I recently built a cigar box kalimba and used a round piezo attached with two-way tape to the soundboard prewired to a 500k pot and a jack.  It sounds great, but it has a lot of handling noise.  Everything I touch on the instrument is picked up by the piezo.  Is that normal?  I haven't used one on a CBG yet but may start.  I like mag pups but they hog a lot of space especially with neck-thru design.  Thanks.

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Hi Kevin, the disc style piezo works by picking up the wood vibrations, an so also picks up vibrations from any thing that excites the wood.

On the other hand under saddle strip piezo's read the strings more due to their close contact with them, so do not transmit timber/body vibrations.

They produce a different sound, brighter [ often called Quacky] but less prone to feedback, and more work to fit. both can work better with a preamp.


Most folks tame the piezo sensitivity  by setting it in a bed of hot glue, then covering it in hot glue again.(but be sure you like the spot  it sits . it may be hard to remove without damage ). I have also seen folks encase the piezo in  foam first . try  any temporary set up you can . then go with what works . 

adding a preamp ,either onboard or separate  helps too.

Thanks guys.  I have a CBG I'm working on and I think I'm going to use a disk piezo.  The kalimba is very small so my hands are close to the piezo all the time.  I'm thinking it may not be as sensitive on a guitar, as least with the left hand on the neck.  And yes, a preamp does help a lot to get a strong enough signal to the amp.

In this case , the preamp lets you tone down the eq type settings manually , so it doesnt sound like you are pulling a cat through a keyhole . 

 so it doesnt sound like you are pulling a cat through a keyhole . 

Now THAT made my day! :) Thanks Anonymous. 

Watched hundreds of videos. Played on and heard hundreds of CBGs.  I can honestly say there's only been a small hand full that have had a bad sound plugged in. But these few had an odd sound when played acoustically as well. Unlike a pup a piezo will only give you what you put it in. 

If the body of the Kalimba is really small make a stop box for the preamp instead. That way you could share it with other builds as well. 

Are there better quality piezos with less noise?  Or are they all pretty much the same?

Pretty much the same . , but  rod piezos are a a step up in sound quality from disks   for cbgs. ...  in my opinion .  They work  a bit differently and are installed different , you may want to research those .

Piezos come in several sizes.  Is there a difference in sound or volume between a 20mm and 50mm piezo?  Doe size matter?

Hi Kevin, I imagine there is a difference. The piezoelectric I use on my CBG's cost a few dollars as single units, I can get packets of ten, and they are as you described unless I do sme creative thinking when installing them.

However the units I put in the full guitars that I build cost hundreds of dollars, and perform very well and do not pickup body taps and feedback is less prone.

There are different crystals, and along with different sizes have different ratings in output and other electrickery that I don't pretended to understand. I understand that a high priced model CBG out there uses these good quality piezo.


Man, after trying about 5 different spots and as many piezos, I think I finally found a spot that is a decent balance of tone and handling noise.  It's on the backside of the neck closer to the heel than the bridge. The tone is good and the noise is manageable.  When I put the neck through, I beefed up the backside to compensate for what I had to take away from the top.  I used PINE for this, which is really soft wood but it works.  I wonder if the softer nature of the pine helps to insulate the piezo?  I dunno.  I'm happy with it, FINALLY!

Does a piezo need a string ground like a magnetic pup?  It sounds good and not making noise so I'm guess maybe not?



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