Make your own mini-humbucker pickup from a scrapped electric toothbrush

Question: what do you do with a “wirelessly” re-charged electric toothbrush when its battery eventually dies?

Answer: salvage the tiny induction coil from inside the sealed body of the toothbrush handle. It’s ideal for making your own pickups. All it needs is a magnetic core and some patient, fine wiring work.

I glued a stack of a few 12mm diameter molybdenum magnets inside the coil’s bobbin, using a quick-setting epoxy resin. The results from a single coil pickup were so pleasing that I added a second, arranging the opposing magnetic senses and observing the required electrical polarities in order to make a mini-humbucker. I marked the magnets and the wires with red and black Sharpie pens to keep the assembly on track. The hardest part for me was stopping the fierce wee magnets from clumping together, so I used small clamps and glued them to a baseplate at two different times.

There are plenty more detailed photos in this shared Google Photos album of mine which might inspire you build your own version:

Have fun!

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Comment by Southern Ray on April 15, 2021 at 2:21am

 Great thread! I learned a lot from this one. Brain hurt.

Comment by BrianQ. on April 13, 2021 at 6:41pm

I remember it, it kinda looked like a 60’s Burns with all the plastic control plates on the face? Line 6 pretty much has that modeling guit market sewn up with their Variax guitars tho? 

Comment by the anonymous pick on April 13, 2021 at 6:28pm

The Volkswagen guitar i mean . 

Comment by the anonymous pick on April 13, 2021 at 6:26pm

Yeah . it had a good concept ,  but was  generally considered a pos . Needed some more production  tweeking me thinks .

Comment by BrianQ. on April 13, 2021 at 5:04pm

That guitar has an onboard midi interface like the iRig software?

Comment by the anonymous pick on April 13, 2021 at 3:59pm

Thanks guys , It's spring cleanup nowadays in most places ,    a good time to look out for washer and driers ,  Older models have a  end of cycle buzzer , usually located in the top right of the   control panel .  looks like a  lil jackhammer  with an axle  usually banging against a piece of metal or the side of the machine . Another  coil grab. for ya . and some have some funky knobs too.

And then we have piezos .------  musical greeting cards , microwave ovens , some older stylophones , etc etc . aRE all good PIEZO grabs .

On another note . (Amp related , not pickup related . ) In 2006 volkswagon  had a deal with first act guitars ,   You would get a free vw guitar with  purchase of the car , and the car was fitted with a guitar amp in the radio . so you could tailgate party  and just plug you guitar into the car . open the doors and jam out . 

This had folks calling auto wreck yards looking for that radio ..  but . un-benounced to many . the  amp  wont work with  just plugging a regular guitar into it .   The first act guitar had an amp modular circuit in it  that allowed  it to work  with the car radio amp.

However ,  You can still do this with any  car radio and any  guitar , If your car has a 3.5mm input jack, you can get a preamp or headphone amp, and plugthe guitar into it, and the preamp into the car.  presto !  The reason you can't just plug the guitar into the car is that the stereo is looking for a line level signal, of between 1 and 1.6 volts while the guitar puts out about a third of that.

still may have volume issues tho . 

ok .   babble over . 

peace out. 

Comment by BrianQ. on April 13, 2021 at 1:20pm

Ray, best to use wall warts rated higher than 9 volts, the higher resistance will give a louder pickup?

Comment by Southern Ray on April 13, 2021 at 12:40pm

Thanks to Pick for the list. I knew of most of them, but not all. One thing to add, though. If the wall-wart doesn't have some heft to it, it likely doesn't have enough wire to do anything with.

Comment by Southern Ray on April 13, 2021 at 12:38pm

Thank you Peter! Oh goody! I have another thing to tear apart! 


Comment by Peter Bryenton on April 11, 2021 at 5:03am

Info for BrianQ:

The DC resistance of the pickup measured at the guitar's output jack socket is 7.3K ohms.

The output level works very well with my Crate GT212 amp at between 3 and 4 on its gain knob. Subjectively it's loud to my ears.

Cheers, Peter.

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