I'm unable to find the info about how to treat a guitar signal. Should i see it as a sine wave or a much complex sawtooth or triangular wave? as i don't have my hands on an oscilloscope i cant see the actual waveform. Plz Help :)

  • 4
    It's going to be a multi-frequency complex sine, with a lot of harmonics; though I'm pretty sure this question would be better on an electronics site really
    – Tetsujin
    May 6, 2015 at 15:26
  • 1
    As Tetsujin said, you will more likely have a better response on electronics stack exchange May 6, 2015 at 15:39
  • 2
    Have you googled for "guitar oscilloscope"? You'll find lots of examples. Anyway when I've done this I tend to see around 1-2 volts for my highest output pickups. Shape can vary a huge amount depending on the "tone". I had one small-bodied electric with poor bass, that on the scope looked almost triangular!
    – Andy
    May 6, 2015 at 16:07
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    If you're building a pedal, then you should consider that the waveform could be absolutely anything, because the previous pedal in the chain could have turned it into absolutely anything! May 6, 2015 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


Don't worry so much about what the signal looks like. It will be a combination of sine waves of related and unrelated frequencies.

Of more importance are:

  • Frequency range (you want to accept roughly 200Hz to 12kHz and if the pedal produces higher harmonics eg a distortion then you may want to output up to 20kHz)
  • Signal levels (up to about 2 Volts should be expected, so make sure your circuit can accept more than this so it doesn't cause unwanted clipping)
  • Impedance (high input impedance and low output impedance)

I think you have to consider the signal as rich in harmonics as possible, since provided the fact signal is not a pure sine wave, it could be represented as a set of infinite harmonics. Of course is not possible to have an infinite bandwith with anything, but as for any other instrument, the large the bandwidth is, the better the result.

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