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Vibrating Strings with Piezos
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author Vibrating Strings with Piezos
Hi, i'm thinking about using piezo disks for vibrating the strings. But i'm not sure what can i do..

First, i'll put the piezos on the soundboard and then i'll connect the piezos to the amp? Can it work well? Or are there any other possibilities? For example with software (max/msp) can i control piezos for vibrating?

Btw sorry, i'm not very well with the electronics. So i have to ask everything that i'm not sure.
Hi ,

I am not sure if I understood but I think that piezo discs are not powerful enough to vibrate the strings.

Anyways, your message was strange as I saw this yesterday and I really loved the idea and the instrument. It is actually a speaker vibrating the strings.

These guys have some beautiful instruments. view

I wish you a nice day here from Geneva

Oh i've found a video on youtube. It's really interesting and it looks like what i want to do.

That's amazing sounding! I was fortunate enough in college to get to attend a piano burning, and I think they removed all dampers beforehand, there was otherworldly resonating going on throughout, much like the timbres in that vid.
There are also piezo discs. And they are driven using a 50 watt amplifier. So why can't i also do that??
You may also be interested in Eric Archer's Electric Gongs. Similar(ish) concept.
I can use tactile transducers also, right? Aren't they stronger than piezo disks?
I've bought 20 piezos for that project. I haven't tried yet. I have a question again.

Can't i use piezos without amp?


Can i use them with guitar amps?
Soy Sos
Very interested in this sort of stuff!
Here's a link to some recent work I did with small speakers I modified
into transducers for metal sculpture. I'd love to build some type of string
resonator thingy. I was thinking about maybe modifying something like
a cheap electric autoharp with transducers to create a mini version of
that beautiful piano thing. sducer+metal+sculpture
@Soy Sos, i like your project too. But i'm not sure if it works with piezos. If it's not, i'll try speaker cones for vibrating the strings. It seems more realistic, isn't it?
I have a noise "instrument" that I use which is a transducer attached to a sheet of metal with a bass pickup and/or contact mic to complete the feedback loop. By manipulating the sheet of metal you can "play" the feedback. Typically I use effects within the loop, but sometimes I don't.
Soy Sos
Thanks cnkn.
Piezos aren't going to kick up much vibration. Keep in mind
they are generally used as cheap speakers/chimes for phones,
alarms etc... They do make decent contact mics though.
The speakers I'm using are pulled from desktop computer speakers.
I'm gluing a rubber disk in the center of the cone that sticks out farther
than the basket of the speaker. Then I can bolt it just the right distance
from the object I want to vibrate.
Nuuj wrote:

Now that I think about it a bit. I think you would want to attach one of these to a sheet magnet as you won't be able to get a good connection to a string or a group of strings. You could attach these to the soundboard and have that vibrate the strings but I think what you really want would be a ton of ebows, but that would get expensive quick.

Seems to be some DIY ebow info out there:

DIY Ebow

this guy uses regular drivers to excite the strings.

there have been successful experiments with using electromagnetic coils to drive strings as well. On the project guitar forums.

I've been thinking about building an apparatus with tunable guitar strings, a pickup and some sort of excitation method. then controlling it in a similar manner to the neural agonizer.

piezos can be used to pick up the vibration, and can help with emi issues, I'm led to believe.
Yes i've seen that project, really interesting. But i've chosen making vibration with 2 speaker cones. So how i have to make connection?

I think that i'll connect the cones to the amp, and then plug the interface to the amp. Of course i'll plug the mic into my sound interface. Is it right?
Oh btw, i want to use guitar amp for connection of cones. Can i do that?
I haven't done any experimenting, but i figure if the guitar amp amplifies your signal enough, you'll probably be in the money.

and then yeah, once you have a strong enough input signal to make stuff happen, it's just a case of picking up a signal somewhere somehow.

I'm not much of an authority on any of this, and from things that I've read, it's definitely likely you'll end up with unexpected results, so trial and error I suppose?
thankyou so much for posting. its hard to find information on new experimental feedback machines. guitar amps have too much power and it would be a waste of a guitar amp. a cheap 5watt made in china ipod amp complete with power supply goes for about $20 - $25 on ebay. here is a pic. I would NOT put rubber or hot glue to attach the drivers(you call them transducers). I would use something dense and hard like epoxy or superglue. the more surface area you can glue, the better. but use the least amount of glue possible. its just like building a guitar. also if you look at the pic of the transducers, you'll notice that the magnet assembly(basket) and the moving coil are BOTH attached. this is so that the magnet has something solid to push against. otherwise your using the inertia of a 1lb magnet not attached to anything to move a large mass thats sitting on a fixed table. the piezos need a preamp. good to use an electric guitar piezo pcb. this piezo preamp supports up to 6 piezo mics. you can even put a pot on each piezo to attenuate (volume). get two pcb's and you can run the ipod amp in stereo. all your cross modulation would be done acoustically. very cool stuff. are you planning on micing the instrument or do you require a tapped output to plug in for recording etc..? I wish you the best of luck and be sure to post back the results. if you need, help I'm here for you.
I should also mention that this is going to work best with a hollowbody or acoustic guitar. you could also use a cigar box with or without a soundhole. you can brace the box so it doesn't collapse. then use 2 number 2 pencils as the bridge and nut and some guitar or bass strings stretched between wood screws. I would mount all the knobs, battery, PCB in a separate box so you can get the maximum resonance out of the cigar box.

I found these piezo's on ebay. no battery required! the kit is $20 including 2 piezo's wire and 1/4"jack. if you dont build it, I will. I've already got the box and the speakers. I got a clean boost pedal for a preamp. all I need it the piezo kit. I have guitar tuning machines/keys whatever. oh yeah.

thats a tequila box from a limited run of 1800. the sliding top will become the bottom access panel.
Howdy, EATyourGUITAR

just for the sake of discussion, do you think it would be interesting to use an electromagnetic coil, in place of a transducer?

something akin to this?
here is the problem i have with your original design. if you use an ebow or a sustainer style device, all your doing is vibrating the string and it just sounds like an ebow thats all. the video cnkn posted they are using transducers to vibrate the soundboard which then vibrates the string. I prefer this method as its more interesting and should produce non-traditional sounds. also the use of piezos is going to produce a different sound than an ebow pickup or an eletric guitar pickup. you see an ebow has a giutar pickup in it. the sustainer you posted is just a guitar pickup with the signal running through it. transducers and piezos in an unusual box shoud produce some unusual sounds I hope. I have a hunch that special steps must be taken to get this instrument to produce sounds below 500hz since its such a small soundboard and the acoustic guitar strings are not engineered to produce those frequencies when stretched at a short lenth. high pitch squealing is not my thing really. I'll solder a tone cap to the piezo maybe.
ok. I think I understand. By vibrating the whole soundboard you get reflections across the entirety of the thing. Strings would resonate sympathetically to tones they liked, and they would resonate to some extent regardless because the entire setup is being excited.

in that line of thought, you could have a setup with two soundboards/resonant enclosures, one at each end of the strings, excite one and pick up sounds from the other, and it's reverb-style
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