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Hey folks, I put together a box guitar and am using a piezo pick up, but it sounds really brash and sharp when I run it through an amp.  Do any of yal have any advice on how to get it to sounds better?  preamp, petal, amp settings, wiring, a better built guitar?  Thanks, 

Adam

 

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I use an old DOD Overdrive pedal, I set the tone all the way to the left to give it more of a thick bass tone, then lightly adjust the overdrive as needed. I also use this pedal as my master volume control.

It sorta depends on what you think is a "Good Sound". Pickup and amp combo makes a  diference

.With piezo pup, a bass amp helps alot, but it all depends on what you have to start with. Theres so many factors .

I just want to get rid of the sharp metallic sound.

jim said:

It sorta depends on what you think is a "Good Sound". Pickup and amp combo makes a  diference

.With piezo pup, a bass amp helps alot, but it all depends on what you have to start with. Theres so many factors .

In my opinion a piezo is actually too precise.  They pick up every vibration and amplify it.  When it picks up the strings it is too 'trebly', too thin.  It also picks up all handling noise from the box and neck.  A bare piezo inside the box is also prone to feedback.

 

What I've found is that using a 'soft' layer of adhesive between the piezo and the box acts as a filter to tame the shrill highs and allow more mids and lows.  My Tesla pickups use thick foam double side tape.  Others use hot glue, silicon, mousepad, and even leather between the piezo and the box.

 

I've found that totally encasing the piezo does a lot to eliminate feedback.  With the Tesla I use wood, but others have had success embedding it in hot glue or silicon or anything that will cover the bare piezo, even a hanky.  I've found that if you are making an electric guitar, some crumbled up newspaper or bubble wrap inside kills feedback.

 

I believe the way to get the best tone and no feedback from a piezo is to mount it inside the bridge.  On Flatbeds and Panama Reds I use a wood bridge and a brass rod saddle.  The brass transfers most of the string vibration to the wood which acts as the filter to tame the tinnyness.  The piezo (or dual piezo in the Panama Red) embedded inside the bridge outside the box nearly eliminates all feedback.

 

 I've done many many experiments with piezo transducers and I believe that the harder the wood, the shriller the sound.  A softer wood gives the best tone.  I use rosewood for the Flatbed and Bloodwood for the Panama Red, but I believe the tone can be sculpted even more with a softer wood.  Once you understand the properties of a piezo and the various ways to tame its output as guitar pickup you can experiment with it to get the best results for you and your instrument.

 

 

Either some form of damping or lowering the impedance to match the amp.

I like making a "piezo sandwich" and placing it directly under the bridge saddle outside the box. From top down - wood or metal saddle, thin piece of wood, piezo, cork or rubber or foam tape.

Having the cork/rubber/foam against the box will cut down on box handling noise.

Or you can build a mint box buffer circuit, which is relatively simple and cheap - runs on a 9 volt battery, fits inside an Altoids tin.

Adding 1 or more piezos in parallel will also lower the impedance.

Skeesix, fill us in on a mint box buffer circuit...
okay, so I took my guitar to my practice space and played it though a big bass amp and it sounds pretty damn awesome through a real amp.  I've been listening to it through Garage Band on my mac and can't really find a amp simulation that can make it sounds thick.  But on the amp it's great.  Actually, Ted I'm using a Flatbed, and you're right, I'm not having any of the problems you're saying it fixes, and it sounds fantastic through my amp.  My pal uses a stick on pick up in a little guitar he made and I'll have to turn him on to what you are saying here.  I also ran some overdrive into it and it pushes a really thick cut meaty sound that I'm really into.  Thanks for all the advice and great products.
I had also tried it on a little practice guitar amp before my bass amp and it was harsh.

A piezo is a piezo.  

 

A Stonehenge  will set you free

 

(DownUnder!!)

 

haaaaaa

I should try that on my next project.  what is "downunder?"

Ted Crocker said:

A piezo is a piezo.  

 

A Stonehenge  will set you free

 

(DownUnder!!)

 

haaaaaa

Like Ted, I also have really good results with mounting my piezos with a silicon glue or hot glue to dampen the contact.  I pick up small tubes of Elmer's Glue All at the Dollar store as I find it a better value than buying a large tube and having it go dry in the tube between uses.  

Once installed I cover most all my solder connections with the goop to stabilize the wires so any vibration does not cause the solder to crack from fatigue. 

Way, way back I was told that wiring the piezos in series cuts down the impedance and takes out some of the high end squeaks.  I've always wired them in series since then and along with the silicon glue acting to dampen the contact I am satisfied with the results.

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