Piezo pickups typically are used in semi-acoustic and acoustic guitars and other instruments, such as ukuleles, violins and mandolins. The piezo is used to send the sound of the instrument through an amplifier, which is useful for a musician playing in venues that require amplified sound or for the recording musician who wants to record his instrument direct. Piezo pickups are relatively quiet because they operate solely on picking up string vibrations and sending those vibrations into a preamp, which turns the vibrations into electronic impulses heard through an amplifier. Piezo pickups do not feature volume or tone controls --- so making the piezo louder depends on the amplifier and placement of the piezo on the instrument.
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Attach the piezo to the instrument as close to the strings as possible, by either clipping the piezo to the sound hole or attaching the piezo to the instrument with two-sided adhesive tape.
Plug the piezo into the preamp and turn on the amplifier. Adjust the volume of the amplifier to a comfortable playing level.
Move the piezo closer to the strings to increase the volume. If the piezo is attached to the instrument with adhesive, detach the pickup and reattach close to the instrument's sound hole and/or under the strings.
Lower the strings over the pickup, if the piezo is fitted into the sound hole, such as the case with an acoustic guitar. Turn the truss rod inside the neck of the guitar using an Allen wrench. Turn the wrench in 1/4 increments --- either left or right, depending on the guitar --- noting if the strings are edging closer to the pickup. Listen to the instrument as the strings are lowered. Stop when you find a volume that pleases you. Avoid letting the strings come in contact with the piezo or the frets --- or you will pick up fret buzz. Re-tune the guitar after lowering the strings.
Tips and warnings
- Piezo pickups come in a variety of shapes and sizes and attachment methods. The basic premise is the same for all of them: Moving the pickup closer to the strings increases the volume; moving the pickup away lowers the volume.
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