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Building with Internal Piezo Pup?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Means2nEnd, Mar 22, 2014.

  1. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    So my shop is almost complete just a few more things left to do to set it up. This page has inspired me and kept me up for many a night reading so many posts you guys and gals share. Just amazing to watch and read. I am not going to post anything until I build one or two basses but as for my question. I know Joe Zon builds some of his higher end basses like the hyper bass with some internal Piezo pickups in the neck as an option. I know there is great debate on wood affecting tone etc... I personally believe most of the time it does with varying degrees depending on electronics, woods, build quality and basically the sum of its parts as a whole.

    I am starting two builds currently and wondered if there are better Piezo pickups than other and if building with one in the neck joint or even under the bridge would or could have a profound effect on bringing more of the natural organic acoustic tone into the mix with the right pickup and tronics. I know they make bridges with them already and they need a good bit of vibration to give a good strong signal but I think internally I would or could get more of the sound of the bass itself in the mix with buffers etc... Does anyone have experience with this? Or opinions?
  2. Triad

    Triad Commercial User

    Jul 4, 2006
    Luthier - Prometeus Guitars
    I tried this, I made a few experiments with piezo into cavities. I also made a sort of electro-acoustic bass with a big semi-hollow body and lots of piezos inside... they certainly add something to the sound of the magnetic but if you want to get the most out of them you need to add a buffer/booster. Otherwise you get the attack but not the bottom as it gets lost due to the piezo impedance not being good to drive a standard amp.
  3. JayGunn

    JayGunn Supporting Member

    Hey Means,

    So given that you need a strong source of vibration to drive decent pickup output AND as Triad says you also need to buffer it (which is not hard if you already are making the bass active), don't you want to put the pickups under the bridge, where there's plenty of vibration? Are you thinking you'll get better or more interesting sound at the body/neck joint? Either way you should go for a buffer, since it can give the piezos a really high impedance to play into, like 10 meg ohms or so, which makes them function better.

    I imagine that most builders put the pickups in or under the bridge because you get more signal (intensity of vibration) and maybe more balanced frequency response since you're working more with what the string's doing and less with what the body is doing.

    If you go against the grain so to speak and locate the pickups to get mostly body resonance that'll be a very interesting experiment! (to me at least). I hope you can post the sound you get, even if you turn out not to find it very useful. It'll help all of us who are considering a build with piezo(s).

    I'll stay subscribed and hope you get responses from builders who have tried different locations for their pickups...but you may be breaking new ground here.
  4. I can share some samples of bass i build last years.
    I put two piezo buzzers under the bridge and one on the soundboard in the middle of the body. You can hear the difference.
    The piezos was buffered.