when I started building the Tin Pan Alley three string, I knew I wanted to put some kind of pickup in it. I had doubts about a disc piezo, and frankly, as a new builder, wasn’t keen to take the dive into messing with a magnetic pickup. So what about a saddle bridge and rod piezo. Nick at CB Gitty pointed me to the three string rod piezo I needed, and the rest was a bit of engineering. I no longer have much in the way of tools to work with, but I do have a Dremel and a router base for it. So I cobbled together a fixture to hold the bridge and guide the Dremel so a 1/8” end mill could cut straight. With the help of some powerful magnification so I could see what I was doing, I spun up a little bridge out of poplar, with a saddle cut down out of a Uke bridge. The piezo is buried in a channel milled in the bridge, it’s cable out a hole in the bottom, and through a matching hole drilled in the resonator.  I’ll leave the editorializing about the sound to others, but using my little tin can 2.5w amp it sounded ok to me. It’s definitely sensitive to where you pick the strings, producing more metallic sound closer to the bridge, and a fatter sound when played a bit closer to the fret board tail. 

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Nice work Bruce! And it sounds to me like you might be a machinist.  : )

My dad was a machinist at GE and elsewhere. I taught myself lathe and milling machine work incidental to my other endeavors. I’ve still got a tiny tabletop mill with a rotary table. Unfortunately it suffered bad storage, and is on the short list of winter projects to see if it can be saved. That would’ve made this project easy peasy, if the thing wasn’t rusted up. 

Very cool. I'm a CNC service technician. Which means I really don't know anything about machining, I just fix machines. lol

I can tell you that WD-40 and 3M Scotch-Brite 7447 pads will do wonders on your rust problem.

A machinist uses motorized machine tools and skilled knowledge to make things. A CNC machinist uses computer controlled machines, often with someone else’s knowledge, to make things faster. CNC is more reliable at making many pieces exactly the same, but only the keepers of that special knowledge who write the master programs know much about machining. They’ll make car engines that run longer without using oil, all pretty damned close to print. But it takes amaster machinist to make just one that is perfect, so most in the old days were only close enough. 

Then there are toolmakers, possessing the knowledge of machines and materials needed to use the machines to make machines. With a lathe and a mill, you can make a lathe and a mill, or virtually anything. I pretty much began as a stubborn and overly optimistic designer, who taught myself toolmaking because I couldn’t afford to pay others. As a production machinist I’m too slow and fiddly, but I’ve made some cool stuff.   But never let these CNC jockies pass themselves off as machinists. 

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