I have seen electric guitars and basses that don't have any pick ups. For instance, here is an image of two Line 6 electric basses that have no pick ups:

enter image description here

How do these instruments work if they have no pickups?

  • Are you interested in Line6 Variax instruments particularly, or instruments without visible magnetic pickups generally?
    – jonrsharpe
    Jun 22, 2015 at 7:32
  • @jonrsharpe nstruments without visible magnetic pickups generally Jun 22, 2015 at 7:32

2 Answers 2


Piezo-electric transducers lurking under the saddles on the bridge! just like acoustic guitars have possessed for ages. Now bassists have the opportunity to use this technology. It's not new, but quite new on basses. Next may be a 'hybrid' with standard pups and p-e ts.

  • 1
    It might be worth mentioning that the Line6 Variax range (this is a Bass 700) are modelling guitars; they don't just have an acoustic sound like other instruments with piezos. The newer JTV and Standard Variax models (no longer available in bass or acoustic versions) do have traditional pickups as well.
    – jonrsharpe
    Jun 22, 2015 at 6:39

As well as the in-bridge piezo pickups (either for acoustic tones or MIDI, which is what the Variax guitars use to feed the modelling system), there is a relatively rare second option: hidden pickups. The "Type I" Fender Marauder, for example, had magnetic pickups concealed under the pick guard:

Fender Marauder

On the same theme, as of a few days ago, Seymour Duncan are selling a Brad Paisley signature Secret Agent pickup, designed to be concealed under a Fender Esquire pickguard, expanding it from one pickup to two.

  • 1
    Interesting. Apparently, this idea never really caught on... wonder whether that's more due to practicality (hidden PUs can't be height-adjusted as easily as normal ones, and you can't get them as close to the strings) or because the look wasn't well-received. Jun 22, 2015 at 20:28
  • @leftaroundabout a bit of Googling found a couple of Fender Esquires modded with one or two hidden pickups (e.g. a Custom Shop Stealth) to keep the original looks but add tonal options, but it certainly doesn't seem very popular. I'd guess a combination of the two reasons you mention - I quite like the look, but it does reduce adjustment and mean you'd need hot pickups and/or very low action (e.g. routed neck pocket).
    – jonrsharpe
    Jun 22, 2015 at 20:36
  • AFAIK, it also was really, really expensive for that era to have 4 ( yes, four) hidden pickups on the guitar...
    – mtsdev
    Jan 17, 2020 at 21:19

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