Introduction: DIY Electric Banjo

Picture of DIY Electric Banjo

If your acoustic banjo just doesn't put out the volume you want, but you do not want to spend the extra money to buy a pickup, this instructable is for you. In this instructable, I will show you how to find the parts to build and install a pickup on your acoustic banjo. This is virtually free. This electric banjo can plug into any auxiliary port on any amplifier and it will play loud. The video below will give a demonstration of the electric banjo and help to explain anything that was hard to understand in the instructable. Lets get started!

Step 1: How the Electric Banjo Will Work

Picture of How the Electric Banjo Will Work

The electric banjo pickup uses a component called a piezo element to convert the vibrations from plucked strings into an electric signal that can be amplified. When the strings are plucked, the whole snare drum is vibrated. This vibration is transferred to the piezo element. The piezo element has a crystal sandwiched between 2 plates of copper. When the crystal is expands and contracts, it generates an sine wave that can be amplified.

Step 2: Obtain Tools and Materials

Picture of Obtain Tools and Materials

This project requires a few different tools and materials.

Tools:

  • Soldering Iron
  • Metal Helping Hands
  • Screw Driver

Materials:

  • Two circuit boards containing piezo elements. (Microwave circuit board, alarm clock)
  • Tape
  • Banjo
  • Old headphones(for the audio cord)

Step 3: Extracting the Piezo Elements

Picture of Extracting the Piezo Elements

To extract the piezo elements: desolder the the piezo elements and remove it from the case if it is from the microwave board, for the alarm clock, break the glue around the element and pull it out.

Step 4: Soldering the Audio Cable

Picture of Soldering the Audio Cable

First, cut the cord off a pair of old headphones and strip both ends. Then, solder the ground cable of the headphone cable to the outer(larger) plate of each piezo element. After that, solder the right and left audio cable to the top(smaller) plate of each piezo element respectively. The electronics should now be ready.

Step 5: Attaching the Piezo Elements to the Banjo

Picture of Attaching the Piezo Elements to the Banjo

Attach each piezo element on the underside of the snare drum on each side of the bridge. Use scotch tape to attach each piezo element. Tape the wire to the side of the banjo to prevent the piezo elements from being ripped out.

Step 6: It Works!

Picture of It Works!

Plug the electric banjo into any auxiliary port and start playing. You can even plug the banjo into the aux port on your car radio if you do not have an amp. In my case, I plug it into my vacuum tube amplifier from my other instructable. It should sound very good.

Good Luck!

Comments

SherylinRM (author)2016-11-13

If this will work for a violin or acoustic guitar [inside the wooden sound board] then I love it :)

Super cool idea :)

Thanks for this.

rsinton (author)2016-05-26

Wow, cool Instructable!

zappenfusen (author)2016-05-24

Steve Martin would call you a "Wild and Crazy Guy'! If voltage/current is fed to the piezo element will it act as a speaker? How much will smoke it?

zapp

AlexAndAmigos (author)2016-05-24

nice

AlexAndAmigos (author)2016-05-24

nice

rbusch (author)2016-05-23

i just got an old banjo from a garage sale might have to give this a whirl.

love the reclaimed parts! that's definatly the way to go when possible.

kenyer (author)2016-05-23

nice build

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