording guitar or bass. The advanced flexibility of its four (4) output design allows for two separate stereo output mixes at once, so you can easily have a separate mix for performers, route tracks for re-amping or run separate A/B studio monitors or other independent audio outputs. Plus, the H224 is fully USB-powered, so you can record without a separate power supply, and the included MIDI I/O connections allow your hardware to perform as a MIDI interface too, so you can layer your projects with specialty instruments, MIDI controllers and synths alike.

Apogee
\$229.99

## DiMarzio Releases Relentless J & Relentless P Pickups for Bass

DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.

DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.

As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.

​The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.

DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.

The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.

The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.

Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.

DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.

Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is \$169.00 (MAP \$119.99).

Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is \$155.00 (MAP \$109.99).

Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is \$296.00 (MAP 209.99).

## Mystery Stocking

Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.

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Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.

• This year's Mystery Stocking will cost \$44.95. (\$39.95 + \$5 Flat shipping)
• Each box will be guaranteed to contain \$40 or more in value.
• US only. (Sorry World.)
• Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
• There will be NO REFUNDS given.
• There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
• One per household, one per person.

Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?

Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?

A: Yep.

Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.

Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.

Q. How much is it?
A. \$39.95 Plus \$5 shipping

Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.

Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.

Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
A. Yes

Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.

A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!

## Where Do Chords Really Want to Go?

### For part two of our crash course in harmony for bassists, we’re talkin’ triads.

As bass players, our job is often to indicate and support what is happening rhythmically and harmonically in the music we’re playing. And to do that, it’s important for us to understand the basics of tonality and how it works. In fact, every bass player must have a strong knowledge of harmony to do their job correctly. This month, we’ll continue last month’s harmony crash course with some more ways to brush up on your ear skills, in italics below, so you can do your low-end job effectively.

The basic building block of harmony is the dyad, which gives us our basic intervals. But the basic building block of tonality is the triad, a grouping of three or more tones (root, 3rd, and 5th) that give us the four chord qualities—major, minor, diminished, and augmented—which you’re probably already familiar with.

Just as with intervals, we should train our ears to recognize chord qualities instantly. Start with two qualities (major and minor). Once you can identify those two correctly about 95 percent of the time, add another. Keep going until you can identify all four qualities consistently.

Another great exercise is to take a melody (either major or minor) and convert it to the opposite quality. Start out with something you know well, like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This may take a while at first, but the goal is to keep on doing these until you can convert most stuff on the fly instantly.

“This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.”

Each chord quality has its own distinct sound, but major and minor are related, and both feel very grounded. Because of the 5th in each, our ears can easily hear which note in the chord is strongest (the root), which gives major and minor a sense of gravity. This feeling persists even if we change the order of the notes (invert the chord).

Have a friend or an app play inversions of major or minor triads. Find the root of each chord by singing it. Work towards being able to identify these triads in root position (root in the bass), first inversion (3rd in the bass), or second inversion (5th in the bass).

Pay attention to bass lines that land on a root, 3rd, or 5th on the first beat of the bar and then practice coming up with your own examples.

Diminished and augmented triads are much more ambiguous. Without a perfect fifth (diminished has a b5 and augmented has a #5), no tone in particular sounds strongest. Thus, both chords lack gravity. In fact, to most of us, every tone sounds equal, like being lost in the woods where every direction appears the same. Both seem to want to move towards something else more stable. When this occurs, it gives a sense of release, or resolution. This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.

The top part of a dominant seventh or V7 chord is a diminished triad. For example, a C7 consists of the notes C–E–G–Bb. If you remove the C, we’re left with an E diminished triad. This is where the moving sound, or the desire to resolve, comes from. The important takeaway is that we’re making something very stable—a major chord—and making it less stable when we add the b7, because of the diminished sound, which in turn sets up the need to resolve.

Listening for V–I: On a guitar or keyboard play any major chord, then add a b7 (transforming I to V7) and try to hear where the progression “wants” to go next. Move to the new key (a fifth down) and repeat. After twelve V–I progressions you’ll arrive back at the original key.

The Dominant Gateway: On bass, try playing a walking bass pattern over the cycle of fifths, strategically using a b7 to move to the next key. This foreshadowing is a great voice-leading skill.

That's all for our crash course in harmony. If you take your time with these exercises, you should notice not only your ears improving, but your bass playing too!