How To Make a Guitar/Bass Pickup
In this guide we will show you how to make a guitar pickup using neodymium magnets, a couple Popsicle sticks, and some wire. Total cost for this project will probably be less then $5 (depending on the materials you have available). The sound is surprisingly good and will serve you well. You can replace an existing pickup or add one to mix with your existing setup.
This guide is specifically for bass, so there are four magnets required. For a guitar, obviously you will need six smaller ones. Also, it's good to have a bunch of extra magnets lying around as it will make the project go quicker (see below for why).
- A spool of insulated copper wire. Different gauges will produce different sounds, but you want something very thin.
- Two Popsicle sticks. These can be new or used.
- 8 neodymium magnets (2 for each string). These should be less then the width of the Popsicle stick. Again, different sizes will produce a different sound. You can see the rough size of what we used here.
- Gorilla Glue
Start off by eating your two Popsicles. This is probably the most difficult part of the process. You may want to enlist the help of a friend. If they're the kind of Popsicles that have hidden messages on the stick or fortunes, go ahead and read them. Pat yourself on the back, you're done with step one.
Put the Popsicle stick up to the strings, and mark where each string hits. This will be a guide for where you need to place the center of each magnet. You are now ready to begin construction
You will need to glue the first four magnets to the Popsicle stick. This is not as easy as it sounds since all the magnets will just stick together until the glue is set. This is where the extra magnets come in handy. The other four magnets can be placed on the other side of the stick from the magnets being glued to hold them in place.
It does not matter if you have negative or positive pole facing up, as long as you do EACH ONE THE SAME.
Once you've got your glue dried, take the placeholder magnets off and stick them to the four magnets you just glued. Then glue the other Popsicle stick to the top.
Now to start wrapping the wire. Leave a foot or two sticking out before you stop wrapping. This is important, because you need to connect your electronics to two leads.
We found it helpful to stick the whole thing to the refrigerator while you wrap it. Get comfortable because you're going to be there a while. Keep wrapping until it gets barely big enough to fit inside the plastic of your old pickup (it isn't necessary to have an enclosure - it just looks nice). This will be several thousands of wraps, but we didn't really count. It should look about like the completed picture here.
If the wire breaks while you are wrapping you will need to start over. So don't break the wire - it's very fragile.
Connect the two leads just like you would a regular guitar pickup and you're ready to wail. Here is what it looks like inside of a guitar pickup enclosure.
Here are some notes on construction.
We used 42 gauge wire. You need to strip the ends before soldering them to your electronics. You can do this with your finger nail.
The magents we used were .32" or .37" in diameter and .2" tall.
A stronger magnet = hotter output and more high frequencies (better for guitar)
More windings = hotter output. The more windings you do, however, will begin to roll off the top frequencies.
I forgot to mention that you need to dip the entire thing in wax at the end to complete the project. Just heat up some wax to liquid and dip it in. Leave it for a minute and you're done.
Here is an MP3 of the pickup in action with no EQ or Processing running through a preamp.ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ If anyone wants to mirror it, please do and leave a comment.