What can I use for pickups in a 100 percent homemade improvised DIY guitar?

I have been obsessed with this project…

…It seems so simple, and my mind is reeling with the possibilities for the weird and wonderful things I could make a guitar from.

The only problem I can anticipate is the pickups. The article is pretty vague about what you’d use. Standard electric guitar pickups have six magnets for six strings, but there’s apparently not room for six strings on a shoe guitar, so I don’t think I’d be able to just buy standard pickups. I was thinking about using a piezoelectric disc, but you most often see those on acoustic guitars, they pick up the acoustic soundwaves bouncing around in the hollow wooden guitar head, so I am not sure they would work with steel strings on an improvised guitar head that’s not necessarily wooden or hollow.

I also read that Bo Diddly’s famous homemade “cigar box” guitar used a transducer from an old Victrola turntable. So I’ve been reading about tonearms and cartridges in turntables. Apparently they use piezoelectric crystals or electromagnetic coils to convert the movements of the tonearm into electrical signals. They sound ideal, but I wonder if they’d have to be in physical contact with something to work. On a turntable, the transducer would be in physical contact with the tonearm or the stylus, while guitar pickups would have to respond to the movements of the strings without physical contact.

Maybe I am overthinking this… Maybe standard pickups would work because you don’t need to literally have one string per magnet. But it sure would be cool to have every element of this project improvised, rather than bought.


Shoes blah blah guitar blah blah…
I admire your knowledge of all that stuff! It’s beyond me, but I look forward to seeing your chairtar someday!


Ya, I also have no clue but love that you’re doing it!
There are so many tech-savvy crafters here, somebody may have ideas.
@Tanath , @saintcady , @Animegirlie ?


I would say maybe find a Reddit thread on this sort of thing. I’m just not sure how likely you are to find the information you looking for here. Sounds cool, though!

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I can’t wait to see what you come up with! My first thought was to use a standard pickup as well. But I’m certainly no expert!

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A friend used this tutorial for a 4 string cigar box uke that came out great. Great project!

Ooh, @marionberries don’t you make cigar box guitars?

!!! PERFECT !!!

thank you!

Unfortunately, not my sort of tech! But looks cool!