Cheers and Happy New Year from just outside Toronto, Canada. Well with 1 1/2 builds under my substantial belt I am wondering a bit more about the electronics for them. Piezos are easy and I have been using them so far but I am wondering why so many of you are going to the trouble of using 'real' pickups? I know they add a distinctive sound and eliminate the issue of the piezo picking up noise from the box being bumped or scratched. Can a piezo be used with a distortion pedal - like the kit offered by CB Gitty? What sorts of limitations are there?

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Hi Rob, it seems like the primary differences are in the sound.  I've done some of both with piezos and sever different types of magnetic pickups and it seems to me the primary difference is what sound you are looking for. Piezos seem to work with distortion and other effects.  I build more than play as I haven't managed to take the time to practice and learn, but several of my friends have played both piezo equipped and mag pups through their pedals and such with no problems.

Hi Rob, and happy new year!

Much will depend on your style of playing. If you tend towards a rougher, rhythm-based approach, a piezo will pick up every single knock and scratch on the box. Moreover, I personally think that they give a 'thinner' sound overall- though that can be compensated for with a pre-amp. They are, however, undeniably an order of magnitude (or two!) cheaper than a single coil, or humbucker, and much easier to fit. I've got boxes that are crying out for a lipstick in chrome, but cutting the precise hole in the lid...

Short answer- try both, and see how you get on. It's not like you're only going to make one more, is it?

You can use piezos with distortion. It will pick up every little scrape, but if you need Metallica levels of distortion use a mag pup. I have several with the "Snake Oil" mini humbuckers they have at Gitty. They sound good, and a rectangle hole is fairly easy to cut. Good luck!

Not too many rules. I dislike the thin tinny sound I get with piezo. I like the flat pickups from Elmar, Dan Sleep, MGB Guitar. They install easy and sound great. I used to do volume and tone but now I just wire direct to the jack. Easy beans.

I've used both and even mixed piezo and pickups. Piezos work fine with effects, they are a bit hot. The Rod Piezos are less of a problem with handling noise, but often require a preamp. Some preamps allow the hook up of pickups too. 

The impedance mismatch between round piezos and pickups can cause a popping sound when using a switch on passive electronics.

Lots of choices and you should experiment to see what you like.


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