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Message started by hapakid on Sep 2nd, 2004 at 8:01pm

Title: Homemade pickups
Post by hapakid on Sep 2nd, 2004 at 8:01pm
I've been researching a way to make a homemade pickup for a uke and found some fun stuff at
http://www.ehhs.cmich.edu/~dhavlena/  He also has plans for a number of simple/crude instruments that are intriguing.
Also another gentleman posted at www.4thpeg.com about a solid body practice uke with a homemade pickup project at
Some of my ukes haven't been worth a $20 stick-on pickup, so I'm interested in trying something cheap.
Jesse Tinsley

Title: Re: Homemade pickups
Post by JonY on Sep 2nd, 2004 at 9:30pm
Hey Jess I bought one of those stick on deals a while back and I guess they are okay for the money. but this was before I was building ukes so now one can get a whole lot better pickup for the same money....anyways I do know what you mean about spendin the extra $ when you feel its not worth it so after reading your post I did the ebay thing and found a coupla pickups with auction start at .99 ccents and the guys got a couple of them shipping was about 4 bucks. Maybe worth checkin out here is the auction # 3746053205 it's the clip on the puka type.
seeya later
JonY :)

Title: Re: Homemade pickups
Post by hapakid on Sep 3rd, 2004 at 5:55am
I bought one of those clip-on pickups like you mentioned, but it's hard to get into a tiny uke soundhole and my hand kept hitting it while playing. I think I paid $10 for it at the music store.  But my favorites are the Schaller stick-on pickups, which are about $25-$28 at my local store.  They pump out a hot signal, which is nice for recording, but it makes them terrible for high amplification because they feed back a lot.  I've recorded the signal on my computer and could hear my voice in the background!
When I build something really nice, I'll put a Baggs Element or something like it inside.  
Jesse Tinsley

Title: Re: Homemade pickups
Post by hapakid on Sep 28th, 2004 at 6:16pm
I've been fiddling around with Radio Shack transducers and have turned a couple into decent acoustic pickups.  I used the #273-073A piezo transducer, which is $2 and available at most stores. I cut the actual transducer out of the plastic case it comes in, then soldered on some shielded wire and added a 1/4" jack.  I have used a couple methods to adhere it to the interior soundboard, but just about anything will work. The trick is to put it somewhere that doesn't vibrate like crazy but still resonates. If you put it out in the middle of the soundboard, which moves a lot, you'll get a lot of feedback because the soundboard is always moving with ambient sound.  But if you experiment, you'll find a good spot that gives you a decent sound.
If you covered the thing in black rubber, it would look suspiciously like the K&K stick-on transducer that sells for about $35.  
I also used this on an crude acoustic bass I built (tucked under the bridge) and it had good frequency response down to the bottom string.  Placed correctly, it pumps out a lot of signal.
Obviously it's a cheap way to go, and you may need a preamp to shape the sound, but I think most people will be impressed with the pickup they can build for about $4.  Now all my ukes (and guitars) have pickups!
Jesse Tinsley

Title: Re: Homemade pickups
Post by StringDoc on Oct 1st, 2004 at 4:39pm
"If you covered the thing in black rubber, it would look suspiciously like the K&K stick-on transducer that sells for about $35"

Have you ever seen a Mc Entire pickup? same thing for about 100$

Yep, can't go wrong with a Radio Shack pickup!!



Title: Re: Homemade pickups
Post by msrvfx on Feb 6th, 2005 at 7:35pm
I've been intreged with the whole pick up thing, and there are a lot of them for sell on eBay. I also emailed one seller that was selling an "under the saddle" piezo pick up, which seems to be prety popular with a lot of guitars. he said you could cut the thin piezo pick up to fir hte length of the inside of the bridge saddle slot and drop it in. this would require drilling a hole through the bottom of the saddle slot for the wire to go inside the body.

another thing i read was an article of a very popular guitarist that has used the same acoustic guitar with a Seinhauser lapel mic mounted insid eof the soundhole, and apparently it works very well.


Title: A Better Pickup
Post by msrvfx on Mar 28th, 2005 at 2:07pm
Well, I did it. I found a really worthy stick-on pizeo pick up.
I'm amped too. For those looking to electrify their ukes, without spending a fortune, I can highly recommend the K&K Big Shot pizeo pickup. Sells for about $38.

It is responsive and very thin. Thin enough to place it under the strings and in front of the bridge, which I find to be the ideal location. I experimented with different locations and found that location the best on my tenor for the best tone.
Most stick-on pickups are to thick to place in the best location.....in front of the bridge, which happens top be under the strings. After using it for a week or so, I really got tired of the appearance of the pickup and wire coming off the soundboard....so I mounted it internally. Bought an inexpensive internal jack, resoldered the wires, relocated the stick-on pickup in the same location but inside the body, and plugged it in. It's way cool, and nobody knows it's there unless you're plugged in. You could get a strap plug jack, if you want to use a strap too.
By the way, you can order an internal version of the Big Shot from K&K that comes with the internat style jack.

Rock on!

Mark in Portland

Title: Re: Homemade pickups
Post by ukeman on Apr 14th, 2005 at 11:31am
aloha mark...I am now also on the hunt for a piezo pick up for me bass baritone project:

working with Keith Luke locally and Owen Holt via the net...I tried some stick on pickups from Keith last weekend...same location under the strings above the treble side of the bridge on the soundboard worked best! These were quarter sized pickups attached via a adhesive putty...great sound and tone. We did not attach internally but will do so on a guitar and try both locations from above and below...I remembered that i have a Kasha styled guitar at home that i made years ago but with the trap door access in the tailblock we can get inside...mount and check it out.

Next scenario is to route a recess on back side of my bridge centered on the saddle, mount disc  piezo pick up and mount bridge...it will not be directly in contact with the saddle  like the under saddle piezo set ups but with a sliver of bridge material between setup and saddle..why?  who knows, just going try em! Will try to check out a K and K...and see if i can find one locally at the Radio Shack in my area....ok   laters  ukeman

Title: Re: Homemade pickups
Post by msrvfx on May 6th, 2005 at 12:20pm
Aloha Ukeman,

I really thin K&K has the very best pizeo pickups around...and the prices are very well worth it. I used a K&K Big Shot ($38) for my koa tenor.
As I posted previously I did an internal setup on my koa tenor and it sings!
The link for K&K is:

I spoke with Dieter at K&K about a question I had for an even better set up (my opinion). do a custom order for K&K's Twin Spot pickup ($59) with selective cable lengths. Reason? One pickup on the lower bout and on on the upper bout to rad the bass and treble sides seperately, instead of the compromise position infront of the bridge. K&K will custom make the cable lengths to your specs for just a little bit more.

Mark in Portland

Title: Re: Homemade pickups
Post by Road_Toad on May 6th, 2005 at 5:45pm
I have a K&K Pure Bass dual piezo on my bass uke proto right now. Better bass response than the pure classic which has been pulled out to use on a regular uke.  Now if I can find a way to get these down around $50. I will second Mark's opinion on K&K Sound... they make a really nice easy to install unit that sounds really good.


Title: Re: Homemade pickups
Post by The Uker of OZ on Jun 21st, 2005 at 9:57am
I too have tried the Radio Shack "buzzer" with great results. I am working right now on one in my stand-up washtub bass with weed wacker strings, it works great so far and for the money (3-4$) it's a great way to experiment with placement and different designs. I may upgrade when I get the final "prototype" down, but for now I see no need to do that yet. That's my 2 cents.

The Uker of OZ

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