DIY Piezoelectric musical instrument pickups
I have been fooling around with my new electric guitar recently and it was really fun. I have been playing the guitar since I was in Secondary 2 and that's probably too many decades than I would like to admit. All this while, I have been playing classical guitar but now electric guitars are very affordable as they are made in China. The guitar I own is made by a company linked to Gibson and the quality for the price cannot be matched. Since I am a novice, I settled for a small guitar amp with built in effects and I am hooked, spending my evenings trying to master the solo from Hotel California.
Well, long before I was hooked on bread, I was already hooked on the guitar. Since I could not find a teacher at that time, I had to learn it by myself through books. Thankfully, for the electric guitar, there is now Youtube.
Since the guitar amp is there and my daughter has been pestering me to get her an electric violin, I decided to improvise one for her. I have been doing some research on the internet about Piezoelectric transducers. These are usually found in cheap $2 buzzers found readily at Sim Lim Tower. The surprising thing is that these buzzers can be used as pickups because the piezoelectric element will produce a signal when subjected to vibrations. So all it takes is a soldering iron and you got yourself a high quality pickup for your acoustic instrument.
Since it was so easy to make, I made one for my classical guitar and one for my daughter's violin. It worked better than I expected with good gain and negligible noise. I covered the piezo element with sticky foam pads meant as scratch protection pads for chairs.
When I showed my daughter the modification which I did to her violin, she was not very pleased and I realized that she might have some problems explaining all those black pieces of foam. I improved the placement and concealed it under the tailpiece. Now the only thing showing is a little pig tail. I told my daughter that if she happens to be on a stage where there are amplifiers around, she'd be able to plug in her violin and play directly.