The "Charlie Christian" pickup was an early electric guitar pickup
. It was first used on the Gibson ES-150
, which entered the market in 1936. The ES-150 was the first electric "Spanish-style" guitar; previous electric guitars had been designed to be played lap, or "Hawaiian" style
. Jazz musician Charlie Christian
's pioneering use of the ES-150 demonstrated to the world that the electric guitar was a viable instrument. The association between Christian and the ES-150 was so strong that it became known as the "Charlie Christian Guitar" (even though no formal association between Christian and Gibson
ever existed), and the pickup that gave the instrument its voice was referred to as the "Charlie Christian pickup."
Although the principle of the magnetic induction coil had been applied to musical instruments for years, the Charlie Christian pickup represented a departure from previous ideas. Earlier pickups featured either a horseshoe magnet
that arched over the strings (as found on the Rickenbacker
A-22 "Frying Pan"
), or a static coil through which a magnet passed, the magnet being vibrated by the guitar's bridge (a design used by former Gibson employee Lloyd Loar
on his Vivitone guitar). The Charlie Christian pickup has an appearance immediately familiar to modern guitarists, although it is constructed quite differently from pickups today.
The Charlie Christian pickup consists of a coil of... Read More