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DIY Guitar Pickup in 4 Easy and Simple Steps.

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Here is my way to make Cigar Box Guitar DIY guitar pickup. What makes pickup a pickup? The copper coil winded around a strong enough magnet. That’s all.

1. Get a sewing bobbin For Your DIY Guitar Pickup.

You are lucky if you have a sewing machine at home.
That means that you should have plenty of small bobbins around it. Or inside it.
In the worst-case scenario (which is my case) you may buy them for $1 for a half-dozen in Walmart. It will be a carcass of your DIY guitar pickup.

Bobbin for DIY pickup

2. Get a copper coil from any accessible transformer.

 It can be found inside any old (Older is better) power supply. I had plenty of them from multiple electronic devices.
If you have enough patience to dismantle the transformer carefully you’ll get a plastic frame with two (primary and secondary) coils. Use one of them. No matter which. You can wind all of them and choose experimentally.

3. Winding.

There are plenty of recipes for making/buying the winding tools around. I’ve got some ideas from them and made it my way.

The drill with the bobbin on one side and the croc clip stand on the other. It is not perfect and not stable enough if you don’t make any extra fixing.
But it’s quite OK for temporary use and you don’t plan to do the winding for the rest of your life.

Just don’t rush and start at a very low speed. You may want to lead the winding with your free hand. So the coils will be placed smoothly over the full width of the bobbin.

The more coils you can make is better. Just leave a bit of space, like 1 mm. to the edge for fixing the coils with the glue or any other self-adhesive materials.
I used double-sided foam tape covered with dielectric isolating tape.

4. Magnet For a DIY Guitar Pickup.

Now I have to add the magnet. I was not able to find something which could go through the hole in the middle of the bobbin. So I decided to split this step in two.

First. I’ve found a bolt which fits perfectly in the bobbin. Remember, you probably need the bolt end to extend e bit from the bobbin. Because later you will need to adjust the gap between the string and the pickup. The sound may appear too weak if this gap is too big. At the same time, it should not be too close. Otherwise, the string may touch the bolt with the ugly scratchy sound if played on the higher frets.


Second. The magnet itself.
I started to experiment with the fridge magnets. Many of them have nice perfectly shaped ferromagnetic pieces inside.
But later I found that usually they a not strong enough. You still can use them, especially if you have enough room to put 2 or 3 of them together.
But later I found another beautiful source.
I have a friend who’s working in the big call center.

They have broken headphones thrown in the recycling bin almost every day.
So I started to use the neodymium magnets from the broken phones which are way stronger!
So I’m placing like 2 or 3 of these small buttons right on the bolt head underneath the bobbin.
No need to attach it with glue or something else!
Just remember that the bolt has to have a flat head.

Or another option: you may order magnets in bulk on Amazon

And if you find that the end of the bolt on the top extends too much you may add one or more washers between the bolt head and the bobbin in order to adjust it.

In the next upcoming post, I’ll try to demonstrate the implementation of this type of DIY CBG pickup in my “qick’n’dirty’ project that I call “CBU: Cigar Box Ukulele“.

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2 Comments

  1. I am wanting to make the same pickups you mention here with the sewing bobbing. Is it 42g or 44g shielded copper wire you spin on to the bobbing?

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